Want to transform your wedding photography business?
More than just lead generation tactics.
More than just increasing your bookings.
I mean a complete overhaul in how you do business.
Want to know the secret? 🤔
It has nothing to do with you.
What if there was a completely different approach to booking weddings that had nothing to do with how “good” your photography is?
What if awards, your price list, how many followers you have, or your “Rich Italian Leather Albums” don’t really matter that much?
What if the process from lead to wedding day has nothing to do with selling your services based on FOMO? “What if your files get corrupted in 20 years? Wouldn’t you want an album THEN?” (Sound familiar?)
You're reading this because there's some area of your business you're not content with.
Maybe you’re not booking as many weddings as you want.
Maybe you’re frustrated with the lack of business information out there for wedding photographers.
Maybe you want to connect deeper with your couples and create meaningful photographs for them.
Or maybe you’ve taken so many workshops and seminars that everything is starting to blend together and you don’t know where to start.
I’m going to let you in on something.
You don’t actually need more photography information!
You need a business transformation.
This online course is for photographers to learn how to discover the positive emotions and important connections in their couples and anchor wedding buying decisions to them from lead to booking and all the way to the wedding day.
It’s an experience that will have your couples writing paragraphs upon paragraphs about you, help you take more authentic photographs, book more weddings, discover more meaning in your work AND get paid well to do it.
It is not for the faint of heart though. It’s definitely not for photographers set in their ways and who already know it all.
It IS for photographers who are open to trying a deeper approach jam-packed with thoughtfulness and authenticity.
It’s for photographers who want to create clients who are their walking-talking-billboards.
It’s for photographers who want to put their clients first like they old friends from school.
It will require major perspective shifts in how you think about what a business should act like.
You will have to get out of your comfort zone, try new things, find your “Why” and do the work. I promise if you just lead with the intention of creating the most value and discovering meaning for every client you work with, you’ll be 10 times ahead of where many other photographers are who are just focusing on how they can set up more flashes to make “cooler” photos.
So, let me just say thank you and I’m proud of you. I’m so happy you’re making some moves to better yourself and how you approach your couples.
Say No More! Let's get started!
Download my Conversation Starters: Five Meaningful Questions to Ask Your Couples
What happens when your inquiries dry up and you stop booking weddings?
The end of my eighth year and beginning my ninth year in business were bad. Realllly bad. I booked exactly zero weddings in those first few months of my ninth year. For being full time in business so long you would think that I would be prepared for such a dry spell. Truth is, it freaked me out, and I had no clue what was going to happen next or what I’d do. To make matters worse, my last contracted wedding for was mid-October so I had very little cash flow heading into my next wedding the following April.
At the time, my wife and I had a 3 year old daughter and we just found out twins were on the way due in September. We had also just had the conversation that my wife would not be going to back to work and we’d continue to live off my salary. My salary seemed more of a figment of my imagination at that point. Talks of a Disney vacation in a few years now seemed unreasonable. Saving for retirement and paying off my personal debt from years of art supplies during college were still looming over my head. I was able to barely support my family of 3. How was I going to support a family of 5?
"The truth is, I let myself get content."
The truth is, I let myself get content. I thought my business was a referral generating machine. I could give it a little nudge and let it churn and with each chug chug a new lead would pop out. I thought I could get by with the bare minimum maintenance (more like chewing gum and duct tape) but when the springs popped out, the wheels fell off, and steam came flying out the engine, I can’t say I was surprised. I took my foot off the gas and stopped being a student of business. I went to conferences and workshops and collected the information but never implemented it (maybe you know what I’m talking about and I’m not the only one?). I worked a whole lot IN my business but not ON my business. I didn’t goal set. I didn’t seek new ways of bringing couples in. I stopped looking for ways to thrill them and create an experience that was unique, fun, and added multitudes of value to them. I stopped trying to grow as a photographer. I stopped trying to grow as an entrepreneur and as a business person. I stopped trying to grow as an individual.
What happened next wasn’t an overnight transformation. I remember visiting my mother in law in South Carolina and feeling mostly depressed and overwhelmed while sitting on beautiful Myrtle Beach. I’d been in business for nine years at this point surely I should know better. How could I be doing something wrong? My pride ran deep.
While reading Jen Sincero’s book “You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life” she likens the process of self reflection, dealing with your baggage and changing your circumstances to a stench on your front porch. You can install a ceiling fan, throw away the furniture, and throw up a fresh coat of paint, but until you realize there’s a dead animal carcass under the porch and the only way to rid the stench is to dig in bring it out into the sunlight and throw it away is the only way you’ll be free. Once I grabbed a huge piece of humble pie I set to work.
