» How to Thrive in Our Visual Industry

Photo by Bellagala Photography

This article was written by Kevin Dennis, editor of WeddingIQ.

The wedding industry is a visual business. There are few other moments in most couples’ lives when the majority of consumers will spend top dollar to have professional images taken, or hire designers to handle décor and florals for a single event. The first thing a couple does when wedding planning is turn to a source of inspiration images, whether in a print magazine or on social media. Wedding professionals have no choice than to be visually oriented in order to thrive.

The quality of your visual marketing, its reach and accessibility are all important to how well your company is received. We’ve assembled some of our top tips for selling with visuals to help you take full advantage of your opportunities.

Take top quality images

Depending on your market, this could mean many things, but ensuring that you have excellent visuals to attract prospective couples is the first step. Develop relationships with photographers so you can get access to real wedding images in a timely manner, if possible. Take advantage of inspiration shoot opportunities. You can even hone your talents and take your own awesome images to use in your marketing. Smartphone technology allows us all to be better photographers than in the past, so learn how to use that to your advantage.

Make your business space visually-oriented

Our office is saturated with visuals. We keep large canvasses of our work on our walls and even in the bathrooms! 60” TV monitors constantly show a slideshow of our best work, and we hand each client an iPad when he or she walks through the door with an album of our recent events in their venue on the screen.

Be careful as you put together your own visual playground that you are able to keep your images updated. Over time, any photo will look dated and becomes irrelevant, unable to promote your new inventory. Create easily updatable formats for promotion like slideshows so your new clients see the most current options at all times.

Take advantage of social media

Use all available channels to share your work – and make sure that the majority of what you put out is, in fact, sharing and not overly “promotional.” Tell a story with your visuals that includes your products and services, but also inspires couples to see themselves in your client’s’ shoes. Brand your images not just with watermarks, but with recognizable inventory or moments that strongly remind your market of you.

A picture may, in fact, be worth a thousand words, so what is your visual marketing telling your prospective clients about you?

Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the current chapter president for Silicon Valley NACE, and a previous national president for WIPA.

» Engagement Photography for Same-Sex Couples

photography considerations

 

 

Photo by Kat Ma Photography

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Expert, Kathryn Hamm.

Ten years ago, few same-sex couples were considering public ceremonies, and even fewer had access to legal partnership recognition. When couples did forge ahead into uncharted territory, most of their energy was spent finding gay-friendly vendors and worrying about whether or not family would show up. Engagement photography sessions were not yet a gleam in the collective LGBTQ eye, let alone the reality that they now are in the blogosphere.

Preparation Is Key

As same-sex weddings have become more widely accepted, more couples have begun following the traditional marriage prescriptions: engagement on a bent knee (or Jumbotron), engagement parties, bachelor and bachelorette parties, wedding showers, weddings, and big receptions. You know, the works. These changes require that photographers take a deeper look at their skillsets, and the services they offer same-sex couples.

Couples, too, should become more knowledgeable about the kinds of skills, style sense, and creative talents available to them when hiring an engagement and wedding photographer.

A Dry Run

If used well, an engagement session can provide fruitful inspiration for wedding day planning. The initial meetings and conversations offer a chance to get better acquainted with the couple, establish a connection, and build rapport, so that you and your clients can become a team working toward a shared set of goals and clear expectations.

In-person meetings with both partners offer the best opportunity to get acquainted and consider any observable differences that will impact the session, such as height, body type, or other physical differences. Equally important is the chance to learn more about how each individual expresses him/herself most comfortably (especially with regard to gender expression), how each partner relates to his or her beloved, and how their “coming out” experiences have impacted them and their family relationships.

The engagement session also offers a low-risk time to take chances, unlike the wedding day, which generally has a tight time-schedule and compulsory shot list. It’s a good time to try out new concepts, poses, or lighting scenarios, and figure out what works (and what doesn’t) with your clients.

Five open-ended questions to ask LGBTQ couples as you plan their big day:

  1. Was there a proposal? If so, who proposed to whom?
  2. What are you going to wear?
  3. Will there be a wedding party? What are they going to wear? What are you calling your attendants?
  4. Will you be getting ready together or separately?
  5. Tell me about your ceremony. What are you most excited about? Is there anything that concerns you?

