The Quick & Dirty Guide to Wedding Photography Business Branding

We’ve written about branding at length before, with talk on finding your own niche and sticking to it, as well as several other techniques to help you stand out on today’s complex photography market. Today, however, we’re going to make everything simple and clear for your convenience, with a quick and dirty guide to wedding photography business branding. We’ll be covering all the basics, from getting your reputation off the ground, to putting it to work for you – all outlined in some simple, easy-to-follow steps. Oh, and good luck!

The definitive guide to wedding photography business branding: Newbie edition

1. Making a name and a living at the same time


Back in the day, when print photography was much more important than it is today, in the digital era, photographers would make a name for themselves by getting gallery exposure, followed up with editorial work. Far be it from us, in our guide to wedding photography business branding, to dissuade you from garnering exposure via exhibitions. But, since they’re less likely to draw lucrative clients today than two or three decades ago, you’d be better advised to get some exposure online first, via curated websites. Promote any exposure you can get on your own social media channels and watch as the work rolls in.

2. Don’t underestimate stock photography


As many a seasoned photog will tell you, stock photography doesn’t sell nearly as well as it used to, nowadays. However, if you manage to get a bit of reputation off the ground, you might be surprised to learn that stock will provide a welcome stream of steady income. The trick to making this work often entails taking up several assignments at once – the pay isn’t big, but it’s dependable, when you do strike a lucrative stock photography contract.

3. Have the best possible online presence


In between running and maintaining a blog, several social media accounts (Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are nearly compulsory) and setting up a professional website, you might even want to look into hiring an assistant to handle the workload for you. At the same time, even if you do choose to go down this route, it’s important to maintain a personal approach to your online presence. In other words, don’t make your fans and followers feel like they’re been talked at by a company, but by a genuine human being.

4. Consider hiring an editor


What’s all this talk about hiring someone else do the work for you?, you may ask. After all, the best way to take care of business is to do it yourself, right? Most of the time, yes – but not all the time. If, for instance, editing your work is not your strong suit (which, incidentally, is something that a lot of photographers struggle with), you should definitely think about hiring someone to edit the photos for you. After all, your end goal is to put your best foot forward, as it were, and make sure that the images that get out there with your name on them are the best possible ones.

5. Work on as many projects as possible


We’ve mentioned this before, in connection with stock photography, but it’s a good rule of thumb to go by, no matter the type of assignment. From shooting weddings pure and simple, to taking on editorial assignments, it’s a good idea to put out as much work as you can. You will thus expand your scope, grow your business, showcase your skill, and make sure you get your name out there, on as many people’s radars as possible. And that can’t be a bad idea, right?

6 Must-See Photography Portfolio Websites

You know that Virtual Photography Studio likes to keep you updated on all the latest trends in digital marketing and social media for wedding photographers. Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and newer platforms such as Viddy are all great, of course, and they stand to help you increase your visibility, as well as your revenue. However, they’re not all there is to it. On this great, big Internet, which also includes business pages and blogging, there’s also a special niche for portfolio websites. And if you’re at all serious about wedding photography (or any other form of visual media, in fact) you have got to be aware of them. Of course, no one expects you to keep track of them all, since there are literally hundreds, perhaps thousands out there. That’s why, in today’s post, we’ve rallied up the top 6 must-see photography portfolio websites.


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By far the largest and best known of all the must-see photography portfolio websites, Behance is a free platform with millions of visitors at global level. You can easily customize your portfolio and there’s also no limit on how many creative projects you can upload to the site – be they photos, videos, or text entries. Another boon is just how seamlessly the site integrates social media tools, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and plenty of others.


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It’s been around since 2009 and was founded in the Dutch city of Rotterdam. Its pricing scheme is subscription-based, with plans starting as low as $4 per month. While other sites on our list of must-see photography portfolio websites cater to various types of artists, this one is geared specifically toward graphic designers and photographers. The rendering for mobile devices that this site offers is incredible and it also comes with great social media support for Tumblr, Facebook, and other platforms.

Cargo Collective

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This portfolio website offers pricing schemes in a freemium regime, which essentially means that you can sign-up and use it with limited functionality for free. However, if you want access to all the features, you will have to shell out upward of $9 per month. On the plus side, Cargo Collective has got one of the best integration systems for communities – and its community really is active and vibrant. On the downside, it’s not as easy to customize your portfolio here, as it is on other sites. As such, if you know nothing about code, perhaps you might want to look elsewhere.


