A few years ago, after months of hearing my sister bemoan singledom, I secretly created a profile for her on an online dating site. I even coughed up the sign-up fees and uploaded a few pictures of her to get the ball rolling. Unfortunately, things didn't snowball (in fact, I'd venture to say things remained in a golf ball-sized state for a few weeks), but she forwarded me emails of interest from 40-year-old men who still lived at home and collected comic books, which provided hours of interesting conversation for us.
Being a wedding photographer, I realized that much of what industry professionals do is akin to online dating. Essentially, we must cast ourselves in the best light and find ways to create a connection within seconds of viewing our profile... ahem... website. Much like online dating, I've come to realize that in a sea of options, I do my best to showcase who I am, not merely what I do. Essentially, the goal is to showcase the creator as well as the creation.
This is important because if a bride hires a photographer to document her wedding, she better like that person. A lot. A bride will be with her photographer more than anyone else (the groom included) on the wedding day, so it's of the utmost importance to ensure personalities align and she's comfortable in the presence of her photographer. While this may seem intuitive, here are a few tips to help a bride find a photographer who fits as perfect as a glass slipper.
1. Do The Research
Photographers have endless resources at their fingertips and should be able to create an online identity to convey who they are by way of their websites and other social media mechanisms, like Facebook, Twitter and their blogs. It's surprising just how revealing a status update can be... a bride might realize she shares the same humor, or has similar interests or finds a photographer's point of view enlightening. The opposite can be true as well, so be sure to do homework in advance.
2. Email Response
I emailed a photographer a few days ago and I received an automated response stating he'd try respond to my email in five business days. Should I repeat that last part again? Five?! DAYS?! If a bride is looking to communicate with the photographer best suited for her, it's best to email a couple of times and see how he or she responds. Perhaps a five-day response time is fine for some brides, but if a bride is looking for a quicker response, she'll only know what's expected if she communicates with a photographer in advance.
3. Read The Bio Section
The best pitch a photographer has to capture a bride's attention (outside of a personal recommendation from the bride's friend) is their bio section. This is a photographer's opportunity to let a bride know who they are and what they're passionate about... and the best photographers do this well. When a photographer can convey a love for their art, personalize their business and give the bride a distinct impression of who they are, the bio section of a website becomes a priceless component to ensuring they're a good fit.
4. Ask Away
A bride shouldn't be afraid to ask any and every question. If a photographer has done a good job of personalizing their web presence, commonly asked questions (like, what he or she wears to a wedding or what photography gear he or she uses) may be answered by doing a little research. A professional wedding photographer knows a bride is preparing to draft an all-star team for her wedding day, so a bride can ask whatever questions she needs to ensure she feels good about her decision to book knowing the photographer's responses and reactions.
Two months of online dating and my sister met a guy (who, ironically, liked comic books) and they married a year later. At the end of the day, my sister explained, his profile showcased his best attributes and didn't leave her guessing about who he was. In the same way, if a photographer can put themselves out in a personal capacity -- almost daring a bride to get to know them better -- chances are the relationship will be lovely, professional and mutually beneficial.