5 Website Tips For Impressing Potential Couples

I get a lot of emails from photographers wondering what is “wrong” with their business:

  • business is down
  • it’s harder to book and keep weddings
  • people are spending less
  • potential client seem to be on a different page

I struggled with similar issues early in my career as well. We can blame it on the economy, or the new face of social media, or the access of digital cameras to the masses … but truthfully, the issues listed above have always been around. They are part of the growing pains of turning a hobby or dream into a viable, lucrative business. At some point, all small business owners hit these walls. Believe it or not, the fact that you are asking these questions means that you are ready for growth! And that’s exciting!

In many of my one on one coaching sessions with photographers, I have noticed that everyone has a blog or website, but many don’t understand how to use them effectively in order to grow and enhance their business.

Whether you are new to the industry, or have been in it for several years, one of the most important tools at your disposal is your website. This is your platform, your virtual storefront and your chance to create an amazing visual first impression. Your website is where you meet and engage your ideal client base.

Let me put it more directly … your website is where you let potential clients know who you are and why you are worth the money.

impressing-potential-couples

© Laura Novak

In order to do this effectively, your website needs to have five main components…

1. Relatability: Your target bride should want to be the brides she sees on your site.

  • First … you need to know your target bride. Is she traditional and classic? Is she trendy and creative? Is she a statement destination bride or a classic country club bride? Does she want a farmhouse wedding with rustic accents or a five-star hotel wedding with high glamour?
  • Then… show her pictures of her dream wedding! If most people who hire you are getting married at the local country club – putting a photo of a destination wedding as your homepage might impress them, but it won’t create an emotional pull towards you … because it’s not relatable. Decide who you want as your client and then show images that speak to her dreams and vision for her wedding day.

2. Credibility: Press, testimonials, and other recommendations will help create credibility on your site. This is especially true if you are just starting out. People want to work with someone they can trust. The best way to show them that you are as fantastic as you look is to have someone else tell them! Here’s how to get the cred…

  • Are you new to the industry? Chances are you have photographed events for family and friends … ask them to write a 1 – 2 line testimonial of what they loved most about the images or working with you.
  • Have you worked a few weddings and made great connections with other vendors? Cross market! Ask them to refer clients to you, and offer to do the same for them! In the process, ask if they could supply a one or two-line quote to put on your website. It gives you credibility, and gives them a little extra marketing plug!
  • Have you been around for a while? Then you probably have a ton of testimonials right at your fingertips … the thank you notes your beautiful brides have sent when they received their images! Pull a quote from your favorite notes and show them along side a stunning photo from their wedding. The bride will be honored to be a feature on your site, and your potential clients will see what former brides have to say about you.

3. Emotion: As photographers, we often fall in love with an image from a technical or artistic perspective so we put it on our website. Stop!

Our clients are (typically) not photographers. They aren’t always aware of the technical or artistic perspectives. They are looking for emotion when they view your photos. Whether they know it or not, they are choosing you based largely on how they feel when they look at your images.

Let your website portfolio show the special moments and secret looks. The laughter and the tears. Once you have created a solid portfolio of the emotional shots, then sprinkle in a few artistic images of the dress and details to show that you can rock those, too! Think of the detail shots as the seasoning sprinkled throughout. Let the emotional moments be the main course!

4. Specialization: Many of us have a few different photographic specialties. Perhaps you have done corporate work in the past and are keeping that as a sideline to bolster your business in slower seasons. Or maybe you are dabbling with family portraiture as you follow your brides through the next phase of their journey. That’s great! Let me caution you about putting all of your eggs in one web basket.

If you are growing your wedding business and branding yourself that way, don’t dilute your message by showing all of your portfolios in one place. I know it sounds pricey, but I am a firm believer in separating out your sites.

Brides are in the midst of dreaming about their big day! They are emotionally tied to it and sometimes it’s all they can think about. While they may want to start a family, those images are not as compelling to them in this moment.

Similarly, once they are past the wedding, they will only want to look at maternity & newborn images and start dreaming about that milestone. Other people’s weddings will not seem as interesting. Show your clients what they are looking for, and put links to your other sites so that they can move along with you to the next phase.

5. Authenticity: Emotion cannot be manufactured. It has to be authentic. Your website needs to show authentic moments, and it needs to show that you understand the magic and power of those moments. Your potential client is trusting you with “ the most important day of their lives”. Show them that you get it! Be aware of the little things … the quiet moments, the butterflies in the stomach, the power of the first dance … put yourself in their shoes!

If you photograph weddings based solely on the latest looks from Pinterest the images will always seem hollow and in-authentic to your client. Dig deep!! Know what is in your heart!! Demonstrate your passion and connection through your photography and put that on your website.

