How to Make Money With Weddings

February 15, 2012 by  
Filed under FREE Photography Tips

Joe Luter
Thousands of photographers have shuttered their wedding/portrait businesses in the last 10 years. And some did magnificent work.

The main reason is that the bride’s Uncle Harry has quality camera equipment now and is anxious to shoot the event as a present to the bride. It may be his first one. Hmmm, a close relative. And free. Then there are photographers who just shoot the day at a bargain price and just hand the bride a CD.

How do you compete with these?

First, this is not true of every wedding so expect half or more of the jobs will still be available. But you have to go after them quickly, starting with a phone call the day of the newspaper announcement.

Secondly, if Uncle Harry is in the picture, we would not even try to take the main event away from him. Just tell her about your Harry supplements.

Grant that he will cover the ceremony and talk to the bride instead about a cherished bridal portrait sitting. . . she will never again have this opportunity and may never look this glowing again. To us, it is very sad for this moment to ever be lost.

It truly is a beloved gift from the wedding and she will be showing it to her grandchildren . . .if the wedding lasts.

Speaking of your work being the gift of a lifetime, if she says she would love what you suggest but has just spent all the money she can, suggest that Uncle John and others could chip in on the expenses of some professional work as their gift. What could they possibly give that would be of greater and more longterm value?

You may already see the aura of her biggest moment about her when you meet. And deep down, she may have reservations about Uncle Harry but she can’t just . . . you know. Don’t press it. It’s Harry’s job.

You should also cover the pre-ceremony couple pictures. Harry may not even know about them. Show her some that you have done with beautiful backgrounds and warm hearts. You would love to take her and “her man” to the Yachts Club Villas in casual clothes. Also you could produce the “growing up” slide show, which is always makes the moms cry. If you have no such samples, go out and shoot a couple of friends to get some.

You should think next of related products to give his work life. You may already be familiar with the term “orphan bride.” It refers to brides left with nothing but a CD or a bag of 3x5s and a couple of 8x10s. After seeing Harry’s proofs or prints, you might even casually mention that “we could clean them up, if you like. Nothing big, just routine image post processing.”

If you take over the fulfillment here, chances are you will wind up with as much income from the wedding as if you had done it all. Sell her a museum quality canvas print and you will have a friend for life. And a very large print or two in an elegant frame (great gift for the two moms). Consider photobooks too, budget allowing. Wow, they are just stunning these days. Have you seen them lately? They print both sidess of the page and can be “perfect bound.” Gifts for the bridal party could be key chains, beverage holders, funny t–shirts, coffee mugs, etc. And don’t forget a couple of refrigerator magnets for the moms.

We have a problem with the taste factor of the following, but we know one photographer who shoots family portraits at the event of people who are not even in the wedding party. He reasons that these families may have flown in from different locations and how many time will they be in one place together and all scrubbed up? We ourselves would not attend an Uncle Harry wedding but if you do go at all, never take your camera out and start shooting over Harry’s shoulder and never/ever make suggestions. You can get blame but not credit.

Do you have an online storefront? That would be a big plus for any bride. For your business, of course, it would mean that everyone who attends the wedding could order a few prints in about two seconds. Ca-Ching!

Note: For a more stable, Harry-free business, we recommend youth sports, youth dance or schools.