This post is an excerpt from The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Lesbian & Gay Wedding Photography (by Kathryn Hamm & Thea Dodds; Amphoto Books, 2014), where you can find even more photography tips and examples for those who wish to work with LGBTQ couples.

kathryn hammThis post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Kathryn Hamm, Publisher of GayWeddings.com, the leading online resource dedicated to serving same-sex couples since 1999. Kathryn is also co-author of the groundbreaking book, The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Lesbian and Gay Wedding PhotographyFollow her on Twitter @madebykathryn.

» Say Cheese! The WeddingWire Photography Guide is Here!

PhotographyGuide-Cover-900x1165

The photographer is typically the second vendor a couple books (after their venue), and with so many talented professionals out there, it can be a difficult decision. The brand-new WeddingWire Photography Guide aims to assist and inspire couples as they search for the photographer who best suits their aesthetic, personality, and budget. In this online guide, we cover the logistics of selecting a pro, the details of photography packages and styles and much, much more. This is the WeddingWire Editorial Team’s first guide of 2017 and there are many more planned for the coming year—stay tuned!

Cover photo by Sam Stroud Photography

» How Photography and the Wedding Industry have Evolved Since Full Marriage Equality

This post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Kathryn Hamm, Publisher of GayWeddings, the leading online resource dedicated to serving same-sex couples since 1999. Kathryn is also co-author of the groundbreaking book, The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Lesbian and Gay Wedding Photography. Follow her on Twitter @madebykathryn.

The aspect I enjoy most about my work is having the chance to talk with wedding professionals about the work they do. Though we often talk about same-sex couples, trends and marketing practices, I absolutely love learning more about the specific talents and “tricks of the trade” of those who work with couples every day.

wedding-photography-marriage-equalityIn this spirit, four years ago, I fielded a phone call from New Hampshire-based photographer Thea Dodds. And that phone call turned into a coffee and a two-day exchange of ideas and professional experience. The end result was our self-published title, Capturing Love, which went on to be published as The New Art of Capturing Love by Amphoto Books in 2014.

The collaboration was meaningful for both of us and I came to understand more about wedding photography — and the challenge of producing beautiful, meaningful and personal images — than I had ever imagined I might.

I decided it was time for us to catch up — and this time on the record. I wanted to know how writing the book and being on tour teaching same-sex wedding photography in the industry has impacted her perspective.

Here’s what she had to say:

It’s been 4 years since we first sat down to produce and publish Capturing Love. How has the experience impacted your approach to wedding photography and couples portraiture?

Four years! That is hard to believe! When we first starting writing this book we could count the number of marriage equality states on one hand. So much has changed in four years.  Co-authoring Capturing Love has changed me, too, both in my business and my personal life.  I’ve learned so much from working with you, my clients, and our contributing photographers, that it’s hard to know where to start.

Overall, I’d say that Capturing Love has helped me connect with my clients more authentically. In a large part, I’m able to do this because I’m more conscious of the assumptions I bring to the table. I also have inclusive language that invites people to share who they are. And all of this blends right into my personal life because this work is really about being a better person.  

How has it impacted your thinking as a small business owner?

Capturing Love was a wake-up call to me about how important our work is. Our photographs influence opinions so we better make sure we know what the work is saying. One of the things that drove me to this project originally was that I felt my photographs of same-sex couples looked more like pictures of siblings. Once I listened to what my work was saying, I was able to change it. Now I am concerned with underlying meanings, power relationships and diversity in my portfolio. For instance, now that I know the LGBTQ population is about 5% of the US population, I want to make sure that my portfolio reflects that. Now that I know a ‘dip photo’ communicates strength and power, I’m a little more cautious about imposing that message on a couple.  It’s not that I never do it because some couples want that iconic image, but I’m just careful that they’re not doing it just because I told them to.

What changes, if any, have you seen in the photography industry?

