Networking with venues and other wedding vendors is a great way to find new clients and grow your business. In today’s video lesson, I’ll cover the best way to make a new connection as a photographer–and the best way to strengthen relationships you already have in the industry.
Your target market of brides are already at wedding venues–they’re touring different spaces on the weekend, meeting with venue coordinators around the city. Building relationships with venues and vendors will give you access to a crazy-targeted group of potential customers. The time and money you spend marketing with other vendors will pay off in big dividends!
Showcasing the Wedding Venue with Your Images
If you’re already a wedding photographer with 20-30 weddings under your belt, I want you to make a list of your favourite venues–venues you’d like to work with again. You can also do the same for vendors in other categories. Organize this in a way that makes sense to you; I like using Excel documents so I can view everything clearly and make relevant notes.
Hopefully, after you photographed a wedding at each venue, you followed up with the coordinator and provided images of the space and the wedding for their marketing use. But if you haven’t yet, no problem — late is better than never! Send them with a short introduction of yourself, a gallery of images and ask them, “Is there anything I can do to help you? I’d love to create a beautiful album for the lounge showcasing your venue or a selection of postcards or brochures.” (Ideally, you’ll have photos of a physical album/postcards/brochures so they can picture what you’re offering.) Make sure they understand it’s complimentary–and leave the question open to other suggestions.
If a venue says, “Yes!” then score! Job well done! Once the promotional materials are in use at the venue space, be sure to follow up with a thank you or a small gift to the coordinator for the opportunity. Once or twice a year, check in with the wedding venue and ask if the materials were helpful or if they need to be re-stocked. Keep track of all of this in your Excel document.
Make a Helpful Impression on the Wedding Day
When you show up to photograph a wedding, find as many staff at the venue as you can, introduce yourself, let them know your name and your role in the wedding day. Of course, if you’ve met the coordinator previously before be sure to remember her name and thank her for her hard work! Throughout the evening, I want you to watch for any opportunity to help staff, in any way you can.
Your priority obviously needs to be capturing amazing photos but there’s easily 30 seconds of downtime in spurts throughout the evening where you can help. Simple things: if a staff person is struggling to move a table, you can jump in. You’ll make an impression on the fellow vendors as well as your clients or any guests that may be watching you work.
Image Delivery to Vendors Post-Wedding
I have a complete process for image delivery after the wedding day– and vendor communication in general. But none of it is rocket science once you get the hang of the routine! Before the wedding day, I send an introduction email to the vendor team 3-5 days before the wedding day. In this email, I let the team know I’m excited to photograph their work, and I’ll be sending sneak peeks within 48 hours of the wedding. The email also includes Instagram handles with instructions on how to copy + paste these exact tags into their IG captions.
Not only will the vendor team be properly crediting my work on Instagram, I’ve also given other vendors an opportunity to share the handles of OTHER vendors. It’s full circle! I’ve now become a connector in the industry–and that creates trust and thankfulness on the part of all vendors involved.
If you follow this system, you’ll establish an amazing reputation for your business in your local industry. You’ll quickly become known as a photographer vendors want to refer. If you want to snag my two email templates for FREE to start implementing better vendor communication in your biz, look no further. Grab them here.
Getting Started as a Newer Photographer
If you’re just starting out as a photographer, it can be tricky to build relationships with vendors when you haven’t had a chance to actually work with them! Don’t worry – I have ideas for you! When I was brand new, I made a list of every vendor and venue I wanted to connect with. Every week I tried to reach out to 1-2 vendors. This can be as simple as introducing yourself by email, letting them know what you love about their work, asking, “How can I help you?” You could offer a complimentary headshot session for their team, photos of their work space.
A big key to finding success with these emails is to reach out to vendors with a similar experience level; maybe a year or two more experience than you. A rising tide lifts all boats–if you can help other vendors, even new vendors, it will come back to you!
Most venues are happy to have photographers walk through their space and meet with the coordinator. If you snag a meeting, make sure to follow up with a thank you card and small gift for their time. Another idea would be setting up a styled shoot at the venue space. Often, for use of the photos, the venue will allow you to use the space for free.