SO there you go … website 101. You have the passion… you have the talent. Now go tweak that website and get the clients!

Laura-NovakThanks for reading. Please let me know if you have any questions or would like more information about specific topics! I’d love to hear how I can help you take the next steps!


Laura Novak has over 10 years of wedding photography experience, and her work has been featured on numerous national and international publications. Visit Laura’s site, www.lauranovak.com, to download a sample album that she used to generate over 1.2 million dollars in wedding business. Laura in Wilmington, Delaware with her husband, John, and baby, Andrew.

Featured Member: Al Overdrive

What kind of photography do you do?

The majority of my work is editorial – the main subject’s fit under style and entertainment.

2011-12-13-Steve-Davis-Kavus-Torabi-thequietus-11_by_al_overdrive

© Al Overdrive

Story behind this photo: This is one of my fave shots form a shoot I did last year with Kavos of Chromehoof (a cult band) and british snooker champion Steve Davis, who is a massive prog-rock fan. I set up some fairly simple lighting in a quite London pub and I got the guys into a serious music conversation then got their attention and snapped this frame.

How would you describe your style?

I am as much about capturing the essence of my subject as I am about immersing you in their world. Both my fashion work and gritty portraiture reflects my belief that photography should make fantasy believable and reality more desirable.

What’s your approach to post processing?

“Add to taste” – Some of my work requires no post processing work, and just a little bit of colour correction. Then some of my work (such as my beauty work or the portraits I took of the tattooed boxer), rely heavily on the post processing and addition of tonal filters and colour treatments to achieve the look I am after.

I’d rather get things right in camera, but when you have 10 min to shoot a musician and get 3 different looks, I am happy to use post processing to overcome certain obstacles, as it gives me more time to shoot the subject.

2012-03-23-Reah-thierstein-easy-living-25EDIT2_by_al_overdrive

© Al Overdrive

Story behind this photo: We were shooting this designer for a magazine feature and she showed me this mask, which was a prop for a shoot with Kate Moss; It didn’t take much for me to persuade her to put the mask on , and I captured this cute moment as she was playing around with it.

What or who inspires you?

Photographically I really like the work of Simon Emmet at the moment, who shoots a lot of work for GQ and Vanity Fair. I’m also quit into the darker side of fashion and fine art photography.

I used to work as a forensic photographer, and you can see this as an influence in my technical style for sure.

I am probably most influenced by the work of Glen E Friedman, who shot a lot of the important hip hop, punk and skateboarders in the 70’s and 80’s.

Outside of photography I love low-brow art and spend as much time as I can checking out the work of emerging artists there.

2012-05-18-tom-and-piera-wedding-verona-italy-567RETOUCHED_by_al_overdrive

© Al Overdrive

Story behind this photo: This shot was taken at a wedding I flew to Italy to cover… we suddenly had the idea that we should recreate the last supper, or at least make a nod toward the painting, so the bride and I arranged everyone and I letter sent th image off for retouching. It’s been featured in UK ‘Brides” as wedding of the week and is one of my fave wedding photos.

What gear do you use?

Mostly a Nikon d800, I got one of the first ones that came out, and love the ease of use and the huge files… which make my life a lot easier as its approaching medium format quality in a 35mm body.

Tho on many shoots I ge give a canon to use and I am just as happy.

I use a mixture of ambient light and strobes…. but try to use them in a cinematic way for lighting areas in a very specific manner.

Links

Website: www.al-overdrive.com
and www.al-overdrive-weddings.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AlOverdrive
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/aloverdrive

Featured Member: Gilbert Ludwig

What kind of photography do you do?

I am mostly  specialized in on-location portraiture as well as wedding and event photography. For my own pleasure I love to do travel and nature photography.

© Gilbert Ludwig

Story behind this image: Photography can be a very empowering experience. Shooting a lot of junior sports and other sports, I attempt to capture a moment that makes the subject proud. Here I shot a junior soccer player with a lighting that attempts to mimic stadium lighting. Rather than just shooting a formal portrait, I ask the players do their favorite ball trick in front of the camera.

How would you describe your style?

Light. Camera. Ambiance! Whether shooting with natural light or strobes, whether shooting wedding, portraits, landscapes, or anything else, it’s all about the ambiance.  I always strive to capture the prevailing mood and tone, the atmosphere, the real moments, the ambiance… I shoot from the heart and aim to keep things simple in order to produce  emotional and powerful captures.

© Gilbert Ludwig

Story behind this image: I shot this kickboxer, along others, after a sweaty training session. “Why do shoot the portraits after the training, and not before”, I was asked. It’s very simple. After 90 min of exhaustment your body is tired and your mind is calm and empty. You are in a state where nothing can distract you. You are you. I think it shows in pictures, the calm, the awareness, the deep look. It all creates a unique ambiance. For the light I used three flashes.