Change is the one thing you can count on in the world, and the photo industry is no different.  I’ve been photographing weddings for 11 years and I’ve seen a lot of changes in my clientele, in industry standards and in wedding traditions, too. In the last two years, I have seen a sharp increase of interest in serving the LGBTQ community. This is truly fantastic change. It’s not every day that you get an entirely new segment of the population entering the wedding industry, so this has been a very exciting time to be a wedding photographer; but, there is still a lot of work to do.

Some photographers may have rushed into being LGBTQ-friendly while not learning how to be LGBTQ-competent. Just like we say in the book, the only way to get better at something is practice, and the one thing you never want to do at a wedding is practice. A wedding is a wedding, but there are some physical and cultural differences that impact our approach to best-serving the LGBTQ community.

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» 6 Ways Photographers Can Make Wedding Vendors Happy

Pro to Pro Insights

Christopher Lin, Lin & Jirsa PhotographyThis post was written by Christopher Lin. Chris is the co-founder of Lin and Jirsa, an award-winning Los Angeles wedding photography and cinematography studio founded in 2006. Chris has used his marketing, SEO and business expertise to help build Lin and Jirsa into a company that shoots over 300 weddings annually serviced by over 30 talented creatives. Along the way, Chris and his two business partners also created SLR Lounge, where an international team of writers and photographers share their education with the community.

Having consistent referrals from wedding planners, florists, DJs, videographers, makeup artists, and other wedding vendors can make a huge impact on your photography business. In fact, it’s not uncommon to encounter photographers that rely solely on the referrals from two to three wedding planners for most of their bookings.

How do these photographers establish such a strong, beneficial relationship? It starts by making all the professionals involved in the wedding happy; and here are 6 ways that wedding photographers can do just that:

1. Provide Images Immediately. Preempt the other professionals asking for images by sending them out to them as soon as they are ready. At Lin and Jirsa, we have our blogger personally call each one to let them know that the images are on the way. The feedback from this method has been overwhelmingly positive, since the other pros can better plan their blog posts, real wedding submissions, and more.

Lin & Jirsa Photography

Lin & Jirsa provides watermarked images to all vendors as soon as they are ready within one month of the wedding.

2. Give Social Media and Blog Credit. When we first started out 8 years ago, we didn’t think much of giving credit to the vendors involved when posting to social media or our blog. It takes a lot of work hunting down every vendor, and we were very understaffed at the time. However, since we’ve started taking the time to find each vendor and mention them on our blog and social media, our shares have increased as well as our referrals. Create a spreadsheet to keep track of each vendor’s Facebook URL, Instagram handle, Twitter handle, and email address – it will come in handy! As a photographer, you may have done an excellent job capturing the details of the wedding, but these other vendors made that possible with their artistry and hard work. A shout out goes a very long way, and a failure to mention someone can even be seen as a sign of disrespect. Continue reading

» 5 Types of Wedding Video Slideshows

How to create wedding video slideshows out of your photographyCreating videos to complement your wedding photography is a quick, inexpensive way to market your business, add value to your packages, and create anticipation during sales sessions. Animoto, our video partner, put together this list of wedding video slideshows that wedding photographers can easily create using our Video Builder tool.

Try out one of the video slideshows below to wow your clients!

Engagement video

An engagement video can impress clients during a sales session and also create anticipation for the wedding itself. Focusing on a couple’s personalities when building engagement videos creates a connection with clients and makes for some amazingly shareable content.

Save-the-date video

A save-the-date video is often a little shorter than an engagement sales video, and therefore more shareable on social media. However, if you have a shorter engagement video, it can easily sub in for a save-the-date.

Same-Day video

While a same-day video is a lot of work on a short timeline, it’s a great way to showcase your work during the wedding reception! All of the couples’ family and friends will be in attendance to see your work, and they’re more likely to pay attention there than they are to see it later.

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» Top Tips for Working with Photographers

This post is by Jennifer Reitmeyer. Jennifer has worked in the wedding industry since 1997. In addition to owning MyDeejay, an award-winning wedding entertainment firm serving the Washington, D.C. market, she also maintains a wedding business blog, WeddingIQ, and a blogging and social media service for wedding businesses, Firebrand Messaging. Jennifer is available for small business coaching, speaking, and writing opportunities. Read more at jenniferreitmeyer.com.

