Thursday, December 11, 2008

Vendor Love

This is the perfect time of year to think back over the weddings you've photographed and think about the new vendors you've worked with who you felt did beautiful work.

Last year at this time I thought about a cake designer whose cakes I had seen at several of the weddings I had photographed. Each one was a piece of art involving many hours and I noticed that the cake designer had really paid careful attention to each couple and had personalized their cake to reflect their wedding in some way. It was small touches like the bride who made her flowergirl's dress, the lace that was on that dress was mimicked in icing on the cake. No one but the bride would probably notice that touch but that is what made it special to me. I really appreciated the hard work that went into her cakes and realized that the cake lady never got to see the flowergirl's dress next to her cake or the way the couple smiled when they cut into her cake as husband and wife.

I decided then to make a book for the cake lady. I went through all my weddings for the year that I had worked at where her cakes appeared and chose my favourite pictures of her cake, pictures of the details that inspired the cake (like the lace on the flowergirl's dress) my favourite picture of the couple (I knew the cake lady wouldn't of seen them on their wedding day all dressed up) and if there was a cute picture of the couple cutting into the cake I included that. I put together an 8x8 30 page Asuka book featuring her cakes with her cake company name printed on the spine and my logo placed in a small corner on the back.

I didn't tell the cake lady I was doing this. When the book was finished I was so excited I could hardly wait to give it to her. I went by her shop and presented it to her and she was shocked. She told me it was the nicest thing anyone had done for her. As she flipped through it and saw her cakes next to pictures of the couples she had worked so hard for, tears ran down her face. My heart was aglow, it felt great to give her something that had meaning for her.

What happened in the next few monthes was incredible. Often when I met with couples regarding wedding photography they would tell me that the cake lady had recommended me and she had shown them my book of her cakes. It can be really hard for a bride and groom when trying to choose their vendors because they don't personally know anyone. Having someone other then myself talk about my work made them feel more comfortable in their decision to hire me.

This year I made a folder on my desktop called "cake lady" every time I edited a wedding that had her cake featured in it I would simply pick my favourite cake shots and favourite pictures of the couple and drop them in that folder which made it really easy for me this year to put together another book. I just finished designing another Asuka book for her and I can't wait to deliver it to her. She told me how happy my book made her as it was like a diary of her work and it would be the only thing she has to remember her work by when she retires.

We all know how difficult it can be to work within a church as there can be some strict rules about where and when you can photograph. I have been photographing in a church in town that I think is the prettiest church and the reverend has always been kind and welcoming to me when I show up to photograph a wedding. I noticed that he has a board of photographs of couples he has married proudly displayed in the hallway. I went through my weddings from this year at his church and picked my favourites showing off details from the church, the reverend in action during a ceremony and the couple excited as they exited the church doors as husband and wife. I made him a book and went by on a Sunday afternoon to give it to him. He was so grateful because he was going to visit his son in England who had never seen his church or witnessed his Dad in action.
I asked him about the old church bells and how they worked and before I knew it I was up there ringing the bells myself!!
Again it felt amazing to have given him that book. When I got home there was an e-mail waiting for me from the reverend.
The reverend was thanking me and then he said "Your book has already been of use I had a couple in here who I am marrying in the spring at our church and they were asking me about photographers, I had your book to show them. Don't be surprised if they contact you!"

What vendors can you think of whose work you love photographing?

Take the time to go through your photographs and put together a portfolio book for them to show off. It is possible that when the vendors show off the book you created for them you will be reaching clients that you would of never had access to otherwise. It is a great way to build vendor relationships and to have others show your work to people you would of never met yourself. I can't tell you how great it feels to surprise a vendor with a book of their work, the smile on their face is very rewarding.

I personally chose to use Asuka book but there are lots of options out there for portfolio books you can refer to Anne's post about albums here for ideas.

8 comments:

  1. Thanks Kirstie. I keep thinking about this, and then forgetting to do anything. I've even got a folder collected for one of my favourite vendors (a B&B where a couple of brides have shot formals) but haven't figured out what to do. I love the idea of doing a book, though. This post should get me up and off my butt.

    I don't do a lot of detail shots of cakes and flowers and dresses, because I often get too caught up in faces and kisses and emotions, but I need to start thinking about these type of shots. As you say, vendors need love, too.

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  2. Thanks for your comment Trent! Not only will that book be helpful for the B&B but you could make one for yourself to show brides that location to encourage them to use it for your future shoots. It often helps to have something to help them visualize the location you would like to photograph them at. Have fun designing your book, sounds like you've already done the hard work of pulling together your images to use.

    I have a rule that I take pictures of EVERYTHING that the bride and groom have picked out if possible. I know how much planning goes into every little detail. Everything that is there on the wedding day has been thought about and chosen specifically by the couple. Not only will your vendors love you for photographing the details but those are often important pictures for the couple as well. You don't need to do a lot of pictures even just one picture of each detail. The wedding day goes by so quickly and is often a blur for a lot of brides. I've heard from brides that they put a lot of thought into their dessert buffet or other detail and then they were so caught up with friends and family that they didn't even see their dessert buffet, your photograph of it will definitely be appreciated. Also if you are thinking about submitting photographs to a wedding magazine they love all the details to give other brides inspiration.

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  3. Thanks- this is so helpful! I'm putting together a book right now. Instead of pulling individual images from the wedding, I'd like to give the venue a smaller copy of the bride's album. Do you think I would need the permission of the bride to do this, although they are my images and my design?

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  4. Lissa- I have in my contract that I may use the couples images to give to vendors that were involved in their wedding for self promotion. Even though I have that in my contract I always ask my couples first for specific projects so that I know they are comfortable with that idea. You should do what you feel comfortable with. In all cases so far my couples are happy to help me out and happy to let me use their images. Your book sounds like a fantastic idea!

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  5. I love that you're connecting with people and vendors with gifts of your creativity. I would be floored to get a book of my cakes.

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  6. Great suggestions and great questions!!

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  7. Great post. :) Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

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