I covered a wedding last week. It’s a very interesting concept the phrase ”Don’t be all things to all men”. My business for many years has been as a general commercial photographer and videographer. I’ve covered everything from PR shoots in Wales to Annual reports in China, events in London and Belfast to portraits of ministers and videography of conferences.
So trying not to be all things to all men is really difficult for me. My experience has literally covered the spectrum of potential subjects. The simple reason is my skill set encompasses not only people handling – very important for a photographer or videographer but also lighting. Understanding lighting gives you the ability to produce images in any situation.
The wedding market in the years of the recession went through a dramatic downturn as many unemployed people who owned cameras decided it was an easy way to earn a few bob while between jobs. After all it’s simple to take a good exposed and focused shot these days with cameras that will do almost anything automatically.
I’d pulled out of the marketing for work in this market as I saw prices and quality deteriorating to unacceptable levels I wasn’t going to try and compete in the race to the bottom. It is not worth a professional working for nothing and I’m of the opinion that if you have good skills you should expect to be paid for them.
Therefore it was interesting to be asked to cover a good quality wedding again with sensible budgets and with people interested in making the photography something more than just the basics. It was time to reinvent myself and my services!
Many businesses will have gone through the same processes, sometimes it is necessary to step back, look at what you do and consider if 1) you are getting stale in your offered services? And 2) Consider what twists and angles can be added to a service to make it fresh?
This was my time to relaunch. Wedding photography is a fine balance of people management and artistic skills, you are there with the bride pre wedding when things can be tense. You are in control of the entire attendees immediately after the service when you have to entertain while getting the required group shots without getting any guest bored or frustrated that they want to get on with the socialising.
The wedding photographer is a master of balance if done correctly. Unfortunately many crash and burn, especially those that take up the “job” as a fill in between jobs. I’ve seen some disastrous “professional” who couldn’t organise a crowd, others who have no time awareness spoiling the day for the happy couple and inconveniencing the venue while they be “artistic” As I say a tightrope to walk and a long drop for those that fall!
On this occasion I needed something different to relaunch my services that would add to the wedding experience for the guests as well as the happy couple. I know how to organise groups quickly and get the most boring bit of the day for guests done efficiently. I know how to be artistic with a couple in a limited time frame, these weren’t areas that needed changing. Something more was needed elsewhere.
It was while contemplating the evening coverage service I realised that it would actually be very easy to take a service that has become popular with corporate events over the last couple of years – the photo booth and add my own twist on the service.
What’s better than personal service? So I decided to offer a studio type service during the evening when the guests were more relaxed with the twist of the prop box. Let the guests choose their props, let them chose their groups and let them play up to the camera and have a bit of fun.
I’m pleased to say the idea, which is neither new nor my own invention worked very well. Not only did I get my usual comments from guests ranging from “I wish I’d had you at our wedding”. To “Fantastic, the group shots were really easy”. I also got comments related just to the studio set up of “great fun, thanks”. And “You’ve really made the day special”.
With those sort of reactions and at least a further 4-5 positive comments I know I’ve got it right. The reinvented professional has hit the right balance and old skills continue to impress the general public – professionals are worth paying for.
By Brian Russell
Copyright May 2015.