Make it about the Work First

posted in Photography Business Journal

Make it about the Work First


Sometimes we forget that we are more than brands. Sure, we are Pabst Photo, but we are also just people. We interact with others. We are selling more than photography, more than art even. We are selling ourselves. Not in the dirty way. :-) Jamie and I are people and almost every time, we become friends with our clients. We share such a special day with our couples. It is such a unique experience. We are grateful every time we get to shoot a wedding. It truly is a privilege to share in their day. When we have satisfied clients it does feel amazing. Sure, there’s money involved, but hearing from a bride/groom about how happy they are with their photos feels pretty incredible.

Collecting Reviews is Nasty Work

There is a real pressure to convince the next potential client that we are likable, fun, talented ect… and there are many tools that photographers are using to try to do just that. Reviews on various websites are just one of them. Social media is another. Having a dialogue with fans and previous clients is great! It’s also really fun to see previous brides liking pictures of brides we shoot years later. It tells us that they are fans of what we do. It tells us we have supporters. Currently, and I know it grows every year, about 1/3 of our bookings are referral. For some photographers who have been shooting for a decade, almost 100% of their work comes from referrals. Because we haven’t been shooting as long, we do rely on reviews and our website to speak for us. When a bride finds Pabst Photo through Google, they typically look through photos, check prices, and if interested, look for reviews. They do matter even though I wish they did not. And maybe in 5-10 years I won’t have to ask my brides/grooms to leave reviews.


Remember when it comes to social media just be real and be genuine. Eventually your voice will come through. It’s not a race to see how many ‘LIKES’ you can get.

I want to talk about reviews for a minute. They are one of the things I hate most about what the internet has done for the business. I hate YELP. Sure, it’s great for a restaurant, but wedding photography is so much more personal and intimate than writing about food. Just about every wedding photographer on YELP has 5 stars. Of course they do. For years, I did not ask our clients to leave reviews. I figured they didn’t matter too much and I didn’t want to burden a newlywed. However, I’m now finding, for better or worse, that reviews are a big part of a brides selection process. As such, I have started to ask for reviews. For some reason, it’s akin to pulling teeth, even with our most happy, most satisfied, most thrilled clients. Why? Is it because it takes time? Is it simple procrastination? Are we annoying them?

After pleasing a client, the last thing I want to do is annoy them. Talk about ruin a good thing. Alas, I have to remind myself and come back to the title of this article – make it about the work first. It’s easy to get caught up worrying about your Facebook fan count, your instagram and twitter followers and pinterest re-pins. It’s all worthless if your work doesn’t shine and speak for itself. Hopefully, given enough time, our clients will randomly, one day, some day, publicly say how happy they were with Pabst Photo. We get e-mails after almost every wedding that gush about us, our friendship, and our work. But an email doesn’t tell a stranger. In case you are wondering, we only remind a client that they have not left a review three times – every two weeks, for six weeks. The first e-mail usually goes out approximately five days after they have seen their photos. Beyond that; what can you do? We still love them!

Jamie and I have talked for years about what we could do to hold onto our relationships with all the kind people we have met. We’ve talked about sending anniversary cards and things of that nature because we value our brides/grooms as clients, but even more as friends. Not to belabor a point, but you really do create a unique bond on your wedding day. You don’t spend more time with any other person than your photographers.

So, when we get letters like these it really lets us know we are not alone. Our brides and grooms consider us friends. They send us Christmas and thank you cards. It’s amazing. Whether they leave a review or not, we thank them genuinely.

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