A Wedding Photographer’s Search for a Wedding Photographer – Part Four

Today is the 4th instalment of Libby Clark’s bride to be diary series. In the first 3 parts of this series we’ve discussed budgets and how hard it is to find a photographer using Google (there is just so much to choose from and so many sites to wade through). Throughout this series though Libby is learning from her own search exactly what her own photography business needs and all of this she is sharing with you.

so, enjoy part 4 of A Wedding Photographers Search for a Wedding Photographer. Over to you Libby…


Welcome back for another week. I hope you’re getting something from these posts because I’m learning so so much!

Last week looked at what I want and how I was looking for it. I focused a fair bit on homepages and how that is your place to shine. 50 milliseconds, remember?!

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This week I thought I’d leave the world of Google behind and try some other methods. I feel like I’ve struck gold.

Part Four– Where Else Can I Look?

To be honest, Google was overwhelming me quite a bit. I was so fed up of just clicking result after result and using slightly different search terms for a different list to click through. Obviously I’m quite a visual person so I wanted to see work before I visited the website. It’s all about speed! I wanted lots of pictures in front of me I could choose from and go from there, otherwise I was at risk of losing my patience and losing interest.

At first I thought about Facebook. I’ve seen people use this many a time, mostly through posts in wedding groups:

“Can anyone recommend a good wedding photographer who’s cheap?”

Eurgh, I HATE those posts! You just get comment after comment of pretty much every photographer each person knows. Like I said last week, photography is subjective so you can’t expect to find exactly what you’re looking for with a post like this. Unless you’re lucky.

I thought about going through the various photographer’s pages I’ve “liked” over the years but with over 1,200 pages in my liked section it seems just as daunting as Google. Don’t discount Facebook completely though. More on that in a minute.

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The most visual social tool I thought of was Pinterest. How many times as photographers have you visited Pinterest for inspiration? There is so much beauty out there that makes my jaw drop and Pinterest has the majority of it sitting there waiting to be pinned.

So off I went. Hello Pinterest, search “wedding photography Gloucestershire”.

OMG OMG OMG OMG… Yes really. Look at all the gorgeous photos!!

Whilst I still had a lot of results I was feeling much more confident. As long as the photographer’s name was mentioned and I liked what I saw, it was pinned. I decided that if I saw more than a few of one photographers work and pinned it, I would check them out a bit further. I only pinned 33 photos before I realised I was going to struggle to narrow them down so I had to stop myself.

An important part of this process for me if to give myself some thinking time. Time where I’m not looking for wedding photographers so that I can come back with a fresh mind. Indeed that’s what I did and whilst I still loved some of the work it was removed from the list because it wasn’t quite right for me.

The next night I began making my way through the list and looking at websites. I think I narrowed it down to 5 at the time. The next part of my search involved looking into these 5 a little more. I moved away from Pinterest for this and on to Facebook. I found myself looking for some interesting things I hadn’t expected. How often do they post? When did they last post? How many wedding photographs are on their page?

If I go to my Facebook page and ask the same questions the answers are as follows; Rarely, October last year, quite a few but they vary hugely in quality.

Ouch, so not only do I need to redo my website. I also need to seriously overhaul my Facebook page and get posting! I remember a friend setting up a Facebook schedule every day with different kinds of posts. Links, images and text. It worked brilliantly for her and the enagement on her page sky rocketed. As soon as she stopped so did the engagement.

Use social media, it works!

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I think I’ve found my main search tool. I wondered if I’m the only person who will find their photographer via Pinterest or if this is quite a popular tool? I’ll expand on this more next week but this week’s lesson was this:

Most friends I asked did not use Google as their main search tool. For some reason this surprised me!

When I put the question out to friends I started to get quite a mixture of answers and I wanted to ask more questions, so I’ve decided to do a little market research and do a questionnaire. I’ll let you know the outcome soon.

