The wedding industry can be a funny beast – constantly changing and evolving. The longer I am a wedding photographer the more photographers I see come and go. When I first started there were a handful of really good photographers whose work I followed and admired. I learned from them, spoke with them about how to run a successful business and then made my own way in this industry.
Today the landscape is very different – there is so much choice! For couples this is a great thing. To have such a strong wealth of talented photographers in Ireland is a good thing. We have a good sense of community and drive each other on in a very supportive way.
But I can’t help but be thankful in lots of ways for when I started my business – in a time when things were simpler. Instagram was even in existence. Nor Pinterest. I remember I used to create my own Powerpoint document of images I loved. I even had a scrapbook with magazine cut-outs from my favourite weddings!! In this sea of constant social media noise, I often wonder what it must be like to start your own wedding photography business in 2017 and 2018.
I know we constantly hear that you need to find a way to stand out from the crowd. This is even more true today. I have worked hard to build my own style and portfolio, to give my work a consistency that can be seen in my work. This helps to give potential clients a real sense of what it would be like for me to photograph their wedding and a reassurance that I am an established photographer who has a good grasp of what I am doing.
This can be hard when you are starting out. A chicken an egg analogy if you will. You need the clients to give you that consistent portfolio and yet you need the portfolio to attract your clients! Where do you start? I would say, step outside of the constant drive for booking and gain that consistency from being busy. Create a styled shoot, Offer to photograph a post wedding shoot with your friend, photograph your engaged cousin. Keep the wheels of your business constantly turning and people will take notice. Certainly Google will, as you fill your website with lots of current content that Irish brides are looking for.
You can’t just sit back and wait for the bookings to come. Advertising on a wedding blog for example will only get you so far. Being in front of potential brides on their computer screens will give far more traction, will get you noticed and draw people to you. And it is not about the amount of Instagram followers you have. Even in a small country like Ireland with around 20,000 weddings a year, there is more than enough work to go around. If you want to shoot around 30 weddings a year – that is 0.15% of the market and quite doable! You don’t need 20,000 followers to achieve that. But you do need to be out that showing your work and showing who you are.
It can take time but you will never get there unless you start. What one thing can you do this week to be seen online? Ask the same question every week and you are half way there!