I’ve long realised that being a Cheshire Wedding Photographer is much more than just turning up at a wedding and taking photographs. Most people simply don’t realise just how much is involved in Professional Wedding Photography. It’s not just the visible 16 hours on the day of the wedding; there are meetings in advance with the happy couples, the visits before the big day to meet with venue coordinator and if it is a church wedding, the priest, vicar or pastor. There is also a surprising amount of work involved in taking images from the camera and turning them in to the heirloom albums wanted by modern Brides. Plus there is running a business; marketing, tax, insurance the list is almost endless.
Being a Professional Photographer I don’t get the opportunity to sit down every year and have an annual appraisal or personal development review with my boss; I am my own boss. Having been a Cheshire Wedding Photographer for a number of years I know my boss changes with every client and whilst everyone I’ve had has been delighted with the results how do I know if I could be doing better? Getting rave feedback is fantastic and making Brides (and Grooms) cry with happiness when they see the images for the first time is one of the greatest feelings in the world because you know that you must be doing something right. But what about the other elements of Professional Wedding Photography such as Customer Service, Planning, etc., I want exceed my clients expectations, not just meet them! I want to be the Best Wedding Photographer I can, so that every Bride and Groom that chooses me to be their Wedding Photographer has the greatest day of their lives. I want to sleep at night knowing that I played a part of that and helped make it happen.
I could ask my past clients but because the majority of my couples are first timers most don’t have any reference to work from and as the couples rarely see everything that happens in the background so I knew had to find someone in the industry to help me answer the big question…
“Just how good am I?”
Well, last Friday I took time out to spend a whole day 1-2-1 with a well respected and very busy Professional Wedding Photographer from Leeds who offers other Professional Photographers just what I was looking for; the opportunity to have an independent appraisal of how I approach my whole business.
The day was long and very thorough, we went through my website, my plans, my portfolio, even my thoughts for the future. So what did I learn? Reassuringly, I found out that I’ve been doing a lot of things well;
- I’ve always looked at what could go wrong and planned how to stop them from happening or at if they did go wrong what would I need to do to allow me to go on. From doing this planning, I’ve always had backups for things that could break Cameras, Lenses, Sat Navs, Flashes. A stock of plasters, breath mints, pain killers, wet wipes, pins, safety pins etc. and the telephone number of local taxi firms are always in the bag, just in case I or someone else needs them.
- Ensuring my focus is on the Bride and Groom and being passionate about what I do and how I can help play a part in making sure their day will be remembered for as being the best day in their lives; I was warned that too many other photographers focus on the money.
- Treating each wedding as unique has always been part of my Wedding Photography service. I have always visited venues before the day, even if I’ve photographed weddings there before (e.g. Shrigley Hall, Motram Hall, Davenport Green Hall), how am I to know if scaffolding has just been put up which requires a different location?
- My photography; being told by a photographer who is renowned for honest criticism that I have “nailed the photography side of things” and that there are images in my portfolio that they would love to have taken is certainly confidence building.
- Networking with other Cheshire Wedding Photographers to ensure that in the event of an accident or emergency I have people I know, trust and can rely on that could step in to ensure that my Brides and Grooms get the photography they deserve.
- Recognising that personal development is critical to a Professional Photographer and it is not just about training in photography, anyone who is serious about providing real value to his clients needs to focus on the business and customer service side as well.
That’s not to say the day didn’t show me things I could be doing even better, the sheer number of small tips and tricks that I picked up over the day is testament to this. Perhaps most importantly many of the tips I picked up were not about the photography nor about the business side; they were tips and tricks to make the Bride and Groom’s day easier and more relaxing for them. I already had a number tips that I have picked up over the years Photographing weddings but now the breadth of things that I can tell Brides, Grooms, Bridesmaids, Ushers, Best Men, Fathers and Mothers of the Bride and Groom that will help make sure that the big day of all my future Bride and Groom’s is even more special.
It was certainly one of the best things I have ever done and definitely something I plan to do again.