I had the honor of being a Guest Blogger for Jodi Friedman, of MCP Actions (who is well known in the photography world for her photoshop training, editing, photoshop actions and workshops). You can see more of Jodi’s blog here: http://mcpactions.com/blog/, comments from the post on both her site and from her MCP Facebook Page (as they were posted both places so many people responded in different places). But I also wanted to share my post here with my readers as well. 🙂
Wedding Photography: Standing Out from Others and Capturing the Emotion
Being a photographer is more than just buying a fancy camera and going out photographing. Heck, anyone can do that. But becoming a wedding photographer and standing out from everyone else who is photographing weddings, is another story. Whether you specialize in weddings, families, newborn…..you can put yourself in this situation. There are a TON of photographers in each state, many doing the same kind of work as you. Some people only photograph weddings. Some photographers specialize in one field but photograph a little bit of everything. My question to you is this…..HOW do you stand out from those other photographers? What makes you different from them?
The first answer that may pop into a photographer’s head is….I’m the cheapest one in my area. Scratch that off your list. The worst thing you can do is be just that. It is one thing to be less expensive IF you are JUST starting out in a field and you need to gain experience. But if you know exactly what you are doing and heck, been photographing something for years, being known as the “cheap photographer” is the worst thing you can do. Potential clients may look at your work, like it, but wonder why you are so much less expensive than the others in your area and pass you by. Does that make sense? Price your work and time accordingly. Your work should be the one speaking for itself. Your work is what will make you stand out from the rest of the photographers.
You need to find your style…your own “look”. If your photography looks like the photographer down the street or the local chain studio, people may pass you by and you wouldn’t have caught their eye. It’s ok if it takes you a while to find out what your style is, no one would expect you to know EXACTLY what you want to do or achieve. Only you will figure it out and when you come across a series of images of yours that WOWs you…you’ll know. After you know what you are looking for, you will keep that in your mind and will make sure to achieve that look, even if it’s just a few images with each wedding. It’s those images that will speak for you and your business. To be honest, it took me probably almost a year with photographing weddings until I really knew what look I was going for. Was I happy with the images I have previously photographed? Yes. But it took a lot of work, practice and creative thinking and processing to accomplish what I wanted.
No one can tell you what look to go for but I’ll give you my thoughts. I am always checking out other photographer’s work: Local, National and International. We all look for inspiration, knowledge and networking. I have found that more and more photographers (and clients) are looking for the more “lifestyle” photography. The “modern” look, so to speak. People in their natural surroundings, families at a park playing and exploring…and of course, to achieve this look, you have to connect with the families or the couple you are photographing. So even if you are photographing in a studio, it’s the feeling and emotions that will show through. That is what you need to show in your images because when a potential client is browsing through your website or blog, if they can connect with a certain image or images that you are presenting to them and say to themselves “WOW! I want this for my wedding!” Or “I have GOT to have this look for my family portrait!”
As I mentioned earlier, I am mainly a wedding photographer. I would say that about 80% of my work is Weddings and the rest is between Families, Newborns, Trash the Dress and everything else that falls in between. With each wedding or portrait session I photograph, there is at least one image that I can say “WOW!” and know that I truly captured the emotion of that couple, their true personalities or a certain moment that happened. For the first image, it is a baby girl hanging in a cocoon. This image is dear to my heart and I think it always will be. It certainly isn’t a “Carrie Sandoval” or “Anne Geddes”, image but even as I progress with my experience with this type of portrait, this one is special. The parents’ of this baby was the very first couple that I met with and booked me as their wedding photographer when I started my own business. Being able to capture the two very important things in their life (their wedding day and their first born child), is an amazing feeling!
I truly love each and every one of my bridal couples. I have yet to have a “bridezilla” and hope that I never have to come across one. Sometimes, you’ll get the couples that just call or email you and book your services right off the bat. But in my opinion, I would rather meet with them in person and more-so, would LOVE if every couple booked an engagement session with your services. Why do you ask? It gives you more time to get to know the couple, find out what they love to do together, talk more about their wedding and just create a great relationship with them. However, this can STILL happen if they don’t want an engagement session. Keep in touch with them by phone, email, your blog, Facebook…anything. Don’t be a pest of course, but it’s an awesome feeling on their wedding day when you’re really comfortable with them and I find out, they are more willing to try new things out if you want to experiment. In wedding photography, you MUST try new things. New poses, new lighting (even if it’s finding a different location in a reception area that you’ve photographed a million times), test out some video lights or grab a flashlight for different looks on things. If it doesn’t work the first time, don’t get discouraged. Try to figure out what went wrong and experiment again before your next event. Or it could be a different way you edit. Something new and fresh! For example, my next image. Lots of photographers will have the groom dip the bride to kiss them. It’s always one the client loves, it’s classy. I still do it. But take it up a notch. Have the groom kiss their neck or just below that. It creates a classy, yet playful and more seductive look to it. With this image, I was testing a new way to edit and I think it really worked for this because in my eyes, it added to the romantic look that the image already portrays.
For the last image that I will show you, there’s a little story behind it. With this bride, both her and her sister booked me to be their wedding photographer. However, this bride’s fiancé was in the United States Army. Unfortunately, it turned out that he was going to be deployed sooner than expected and when they had to move up their date, I was double booked for that weekend they had planned it. She came to me at a later time, saying that she wasn’t completely happy with her wedding images and wanted me to photograph a Trash the Dress session with her and her husband when he came home. The beginning of the session, we did some portraits of the two of them and then slowly did some more urban, modern portraits…and finally, ended up IN the ocean for some great photos. This couple was up for ANYTHING that I wanted to do and having a client say that, is like being a kid in a candy store! This image is nice as it was photographed but I felt that it needed something a little more and when I tried this edit, it literally made me go “Ooooooooh!” For my style, it just works. I’m very excited too because this bride has become a good friend of mine now and they are now expecting their first child. I bet you can sense how excited I am about that!
So…to wrap it up…it’s ALL about style, the feel of your photography and capturing those emotions. In wedding photography, constantly keep an eye out for things that are happening around you. Think of ALL the planning, stress and emotional attachments that happen on that day. There’s bound to be tears and screams of excitement. It’s up to you to capture those images for everyone to see in years to come because not only are you creating memories, you’ll be creating more emotions THROUGH your photographs.