What makes you (as a wedding photographer) "unique"? How are you standing out from the pack?

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by steve_c.|5, Jul 7, 2009.

  1. The marketing gurus have been saying that to rise above all the upstarts and wannabe shooters, you have to provide something unique and special that clients can't get elsewhere. They're telling us things like "You are not your photography" and "Taking nice pictures isn't enough". They say you aren't selling your photos, you're selling "the experience of interacting with YOU".
    This got me wondering what you folks here are doing to be different, to stand apart from the crowd (and thereby be more successful)? What do your clients get from working with you that they can't get elsewhere?
     
  2. I don't know, really. At this point I'm trying to soak up everything people write about being a "Signature Brand" photographer. It really appeals to me, and I've changed a lot of my marketing angles to follow that signature brand (I really like stark black and whites, vintage inspired composition or edits, and a few other tweaks that I hope sets me apart...at least in my area).
    I went from having kind of a mish mash of marketing tools to using one logo, one brand, usually one color (black) and I'm trying to improve on really making my work more "me" and less inspired by everyone else.
    I think if you remaine the perpetual amatuer, if you are always learning, always trying, always improving, and always remaining aware of what brides and grooms are seeking, you can create your signature.
    YOU need to be the brand. Thats what sets the big players apart from the small potatoes, the photographer...not the photographs.
     
  3. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    “what you folks here are doing to be different, to stand apart from the crowd”

    Steve, if I told you my secret - I'd have to shoot myself, (or you) and I don't think there's much future for me, in either.

    ***

    Aw, OK, you are just a big arm twister.

    My answer is:
    1. Rapport.
    2. Knowing exactly what the business is, at any particular time, I am in
    3. Rapport
    4. Knowing exactly who at any one particular time, the client is
    5. Rapport
    6. Knowing exactly what each particular client is buying
    7. Rapport
    I admit I have an ego, but I cannot state the above list answers this: “What do your clients get from working with you that they can't get elsewhere?”
    I can say, however, I am confident I can do points 1 to 7 inclusive, better than most.
    I can also state, honestly and with zero arrogance: it is my opinion that many Wedding Photographers, do not know exactly what business they are in; nor who their clients are; nor what it is the clients are buying.
    As you can see, I am still having problems with those nasty prepositions ending some of my sentences . . .
    FYI, struggles in running a business, day to day: http://www.photo.net/wedding-photography-forum/00Trka

    ***

    Steve, besides using that wide angle zoom lens (very nicely) – what is it that you do different to most?

    WW
     
  4. Steve, that is a damn good question. I have been following forums here for a number of years and many questions do repeat, but I have never seen this one yet.
    It has to be something that is different from anyone else.
    Recently my friend booked a wedding photographer. He was in awe.
    The first thing he mentioned was: That dude has so much charisma, Im glad I have booked HIM for my wedding.
    That particular dude (I have never met him) has decent wedding pix, but a very good reputation among people.
     
  5. steve asks good questions ..... that makes different than most.
     
  6. Pack? What pack? ;-) I love people and so find it easy to connect with them. It helps that I try to deliver some decent pics too :)
     
  7. I can't say what specifically sets us apart in the market, because I am not an active wedding photographer searcher, but I think I can give some of the things that we try to do that we hear good results about. We are shooting 36 weddings this year and I am pretty comfortable with what we are doing and the fact that it is working.
    #1a - Website - Everyone we meet comments on how informative and easy our website was to use. We include detailed information about each of our packages and what you can expect from each item in the package. Pretty much EVERYTHING is laid out on our site. I have heard others say that this is NOT the way to go. The you should try to force them to meet with you and sale yourself that way..........well if you aren't salable it won't matter. They want to go to the web and make a decision before they even arrive to talk to you. Your website is your store front and people will decide if they go in from it.
    #1b - They are our friends - We truly feel that we are friends with each of our couples. These people are choosing us to spend the most important day of their life with them. As the story teller, you have to feel some connection. If you don't then you are just shooting an event...and a wedding is not an event. We have links to our personal Facebook pages on our website, we are friends with a lot of our bride's and groom's on Facebook. We interact with them through out the entire planning process leading up to the big day.
    #2 - We are married photographers. My wife and I work together and I think when a couple meets with us and we talk about our experiences and the way we work together, something clicks with people. And I hope that is true, because every bride and groom has to be able to click with their wedding photographers.
    #3 - Age. We are 24 and 26. This appeals to young couples. Most weddings we book are young couples that are right around our age, using the internet to plan their wedding. They want someone they get a long with and has a fresh look on wedding photography. We haven't been doing it for years so we aren't "set" in our ways and we are always trying to do something new. I don't mean to imply that all photographers over the age of 35 never change or are stuck in their ways, but market perception might be such.
    #4 - Flexibility - On more than one occasion we have throwin our own personal agendas out the window to help out a couple. If that means staying an hour later at a wedding or doing three different engagement sessions as part of one, then we do it. We go beyond and when word of mouth hits and people are talking about us...it pays off.
    #5 - Wide Range of Wedding Packages - We offer four different packages ranging from $500 - $2000. We get really small weddings and we get larger weddings. Offering the wide variety means some weekends we aren't making a ton, but we are pushing our name across those weddings and people know who we are now. That generates side shoots.
    So those are the things that we see as setting us apart...unfortunetly some of you won't be married photographers or under the age of 30. But having an informative website and being flexible is huge. You can't over estimate the importance of the website.
     
