Sunday, March 29, 2009

Photo Requests vs. Actual Purchases

In a recent Twitter discussion, @weddingtidbits asked the question:
weddingtidbits question on twitter

Several photographers responded and the answers were posted on

What you'll see is that clients tend to ask for images that they think are missing from your portfolio. If you show mostly candid work, they'll ask for posed images. If you show mostly posed and detail work, they'll ask for more candid images. Meaning that no matter what your clients are attracted to in your work, they still expect you to be able to do everything well and to be able to deliver it all in a final product.

What was most interesting was that many photographers agreed that the posed images were the most purchased. This may be because posed images are often what we think we look best in, however, what I've learned over time is that most people simply order photos of themselves. So, if the only images you have of a person are the ones of them in a posed group, than that's the photo they'll order. However, if you have some really amazing dance floor shots or really flattering candids throughout the night, you'll likely get an order for those photos as well. If you have a photobooth corner at a reception, you'll likely get many orders from that as well. I also find that most online purchases are from guests who likely won't have access to the disc that the bride & groom will eventually receive (if you've included that in your collection.) Which is why it's also very important to make sure guests are able to access those online images in a way that is quick and convenient for them.

This begs the question: Do the things that people order affect what you photograph on the wedding day? Does the way you put your albums together affect how you photograph the wedding day? How much income are you missing out on based on how you've decided to capture an event? Is your pricing/ordering structure set up to make it easy and profitable for these kind of purchases to take place?

Everyone's business is different, which is why I don't believe that there's one right or wrong answer. What has worked best for you? Do you plan to make any changes for the future? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Anne Ruthmann is a lifestyle & wedding photographer from Boston, MA. She spent 10 years practicing marketing & management in corporate and non-profit businesses before pursuing her passion for photography as an independent small business. She loves helping others find creative and low-cost solutions to business problems. Follow her on Twitter to see her daily adventures and thoughts.


  1. I'm a newbie to wedding photography, but what people order impacts me only insofar as it seems silly to take photos of something no one wants. Put another way, shouldn't every shot be something worth ordering? My main priority is making sure the story of the wedding is captured for the bride/groom and I figure if that is done well, everything else will follow.

    I use Zenfolio for its online gallery and fulfillment. As much as I thought something more upscale like Pictage would be great - I had several reservations and one client who indicated how much more they loved my online gallery than Pictage (didn't realize clients notice this type of thing). Anyway, I'm new so looking forward to what others have to say.

    Phat Wedding Photography

  2. Brides & grooms tell me that they book me for the candid photos and the detail shots. The images that end up getting ordered from me as prints (outside of the album) are always photos of groups or couples, mostly posed images. The shots after the ceremony with family, or ones of couples at the reception.

    However, the candid photos and the detail shots make it into the album, on the slideshow (which is available for purchase), and sometimes they get prints of those too.

    I don't think people ask me for what I don't show though - they always seem to ask for exactly what I do show. I go on to explain to them my style and how I capture the day - and what they ask for doesn't impact how I shoot. I make a point of getting posed shots as well as the candids, so I've incorporated it into what I offer from the very beginning.

    I use Photocart (love it!) and self-fulfill my print orders. I bring small business card sized cards to the wedding with the information on how to log in to view their prints. About 1/6 to 1/4 of all guests eventually log in to view the images. Not as many order, but they always have the option to do it.

  3. I'm with Christine... they book for the candids, but then barely order them. Or they book for my fashion, artsy shots, and order very traditional poses. I'd like to not take a shot with the bride and groom standing traditionally and smiling at the camera (close and full length!) but I make sure I get that one - otherwise the mothers (who are often paying!) will not be too happy ;)

    The way I get around this is by designing my favorite shots - those artistic ones - into the album. And yes, I let my bride choose her photos, but I put my own creative freedom on what she chooses, and fill the book with whatever else I want to make it work.

    I've never experienced someone asking for something other than what I show; shouldn't that be why they are booking you? If they want PJ and you only do posing, why wouldn't they hire a PJ shooter instead?

  4. i also like to learn tips on wedding photography


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