Should I be in a Bridal Show?

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by jamieleephoto, Aug 27, 2007.

  1. Just need some input on everyones thoughts... I am just starting out. I now feel comfortable in doing my portrait sessions and I have been getting a lot of business/referrals for my portraits. My main goal is to be a "wedding" photographer. I only have one ugly wedding to show (older people, crappy wedding-before I even started my business). I recently had my friend and her boyfriend pose as a bride and groom. (mainly portraits on the beach) I think that the photos turned out great. I really think that if I sign up to participate in a bridal show, I could get a ton of business. My only problem is that I don't have much to show. I have working in the wedding industry for 2 years now, so I know that I will be good with "weddings". I know that I have photos that are impressive, but not a huge variety. The bridal show I am interested in is a very small cheaper show. I hear that it is only about $200. Most of the brides will be very budgeted, so my prices are good. I believe that the other photographers there will have "experience" but not "talent". (I went to this bridal show last year) Things I plan on doing for the show: Guestbook/photobook of an engagement shoot I did' Mini album of my friends "bridal" shoot Have 2 large prints framed form my friends shoot A slideshow going on my LCD screen of some random picutres (may include engagements and possibly families and babies) Of course all of the other decorating materials and banners. My main goal is to show that I can take GREAT photos at a very CHEAP price.
  2. I really don't mean this to be discouraging, but instead of investing in a booth, banners
    and all that extra stuff, maybe a few classes would be better for you. Try looking into a
    community college or nearby university and see if they have any photography courses
    available. The photos you've posted here aren't terrible, but they're not very good, either.
    It's not the best idea to start out as a "cheap" photographer with okay photos. You want to
    start out great and keep getting better!

    You have a lot of potential, but don't jump in 'til you know how to swim!

    Good luck :)
  3. Well, first off, don't use the word "cheap." Ever :). And this is coming from a guy who started out just this year charging only $550 per wedding, to build up my portfolio.

    For me, the obstacle to bridal shows, other than just up-front costs of the booth, etc, is that I offer only 1 simple package. I have a full-time job and go to school for my MBA at night, so coverage, files, and proofs are all I offer. I am wary of having a booth next or near to another photographer offering a whole lot more. Yes, the cost of the other photographer is higher, but I feel like he/she would offer 10 things, and I'd just say the same thing over and over.

  4. For what it's worth, I started out last year and did my first wedding for $475. I did lots of
    low-priced stuff to build up my portfolio!
  5. shooting a wedding the "right way" is very hard. each time i do one i learn something new get a little more comfortable and a little more uncomfortable realizing it's just the tip of the ice burg...because to do this business right requires soooo with that said:

    shoot (no pun intended) to offer weddings that are quality and not "cheap" you will probably work harder for the cheap bride and be under appreciated don't be a Mcdonld's be a 5 star steak house....

    i think your work has potential (i like your logo-type - it's better than so many other photog's out there) and for that matter keep on working and shooting ALOT....SHOOT ALL THE TIME.... ask people that look intersting if they would mind if you did a photo shoot w/ them...i saw a beautiful women in the resturant recently and approached her - she turned out to be a dance for alvin ailey and did all these really awesome things and i had a great time shooting her and gained a friend...this is a great way to practice, build a portfolio and connect to others....but you have to approach them....

    School is always a good thing but you know what there are always alternatives to anything....BOOKS AND MENTORS....i only took 2 photography classes in my life....and sometimes i go to local short classes when i can...(my college cancelled their photography department) but really nothing can give you TALENT and no one not even a school can make you learn....if you have the will you will find YOUR WAY...just remember what is good for others isn't necessarily what is going to work for you and there are so many ways...again i think your work has a lot of potential...

    if you think you will really get business at your bride show that's your call but wom is the best advertisement for the most part...i've also had others tell me they did great at bridal shows and some not so much.

    sometimes we can have a break through in our work and i think if you shoot a lot and get honest advice you could advance quickly if you work hard.

    but really try to not be the "cheap" wedding photog it lowers the integrity of this business and your work.... ;)

    good luck - would like to see more as you progress!
  6. sarah brings up a good point about doing the lower prices to build - i did the same last year and it is a good way to build....also see if you can assist a good photog - it takes a lot of the pressure off and if you shoot w/ someone really good you get to go to nice venues too... ;)
  7. I started out in 2004 and well I was a cheap photographer, some might still say I am. I went to four years of collage and jumped in after I graduated. My 1st year came from friends in collage that were getting married. That summer I put up my website, and that how I booked my second year of weddings. My 1st year I did 14 weddings, second year I had 21 and now this is my 3rd year and I have 35 booked. I never did a show; I had a good website and paid of advertisement on other sites. I?m not shore about doing a show; so far the web is doing good for me. Hope I was of some help.
  8. I have been to my local school's photography class, but it was mainly darkroom stuff. The only other education I could get is by moving 2 hours away, having no job and quit my business.

    I have been to over 100 weddings with some of the greatest photographers I know. I can not assist, since my situation won't allow it. I have about 4 brides interested for December and May. Which were all friend referrals. I mainly want to work on my future bookings. I know that if I don't do something NOW I will be dead next year.

