Weddings are a little quiet for me this month so I thought I would say a few words about where I see the wedding photography business is at this moment in time.
Very few photographers that I talk to are finding it easy to attract new clients and especially those couples prepared to pay a premium for good photographers/photography. I find myself in the same boat even though I consider myself to be a good wedding photographer who is very reasonably priced for the service I provide. Obviously the economic climate and the general gloom for the future is not helping. Another factor is that there is a growing trend for any Tom, Dick or Harry that picks up a modern DSLR to consider them self a professional wedding photographer. I do not want to get into a slagging match about cheap photographers providing a second-rate service and taking work away from the likes of my fellow professionals and me. Everyone has to start somewhere, I only shot my first wedding five years ago and I can honestly say I am a lot better now than I was then. Not all cheap photographers are bad and by the same analogy not all expensive photographers are good. However, without doubt the market has been diluted by the influx of new photographers offering very cheap packages and obviously some people are going for it.
A brief search on the web will through up a bewildering array of wedding photographers. I just did a search in Google for ‘Essex Wedding Photographer’ and it gave me over 17 million results, admittedly they wont all be Photographers in Essex, but you get my drift. So how do you know which photographers are good and which are not. Well I guess the first step is to check out there portfolios and to see if you like there work; or is it. I have lost count of the amount of emails I get asking about my prices without the slightest mention of my pictures and whether or not they like them. I find that kind of sad really because after all that’s what it’s all about, our pictures. All right you do need to know that we have insurance, good working practices, are reliable and qualified, etc. However, apart from the wedding dress and your memories the photos are the only thing that will last from the wedding day and be around for you to show your children and grandchildren, so at least show some importance to the photos we produce.
I have been trying to work out where my business is going and how best to market it to attract more customers in these times of austerity. I have tried all the normal avenues, wedding fairs, bridal magazines, local newspapers, Google Adwords, search engine optimization (SEO) etc. From the analysis of the inquiries I receive they all work to some extent, with one or two doing slightly better than the others. Local newspapers you can forget, Google Adwords seems to attract bargain hunters, wedding fairs are a bit hit and miss and bridal magazines do, from time to time, bring in a client that appreciates photography and is prepared to pay a slight premium for a good photographer. However, the overriding winner is word of mouth and recommendation from former clients, with my web site being found on the web not too far behind. Some of the recommendation/word of mouth leads I get come from social networking on the likes of Facebook and Twitter, a must have for anyone in this business of wedding photography.
So to conclude things are very difficult at the moment and it is tough with so many of us chasing what seems to be an ever decreasing number of people that really appreciate good photography and are prepared to pay for it. Some people are accepting, what in most cases can only be describe as, rubbish from people that call themselves photographers who really have not done even the basic ground work before they start trading. Hopefully a few more horror stories in the press will send discerning clients back the way of the good guys, who really care, take pride in their chosen craft and above all provide excellent value for money!