In the wedding industry, we all rely upon one another to make our events fabulous and to market our businesses. Perhaps no vendor type is as integral to the marketing process as photographers. Photographers hold the key to the images of our work and of the happy couples and their guests enjoying that work – and it’s pretty hard to create a website, blog or social media presence without those images! That’s why it’s important to build good relationships with photographers, which requires a combination of respect, courtesy and (sometimes) patience.

Photographer guiding clientsI spoke with my friend, colleague and WeddingIQ co-editor, Kyle Bergner, who also happens to run a photography business of her own. She was happy to share some tips for working with photographers and getting the images you need.

Here are five things you can do to respect, and receive images from, photographers:

Ask permission, not forgiveness. Obviously, we all want pictures, and it can be frustrating to wait – especially when those pictures are sitting right there on the photographer’s blog or website, or when our clients have offered them to us. It’s important to remember that the photographer owns the copyright to his or her work, and only the photographer can grant permission for you to use it. Keep in mind, also, that requiring images as part of your contract with your clients doesn’t obligate the photographer to provide those images – a client can’t control the photographer in that way!

Be patient. Photographers are ridiculously busy people! Unlike many of us, their work isn’t done when the wedding is over – they still have post-production, and sometimes album creation, to finish before they can move on. And that’s in addition to all the other things that go into running their businesses and living their lives! Email the photographers with your request, and feel free to follow up if you don’t hear back, but remember that “poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.” Don’t wait until the last minute before your marketing deadline to request images, because you’ll likely be disappointed.

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» The Importance of Professional Photos

The Importance of Professional PhotosCreating a brand in the wedding industry can be difficult – there’s a lot to consider! Your business needs a logo, consistent messaging, pricing details and more just to create a Storefront or website. Though it’s very easy to purchase stock photos to help boost the imagery on your website, it’s a best practice to feature photos of your own work to show off your expertise!

Before you reach for that cell phone camera, though, consider getting some high-quality images. Featuring high-resolution, professional photos that showcase your business is an important way to make your Storefront and website more appealing to visitors. According to Air BnB’s own research, listings with professional photos are booked 2.5 times more frequently than those without.

Not only are photos important for couples searching for their Pros, they’re also important for real wedding submissions. Any type of wedding professional can be featured in WeddingWire publications or on Project Wedding, but we do require at least 75 high-quality images for each submission. Our Editorial team will also seek out Pros on WeddingWire whenever they need to provide examples for our consumer audience, and having a lot of professional photos on your Storefront will help your wedding business stand out.

Unless you are a photographer, we know that high-resolution photos are hard to come by for many wedding and events professionals. Here are a few steps you can take now to start collecting more professional photos of your work:

  • Make it a point to meet the photographer at each wedding or event you do. Whether you meet with the photographer beforehand or at the event, be sure to chat and exchange business cards. This will open the door to requesting photos from the event that you can use to promote your own business.
  • Keep track of the photographers you work with over time. This will make it easier to reach out after the event for photos, plus it’ll help you build relationships in your local market. You might find that you work with some photographers more than others, which can be a great opportunity for referrals.

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» Common Mistakes in Real Wedding Submissions


Kim Forrest is one of WeddingWire’s editors. She manages content creation on both WeddingWire and EventWire. Kim has been writing about weddings for nearly a decade, and has been quoted as a weddings expert in the New York Times, Washington Post, Slate, and more.

The editorial team and I peruse dozens of real wedding submissions each and every day and often encounter issues that make photos – even those of clearly beautiful weddings – difficult or impossible for us to publish. Here are some of the most common “mistakes” that we wanted to share to hopefully help make your submissions stronger and rack up those publication credits.

Just a note before we get started – these are just some common themes and I speak only from my experience at publications I have worked for. All publications are different, so be sure to read their specific instructions before sending along a submission (here are our guidelines for WeddingWire and Project Wedding, in case you’re interested).