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Like Cargo Collective, on Wix you can sign up for free, but might want to pay for the extra features. A premium subscription will cost you at least $4.08 each month and the site is relatively easy to use. Unlike other must-see photography portfolio platforms on this list, this one is also accessible to artists who don’t have much experience with web development and coding. Also, the kind of website it creates for artists comes with an edge, compared to some of the other platforms: the sites are Google optimized.

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Easy to use and optimize, as well as loaded with a lot of goodies aimed at optimization, costs EUR5.75 per month. You can alter the fonts, colors, logos, and many other things on and can even use a personalized domain name on this website. Another plus: you don’t have to pay up right from the beginning, as the website offers you a free 30-day trial, albeit with limited functionalities.


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The “hassle-free online portfolio” experience offered by Carbonmade really requires no knowledge of HTML and the site is massive already. It hosts over 600,000 portfolios, most of which are owned by photographers or graphic designers. It may not be the best choice for videographers, but for a $12 monthly subscription, a wedding photographer could definitely benefit from being on this website.

5 Essential Tips on Transitioning from Amateur to Professional Wedding Photographer

As you may have already read here, at Virtual Photography Studio, there’s something of a paradox to being a professional wedding photographer. On the one hand, most people who go into the business start out from sheer passion (or even by accident, in some cases). But then, as they progress, the question arises: can you make it big in this field, or should you stick to your day job? And if you do become a professional wedding photographer, will the transition be subtle and gradual, or should you expect to move up in leaps and bounds? In an attempt to shed some light on these pressing questions for most newbie pros, we’ve gathered up some nuggets of wisdom from the pros. Here are the most important tips on how to switch from the status of amateur to professional wedding photographer.

1. Don’t lay all your eggs in one basket

Accept the notion that you may not become a superstar wedding photog overnight. Deal with it – and do so in the most tangible and palpable ways. What does this mean? A great many things. For one thing, don’t abandon your personal projects, in hopes that you’ll be freeing up time for wedding shoots. In the beginning, these gigs will rather trickle in, instead of gushing in torrents. Along the same lines, yes, do stick to your day job at first, but do so with a plan. Set a deadline for yourself: you need to be making a certain amount of money from photography alone, by a given date. And that’s the date when you’re going to quit and officially switch from amateur to professional wedding photographer.

2. Advertise yourself

Word of mouth and recommendations for friends are a great way for landing wedding shoots in the beginning, but we assume you only have so many friends. In time, that source of clients will run dry and you, too, will be left high and dry. To preempt that from happening, work on building up your reputation. This doesn’t mean you need to start running full page ads in the local papers (unless you’re sure you’re that good already). But it does mean you should have an online portfolio, with a small, yet impressive selection of your work. Why not also set up a Facebook fan page, while you’re at it? Have a smartphone? Then you definitely need to be on Instagram, too – you may find it beneath your artistic prowess, but your friends are probably on the platform already.

3. Invest wisely to turn from amateur to professional wedding photographer

In the beginning, it’s likely that money will be tight, so refrain from splurging, no matter how cool that new Canon lens kit looks. Borrow lenses, beauty lights, tripods, and whatever other gear you can from fellow photographer friends – but don’t keep it for months on end and, whatever you do, don’t break it. Rent gear, if it’s available as an option. Rent studio time and consider working with some TFCD models to get your creative juices flowing and to enrich that portfolio.

4. Keep learning

All the great masters of photography did, from Bresson to Leibowitz, so you should do it, too. Your transition from amateur to professional wedding photographer is not over when you think you’ve got it all figured out. In fact, that’s likely when your career is over. Look at how fast technology is evolving, how regularly Photoshop is updated, and how many new lenses are released each month. Check out new seminars and workshops, know about the trainers’ experience and background. In photography, the learning process is never really over – and that’s one of the best things about this job!

5. Stay positive

We’ve written about the importance of staying strong in the face of negativity and criticism before. It’s incredibly important, so don’t you ever forget it. While constructive criticism can be a great way to enrich your skills, outright bashing is always detrimental. Don’t let the trolls get you down and you will do just fine!

7 Secrets To A Strong Photographic Portfolio That Most People Will Tell You Not To Do

I read an article the other day on building a photography portfolio. And while the article itself was written well and provided a ton of detail, I disagree with the message.

Most people in the photographic industry teach you to put together a generic, boring portfolio, both online and off. “Choose your best image from each session”, they say. “Never have more than a couple dozen images in your gallery”, they say. I disagree.