What or who inspires you?

The person(s) in front of the camera. Every individual is unique, and this makes every shooting unique. They inspire me to give something back, something they’ll love, something that makes them smile or sometimes cry, something they’ll never forget. Similarly, animals, landscapes and basically any object that catches my curiosity, and it’s interactions with light, inspire me, over and over again. There are also lots of photographers that inspire me, from old masters like Yousouf Karsh and Irving Penn to modern legends like Steve McCurry or Jill Greenberg.

© Gilbert Ludwig

Story behind this image: I am fascinated by people that have a talent, and capturing the talent is something very challenging. Here I attempted to document the work of a young and very talented artist, who is working on a giant reproduction of Caspar David Friedrich’s painting “Chalk Cliffs on Rügen”.  The artist is very focused, thinking carefully what would be his next step. The picture is not constructed, it is a documentary photograph. I simply set up three flashes so that they would not be in the way.

What’s your approach to post processing?

Good post processing prerequisites an image that is good to start with. That is, I always aim to get it right in camera (but of course, I will not always succeed to do so…:)). The extent to which I will do post processing depends mostly on the type of assignment. For wedding pictures I rarely go beyond basic edits. On the other extreme, I may do extensive processing. These are mostly related to local contrast enhancement and selective color shift and/or enhancement. I also do a lot of b&w. But even with substantial processing, the idea is always to enhance features that are already present in the original picture. If the image is not right in camera, it will most likely never be. For my workflow, I shoot raw and import is as a project into Aperture, where I will do the basic edits and eventually some more extensive processing. For certain procedures I will open the image as tiff in Photoshop.

What gear do you use?

I currently use Nikon D3s with Nikon optics (fixed focals and zooms as well). For additional light I use Quadra Rangers and  Nikon speedlights.

Links

Website: www.ambientscapes.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/gilbertludwigphotography
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/GilbertLudwig

 

Featured Member: Kenneth Lim

What kind of photography do you do?

I photograph weddings and portraits in Hong Kong.  I was born and raised in New York but moved to Asia in 2006.

© Kenneth Lim

Story behind this image: This was a photo from my first overseas wedding gig which was just outside London in the UK. I remember noticing how different the quality of light was from Hong Kong, and knowing right away that we were going to come away with some great shots. You know how there are those few shots that you jump straight to when you’re finally at your computer?  This was one of them.

How would you describe your style?

I consider myself a life photographer and I try to capture the moments that show the qualities that I think are most important in people – authenticity, compassion, soul.  For weddings or studio headshots, that usually involves waiting for someone to open up and have their true personality unfold.

© Kenneth Lim

Story behind this image: The streets of Hong Kong are so unique – they blend the old and the new, the East with the West.  I love capturing that contrast in my photography.

What’s your approach to post processing?

All of my images go through a workflow using Aperture for culling, minor editing, and storage, and also Photoshop for retouching and a series of actions to optimize file quality. I don’t apply filters or “effects” very much, and I have taught myself to know exactly what I want to do with an image so that I can keep the process efficient.

© Kenneth Lim

Story behind this image: Photographing weddings is a ton of responsibility, but when your bride and groom and all of their friends are laughing and having a good time while you do your job? That’s when your job turns into sheer fun. This photo was taken right after one of Hong Kong’s gloomy, cloudy, rainy mornings, but you could never tell from looking at this shot.

What or who inspires you?

Meeting people that do what they love inspire me. As a portrait photographer, I’ve been fortunate to have photographed many people in Hong Kong that are pursuing their dreams – and their humility, drive, and positivity always inspire me to do more. Its great to read about the next Mark Zuckerberg in the news or on the Internet, but to have a conversation with someone who is doing what they love and believe in – right in your own community – is something else.

What gear do you use?

Nikon camera bodies, various Nikkor lenses and Speedlights
Apple computers

Links

Website: http://kennethlimphotography.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/kennethlimphoto
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/kennethlimphotography

Featured Member: Daniel John Bilsborough

What kind of photography do you do?

Travel photography and wedding photography.

© Daniel John Bilsborough

Story behind this image: This was taken at the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, it was early in the morning and I was standing on the seat of a soft top 4wd safari vehicle with half of my body out of the car. We drove up to this guy while he was standing in the middle of the road and after he bluffed a charge at us he moved into the flowers and we drove past taking photographs. Love.

How would you describe your style?

I dont really know how to describe my style, but my aim is just to show the world as it is. I draw a strict line between photography and digital art. It’s very easy to manipulate a photograph to the point where’s it can no longer be considered a photograph. I stay well away from that line.