Next week – The enquiry stage

 


About the Author: Libby Clark

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Libby is based in Swindon, UK and has been shooting weddings for five years. Find out more about Libby over at www.libbyclarkphotography.co.uk

Be sure to join the discussion over in the buzzing RSP community and subscribe to Ready Steady Pro right here to receive the next part of this series direct to your mailbox or to be notified when new parts are available for reading!

 

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A Wedding Photographer’s Search for a Wedding Photographer – Part Three

We’re back this week the 3rd installment of Guest Blogger Libby Clark’s diary series, opening the pages on her own search for a wedding photographer. We’ve spoken about the budget, we’ve touched on how difficult it can be to find exactly what you’re looking for in a saturated market and even how with tools such as Google we’re still presented with far too much choice! Today however Libby dives further into her search and details exactly what she is looking for and what she is doing to find it. So, please do enjoy part 3 of A Wedding Photographer’s Search for a Wedding Photographer, by Libby Clark…


Hi all,

Last week’s post certainly provoked some discussion and food for thought in the Ready Steady Pro Facebook group. I talked about the search terms I found myself using, mostly broad searches that weren’t getting me anywhere. So I had to do some more in depth searches.

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Part Three – What Do I Want and How Do I Find It?

This week was all about using keywords and different search methods. I decided the best thing to do would be to write down what style we were looking for. As a photographer this is where I knew I was going to struggle. We all have our own specific style and we wouldn’t use it if we didn’t like it. So what I’m looking for is someone who photographs the way that I do and better, but I have that budget of £1,800 to keep in mind. I might be able to sneak that up to £2,000… maybe.

Our theme/style for the day itself is very rural, involves cider, lots of natural colours, flat caps and flowers. In my head I see lots of light, soft images of the blushing bride (that’s me!) looking whimsically into her new husbands eyes with the sunlight behind them. Soft and warm colours… *sigh*. Sorry I went into a daydream of prettiness there!

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So how do you sum that up into keywords? I guess I can add vintage to the list so I search “Wedding Photographer Vintage Style Gloucestershire”.

Now that’s a bit better. The first thing I see is a website that lists local photographers and I notice a few more keywords in their first paragraph; reportage, documentary style, posed photographs. This also reminds me of fine art, classic, unique, street and a few more keywords I can add to the list. I just need to narrow down which.

When I shoot I like to do so in a documentary style but the couple photos are the perfect opportunity to be a bit more creative with lights and angles. Without going into another daydream we want someone to capture the true essence of the day so we’re definitely looking for documentary style with a fine art twist. That might be hard. Do people even do that? I do so I hope others do!

Ok, good. I have some more keywords:

“Wedding photographer vintage style gloucestershire documentary fine art”

Bit of a mouthful I must admit but hurrah! I have far fewer results and I go ahead and click on one. So far, so good. For the most part I like what I see on the home page slideshow even though I’m a little frustrated it’s not loading very quickly. I’m not very keen on the second photo I see though. The guy has a slightly awkward look on his face and doesn’t look comfortable. Stuart hates having his photo taken and will only let me do it so I’m really aware I need to find someone he can be comfortable with and relax.

I did some assistant and second shooting work last year in return for some mentoring and one of the things I was told was to only showcase the best of the best. Nothing mediocre.

I can see why now, maybe it’s my overly critical eye but I’ve noticed this one error and I’m about to discount the photographer because of it! I think about the fact I’ve done exactly the same thing and tell myself not to judge so quickly and carry on looking.

This is the next lesson:

People can make decisions in 50 milliseconds. You have 50 milliseconds to make people go WOW and encourage them to keep looking.

I think if I’d seen the second photo first I wouldn’t have gone much further but thankfully the first photo caught my eye so I’m going to look past the second photo. The next few won’t load properly. I’m getting a bit annoyed at this point but when they do eventually load I do rather like them. The photos fit our style with rural, gorgeous backlit couples. Unfortunately one photo is so crowded with confetti I can’t see the couple. But I’ll keep looking, I’ll just remember to give the guests small handfuls of petals rather than a full box! I then notice that this photographer has been featured on one of my favourite wedding blogs and was a regional finalist for a Wedding Industry Award. I’m not fussed they didn’t win it but I feel a bit more confident about them now.

