I read a little article last week which captured a big talking point and wrapped it up beautifully in a neat and tidy little nutshell. Nichola Morton was writing for Aspire Photography Training: “ If your couples have either hand-made or spent money on something involved with their wedding, they will want to make sure that it is documented via your photography.”
Nichola’s use of the word documented really caught my attention. Those documentary or reportage photographers I know tend to be the most reluctant to capture details… and yet Nichola brought them together in one wonderfully succinct sentence.
I’ll make my point first and explain it in a moment. I think 99% of wedding photographers should be capturing details and using those images in their marketing. It’s time to realise just how valuable those detail shots can be to your business. Why?
Some photographers just don’t feature on wedding blogs
Top photographers who shoot reportage or photojournalism or documentary style just don’t submit to blogs. The very best, who are fully booked two years in advance, don’t need to. Fair enough. But blogs are still growing, and on a par with wedding magazines and the big shows when it comes to advertising power. They’re also free – having a real wedding featured in a well optimised blog post is powerful and WILL bring you enquiries and bookings.
The myth and misconception of ‘detail photographers’
I’ve heard people criticise wedding photographers who shoot a lot of detail. So long as a photographer is covering key moments, people and emotions as well, they’re being especially savvy by photographing details. Having this extra focus doesn’t take away from the rest of the day: it adds to a photographer’s skill set, appeal and marketing portfolio.
Details are so very important because…
… on the wedding day your bride and groom, as well as plenty of family members, will be proud of all those personal touches. So maybe 10 years later most couples will want to see friends and relatives in their album more than they want to see bouquets and stationery – but that doesn’t mean the details are never important to them.
… when a couple are searching for their wedding photographer, they’ll still be interested in those details. They’ll be discovering Pinterest, shopping for invitations and meeting with florists and cake designers. Oh – and they’ll be exploring wedding blogs. So when you’re trying to attract their attention with your photography, it might just be an image of a key detail which first catches their eye. Worth considering?
The wedding industry has a strong link to fashion so trends matter
Timeless, elegant wedding photography is the best, right? Maybe not always. Let me ask you a question: how important is the bride’s dress in most weddings?
Important enough to spend anything from £500 – £1500 for most couples. Which is quite a lot when you think I rarely spend more than £30 on a dress for any other occasion. And if dresses are important, so is fashion. And fashion is a fickle, fast-moving thing. Trends come and go – like vintage, shabby chic, spot colour and yellow filters.
Wedding styling is all about fashion and trends. The dress is just one aspect of this: the details are a huge fashion statement too.
Recent trends have been dictated by wedding budgets
We had a bit of an economic blip in the UK recently. The wedding industry is phenomenally strong, but ask any stationer, florist or cake designer and they’ll tell you (horror stories) about brides’ fascination with DIY. Handcrafted and homemade is the biggest trend to hit weddings since vintage was invented (and that was quite a long time ago now 😉
Details are a labour of love, priceless even…
We used to save up and buy favours, table decorations and cakes. It was tough, but not as tough as the hours we now spend sewing, glueing, Illustrating (capitalised because I mean Adobe) and baking in preparation for our wedding days. Wedding planning is a great big family adventure for many of us – we get together to make and paint, collect and decorate, even planting seeds and growing flowers at just the right time for the wedding. Hours, days, weeks of our time is spent on those little details for our wedding days.
Maybe we want those details to be remembered, or maybe we want them to be appreciated
The crux of it all: on the day of the wedding, all of that hard work is on display. The bridal party is fiercely proud of all their achievements in styling wedding details.
So what if they won’t care in 10 or 20 years’ time when they’re reminiscing with their wedding album? As a photographer, if your clients have invested time in their details, how lovely a gesture to show your appreciation. Take pictures. Zoom in.
Right now, on the wedding day and on first seeing your images, brides and grooms will be delighted to see their hard work and craftsmanship being appreciated.
Details build themes. Colours are out; themes are in!
Did I mention fashion? Here’s another change in how we do weddings: we used to pick a colour (often, Cadbury purple and then Tiffany blue) and style weddings around it. Bridesmaids’ knickers matched ushers’ hankies and so on.
A beautiful muddle of colours is perfectly acceptable for a modern wedding – and many brides choose a palette of colour instead of a single shade. Why? Because themes are more important.
Wedding themes aren’t the garish ‘Disney’ or ‘Aston Villa’ of the 1990s (yeah, I was there…) but more subtle styling: 1920s vintage or English country garden.
And how do we create a theme? You got it: with lots of little details. They set the scene, create a backdrop for the rest of the day.
Setting the scene is important in wedding photography
Would you launch right into a wedding album design without a few scene-setting images? It’s pretty standard procedure to include a shot of the church, hotel or venue without any people as a prelude to the getting ready shots, the guests etc. I’ve even seen peacocks, flowers and bees, ducks, sheep… and this morning a very cute llama kicking off a curated set of wedding images (on a photography blog). Most photographers will ‘set the scene’ with a few images along these lines. It’s all part of the day, right?
If a bride and groom are using details to ‘set the scene’ for their day, wouldn’t it be lovely for the photographer to set the scene for the album in the same way?
I think so.
A superb wedding photographer said to me today, “I shoot documentary photos so it’s not the usual wedding blog kind of stuff” – and yet his images set the scene beautifully for the wedding he had photographed. The details he captured were a little different: they included locations, flower arranging close ups, a sunset and a goal post… but those are still details, aren’t they?
I don’t know of any wedding photographer who genuinely “doesn’t shoot details”. And yet many claim not to…
Shoot the right details, and use them well!
Regardless of wedding photography style – photojournalism, reportage, documentary or just bloody lovely everythingness – you’re shooting details. By photographing the right ones, the ones your clients have invested their hearts and souls in, you can create an even more marketable portfolio.
Let’s say you take 400 images on a wedding day. If 10 of those are detail close ups of handcrafted bits and pieces (which are a hell of a lot easier to photograph than moving, talking, blinking people) then you can use those images to get featured on wedding blogs.
And savvy wedding photographers – of all flavours – are using wedding blogs to reach potential clients and get more bookings. How do they do it? By pitching the right images.
Yes, bloggers feature details a lot. It’s because brides and grooms read blogs while they’re planning their weddings. As I mentioned earlier, this is when their attention is on details and pretty things to buy and make.
And if those gorgeous details are what you’ve photographed and submitted to a blog, you’ll catch their eye. They’ll click on your feature. They’ll see all your images – after those first few detail shots, they’ll see the bursting-with-happiness smiles. They’ll see proud dads with tears in their eyes, or nervous grooms, elated brides, every moment which you’ve photographed and which meant 100 times more to you than the bouquet, or the bunting.
Blogs are a way to share your own favourite images from a wedding – the pick of your portfolio – you just need to begin submissions with some savvy detail shots to get us all hooked!
Image credits: http://jamesandlianne.com