That’s when I took a long, hard, in-depth look at everything I did. And I mean everything. Every bit of my current process, things that worked in the past but I’d moved on from, everything that I knew other photographers did, all the notes from workshops and conferences I’d take over the last 9 years, every book that I read all came into play when deciding what my exact actionable steps were going to be to get my business back on track.
When I thought back over the years prior there were a handful of couples that I could pin point as making a massive impact on my business. After reaching out and speaking to each of them, a clear idea began to formulate in my mind. Many of my past clients told me that I was so much more than just a photographer to them.They felt I truly cared and took time to know them by spending time with them and asking important questions.
I had lost that. Sure I was still asking unique questions but my intention wasn’t there. “Why was I talking so much about me and how I did things on a wedding day? Wasn’t this their wedding and aren’t they unique? Do awards really matter to couples? How much did it really matter to them that I showed photographs from other weddings or talked about what I’d done for other couples? What were ways that I could SHOW them my excitement and personal touches right from the very start rather than TELL them?”
Over that April, May, and June, I changed, updated, overhauled and tweaked every inch of my business: If I could boil it down to one sentiment, it would be that I sought to blur the line between what the client, photographer relationship looks like. I discovered the most crucial time to show how you’re different, how you can add value, and set the tone for the rest of their journey with you is before booking.
What resulted was the best years I’ve had in business since I started. My client satisfaction is through the roof and they’re writing paragraphs upon paragraphs in reviews. The financial health of my business is like it’s never been before and my leads up. I’m careful to hype this up too much but it is true. None of this is particularly ground break but operates on Dale Carnegie’s approach of talking in terms of other peoples interests and making the other person feel important and doing so sincerely. At the core, every person wants to be seen, heard, and understood.
"I sought to blur the line between what the client, photographer relationship looks like."
Here's where most photographers go wrong when making their first contact.
Most of us have this idea when we get a new lead that the couple we’re meeting with is on a journey of discovery about us as photographers—how many awards we’ve won, what our approach is, what we wear to a wedding, what’s in our minimum package—for me, this is a journey of discovery about the couple -who’s important to them, what they love about each other, why they’re choosing this person to spend the rest of their lives with and so much more. Most of us respond to an initial inquiry like this:
Thank you for getting in touch. I’m happy to say I’m currently free for your you potential wedding date of August 29, 2021. My wedding photography packages start at $2400. Here’s a look at our collections and a la carte options…
Let me know if you have any questions.
Intention is everything. The intention in the response above is transactional. It’s all about the photographer. There’s zero emotion involved. You could subsitute this couple for any others. That’s about all I can get from it. It’s like the person inquiring is another checkmark on your calendar. So what’s the opposite of that? What if we were to set the intention of your email on discovering what’s unique about the couple’s story, showing empathy and how you can best help them celebrate their story?
Imagine if one of your old friends from high school or college contacted you to photograph their wedding. What would that email look like versus the transactional email above? This is a very exciting time for most couples planning albeit overwhelming. It may be overwhelming but they’re still excited and your job is to allow them to borrow your excitement. You know how AWESOME their wedding day is going to be because you’ve seen the joy and excitement on many couples’ faces on their wedding day, right? So, with that in mind, crafting an initial email response with that intention may look like this (assuming you have a boring contact form on your website and know nothing about the couple):
This is such an exciting time for you two and I hope your wedding planning process is going smooth for you both so far! Thank you so much for reaching out!
One of my past couple described me best when they said “He’s along for your journey not just the wedding day.” Building trust, comfort and a relationship with my couples is essential to meaningful photographs. When I arrive on your wedding day I think the best thing would be for us to feel like we’re seeing old friends which I think sets my approach apart from most photographers.
There’s a lot to learn and hundreds of decisions to make while planning your wedding. That’s why I work with each of my couples to create a package that works for them! My goal is to make your planning process as smooth and convenient as possible! Wedding day coverage without an album starts at $. Most couples invest between $-$.
When you have some free time coming up, I’d love to get together and discover little more about you two and see if we’re a good fit!
Looking forward to hearing from you! 🙂
All my best!
For simplicity sake, we won’t talk about initially responding with a phone call or text message. There’s a huge difference between the two responses above. The intention in the personal response above is about letting them borrow your excitement, sharing a tiny bit of how you’re different, giving them just enough info that they want more, and letting them know that you’re exclusive without typing the same line I’ve seen in hundreds of emails and websites: “We accept a limited number of weddings each year to give our couples the attention they deserve.” By telling them I want to see if we’re a good fit this lets them know you can be selective about who you work with and will be interviewing them to see if they’re a good fit too.