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You might have noticed at this point I’ve only looked at the home page. I’ve not even looked at the portfolio so the next lesson I’ve learnt is this.

Your home page is THE page. I’ve always used mine as a bit of an introduction to the rest of my website which is clearly the wrong thing to be doing. This is what your clients are going to base the majority of their decision on.

I’ve now spent a few minutes here and I’m still liking what I see enough. I suddenly remember the “bounce rate” I’ve seen on Google Analytics telling me how much time people are spending on each page before they leave. I’m lucky if I get a full 10 seconds on my home page! I’ve given this photographer at least 5 minutes of my time so far. I finally scroll down past the slideshow and see a short paragraph. I wasn’t going to read it but as it’s above the links for the other pages I’m going to. Ooh, they describe their style as “fine art mixed with documentary”! I’m a little excited now so I click through to the gallery.

After a few minutes of looking I decide this photographer, as good as they are, doesn’t quite fit my style. I think I want more of a fine art approach than I initially realised. But the point is I took my time, I didn’t go to the home page and move away 50 milliseconds later. The website was really easy to follow and I wasn’t wondering where I had to go to find things.

Next week… Where Else Can I Look?


About the Author: Libby Clark

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Libby is based in Swindon, UK and has been shooting weddings for five years. Find out more about Libby over at www.libbyclarkphotography.co.uk

Be sure to join the discussion over in the buzzing RSP community and subscribe to Ready Steady Pro right here to receive part two of this series direct to your mailbox or to be notified when part two is available for reading!

A Wedding Photographer’s Search for a Wedding Photographer – Part Two

This week we continue our series with Ready Steady Pro Community Member and guest blogger Libby Clark. Libby has kindly agreed to open her diary and provide us with an insight in to her own search for a wedding photographer. Being a wedding photographer herself this series will offer us, the readers, an idea of the thinking process that our clients go through when looking for that one, all-important vendor: their wedding photographer.

Part One of the series was very well received, where Libby discusses budgets and lessons that can be weaned from her search to benefit her own business, so without further delay here’s the second installment:


Hi all,

Thanks for coming back to read part two! Apparently I’m not as bad with words as I thought so here is part two:

Props

Last week I discussed “The Budget”. It opened my eyes as to how wrong my own pricing structure probably is! As much as we like to think all couples have an endless amount of money to spend on their wedding I’ve realised they often don’t – because I’m one of them. So as I mentioned last week my own wedding photographer budget has been set at £1,800. With that established it was time to start looking for a photographer, properly.

The next part of my journey has so far proved equally interesting (and challenging!)

Part Two – Where Do I Start?

Last week I mentioned that I’ve been guilty of using keywords that I just expect my website to be found when used. I don’t know why because having recently searched “wedding photographer Swindon” I’m ashamed to say Waitrose had a result before I did! In fact I gave looking for my own website after looking through 22 pages of the search results.  So this week I learnt why SEO and keywords are so important. My search for a photographer started as it did probably do for almost all couples:

  1. Open Google…
  2. Search “Wedding Photographer”

Why did I do that? I genuinely didn’t know what else to type and where to start my search! Using Google is how I’d hope my couples would find me, so why wouldn’t I find a photographer this way?

There were pages upon pages of photographers listed in the search results that all featured because of just two key words: ‘Wedding Photographer’. As it so happens the first few results are photographers I know. They get regular bookings and do this full time (Most likely because they’re at the top of Google!) But I don’t feel relieved I have a lovely list to choose from, I feel somewhat overwhelmed. There are so many?! Where do I start?!

