I recently chatted with some fellow wedding vendors and discovered, to my complete horror, that they estimated receiving photos from photographers at just 10% of their weddings.
In many ways, photographers really do hold the keys for weddings. We bear an enormous load of responsibility not just to our clients, but to our fellow vendors. Imagine with me for a moment that you created something, spent time and energy and skill dedicated to achieving a specific vision, and then you had nothing to remember it by or show to other clients, no way of documenting your own level of talent, except for a quick snap on your phone.
Now imagine that while you hold onto that phone photo as your sole documentation of your work of art, someone else had not one, but many professional photos of your creation in it’s intended space and surrounded by the entire scope of elements meant to cohesively work together. And they wouldn’t give those photos to you.
This is essentially what photographers are doing to our fellow vendors when we don’t prioritize the sharing of photos with the people who made those very photos possible.
I’m going to break down my 4 simple steps to help promote fellow vendors and how to include them in your post-wedding workflow as a priority.
Gather all vendor information prior to the wedding. I include a whole list of questions on my wedding questionnaire that pertain solely to this. I ask my clients to give information (name, email address, website) of their dress designer, gown shop, suit shop, florist, cake artist, hair and makeup artists, calligrapher, paper suite designer, wedding planner/coordinator, etc. I get all of this information around 2-3 months before the wedding and immediately link these vendors to the event in Pixifi, the management system I use. (I also make sure to update any information at this time if a vendor, say, changed their email address or phone number.) Gathering this information beforehand means that I don’t have to try to grab information on the wedding day when my priority is my clients and their photos and that I am not waiting after the wedding day for information to come in; I can be proactive in sharing.
Tag vendors on social media. Another very important piece of information I gather on each vendor before the wedding is their Instagram handle. Because I share photos on my Instagram feed and my stories, I grab vendors’ handles so that I can tag and credit them. Tagging them, especially in stories, makes it possible for them to share in their own stories. Tagging also alerts vendors to a post or story they may not otherwise have seen. It’s also just the kind thing to do: giving credit where credit is due.
To make this easy, I keep a running Note on my computer/phone so I can just copy/paste when I’m posting. For example, I have a note called, “2020 Vendor Credit for Instagram” and then I have each wedding listed in calendar order with the date and the couple’s names. Everything is typed up exactly how I’ll post it, like this: “Coordination and design by @soireeiowa, videography by @nepoproductions, florals by @studiobloomiowa, cake by @deluxeiowa, hair by @edensalonia and @dominiquelheureux, makeup by @lindscoblentz and @beautyby_bekah_, DJ by @rileymullane, paper suite by @allegraiowacity, bridal gown by @missstellayork from @hopesbridal, maids’ gowns by @iheartazazie, menswear by @skeffingtons_formalwear, draping & decor by @uniqueeventsiowa, lounge by @borrowmyvintage, wooden signage by @paintingforcheese, catered by and hosted at @rapidcreekcidery #foreverfleege” When I go to post any photo from Nicole & Matt’s wedding (in this example), I just find their names in my Note, copy this text and paste it into the bottom of my caption.
Blog your weddings with credit and links. I know not everyone enjoys blogging (it is, admittedly, hard work), but it is the best way to showcase each wedding and it provides a great opportunity to link to all the vendors. My goal is to blog every wedding within 1 week. And while not all the images are edited yet, blogging provides a way to get the best of the best (and my favorite) images quickly to my clients, their families & friends, and to other vendors. In 2020, this proved to be even more valuable as many people couldn’t attend weddings and seeing the images made a way for them to feel like they were be part of the day.
So while blogging takes time and is for the primary purpose of delighting my couples with the best of all sneak peeks (my blog posts usually have well over a hundred images in them!), it also is a great way to link back to the vendors and give future couples great referrals. Love the cake in this wedding? Here’s the link to get your own! Love this venue? Here’s who you need to contact! On more than one occasion, I’ve had couples take another of my weddings that they loved and basically copy the vendor list. It is a joy to work with vendors I respect and admire so this referral back to them ends up benefiting me too!
Share the gallery of final images. I choose to share the high-res, unwatermarked, downloadable images freely with all the vendors who helped that day. You can choose the specifics of how you want to share your own images (some feel strongly about watermarks or file size), but I would encourage you to think of the network you could build at no extra work for you simply by freely sharing something you already have.
Think about the florals, for example. You’re already taking dozens (hundreds actually if you think of every image that include flowers) of images of the bouquets, boutonnières, centerpieces, detail shots, cake (which usually includes flowers), ceremony arch, etc. You’re already taking these images for your couple! By sharing these photos, you’re expanding the visibility of your work and maintaining wonderful relationships with other people, usually other small businesses, in a market that relies a lot on word of mouth referrals. You’re also helping the success of another person and, really, that alone should be motivation.
In my own workflow, I prioritize the vendors right below the couple. When the final gallery of images is ready (usually a couple of weeks after the blog post), I send my couple the link to the gallery. On my workflow checklist, I set it up to send that same gallery to all the vendors 2 days later. (I do this delay to give my couples a chance to look through their photos first and share with their friends and family.) That means, in most cases, vendors are getting the final gallery of images within a month of the event.
I hope this helps promote the reasoning behind and the execution of sharing photography with those who make it possible. After all, that delicious cake? You’d never have that photo without the baker. Show them your thanks and honor their talent with photos that showcase their art.