planning my wedding less than 2 years ago and I had a budget…. and it was tight. We had over 400 people at our wedding and I wanted my DREAM photographer. I had emailed her BEFORE I was engaged and I’m sure she thought “Oh, I’ve got another crazy one on my hands!”…. and then I emailed her again the day after Michael proposed. She sent me her destination wedding prices since she would be coming from California and I cried. I cried because I was so torn. I didn’t even want to walk downstairs and show my parents because I knew what the response would be. They would say “KK, that’s just not possible.” I was going to have to pick between FOOD and a PHOTOGRAPHER!! In my mind, I was thinking “I think my guests can go without food! It’ll be a new wedding trend!”…. just kidding… but the thought crossed my mind! That’s how BADLY I wanted this.
This AMAZING day that Michael and I had waited for nearly 8 years was going to happen and be over in less than 10 hours of time…. and the pictures from our wedding day would be the only things remaining when all is said and done! I cared about this!! Not only did I care about the picture QUALITY… but I care about the EXPERIENCE as well. In order to have amazing images, you have to have an amazing experience… and I knew that would come from loving your photographer. When you know your photographer and have a relationship with them, it changes things…. and it changes them for the better. I knew that Jasmine and JD would make us feel comfortable… and that we would have FUN and that our pictures would reflect that. I had followed Jasmine’s blog for 2 years before sending her that “I’m Engaged!” email and I was hooked. Big time. So with some help from my parents, I decided that my business would sponsor my wedding photography …. and we booked her. Cue the HALLELUJAH chorus!!! Was it expensive? Yes. Was it more than we had hoped to spend? Yes. Were the images more than we could have ever hoped for? Yes.
Yes. Yes. Yes! That’s all I said as I scrolled through of hundreds of images from our big day. We look through our album two years later and I’m constantly reminded of WHY I invested in the photographer of my dreams. 10.10.10 was magical and I have so many memories SAVED forever because of Jasmine & JD and I’m thankful. So not only do we have beautiful images but we had a wonderful experience as well. As photographers, we’re not just selling images, we’re selling the EXPERIENCE…. and that experience is what results in great images!
So back to the original question… “How do I convince couples that photography is an important investment? ….. My answer isn’t simple or complete but this is what I think. There are some brides that understand how VITAL the photography is for their wedding day… and there are some brides that have other priorities. And that’s OK!! Some brides consider photography just another vendor to book and check off the list… and some brides have known who their photographer is going to be for months before they were even engaged! …. maybe even years! So my response to “How do I CONVINCE my clients that I’m worth it?” is that maybe those aren’t your ideal clients to begin with. Maybe instead of spending SO much time trying to CONVINCE, that energy should be spent marketing toward your target audience. When you market yourself organically (no sales pitches, no massive ads… just word of mouth, blogging, social media sharing, etc) … you will start to develop a cluster of fans that LOVE your work AND love you. You could NEVER convince me to buy a Rolex because I could care less about that brand… I have no attachement to it! But guess who is signing up for the new iphone 5 even though it’s not necessary at all?! THIS GIRL… and my apple-crazed husband! Why are we willing to invest in another iphone? Because Apple has SUCKED US IN! We feel like we KNOW that company and we BELONG to it. Your business can give off that same vibe! But you’re not going to have people attach themselves to your business with a sales pitch or trying to convince that you’re worth it at a client meeting. You have to get them attached to YOU and your brand before they ever email you about booking! That’s what Jasmine did. She shares about her life, her clients and her favorite pair of boots and I just fell in love with her brand!! So when the time came for me to decide if I was going to book her… it wasn’t a question of “if”…. but it was more of a question of “how”! I knew I wanted her and I knew that she was worth what she charged.
So if you have clients asking you to slash prices and telling you that other photographers are offering them better deals and that you should match them…. let them go. It’s one thing to have a bride that is a perfect fit but doesn’t have the budget… and it’s another thing to have a bride that is trying to get a deal out of you. You don’t need to be working with that type bride in the first place…there are other photographers with different pricing that would fit her needs. I realize some of you are probably thinking “Um, Katelyn, I have kids to feed and a house to pay for and I need whatever I can get”. My response to that is, you’re right! You need to make money and I understand that. My advice would be to make this a gradual change in your marketing strategy. When I started saying no to clients that I KNEW were not the right fit, it was SCARY… but now I’m working with the most amazing brides a photographer could ask for!! Also, when I know that bride isn’t the perfect fit for me, that means that I can help them find a photographer that will meet their needs perfectly! It’s really a win-win for everyone! Also, I just wanted to add that this post is NOT saying that brides that can’t afford certain photographers aren’t great to work with … because that couldn’t be further from the TRUTH! Some of my BEST weddings were the ones that I didn’t profit very much from!! Seriously! My point is that if you’re a photographer that feels like you’re constantly CONVINCING and PERSUADING your brides to invest in your services, your energy could be spent somewhere else and those brides can work with a photographer that better suits their needs. :)
Well I feel like I’ve been rambling and so I’m going to rap this up. Photographers, don’t de-value yourself and brides, make sure you invest in a photographer that you ADORE… and if he/she is a little pricey, I can tell you first hand that a little splurge can mean amazing things for your wedding day. Don’t believe me? Check out my wedding pics :) Ps. I also realize that there are brides out there on a budget that really cannot afford to splurge and still be responsible with their finances. That’s ok too! I mean goodness! My wedding cake was made out of STYROFOAM in order to cut costs!! I understand! There are SO many amazing photographers out there that will fit into your budget and will do a FABULOUS job capturing your day!! This industry is bursting at the seams with new photographers with great talent and so if you’re a bride with a smaller budget and no room to splurge, I know for a fact that there are some GREAT options for you when it comes to photography!