When we first built our business in the late 90’s (think dial up modems), we put thousands online in our portfolio. Yes thousands. At our height, we had over 20,000 images on our site. People told us we were crazy. “They’ll never look at that many images.” “Take them down, are you crazy?” The comments when on and on. But we didn’t fail with our 20,000 images. In fact we made it BIG. Because we spoke right to the heart of our ideal client.

Your portfolio should never be “normal”. It shouldn’t be what they teach you in a photography class, or a “best of” series that showcases a few great shots. Nope. It should be a whole lot more.

7 Secrets To A Strong Photographic Portfolio That Most People Will Tell You Not To Do

1. Things You Want To Shoot

Too often a photographer will include things in her portfolio that clients’ expect to be there. Yet if you want to branch out and shoot something very specific, something very unique to you, don’t be afraid to include it because it isn’t the “norm”. People will hire you because of what they see in you. If you showcase certain things, they will expect it as their own results.

2. Beyond The Best Of

Everyone tells you to create a gallery filled with your “best of” images. Your best images are great, but if you’ve ever looked at portfolio after portfolio, “best of” series soon all start looking the same. Do a search for wedding portfolios and you’ll see what I mean. Every photographer includes two to three dozen of his or her “best of” images. And they all look alike. Most are shots of the bride, groom, or some combination. You’ll get a sweet looking image of the ceremony. A couple of great scenics from an outdoor wedding. And of course the mandatory couple of candid images from the reception to prove you are “photojournalistic”. Is that really all there is to it? Or can you stretch and showcase more? We routinely would put together montages that would contain 200, 300 or even 400 images or more from one wedding and include them in our portfolio. A potential client would truly get an understanding of what we could do for her – and it worked every time. [Read more…]

One Great Way To Give Away Your Photography

As I sat in the doctor’s office with my mom a while back, I couldn’t help but notice how cold it was. In the waiting room, it was just a bunch of chairs along a wall with the receptionist busy at work behind the desk. Other than the windows on one wall, there was nothing in the room. It didn’t change when we went into the exam room. A table, a sink, a couple of chairs … and four very empty walls.

Granted, this is a heart surgeon and he doesn’t have an overly warm bedside manner. And its clearly obvious he doesn’t have a knack for decorating. But wouldn’t a few “warm” touches make the patients feel better?

The more I looked around, the more examples I began to find.

A massage therapist with a few charts and quotes hanging in her massage room.

A dentist with a VERY inexpensive framed poster hanging on the wall.

I’m sure I could go on and on, but you probably understand exactly what I’m talking about. In fact, I bet if you think for a moment, you can probably think of a friend, acquaintance, or someone you actually use in your personal life that fits what I’m talking about.

The problem is these people are probably great at what they do. The heart surgeon is one of the best in this area.

Yet none of them have spent any time studying decorating, interior design, or the art of creating a room that makes their clientele feel special. For some, they may hire a decorator to help them. But for most, they are simply small business owners that started out the way you and I did, and spent their time, energy and money on what they deemed most important. And it wasn’t what was hanging on their walls.

Which is where you come in.

Why not find a few of these offices where you could hang your work, decorate their offices to make them warmer and more homey, and boost your business in the process?

While I’ve focused mainly on doctors and professionals here, by know means is that the only focus. Any business owner that brings in clientele could bring opportunity. A coffee shop. An accountant. Use your imagination.

One of the easiest ways to start the process is to find someone you know. Do you have a friend with a small business office? Of do you visit an office regularly that could use a little help?

Then mirror the opportunity with what they do. A heart surgeon’s office is probably not the right place to hang baby portraits. But it may be the perfect place to hang family portraits, especially those that contain extended family members – grandmas and grandpas.

The portrait could be a great way to bring in new business. But don’t forget the only way they will know who you are is if you tell them. A business card in the corner of the frame is great; as long as the first person can’t remove it. Make sure the small business owner doesn’t have a problem with you “advertising” your services. Then keep it subtle. “Permanently” adhere your business card to the bottom corner. Add a small plaque underneath. You may even find an office manager that is willing to put your brochures out on a table in the waiting room.

Once you have one in place, work for the next. Its easier to go into another office when you already have statistics and names following you.

What Would Happen If Your Pro Flickr Account Was Deleted?

How are you marketing your photography business online? Are you relying on social sites?

Social sites are great tools, and we’re relying on them more every day. Most social sites are free to use, have a ton of features. We use social sites to share ideas, thoughts and connect with our friends and colleagues and post our latest creations. We view the latest post or image and comment to share our opinion. Mobile devices like smart phones allow interactivity while we are away and on the move. Social sites are well, amazing.

