Alison Yin Photography is an award-winning wedding photography studio based in Oakland, California. Their style is true photojournalism, meaning they won’t direct their clients or tell them what to do or where to look. This tactic results in beautiful photos depicting real moments. We’re pleased to partner with Alison for her guest blog post on how to find the ideal clients for your wedding photography business.
When people find out I’m a wedding photographer, their first response usually is, “Wow, I bet you see a ton of bridezillas!” But the truth is, we don’t. My love of documentary photography is rooted in that I love people. There’s no way I would have lasted six years as a full-time wedding photographer had I been working with bridezillas or groomzillas.
We work with people who respect and appreciate what we do. Yes, in part we’ve been lucky to have such great clients find us, but we’ve also worked really hard to conceptualize who our ideal clients are and then target them. Genuinely liking your clients is key for being able to make good pictures because if they can’t connect with you, how will they feel comfortable enough to relax around you on their wedding day?
Think about your circle of friends and what qualities make them your friends. Most likely, you all have a lot of common interests and values, which is why you get along so well together. Typically, we are attracted to people who are similar to us, which means your ideal clients are also probably a lot like you. It’s a good exercise to sit down and write out some qualities and interests that you enjoy which you can use as a base for starting to identify who your ideal clients are.
For example, I love being active and outside, I love dogs, and I love a good party. How does that translate to finding qualities of my ideal client? From that short list of interests, I can glean the following: my ideal clients love to be outdoors and so a good portion if not all of their wedding will be outside, they’re not too concerned with having everything be “perfect” on their wedding day, their wedding priority is celebrating with family and friends. Your goal in finding these qualities is not to create a checklist to qualify your clients, but rather to get a general sense of the type of people with whom you will enjoy working and who will in turn appreciate your work the most.
Your goal is to build a portfolio that reflects the type of weddings you want to photograph so that those images resonate the most with couples who are drawn to the same types of things. Sometimes this means making hard decisions such as not showcasing one of your best images if it is not cohesive with the types of weddings you want to photograph.
When we first communicate with prospective clients, we always encourage an in-person meeting or a phone/video chat at the very least before allowing them to book. This meeting is crucial for getting to know one another and helping us determine if we are a good fit for them and vice versa. Our clients are not experts at choosing wedding photographers so this is also a good opportunity to teach them how to pick a photographer.
One key element couples usually don’t know to consider is how important it is that they feel comfortable with their wedding photographer. We want our couples to be themselves around us so that they fully enjoy their wedding day. This gives them a great experience and makes the photos 100% better than if they had felt self-conscious around us. By teaching clients to be aware of this factor, you are showing them you are an expert at what you do and that you have their best interest at heart.
You may also realize during the meeting that you aren’t a good fit for them, and if this is the case, it would be best to help them find another photographer who does fit their style and personality. I realize it sounds crazy to turn away work because you don’t mesh well, but I promise it will make both you and your clients a lot happier in the end. After all, isn’t the goal to create images that your clients love, and if you can work with people who you like and love your work before even taking a single photo at their event, wouldn’t that be the ideal client?