I debated on posting this blog, because I don’t want the person who inspired me writing it to take it the wrong way. People are going to feel how they’re going to feel regardless though, and I know this is worth posting. It’s SO necessary and honest blogging and sharing has been what has connected me to hundred of followers, photographers and even my clients. So, let me share with you! I love to let others learn from my experiences and better their businesses when possible. I’m so open and you know it 🙂
Recently I received an email from a wedding vendor asking why I don’t have my personal phone number listed so that they were able to contact me. I responded in letting them know that our personal address and my phone number, in me and my husband’s opinion, is something that I want to remain private unless I’m talking to someone I’ve already worked with, family, friends, current clients, etc. As a parent of a two year old I am NEVER ABLE TO PICK UP THE PHONE, lol, and those with little ones should know and empathize with this..it makes no sense for me to sit and answer missed calls at the end of the day when I know she’ll be asleep. Do you really want a call at 10:30pm when I’m ready to talk uninterrupted haha? Most people would say no 🙂
I read the return email afterwards stating that because I didn’t give my number to her…the potential client had booked appointments with three other photographers already. I could go into more..but when it came down to it…I was REALLY confused about one thing. Wait, about 290923820 things. Here are the bottom lines when it comes to me and booking clients..and why I have the best clients around for me and why my business has worked wonderfully for me and I’m not one of the vendors taking as many weddings and as much business as they can in a year without knowing ANYTHING about their clients or connecting with them. I don’t get a message from another vendor referring me and sit there and sweat hoping so much they book me. I don’t even KNOW the person inquiring! To me it will always be quality over quantity.
1. When I was new, I DID take anything I could get the first year, but luckily– most of those were friends and great people! It worked out well. The bigger your business grows and you increase pricing, the “pickier” for a lack of a better term you can be. You really do want to make sure you’re booking people you will be able to work well with when you’re the photographer who is going to be shooting their engagements, bridals and up their butt on their wedding day hahah! They HAVE to be able to be themselves and candid around you!
2. I’m sorry to say this– but just because a vendor or someone wants me to book with/meet with someone doesn’t mean I’m willing to. I have a very organized system for talking to people before booking them because you know what?????? A bride deserves THE BEST for her and her fiance. If I don’t have the style or mesh the right way with a bride…she STILL deserves to find someone who will be perfect for her! I have received emails from people wanting film shooting, or editorial/lifestyle type photography for their wedding day and I know I have to be an honest person and not just book them for the money. There, I said it– I’ll give up $3500 to be an honest person. A lot better than booking and firing the client later right? Yes– that really happens. Not by me, but people actually do that. Real sweet, huh? Stay humble, stay in it for the right reasons.
3. I can’t just meet with people who are setting up meetings with tons of photographers and price shopping. That’s what emailing is for. That’s what the big and worthy investment in my promo video was for, to see ME and watch ME talk and work. My schedule at almost any given time is booked 2-3 weeks out..minimum. Every time I meet with a potential client it also means a babysitter and paying a minimum of $50 out of our family’s pocket for the babysitter and the expense of wherever we are eating/meeting. If someone is only price shopping and doesn’t have a heavy investment in booking with me, I just lost $50 for my family. Call me crazy and way too honest but it doesn’t make sense to us. We have rent, a car payment and lots of student loans (as of right now, are bills are totaling more than our already high rent, times are hard!) and it would make me feel so bad to take that from my family because a wedding vendor thought I should just meet with their bride just because….what. Just because?
4. I send a survey to inquiries first! Most of the time, if I don’t already know them or know them through a third party..I do ask a couple of questions to my inquiries to see if A) they are serious and not someone (like another photographer) looking for my pricing info B) their wedding day is a good fit for the way I shoot with natural light and my style of off camera lighting and for my business C) if they are good people who are REALLY in love! That part means a lot to me. I spent a LOT of sessions in the beginning of my business wondering why some people were together based on the way they were treating each other. If I’m walking away from my two year old baby and soon to be newborn daughter..I wanna make sure it’s because these two people I’m coming to are CRAZY about each other like they should be! 🙂
I say all of this out of passion and not prissiness. I am SO honored when I’m thought of by a vendor. One of my wonderful friends is a vendor in this area and when she meets a bride without a photographer who would work with my personality– she refers them to me because she KNOWS me. There is a bad reputation with a lot of the Hampton Roads vendors acting like it’s all a big SHOW. They’re all about the glitz and the glam, the networking events and people saying they love each other to their faces and then calling each other jerks behind their backs. I am lucky to say that so far the vendors I have been working with and recommending are so professional, sweet and they get SO excited genuinely for their couples on their days! They tear up like me on the wedding day. They get excited for them and maintain a relationship with the couples and when they become pregnant, or buy a new house, or make a big life step after the wedding has taken place.
Make sure you are sticking to your guns, photogs, and if you don’t get a good vibe..don’t go with it. You don’t owe anyone anything and your family comes first, and then your current clients..and then your potential clients who have a true interest in working with you. I love that the mentor I have in my life has instilled such a sense of not apologizing or feeling guilty for doing what’s best for my family and business. And of course, she doesn’t live here..but I wish she did 🙂
Brides– if you are looking for a fabulous list of vendors who you know are going to not only treat YOU well but other vendors with respect, I have a wonderful list!!! They have amazing hearts and never let me down, and they are in this industry because they are CRAZY about love! 🙂
Though they are not all exactly LIKE me, we are perfect fits. There is something different about my clients, there is something unique and incredible about all of their stories. They aren’t just paychecks to me. They’re people in love and I want to know their story and then be the one to tell it in images on their wedding day 🙂