    If I spend money on "bridal show stuff" I can still use it over and over. I will not be wasting any money.
    No one other than my friends even knows I am out there. I just want to get my name out there a little.

    I will never use the word "cheap" towards brides or advertising. I am not stupid. I was just getting my point across.

    BTW: What is it that is "wrong" with my pictures. I personally love them, is there something I am missing?
  9. for me Jamie - w/ these 3 photos mainly i would say some processing issues are making them less than they could be - in otherwords w/ some better ps they could pop better...get more detail in the first one among the clouds, the second is a bit majenta, and the last one the colors seem like they could be more enhanced somehow...

    on the other hand: the first one is a nice dramatic pose on the beach, love the second one and the candid fun of it all - nice shot - the third her vail makes her almost look like an but overall some more ps would help....and one thing i noticed about myself was and is the better i become the less need for ps (i think everything can use some) but just less the better and sharper i shoot... ;)
  10. The first photo of the bride on the beach is all washed out, does not clearly define her body and would not be something to use as a selling shot of your best work.
    The second one the water has an strange tinge to it and their faces are not easy to see.
    The third one shows some good artistic appeal.

    Go to the bridal show, spend your money and learn.

    Do not attend your own booth if possible. Have people fill out anonymous "what do you think" cards and offer some nice (not cheap) prize JUST for filling out the card, preferably not free pictures. Maybe flowers, a lunch at a local bistro etc. NOTHING to do with your business or it will defeat the purpose of getting honest feedback.

    You want to find out what people really think of your work and be prepared for, and accept what they say.

    If you are at the booth, most people will not tell you to your face IF they think your work is bad.

    Consider revising this mindset
    "I believe that the other photographers there will have "experience" but not "talent"...
    and you will learn a lot.

    Walk around the exhibits and LISTEN carefully to what people say about OTHER photographers work when they do not know you are a competitor. Be especially attentive if they mention your work and do not let on who you are.

    Or, you could start posting a lot of pictures on and see what kind of response you get for free.
  11. so you see how your waves at the beach are pink? sometimes i don't feel pics have to display accurate color but only if it's intentional and adds something - they also could be in much sharper focus.. ;)
  12. I think the first one is the best. The second one has dark, red skintones that could be
    pulled out with photoshop (but would probably end up being grainy because of the
    underexposure) and the third looks really overflashed to me. I think if you spend some
    time looking at truly great photographer's websites, you'd see what you need to aim for. I
    DO NOT THINK that you should try to shoot just like anyone else or that you should wait
    until you're at Jessica Claire's level to shoot weddings - just look at the greats and be
    inspired to do better. Learn how to use your flash and photoshop and you'll be on the
    right track!

    Here are some inspirational sites!

    Good luck :)
  13. Sarah won't tell you to look at her work but it's great too.

    i also like to look at:

    oh and i love:
  14. Attend the Bridal Show... just don't pay to exhibit. Go to talk to photographers who have the style of wedding photography that you enjoy. This is an action you can take, a step you can take that would better prepare you.

    Ask them how much it takes to prepare (time) and attend ($$) a Bridal Show.

    Look at the quality level of those participating then assess whether or not to enter Next Year.

    Bridal shows take a lot of time and expense ... if not prepared correctly you'll be disappointed.
  15. Jamie,

    Check out the book "Book Yourself Solid". Sounds like you really need to develop a business/marketing plan.

  16. Jaime:

    I've only attended one bridal show, back when I was first promoting my wedding photography. The booth location was okay, but when I saw what the other established photographers had set up, I wanted to pack my things and go. These guys had been in the biz awhile, and had built up enough work and marketing funds to really do things right. From the show, I only booked one actual wedding, which did lead to a referral and second wedding, but got a lot of experience from ATTENDING that show.

    Since then, I've been steadily building my business and now do very little advertising. I had a bold line ad in the yellow pages, but got NO business from it - total waste of money. You really don't have enough work to show, and though it certainly isn't bad, it really isn't dazzling enough to build a display booth from. However, I think you have what it takes to build a business.

    Put that money into doing some really good portfolio pieces and make a good portfolio book from your best work. Go to a local dress or tux shop and offer to do a photo shoot for them, if they can provide the garments and models - they can use the photos in their ads, and you get to use the photos for your marketing. You need to have examples from several different shoots, not just one beach wedding shoot. Once you have built these examples of your work, build a website, get yourself some good photo-style business cards, and start promoting through local wedding venues, church coordinators, wedding planners, etc. When you have some really dazzling images at a particular venue, create some framed canvas artworks and offer to let them display them, with your logo in the lower corner. Keep them stocked with business cards to hand out, and make friends with everyone there. When meeting with people, always wear a professional name tag with your logo to "build your brand". Follow up with your wedding clients by sending them a card on their anniversary (bet their florist or caterer won't remember to do that!). They'll send you more business in referrals. These strategies will net you much more than a bridal show booth, at least until you build up a body of good work and some clientele.

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