Ok, let’s try again. Let’s narrow things down:

  1. Open Google…
  2. Search “Wedding Photographer South West”

 

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The results aren’t much better really, I still have a massive list to go through but there are more in my area of the country now. Kind of.

I live in Wiltshire but we’re getting married in Gloucestershire. To those of us who live here we are South Westerners. To the rest of the UK however we somehow fall into ‘the bit between the South West and The Midlands’ and suddenly I’m thinking about the fact that if I find and love a photographer in the deepest depths of Cornwall we’re going to have to pay for their travel and accommodation. (Quite rightly though; I don’t expect them to travel all that way for nothing.)

That’s where I’ve probably got one up on those couples planning who don’t have a clue about the industry as my expectations are probably a little more in line with the accepted norm. This was my next lesson as a photographer:

It’s really appreciated if you make it clear what areas you cover at no extra charge and, if you do charge for travel where that starts. If you are based in Cornwall I doubt you’d be happy to travel up to Cumbria at no extra cost!

By now I’ve been mindlessly clicking on random photographer’s websites for a couple of hours but no one is really doing it for me. I’m going to need a rethink. I know I’ve fallen into the trap that I expect all couples do: search terms that cover far too much for their brains to consume. Time to sit down and think about what we want and use keywords.

Next week… What Do I Want and How Do I Find It?


About the Author: Libby Clark

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Libby is based in Swindon, UK and has been shooting weddings for five years. Find out more about Libby over at www.libbyclarkphotography.co.uk

Be sure to join the discussion over in the buzzing RSP community and subscribe to Ready Steady Pro right here to receive part two of this series direct to your mailbox or to be notified when part two is available for reading!

A Wedding Photographer’s Search for a Wedding Photographer – Part One

Over in the Facebook Community for Ready Steady Pro community member Libby Clark mentioned just how hard it is, as a wedding photographer, to find a wedding photographer! Fellow member and contributor to this blog, James Hepworth struck upon a great idea – Let’s invite Libby to share something of a diary with the rest of us: ‘A Wedding Photographer’s Search for a Wedding Photographer’. So, here today I’m peased to share with you Part One of Libby’s diary-type series on her search for a wedding photographer and wedding planning.

All wedding photographers, especially those who aren’t yet married themselves, should really have a read of this. It’s a great insight in to the mind of a bride (who just so happens to be a wedding photographer too!)

Over to you Libby…


Thanks Michael for the introduction. As you now know I’m Libby and I’m very much a part time Wedding Photographer. I work full time in a job I love so I know I don’t put as much effort into my business as I should. Especially when it comes to marketing and my website. But that’s another story for another time!

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You might have guessed from the title; I’m getting married! I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a blog about planning my own wedding for a few weeks, so when James suggested it, and Michael asked me to write one about my own search for a wedding photographer I jumped at the opportunity.

The aim of this diary style blog is for the professional photographers out there to get the other halves’ side of what’s important in marketing. Over the years I’ve been guilty of designing websites with keywords and creating designs that I assume will be ok. I know what I want people to search for in Google to find me so why wouldn’t they? I like my design so why wouldn’t anyone else?

So let me take you on my journey… of search terms and things that have struck me whilst I’m looking for my own perfect Wedding Photographer. It’s not quite going as I expected.

Part One – The Budget

As I work in the wedding industry, I think I always knew I would find planning my own wedding hard. I’ve been to so many weddings and seen so many beautiful things my head is somewhat bursting (and so are my Pinterest boards). Friends have always said “I bet you can’t wait to plan your wedding, especially the photography”. Actually the photography is the bit I’m dreading the most! There was no way I was going to rush into a decision but I also knew I couldn’t leave it too long.

After several weeks of looking, we have found the perfect venue so we’re booking it! We have a date, a church and thankfully Stuart (my fiancé) and I both have the same idea when it comes to themes and styles. I’m one of those super organized people who likes to have everything written down. And lists, oh how I love a good list!

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So now that the venue is chosen, I need to find a photographer. You’d think that being one myself, setting the budget for this part would be easy.