  8. I love this from William W."Rapport" -
    That is in the top three for sure.
    Add confidence. Marketing experts will tell you that "fear" is a big motivator in sales. This is a big day. Lots can go wrong. My client's are confident that I'll deliver. They see lots of weddings under many conditions, they speak to past clients that rave about the work and working with us. I explain to the clients that I've been around for a long time and in addition to the photography we're there for them with advice on vendors, will be somewhat of a coordinator when they don't have one to make sure everything goes smoothly. We basically make them feel like they are in great hands and we've seen it all and can handle any situation smoothly and effortlessly. We've fixed makeup, hair, gotten stains out of dresses and - we exude an air of fun, excitement and enthusiasm. This eliminates the fear of being photographed and/or that posing for photos is uncomfortable and/or a drag.. They truly feel that this will not be the case.
    Naturally all this won't work if they don't like your style of photography... That still has to be first.
     
  9. Aside from a good product I'd like to think that it's exemplary service which sets me above my competitors. I treat each client as if they were my only client and I go some way beyond what I am contracted to deliver professionally. I don't try to be a client's best friend, but they have every confidence that I am their ally and that their feelings and opinions are of paramount importance to me.
     
  10. What a fantastic question. Nice one, Steve.
    I try to differentiate everywhere I can. Here are some examples. (I use the words 'other photographers' in these examples - clearly that doesn't mean everyone, but the generalisation is applicable to most other photographers in my area. Please excuse it as a convenience, even if inaccurate).
    Process
    Other photographers use constructed moments. I work with found moments only. Other photographers interact with their subjects. I don't. Other photographers use flash. I work with natural light. Other photographers look for images. I look for stories. Other photographers are all digital. I'm 50% film and considering moving to 100% film. Other photographers have set pieces they include in each wedding. I work with what I find, and every wedding is photographed differently.
    Style
    Other photographers emulate or are influenced by other wedding photographers. I avoid referencing other wedding photographers. (My references are more likely to be Paolo Pellegrin or Trent Parke, or more classically Humphrey Spender or Roger Mayne. I'm a street photographer at heart and bring that to all my wedding work). Other photographers have subjects looking to camera. My subjects are mainly looking elsewhere, mostly at other people. Other photographers have a very contemporary aesthetic - in colour, back-lit, wide-angle, subjects leaping or posing in certain ways. I don't do any of that stuff; if anything my aesthetic is more like classic black and white, and the only contemporary influences I draw from are in fashion photography.
    Products
    Other photographers offer small prints - say 6x4 or 8x10. I offer some small prints but only as presentation sets of 100 - otherwise my single prints are only available as enlargements of 16x20 and upwards. My model is based on positioning prints as fine-art rather than something to put in a frame on the mantelpiece. Other photographers (in my area especially) use albums and books from the same suppliers. I don't - mine come from Germany and California so they're not readily comparable in my local market.
    Client Care
    Other photographers find diverse clients. Most of my clients share a common profile - largely the same type of industry sectors, education, age and lifestyle aspirations. It's a model that's very relationship based and built on referrals. So WW's observations about knowing your market and creating rapport resonate strongly with me. My style with clients is to be low-key, friendly, no fuss, deeply personal and different for everyone. And definitely not sales focused. I never sell anything. I just let people buy it if they want it, which seems to work.
     
  11. Neil, I just checked out your site for the first time (your little blurb on your style drove me to it). Your wedding work is absolutely stunning. Very editorial, I love it!
     
  12. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    It is interesting (to me) to note the style of answers this (very interesting) question solicits, in regard to the answers being either: macro-focused or micro-focused.

    The style of answer is one part of the definition of priorities, focus and design of the person’s business and their strengths, also: which goes, in part, to addressing the question asked.

    I would find it excessively interesting and I would learn a great deal working with Neil Ambrose, for example - because he would hone my micro-focusing skills, of that I am sure - we however might drive each other nuts, too :)

    WW
     
  13. Very interesting answers so far. I'm always wrestling with how I can get the kinds of clients that pay the most and are the most pleasant to work with (sometimes those two things are mutually exclusive). I want to be as uniquely different from the pack as possible, not only in my reportage, but in my package offerings and the way I interact with people.
    I think many of us need to remember that there are plenty of wedding clients out there we DON'T want to work with, for a variety of reasons (low budget, bridezillas, impossible-to-please people, and those who pick a photographer based on how cheap they are or give the most stuff in the package). I want people to pick me because they LOVE my work, and LOVE the way I interact with them. I never want to be picked on the basis of being "low bidder".
    To that end, and beyond my 10mm scenic shots, I try to communicate with people in a fun and natural way. Some of us have the gift of gab (I mean the right amount of gab), and can establish that all important rapport with our clients.
    Now, when I meet with people, I have no trouble at all communicating with them. I let them do the talking, and try to draw them into a conversation about the experience they are trying to build with their wedding. I want them to do most of the talking at first, because people just naturally like to tell their ideas and their story. I then build on that, once I figure out who they are, and what makes their eyes light up.
    Since most people see us on the web before we ever meet with them, I think it's very important that we somehow craft our website in a way that says, "this guy is different, you should get to know him better". In a way that sets us apart from the rest of the wannabe shooters. I want my site to make a different statement than everyone with a Bludomain template. Since I'm in the process of reworking my site, this is at the top of my list. In addition to what I initially asked, I'd love some ideas from those who have crafted something special into your own site that sets you apart.
     
  14. "Taking nice pictures isn't enough" In our market its :: Price , Price , Flexibility, then recalculate : Price :)
     
  15. Was great posing. Used to study books how to pose. Now posing is out the door !!!
     
  16. GREGORY ::: We still pose 80% of our images > even most of our "candids" are Hollywood staged . So, the posing > during our coverage ,,, is still in demand for our clientèle.
     

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