Last night I had the pleasure of speaking at Bree and Stephen's San Diego Mastermind Mixer. It was awesome to get meet photographers from all different levels and get to work alongside some super talented individuals Dakai, Sarah Zimmerman, and Gabriel Conover. I learned so much from just watching them work and hearing them share their experiences. It's so fun how everyone has different takes on photography and how to run their business. One question I was asked by people repeatedly after the panel discussion was "How do I book more weddings?". I wanted to give everyone some free easy tips to start working towards booking more weddings.
1. SECOND SHOOT!!!
I think this may be a typical response, but here are a few things to consider. Find photogs who have a similar style to you (in editing and type of weddings you want to shoot), are successful, and you feel like your personalities will mesh. The similar style part is important because down the road, after you've second shot with them, they might pass off inquiries to you that they are already booked for. This is key! Using similar equipment helps too as some photogs want to only shoot with the people who shoot the same brand as them. To actually get the gig of second shooting the next step is truly befriending these photographers. Start commenting on all of their posts with genuine comments, DM them, build a relationship. Next, see if you can offer them a free shoot. Offer to take some profile photos/headshots for them, or shoot them and their significant other or family. I don't ever hire second shooters unless I know them, and have worked with them prior. Build those relationships! Then when/if you get a chance to second shoot for these photographers, go above and beyond! Make sure you follow all of their directions, get them water, carry their bags, try and be the best freaking second shooter they've ever had. Not only will they want to hire you again, but they'll feel comfortable passing future couples on to you. One last thing, make sure you work out ahead of time being able to share the photos on your social channels and portfolio. Different photogs have different points of view on this, but if you're new and you need this wedding for your portfolio, make sure you get it cleared ahead of time.
2. BEFRIEND VENDORS!
Vendors don't get the love they deserve. I listened to Dakai speak about how important this is and it really hit home for me. I always share photos when vendors ask, am super nice to everyone and have booked some weddings through their referrals, but I've never gone above and beyond to show them love. That's what it's all about. Collect every single business card at the wedding and tag them in your posts. Also, make sure to share the gallery with them, they will end up sharing your photos and marketing for you. You can set up a referral program with them and add them as vendors to your site. It's a two way street. As you bring clients to them, they'll bring them to you. Show all your vendors some love. Also, just like the first idea, befriend vendors prior to weddings. Look for florists, venues, coordinators, etc. in your area and see if they need some free photos for their site.
3. GET AGGRESSIVE ON INSTAGRAM
Don't sit back and wonder why the inquiries aren't pouring in. You need to get off your butt and hustle. Search city hashtags, people who just got engaged, cute couples, couples you know through mutual friends, and see if you can shoot some engagement photos for them. Search wedding dress shops in your area and find the brides who just recently found their dress. Slide in to those DMs and introduce yourself. As I'm writing this I cringe a bit because I worry for the brides who are about to be bombarded by DMs. Be considerate of that. Be genuine. Befriend them for real, and inquiries will start coming. It's like cold calling in a modern day. It's a numbers game and it's about working your butt off. Don't be scared to get rejected. The worse someone is going to say is no thank you, or ignore you. Don't stress on the growth of your own follower count, focus on connecting directly with couples you want to photograph.
I've booked the majority of my weddings through these three tactics and have finally started to begin booking through other ways. I know it's hard starting out. You compare yourself to other photogs and ask "how the heck are they already booked for this year? I've only booked 2 weddings!" It's okay. It's slow to start, but it's up to you to drive inquiries.
If this article helped you, please shoot me a DM here: @tonywodarck. I'd love to hear from you and help you in any way I can.
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