Oh my days it isn’t! Not even a little bit!

Our budget for the whole day is just over £20,000 which is about average for a wedding these days. Of course I appreciate that a good photographer will charge what they’re worth and if I could have my way I’d probably budget about £3,000 towards it. Sadly both Stuart and our bank account don’t agree with this. So, after a couple of arguments, a genuine suggestion that we just give all the guests disposable cameras (yes, really), and eventually the acceptance that there was no way I was going to back down we agreed on a budget of £1,800.

This is where my first point of realisation came in… I charge £700 for a full day of wedding photography including a disc of edited images, an online password protected gallery, a photo book and an engagement shoot. I know I’m undercharging and a lot of my pricing decisions came down to confidence. However, I was discounting photographers who charge under £1,000 for a full day as probably being inexperienced and not confident in their work.

Now maybe that’s not a fair analysis, but I really don’t want to be one of those people who regrets not spending enough on their photographer. Equally I recognise a good photographer when I see one, and a bad one, so of course I won’t be going on pricing alone. It does make you think though, if everyone in my target market has a budget of £1,800 for a photographer, are they even going to look at the cheaper ones? If I’m anything to go by, possibly not.

It’s only been a few days and I’ve already realised my pricing is quite possibly wrong for my target market! I think I’ll be sitting down and starting my pricing structure over.

Next week – Where Do I Start?


About the Author: Libby Clark

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Libby is based in Swindon, UK and has been shooting weddings for five years. Find out more about Libby over at www.libbyclarkphotography.co.uk

Be sure to join the discussion over in the buzzing RSP community and subscribe to Ready Steady Pro right here to receive part two of this series direct to your mailbox or to be notified when part two is available for reading!

Podcast 19 – An Interview with Rahim Mastafa of SugarboxStudios

Following on from the successful return of the podcast with episode 18 – This episode finds us picking the brains of Cardiff based Sports Portrait Photographer Rahim Mastafa of SugarBoxStudios.

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Today’s interview is something a little different from Ready Steady Pro. The Ready Steady Pro Community and a large body of the listeners are, as you may expect, Wedding and Portrait Photographers. But, Rahim, who describes himself as a Sports Portrait Photographer, photographs – as you’d expect – sportsmen and women, Personal Trainers, Bodybuilders and even Olympic Athletes!

Even if you’re not into Portraiture or if your immediate reaction is that this episode won’t be relevant to you – think again. The fact that we’re talking about a slightly different niche to usual makes this episode no-less relevant to you as Rahim gives us a wonderful insight into his working strategy that includes almost exclusively using social media (Instagram and Facebook in particular) and practically forgoing a website and a blog. This unorthodox approach probably wouldn’t be the advice of many experienced business coaches, but Rahim is going against the grain and this approach is gaining him clients…fast! Despite only having gotten into this niche some 18 months ago and only picking up a camera around 2 years ago Rahim is making his own success and gaining traction and notoriety that many would take a decade to achieve.

Michael says:

“I first came across Rahim when he joined the RSP community on Facebook and saw that he was shooting something slightly different to most – sports, fitness and body building. It was interesting and refreshing to see something new in my news feed. But more than that though Rahim’s personality comes across very well on Social Media and that is something that isn’t always easy to achieve, even if you are being yourself and being genuine. When I saw Rahim post a selfie outside a David Lloyd Gym telling us he had just finished a meeting with them I was intrigued – Rahim seemed like a go-getter who hunted down business and ‘Hustled’. I had to know more and so I invited him on the show. I expected Rahim to be a great guest…but he exceeded my expectations!”

Be sure to stick around to the end to find out how you can appear on the show and get involved and also to hear some shout outs to those who have left iTunes reviews!

You really do need to have your notepad to hand, because the gems are dropped thick and fast in this episode!

Links to most of what is mentioned in this episode can be found below in the ‘Show Notes’ section

Here’s some more of Rahim’s work and be sure to check him out on Social Media where you can find more of his work.