Common Mistakes in Real Wedding SubmissionsMistake #1: Too Many Black & White Images
Yes, black & white photography is classic, artistic, and frequently stunning. However, a blog wants to show a wedding’s color scheme to help inspire its readers. So while a few carefully chosen black & white images can be a lovely addition to a submission, keep the majority of your images in color.

Mistake #2: Not Enough Details
Again, a real wedding is all about inspiring readers – and readers want to see details, and lots of them! Send photos of the cake, the floral arrangements, the escort cards, the favors, and on and on. Blogs can only show a few couple portraits, so put the focus of your submission on the details – and make sure they are photographed clearly, individually, and straight-on.

Mistake #3: No Solo Shots
All too frequently, we receive real weddings that only feature photos of the couple together with no images of a bride and/or groom solo. Readers want to be inspired by a bride’s hair or makeup, or a groom’s style – so be sure to include solo shots (as well as close-ups of hairstyles for the brides) in your submission.

Mistake #4: Too Many Horizontal Photos
Publications need to receive a mix of horizontal and vertical photos to create a visually-appealing layout. Vertical images also look and perform better on Pinterest, which is a major source of traffic for most sites.

Mistake #5: Night Photos
If you’re photographing details, try to get photos during the day rather than at night. It’s so important for details to be well-lit in order to capture the interest of readers. Continue reading

» Getting Press: Inspiration Shoots

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding pr firm OFD Consulting. As a highly sought-after speaker in the wedding industry, she is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire as well as the national Communications and Marketing Director for WIPA. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you, as well as more about our new wedding PR kits, please visit us today.

Sometimes it’s easy to feel like you’re stuck in a proverbial wedding rut. The realization tends to hit once you’ve put the finishing touches on what appears to be your five thousandth wedding featuring mason jars.

Inspiration shoots are a great way to combat this, giving you a chance to flex your creative muscle during down time while adding depth to your design portfolio. Given the tremendous amount of work that goes into an inspiration shoot, it’s common to want to submit yours to a potential blog or magazine for further exposure. The issue? It can often be as challenging as convincing that couple they need to off the mason jar addiction!

Regardless of your service category, setting up an inspiration shoot to showcase your business, share your personality and stay creative is a great way to gain positive business exposure and remind you why you love the industry! Consider working with other Pros if relevant to your service to work together to create a special shoot that will generate some positive PR!

Here are some tips to get started:

Do your research. Take the time prior to the shoot to do your due diligence. Comb a slew of wedding media outlets to first see if they even accept inspiration shoots. From there, identify the type of content that tends to get picked up by your favorite Editors and then dig deeper to find a theme that is both fresh and exciting. In other words? Lay off the chevron and aim for something a bit more novel.

Set your expectations accordingly. If you’ve already completed your research, then your expectations should already be in check as you proceed with the big shoot. As you begin to assemble your inspiration shoot team, it’s important to share your intentions for submitting while also making it clear that you cannot guarantee a press pickup. At the end of the day, there are a million and one variables that can affect the outcome and if a team member comes into the shoot expecting a several page magazine feature, they may be in for a major disappointment if it doesn’t come to fruition.

Keep the lines of communication open with your team. Each member of the inspiration shoot will more than likely be donating their time gratis so if you have intentions of submitting, do so in a swift manner so that the vendors can be free to use the images for their portfolio in a timely manner.   Should the shoot be picked up (hurrah!), then it’s in your best interest to inform the team quickly. Not only will they enjoy seeing the rewards of their hard work, they can be instrumental in promoting the feature.

And finally, remind yourself that a potential press mention is only one of the many benefits of a successful inspiration shoot. The opportunity to collaborate with new talent, as well as to add fresh inspiration to your portfolio can be equally rewarding.

So toss aside those mason jars, and consider making a date with some of your favorite wedding Pros for an inspiration shoot that will knock your client’s socks off!

» Attention Photographers: Join us at WPPI 2013!

WeddingWire is excited to join the Wedding Photographers Association in Las Vegas at the Wedding and Portrait Photographers International (WPPI) Expo March 11-13th!