We’re even seeing some sites begin charging for an upgraded account, offering us even more benefits and features. Even with the pay accounts, you signup, agree to a laundry list of terms and services, and assume you can now use the account in any way you choose. And in some cases, photographers are using these tools as their sole way of connecting up with prospects and clients.

Now imagine having a vast library of images stored onto an account, large numbers of interactions and friendships, all created over 3 years of time,  removed with a simple keystroke! Recently this unthinkable act happened to one of our fellow photographers, Deepa Praveen. Her paid Pro Flickr account with years of work, lots of images, connections and interactions was recently deleted.

While social accounts seem like magical places to post and hang out, they also control each part of your online persona. If you rely on one source, what would happen if that one source suddenly vanished? How would it impact your business?

The reason you have a website, a blog, a Flickr account, a Facebook account, etc, is to connect up with different people in different ways. Branding is important. And so is covering what you do.

If this has struck a nerve, there are a couple of things you can do right now.

1. Build on multiple platforms, and never rely on once source to showcase what you do. Websites, blogs and social profiles are too easy to get to rely only on one.

2. Back up your social accounts. Search for ways to backup every social site you use. For Flickr, there is Flickr Backup, Flump, or Backupify.

image by Deepa Praveen

first read about on Thomas Hawk’s Digital Connection

How To Attract Social Media Moms And Turn Them Into Photography Clients

So you’ve started up a portrait business and you are looking for creative ways to build your business.

You’ve got the gear, got the studio, have business cards in hand, and have talked to your family and friends. Yet clients are still few and far between. You don’t have a ton of money to invest in advertising – what do you do next?

Social media of course. Everyone is talking about Facebook and Twitter, so why not jump on board and reach out?

According to eMarketer, in 2009, 36.5 million moms are online in the U.S., with numbers expected to reach towards 39.6 million moms by 2012. And its not just Facebook and Twitter where thy hang out. Every day a new social site is set up to attract moms in different ways. Here are a few tips to help you attract and engage moms online.

Do Your Research

Reaching out to 250+ million users on Facebook sounds like a great deal. It’s free, right? But how is that going to help your business when you are in Des Moines, IA? Can you really do a portrait of a family who lives in San Diego? Does it really help you network with people all over the world?

Yes. And no.

[Read more…]

Increasing Your Awareness In Slow Times

What are you doing to stay in touch with your customers?

Every business is seeing a changiStock_000003693793XSmalle this year. What you sold last year may not be selling this year. Your sales and profits are probably a bit different too.

But its not that there isn’t business to be found out there. There are a ton of photography studios making money – good money – even as you read this.

In the words of Jeffrey Gitomer:
“Business is not down, it’s different.”

So what are you doing to “be different” as well?

One of the greatest assets of my business was my quarterly newsletter. I filled it with a ton of information and dozens of photographed. My clients cherished these newsletters – they really were almost like a mini magazine.

[Read more…]

Thinking Long Term For Your Photography Business

You’ve decided to go into the photography business. 11-wedding-photography

You set out to find your first client. But you don’t know what to charge.

So you hop online and pull up a half dozen photographers websites to see what they charge.

Since a friend asked you to photograph a wedding, you look at wedding packages. The sites you’re on show the photographers have been in business for quite awhile, and they have great portfolios. They charge anywhere from $1000 to $5000 for a complete wedding.

So you low-ball it. You’re new, right? Why not charge $500 for an all day event, just to get started in the business.

Sound familiar? I know a ton of photographers that start out that way.

So your first client comes in, and you photograph her wedding for $500. She now has certain expectations. She knows she gets you photographing all day for the price of $500. She gets whatever is in her package (prints, digital files, albums – whatever you promise her) and she’s happy she got such a great deal.

[Read more…]

Plan Out Your Business For The Entire Year

Are you experiencing the photography-famine right now?

A great majority of photographers do. Yet it can be avoided very easily.

Most types of photography have seasonality to it. calendar

If you’re a wedding photographer, you may have highs and lows depending on the weather. Here in Colorado, the majority of weddings occur from May through October, with the occasional wedding around the holidays in December, and Valentine’s Day in February.

If you’re a family portrait photographer, a lot of photographs are done in the summer months to utilize the great outdoors, and around the holidays for gift giving.

In commercial photography, work is based on the energy of the business client you’re working with, and the budget for their fiscal year.

But it really doesn’t matter what type of photography you prefer. Instead your real question should be, “How can I stay busy year round?”

[Read more…]