Sit back and enjoy this episode of Ready, Steady Pro! Click the link below to listen / download the podcast.


View In iTunes
Click here to listen to the Podcast
Download this Podcast as an MP3
Watch the Interview on YouTube here
The RSS Feed for this Podcast is: http://readysteadypro.libsyn.com/rss


This weeks Topic

  • Fitness, Sports & Body Building Photography
  • Getting business and finding clients
  • Simple lighting setups make for a better client experience
  • Viral Social Media Strategies – Working where your clients are hanging out online
  • Not really needing or using a website or blog
  • Working for Free
  • Setting up shoots and creating opportunities

Today’s Little Gems

Rahim’s advice this week was simply to go out and make it happen. Organise shoots and fulfill them. Work for free when needed to get a portfolio. Send photographs to magazines and newspapers. Do what it takes to get yourself known and just do the work. We make our own success and we create our own opportunities – so no excuses: go out and do it!


Show Notes / Links


This weeks Hosts

Michael Rammell
Rahim Mastafa

Podcast 18 – An Interview with Neil Buchan-Grant

It’s not every day that you get to spend a day with the British Press Travel Photographer of the Year, but that’s just what I did on a sunny Saturday in June.

I had the absolute pleasure of sitting down to talk about all sorts with the one and only Neil Buchan-Grant; British Press Travel Photographer of the Year, Olympus Ambassador and all-round nice guy.

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This conversation was long-in-the works. I actually first came across Neil’s work almost by accident and very much unknowingly: Whilst looking at all of the mirrorless cameras on the market to see what they were all about I found an advert from Olympus in a photography magazine; it was to promote an offer they had on one of their OM-D cameras and the photograph that accompanied this advert was of an extremely beautiful young lady, photographed in black and white. She is wearing a masquerade mask and is beautifully lit in a soft and pleasing way. It’s an amazing photograph and really caught my eye.

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This was the work of Neil Buchan-Grant. But I didn’t know it at that stage.

As my research into mirrorless continued I then found a blog post, titled: “Shooting in New York with the Olympus OMD EM1” showing off some more of Neil’s work. I wasn’t just mesmorised because the photographs were amazing, I was truly taken aback by the fact they were made with an Olympus Micro Four Thirds camera. Now, after having picked one up myself I’m not surprised at all as to what they’re capable of, but non-the-less and camera aside Neil’s work continues to really impress me and has set a new benchmark in my eyes. “I have to interview this guy!” I thought.

Then I heard Neil was going to be at the UK Photography Show and arranged an Interview. That wasn’t to be however – Our paths didn’t cross owing to different schedules on the day. So eventually Neil and I arranged a day in the summer where I travelled to Winchester to Neil’s house to meet the man himself and chew the fat. This interview features so many insights into the way Neil has earned his photographic success so far, including entering competitions and just putting himself out there and getting things done. What I really took away from this conversation was that if you want to achieve something, anything, you have to go out and do it. We talk about this and so much more, which is why this episode is around 2 hours long – so you may end up listening in parts, but it’s all worth it from start to finish.

Links to most of what is mentioned in this episode can be found below in the ‘Show Notes’ section

Here’s some more of Neil’s work and be sure to check out his website which features even more amazing photographs.

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Sit back and enjoy this episode of Ready, Steady Pro! Click the link below to listen / download the podcast.


View In iTunes
Click here to listen to the Podcast
The RSS Feed for this Podcast is: http://readysteadypro.libsyn.com/rss


This weeks Topic

  • Travel Photography
  • Olympus Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Cameras
  • Entering Competitions
  • Printing
  • Getting your work out there
  • Working with models
  • Practise, craft and perfection

An Interview with Steve Saporito


Today’s Little Gems

http://buchangrant.com/


Show Notes / Links


This weeks Hosts

Michael Rammell
Neil Buchan-Grant