This email is just the first step in the a deeply personal and customized wedding planning experience I embark on with my couples that gradually gets more in-depth as we journey together. This whole process is about connection and arriving on the wedding day knowing you’ll get amazing meaningful photographs because you know exactly what to focus on rather than showing up and hoping you’ll get something good. Deep personal connection between you and your client is the heart of this. People want to be seen heard and understood.
What are the core concepts that I developed to transform my business?
While every couple is different, I’ve developed a set of Core Principles and Intentions to use and guide myself in every step of the way. Below are those principles. In the following course, I outline how they apply to each part of the process – the intake form and email, your wedding brochure, in-person consultation, all the way up through checkout, booking and beyond.
The deeper your knowledge about your couples lives and what’s important to them the more meaningful your wedding photos will be and the better you will be able to serve them. This doesn’t mean just sending a questionnaire. That only helps you to know ABOUT them. There’s a big difference between KNOWING your clients and knowing ABOUT your clients. YOU must KNOW your clients on a deep level. Simply put, be a student of your clients and use all the tools of rapport and relationship building at your disposal.
Knowledge is power.
A personal referral is the most valuable form of currency.
A personal referral is the most valuable currency. Word of mouth then becomes the cheapest and most powerful form of marketing. The internet changes everyday. Algorithms change and platforms become obsolete. But peoples’ perception and opinion does not change (unless you wrong them). In all things you do, invest in your clients lives and relationships first then “traditional” marketing. Turn your clients, fellow wedding professionals, venue managers and others you work with, into your walking, talking billboards.
Set yourself apart from what the vast majority of other photographers are doing. Think of it this way. When you go into a restaurant, there’s a script you’ll expect about your experience. The hostess will seat you. The waitress will ask for your drink order and maybe you put in appetizers, then she’ll come back drop off your apps and take your meal order. Your meal will be delivered. She’ll check in on you a few times, usually right as you’ve taken a massive bite, and ask how everything turned out. Finally she’ll ask if there’s anything else you’d like before handing you the check. How can that restaurant flip that script and insert a moment of surprise and delight into the diner’s experience? Maybe it’s as simple as bread and butter the moment you’re seated, or a dessert of the day complements of the chef. How about a complementary glass of wine paired specifically with your selected meal? If you’ve been to a 5 star restaurant you’ve seen the guy with the crumb scraper who cleans your table linens between courses. All these little details create a heightened experience. How can you flip the photographer script and insert a moment of surprise and delight into your clients experience?
Differentiate yourself from what the vast majority of other photographers are doing.
Be invested in the couple's journey, not just the wedding day.
You must be invested in the couples journey NOT just their wedding day. The journey with your couples only begins once they’ve signed the contract. Through the wedding planning experience, they must see you as a trusted advisor, wedding resource, excited friend, and coach.
You are so much more than a photographer.
When at all possible seek positive emotions to anchor to first. Whenever I’m trying to “sell” my couples on an idea, especially when I know it’s something that good for them, I always anchor it to a positive emotional decision. The best example of this and often how I try to model this simple idea comes from the movie Inception where Cobb (Leo DiCaprio) and his team are trying to come up with the simplest form of an idea that they’re going to plant in Robert Fischer’s mind to break up his father’s company. Fischer and his father have a rough relationship. So Eames (Tom Hardy) makes the suggestion that the idea they plant the idea that Fischer break up his father’s company after he dies as a screw you to his father. Cobb replies: No. Positive emotion trumps negative emotion every time. We yearn for people to be reconciled, for catharsis. We need positive emotional logic. Eames replies with a simpler, positive idea: My father was disappointed that I never got to create for myself. He accepts that I want to want to create for myself and not follow in his footsteps.
In Photography, it’s the same. Focus less on fear and the idea of “missing out” and more on what it would mean to them and how it can bring their lives value.
Always seek positive emotion to anchor to first.
I have been hesitant to write this information and share it. Not because I don’t want to share it but because I’m completely content to fly under the radar making my clients really happy, making a good living, and support my family. However, I realized that there are other people in the same situation as I was in 2018 and 2019 and there are probably other people wondering how they can make a difference in their clients lives and to transform their own. If I didn’t share this formation I wouldn’t be living the message that I’m sending to my clients.
So rather than let fear dominate my actions, my intention is to share this information in the hope that it changes as many photographers lives, the way they do business and ultimately change the lives of their clients.
Thank you for coming along on this journey. I’m happy that you’re taking the first step to better yourself, your situation, and creating more meaningful relationships with your clients. Together we can influence the photography community and our clients lives for the better and start making a real difference through meaningful photographs.