Each year, thousands of photographers attend WPPI to discover innovative photography techniques, network with peers, and learn about new products to improve their businesses. The MGM Grand Conference Center will host both the Conference and Expo portions of the event.

WeddingWire is excited to participate in WPPI this year! Be sure to look out for the “WeddingWire Charging Station” at the event Expo (we are booth #1678!). Boost your battery, grab some WeddingWire swag, and chat with our Directors of Sales who will be available to answer questions about WeddingWire and share tips to effectively build a strong online reputation.

Additionally, LGBT-friendly Pros should stop by the WeddingWire booth on Wednesday, 3/13 from 10:30am-12pm for a meet and greet with Thea Dodds, co-author of Capturing Love:The Art of Lesbian & Gay Wedding Photography!

Registration is quick and easy for WPPI members and nonmembers, but hurry – the big event will be here in a flash! We look forward to seeing you there!

» Capturing Love: It’s not rocket science, but there is an art to it!

This post is by Thea Dodds, the owner/photographer of Authentic Eye Photography, a boutique wedding and portrait studio based in New Hampshire. Thea is the co-author of Capturing Love:The Art of Lesbian & Gay Wedding Photography, along with Kathryn Hamm, President of GayWeddings.com.  Visit www.capturingloveguide.com to order the book and find a list of our scheduled appearances, and “like” us on Facebook for updates!

 

In my past fifteen years as a professional photographer, I’ve photographed more than two hundred weddings. So, you could say that I’ve gotten pretty comfortable working as a wedding photographer. I’ve got an established routine to meet and exceed my clients expectations, and I’m able to offer guidance, based on my extensive experience, to better create beautiful and lasting wedding photographs for them.

But, in 2005, I photographed my first same-sex couple’s wedding and realized that, while I had plenty of professional experience to lean on, I felt, in many respects, like a beginner.

That first gay wedding represented many firsts for me. It was, in fact, the first same-sex wedding I’d ever attended. It was the first wedding I’d ever photographed where neither member of the couple was wearing a wedding gown. And it was the first wedding where the ceremony kiss turned out to be the first time this couple had ever kissed in front of their families.

This couple was fantastic, two beautiful people who truly and deeply loved one another. But capturing their love in camera was challenging. My “regular bag of tricks” was no help when I tried to convey the level of intimacy I usually capture at a wedding.  Even simply posing this couple, because they were similar heights and weights, made the “standard” images difficult, since they couldn’t physically dip or lift each other.

Flash forward to today and I’ve learned a lot. Namely, that love is love and gay and lesbian weddings have a lot in common with heterosexual weddings. There are, however, some key differences that a photographer must understand and I wanted to do something more to share my experience with other photographers.

That’s why I called Kathryn Hamm, president of GayWeddings.com, a the first online resource specializing in support and information for same-sex couples, their families, and the Wedding Pros who wish to work with them.

The end result of that fateful call? Together, we designed a groundbreaking guide—Capturing Love: The Art of Lesbian & Gay Photography—designed to help photographers and engaged couples understand the art and mechanics of photographing lesbian and gay weddings and engagements.

To understand in depth what we’ve discovered and the tips and information gleaned from so many talented photographers and beautiful couples, seeing a copy of Capturing Love is well worth the time and effort.  We scoured through thousands of photographs to select 65 outstanding examples of same-sex engagement and wedding photography, which represent the work of 38 photographers and 46 couples from 19 states, Canada, the U.K. and Italy.

Check out just a few examples of what we reveal in the book:

Seasoned photographers will recognize this pose from the traditional wedding playbook for grooms and their best men. This casual, yet connected pose generally conveys a connection of friendship and support. In this image, however, the direct and meaningful gaze shared by the two men indicates a much closer, more intimate relationship.

 

Nothing says love like a nuzzle. The challenge with a couple of the same height (often occurring for same-sex couples) is getting the couple close without covering up too much of their faces. Layering their bodies is key to solving this challenge. Guidance with phrases like, “put your shoulder into your partner’s armpit,” can reduce confusion so the couple can stay in the moment and focus on their nuzzling.

 

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