And working professionally and respectfully with others in your industry
Enjoy this gorgeous couple - they're too good looking for their own good! I loved seeing these light and airy bohemian lakeshore bridals come together and how this springtime white and pink cascading bridal bouquet turned out. I really wish lilac, tulip, and peony season weren't quite so short :(
I'm also sharing some thoughts on politely navigating the networking world of the wedding industry, but this would be so applicable to many other work environments out there. And it isn't meant to be ranty or cranky or anything like that. More just food for thought and me writing about a topic I've been thinking a lot about lately. Feel free to share your thoughts below! And a huge thanks to Taynee Miller Photography for providing the gorgeous imagery for this blog post! Be sure and use the link below to check out her work!
Photography Credit: Taynee Miller Photography @tayneemillerphotography
Recently, a photographer posted on a group page of wedding vendors I’m a part of that a florist had reached out to her and asked for some of the photos from a wedding they both worked and she was unsure whether or not to charge the florist for the images and wanted some advice. Curious what everyone’s response would be (because as a florist I’m often in the same situation of needing good imagery for my portfolio) I was pleased to see that almost every photographer offered the same advice – that there are more pros to reaching out and sharing with others in the industry than there are cons!
I get it I really do! We all need to make money at our jobs. I get it that in every industry there are single moms, dads, and even dual income families that NEED the income to make ends meet. I get that there are families out there that are sooo strapped for cash, that losing even $1 may mean the difference between paying a bill and having enough food to eat. Believe me. We’ve been there. My husband was unemployed and underemployed for two years. There are so many times it came down to that dollar; how to earn it, how to keep it, or the best way to spend it with so many basic needs clamoring for attention.
But, do we all need the almighty dollar so badly that there is no room to share and give back to our coworkers, community, or industry? I know that as a florist and cake artist, my talents lie in a certain direction. Sadly, that direction is not photography :( Which means that I really rely on the talents of other vendors in the wedding industry to help me keep portfolio, website, blog, and social media up and running and looking top notch and professional. If I had to pay for every. single. image. that would make this task and the task of making a profit on each wedding verrrrrry difficult. So I’m frequently that florist reaching out to photographers like, “Hey, we recently worked so and so’s wedding together! Would you be willing to share at least 3-5 final images from the bridals and the wedding that are good shots of the flowers for my portfolio?”
Most are very considerate and willing to share at least a few images. Others…are not. And I get why, but today I’d like to offer up a few points to consider when someone reaches out to you and how to handle it respectfully and professionally.
Point #1 – Our work added to your image: While your photography work and editing are gorgeous, it’s also what’s IN the picture! Most people don’t look at a picture and see just the photographer’s capture, framing, lighting, or editing. They’re also seeing a beautiful dress, flawless hair and make-up, an incredible bouquet, or a delicious cake. All of these vendors contributed to YOUR picture to make it look the way it did. In essence, we are a team! An image of a blank cake table or hands with no bouquet isn’t going to sell your work very well. So when these vendors reach out to you, you may want to remember that their talents helped make your shot what it is.
I’ve seen loads and loads of posts from photographers saying things like, “My bride’s florist fell through do any florists have leftovers they could whip up for her?” or “ My bride didn’t order a bouquet for her bridals, but it’s so awkward to just have her there holding nothing. Will any florists contribute a bouquet last minute?” Even photographers acknowledge that their images NEED the fluff from florists, cake artists, jewelers etc. in order to look their very best. And since the florist in those situations bailed you or your client out, I would hope that you would, as a courtesy, send her the images of her work.
Point #2 – Marketing, Advertising, and Credit Credit Credit: With intellectual property theft being THE PLAGUE of the internet, more and more creatives are crying foul and getting very aggressive when their work isn’t properly credited on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, etc., but most people seem to know the basic rule of giving credit to the person responsible for creating the gorgeous imagery – the photographer; however, this leaves a lot of work uncredited – bouquets, dresses, HMUA (who really get the shaft on this), decorators, venues, etc. Unfortunately, much of the lack of credit comes from the actual wedding photographer. They post stunning image after stunning image that builds their following, gains traction for their SEO, and helps them rise in the algorithms on Instagram, but don’t credit all the vendors involved in the wedding for one simple reason…they don’t know all of them. In a styled shoot, we are all given a list of every participant and it’s a simple matter of just tagging everyone. But a real wedding?!?! I have no clue where my bride got her dress, or where their rings came from, or who created the macramé backdrop, and I’m sure this goes for photographers as well.
My point is that all these vendors work together to create gorgeous photo ops for a photographer to shoot at a real wedding, but then no credit is given – often simply because they don’t know whom to credit. So when a vendor reaches out to you for images, you now know whom you should be crediting when you post your stunning bride and her bouquet, but on the flip side, you can request that they be sure and credit you anytime the blog or post about it on social media.
After all, algorithms and SEO are based so much upon how much you are being talked about and interacted with. It only helps you to have 20+ vendors from a real wedding sharing their work on Instagram, blogging about it, or pinning it to Pinterest – all with credit to you as the photographer. Even if those vendors only have 1,000 followers each, you’ve just reached 20,000 people outside of your following. I’d say that’s worth 3-5 free images.
In fact, I would go so far to say that a good marketing and advertising strategy would be to have each of your brides fill out a vendor list about three weeks before the wedding and try to find out who as many of the vendors are as possible. Then, as a courtesy, e-mail them the Pass/Pixieset/Dropbox/whateveryouuse file from the wedding along with a note explaining that they are welcome to use the images and to just please be sure and tag you, give credit on blog posts, etc. While this may seem like a lot of effort to organize and implement, it’s FREE advertising and marketing and virtually guaranteed to get your name out there just that much more, whereas boosting your post on Facebook or Instagram may or may not help, and it may or may not reach your target audience (I would know...I tried both of those and it didn't help at all. It was a total waste). All you had to do was add in some extra e-mail addresses when you send out the wedding and BOOM you’ve just reached all of their followers.
Point #3 – Referrals: We all know that more and more brides are using the internet to plan their weddings. Brides are more likely to Google, search Pinterest, or do a hashtag search on Instagram to look for vendors and wedding inspiration. That said, for all of the effort we put into SEO and hashtagging, nothing replaces word of mouth. Our brides text, chat, Direct Message, Facebook, Skype, and share boards on Pinterest and they talk, talk, talk about who they like, what they like, and what they don’t like.
The same goes for vendors in the wedding industry. After over 13 years in the wedding industry, I KNOW who I like to work with and I KNOW which vendors are going to take care of their brides, each other, and build a community. So when my brides come in and want a referrals, you better believe I’m referring not just the talent in the industry, but those vendors who are kind, considerate, warm, giving, and willing to go the distance for not just their paying clients, but industry professionals as well.
Now, if a photographer asks me to pay for images that doesn’t make him or her a bad photographer and it does not mean I won’t refer them. If they truly do good, solid work I’m still willing to pass their name along. But, I’m more excited and authentic in my glowing praise about someone who has truly taken care of me and reached out to help me just as my work helped create their gorgeous image.
So, I guess I can pay you that $25 per image. Or I can send a wedding your way. I might do both, but I’d really rather just receive some beautiful, free imagery, put you on my preferred vendors list, and rave about you to my clients :)
As a final note, whether you share images for free with vendors or ask them to pay (and I would love to build my business big enough that I can pay!), I hope you’ll be professional, gracious, and respectful to the other creatives who pulled that wedding together. Give credit where known and where you can. Share and give back as much as you are able. Think outwardly and build up others. It will only reflect well on you.