© Daniel John Bilsborough

Story behind this image: I was snowboarding at one of the most beautiful places on earth, Bariloche Argentina. The view from the top of Cerro Catedral is indescribable, this is just a taste.

What’s your approach to post processing?

I use Adobe Lightroom for “development” work like colour correction, strengthening composition and usually straightening the horizon – that seems to be one thing my brain cannot cope with through the viewfinder!

© Daniel John Bilsborough

Story behind this image: I just LOVE blending landscapes into my wedding photography work. I had a perfect opportunity at Yarra Valley right here in Victoria Australia. This is Kara and James.

What or who inspires you?

Jasmine Star for the way she brings out natural expression in her subjects. And Jonas Peterson for his artistic style and ability to blend landscape and travel photography into his wedding work.

What gear do you use?

Nikon D700, 85mm F1.4, 50mm F1.4, 35mm F2.0 and 20mm F2.8. Oh and at wedding ceremonies I use my trusty 70-200mm F2.8. All Nikon Glass.

Links

Website: www.djbworldphotography.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/djbworldphotography
Twitter: http://twitter.com/djbworldphoto

Featured Member: Gentry Bowles

What kind of photography do you do?

I’m known as one of the top wedding photographers in Tulsa.  On my website, I use Photocrati galleries to showcase my new emphasis on families and children.  It’s working quite well — I continue to receive compliments on my site design.

© Gentry Bowles

Story behind this image: This is the photo that launched my photography career. This image has been used in various ads, business cards and marketing media. After 7 years, I still get compliments on this photograph.

How would you describe your style?

Based on the situation and client, I employ a blend of traditional and photojournalism style. I prefer photojournalism for my wedding shoots. Photographing children is usually play time that happens to be a photography session. Capturing laughs and true happiness is much more fun and creates much better photos than traditional posed shots.

© Gentry Bowles

Story behind this image: Vella is a great shot of a little 2 year old girl who wouldn’t sit still and just wanted to play, which was fine with me! I got this cute picture when I told her that Dora the Explorer was in my camera, and if she looked really closely, she might be able to see her in there! She was studying my lens which allowed me to focus on her eyes and capture the shot I wanted. She even told me that she DID see Dora.

What’s your approach to post processing?

I have an established workflow that involves sorting into the “good” pile and the “not as good.” The good pile gets cropped and edited in Photoshop, then uploaded to my proofs page for customer review. Upon receiving a customer order, further editing is done to create the perfect photo for my customer.

© Gentry Bowles

Story behind this image: This is one of my favorite wedding photos.  The hidden story is that the groom is a Marine who is soon going overseas.  Even though the night was very emotional for all involved, this photo captures a moment when all cares are forgotten and the couple is enjoying a pure moment of happiness.  The couple is engrossed in their own world and oblivious to the young spectators around them. I did not want to disturb the couple so I knew I had to capture this in a single shot.  I held the camera up high over their heads and did not look through the view finder.  I watched their expressions through my own eyes and when the moment was right, I released the shutter.  I think I got it right.

What or who inspires you?

Children inspire me – even my own. They have unending curiosity, energy, trust, and a willingness to please. At what point do children lose these amazing qualities? Even to this day, my father inspires for me for his incredible work ethic. Through good health and bad, he always has a desire to provide for his family.

What gear do you use?

Sony A700 with various Zeiss lenses.
– Alien Bee lighting
– Home made backgrounds for studio shots
– The tall grass in my field with a vintage blue couch
– HP mobile workstation with Photoshop and Nik’s plugins.

Links

Website: http://www.gentryfoto.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/GentryPhotography
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/gentryfoto

Wedding album design

This may sound strange, but designing a wedding album can be more stressful than actually taking the pictures. When you’re  shooting a wedding,  you try all sorts of different techniques to get the shot.   That way  you have a lot of options available to  you later when designing the album. However, when designing the album, you don’t have the luxury of “covering  your bases,” so to speak. You have to take 700 images and eliminate down to 60-100. There are a lot of criteria to meet:

  • Do these images tell the story of the day?
  • Do you have all the formal and family shots that the client wants?
  • Does this client like big pictures or lots of small ones?
  • What’s more important to the client: beautiful formal pictures or candid fun ones?

[Read more…]

Who’s in charge?

tampa_engagment_wedding_011If you’re new to the wedding game you’ll soon discover that there is someone in charge at every wedding. You may think you know who that person is, they signed a contract, they paid you money, they are picking out the products… but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are in charge. No, the person that you’re working for is, to quote the movie “Swingers” the guy, behind the guy, behind the guy. 99% of the time it’s the mother of the bride. [Read more…]