It’s fascinating to look back over my 10+ years as a wedding photographer and see the evolution the industry has gone through. That’s not to mention all the drastic changes that happened before my time. It makes one wonder what it will be like to be a wedding photographer in the future.
Marketing is changing too, it’s never been easier for anyone to reach an audience and yet those audiences have never been harder to reach. Will the advancements in technology give dedicated photographers the chance to stand out from the competition? Or will it become even harder to justify the expense?
Increasing Expectations Leading to Stronger Wedding Photography
I’m seeing increasing expectations for what wedding photography can and should be which, I believe, is leading to stronger and more impressive wedding photography. With the advances in technology, the quality of wedding photography has increased and so has the quantity of photographers. Therefore, even just in my decade as a wedding photographer, I’ve noticed an increase in both expectations for wedding photos and results due to both technology advancements and higher competition.
With the affordability of high-quality cameras, it’s getting easier to take high-quality photographs which makes becoming a wedding photographer appealing and accessible. But because of that, it’s also getting more competitive which is driving expectations even higher. Therefore, those of us who have been in the business for a while are constantly trying to raise the bar so that we can stay ahead of the competition and continue to charge sustainable prices for our business.
And it’s not just professional camera technology that’s playing a part, as cell phones get better, wedding photographers have to continue to ensure that their images are better than the ones all the guests are capturing. It’s becoming even more essential that we don’t just get the shot but that we capture everything better than the wedding guests can, otherwise, we’re replaceable.
Digital Consumption of Photos
This is one area where I have more curiosity than predictions. Is the digital consumption of photography increasing or decreasing the value of photography? On the one hand, everyone is constantly posting photos and videos of their lives on social media and texting images back and forth to their friends. On the other hand, are people still printing photos for their walls and albums and paying a premium for them?
When it comes to photography, wedding photography is still the one time that most individuals hire a professional photographer. It’s the one day that they deem worthy of investing money in photography. And our argument has always been that the only thing you have left after the music is turned off, the guests have gone home, the copious amounts of food and alcohol have been consumed, and the flowers have been preserved or died, are your photos.
So hopefully the digital consumption of photography will elevate photography in general in the minds of the public. And then, hopefully, we as photographers can still educate our couples to print their wedding photos so that they don’t get lost in the gigabytes of phone photos. Time will tell and we’ll adapt regardless of what the market demands.
Changes in Marketing
Marketing is constantly changing as well. Some of the old ways of getting wedding clients are still viable and effective but the number of ways to reach a potential audience is constantly increasing.
As an entrepreneur, I’m extremely grateful for the ease and simplicity of modern marketing. I love that I can build a website, start a business, and grow my platform. But similarly to the problem of camera technology becoming more accessible, anyone can be a photographer and anyone can start a business. Again, competition increases.
It’s always been important to set yourself apart from the competition and to strive to be hired for your unique vision and unique style. It’s probably even more important now and in the future to not only set yourself apart from other photographers but to be heard among the noise of marketing in general. How can you help potential clients remember you?
More Efficient Business Practices
Most of the topics I’m covering might feel like they can go either way. Technology is getting better making our job both easier and harder. Marketing is getting easier and more difficult at the same time. But one area I’m feeling pretty warm and fuzzy about is the impact technology can have on the rest of our business.
You’ve probably seen pie charts about how wedding photographers only spend a fraction of our time actually shooting because we have to spend time on marketing, accounting, editing, business development, and more. While that’s true, all of my business processes are getting more and more efficient with the help of technology. Before AI takes our jobs away it will make our jobs significantly easier which will help us be more efficient and effective.
Editing is faster than ever before. There are more efficient ways than ever before to do everything from album design, and tracking accounting, to following up with leads. You can even have your online client galleries make sales for you and ship everything directly to your clients.
Changes I’ve Made in My Wedding Photography Business
I know that if we hadn’t already been on the path to diversifying our business, the pandemic would have pushed us even more in that direction. There’s always been a bit of gospel around the importance of specialization and being the best at your specific and particular niche. But after the uncertainty of 2020, diversification is looking like a much smarter play.
When it comes to marketing, I don’t feel that I can or that I have the desire to compete on social media. It’s my hope and belief that referrals, reviews, and recommendations, which have always been important to us, will continue to help set us apart. Our best clients come from our best clients and I can only hope that is a more sustainable plan than trying to keep up with whatever the latest social media platform is.
We are, however, constantly trying to push the boundaries and create higher quality work so that our clients are willing to allocate a chunk of their wedding budgets to us. We’re adding value wherever we can to what we’re offering including adding videography options that allow us to book bigger packages. The goal is to build a sustainable business and be able to continue to grow alongside the industry.