by Mary Fisk-Taylor, M. Photog., Cr., CPP, ABI, API
At Hayes & Fisk the Art of Photography we still love to photograph weddings, and we still insist on delivering custom designed wedding albums and presentation portraits that set us apart in this “shoot and burn” wedding world. I must confess that there is a downside: Our studio has definitely experienced a drop in wedding bookings because we have chosen not to compete with the lower-priced studios that are delivering DVDs and/or proof boxes. We have in fact experienced a drop in the number of weddings we photograph each year, going from about 35 to 22 weddings a year. Those that we do photograph, however, we approach with a high level of confidence that everyone involved shares a common vision about the value of the product we create. This comfort level is the result of an aggressive strategy that allows us to benefit from the referral of upscale wedding vendors.
Each year I try to find new ways to share my marketing message about our concept of wedding photography with the brides and grooms that come by to visit my studios. A few years ago I realized that it is equally important to share and educate our philosophy with the other high-end wedding vendors in my market area. If all of the vendors are sharing and educating the bride on the importance of full visual coverage and finished, printed products, then it will become a theme for this wedding segment, not just the mission of my studios alone. This realization was the beginning of forging partnerships that have helped to stabilize our wedding business by attracting clients who value the quality and service we provide.
I began to educate vendors by going into their studios, stores and boutiques and capturing light commercial images, then printing press-printed advertising and books for them, along with brand new fresh marketing pieces. Yes, this strategy takes a little more work on my end, but believe me it has paid off! We are already above our wedding bookings from last year and are now turning brides away for certain dates. I would rather budget these types of advertising costs and cut back a little on a wedding guide ad or bridal show space. Or, even better, I know it’s possible to find local vendors who are willing to partner with you on printing albums or press-printed marketing materials. You might be pleasantly surprised as to how many businesses would love to work with you on advertising pieces or share in booth rental at a bridal show.
At wedding events, my first responsibility is to the bride and groom. My secondary goal is to capture images that represent my vendors in the best light possible. Because I get to know each and every vendor for the event, it’s feasible to create fresh images for the reception facility, the wedding coordinator, the cake baker, the caterer, the florist, the gown boutique or designer, the invitation and paper company, etc. Once I have created images for the bride and groom, I steal away for a few minutes here and there to create more dynamic images that I believe the vendors have not seen a hundred times before and that they would love to use for their marketing pieces, websites and sample albums.
Mary Fisk-Taylor is in partnership with Jamie Hayes in the upscale Richmond, Virginia Hayes and Fisk the Art of Photography. She also is the co-owner of Real Life Studios, which serves “the discerning client looking for something fresh, fun and unscripted.”
In part two, Mary explains how she maximizes the value of the vendor images she captures at wedding events and how this courtesy ultimately results in the vendor referrals that are so helpful to her business.