DOcumentary Style Photographer based in AZ


Wedding Photography Business 101: Starting, Running, and Growing Your Photography Business

Getting started as a wedding photographer can feel incredibly daunting. Especially if you are just starting out with little to no experience. How should you price your photography packages? Do you need a website? How do you attract new clients? These are just a few of the myriad of questions you probably have. While it may seem scary at first, the truth is, starting, operating, and growing a photography business isn’t all that hard, especially if you have the right guidance. I know what it’s like to start out, which is exactly why I wrote this Wedding Photography Business 101 Guide.

This article is broke down into four parts, starting a business, selling to clients, pricing your products, and growing your client list.

I specifically wrote this to be a long read, so don’t be afraid to bookmark this article and come back to it. You’re not supposed to digest everything in one sitting. In fact, I suggest you read each chapter individually.

So, with that out of the way, let’s get started, introducing Wedding Photography Business 101: Starting, Running, and Growing Your Photography Business.

  1. How to Set Up a Wedding Photography Business
  2. Meeting with Clients
  3. How Much Should a Wedding Photography Charge
  4. How to Get Testimonials

Photography Business 101: How to Set Up a Photography Business


There’s a lot that goes into setting up a photography business. From managing how your business is structured to finding clients, creating a photography business is so much more than building a logo and setting up a website. I wish I knew what I know now about setting up a business. I probably would have bypassed a lot of headaches. While a lot goes into setting up your business, it’s not hard. You can have your business up and running in a few easy steps. 

But I don’t want to help you do that. 

Instead, I want to help you understand what you need to build your business from the ground up. 

In this guide, I’m going to break down everything you need to learn:

  • How to start a wedding photography business.
  • How to market your wedding photography business.How to best interact with clients. 

Creating a photography business from scratch is more than simply setting up a logo and hoping for the best. It requires a little bit of creativity and a lot of grit. But I promise you, it’s completely worth it. 

I’ve been growing my business for the last five years, and I have to tell you, I couldn’t be happier. I’ve captured my clients in their most beautiful moments and helped many photographers like you grow in their craft and skill sets. 

Now, without any further delay, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of how to start your wedding photography business from the ground up. 

What are the Components of Setting Up Your Business?

If you pick up on one theme in this article, it’s that creating a business is much more than creating a logo, building a website, and finding clients. While those components are incredibly important, so much more goes into it. Other business components include:

  • Creating a brand identity.
  • Discerning your marketing persona.
  • Establishing product and service offerings.
  • Creating a pipeline of clients and client acquisition.
  • Bookkeeping.
  • Paying taxes. 

But before you go cross-eyed at all the things you need to do, let’s start with the basics.

Before you start your business, you should consider a few things. 

  1. What is your business identity?
  2. What products and services will you provide?
  3. Who are your products and services for?

I mentioned a few of these principles in a previous article, which you can check out here, but let’s dive in.

What is Your Business Identity

Ok, let’s start with your business identity. 

A business identity is often referred to as your brand identity. It is the unique characteristics that make you, you. 

These characteristics often include your mission, vision, tone, and unique selling proposition. 

But before your eyes glaze over with boredom, let’s cut straight to the chase. 

While all these elements are important, discovering your WHY will truly set you up for success in your business identity. 

Your why is the deeper purpose, meaning, and motivation for why you do what you do, which is wedding photography. 

Discovering your why is simple. First, take some time to answer the questions below. 

  • What are the values that are most important to you?
  • What activities or subjects truly excite and engage you?
  • When have you felt the most fulfilled or proud of your actions?
  • What causes or issues do you feel passionate about?
  • What legacy or impact do you want to leave in the world? 

Then, based on the answers above, take the time to craft your Why Statement. The Statement is simple, 

“I believe that my why is to [action], by [how you plan to do it], to [the positive impact or change you want to make] because [the values or beliefs that drive you].”

From there, you will better understand your motivations and your unique value proposition to your clients. There will be more on that later. 

What Products and Services Will You Provide?

Now that we’ve unraveled the core identity of your photography business, it’s time to get down to the practical nitty-gritty: defining your products and services.

In photography, your offerings are your artistic expressions and unique contributions. They’re the tangible results of your passion and creativity. 

So, what can you offer to your clients? 

1. Photography Services:

  • Wedding Photography: If you’re reading this guide, chances are you’re inclined towards wedding photography. Wedding photography includes coverage of the entire wedding day, elopements, engagement sessions, or even post-wedding shoots. 
  • Portrait Photography: In addition to weddings, you might consider portrait sessions. These could be family portraits, couple sessions, or individual portraits. Expanding your portfolio beyond weddings can attract a wider range of clients.
  • Event Photography: Events like engagements, bridal showers, and rehearsal dinners often require photography coverage. Decide whether you’ll offer event photography as part of your services.

2. Add-Ons:

  • Engagement Sessions: Offering engagement sessions can be a great way to connect with your clients before the wedding day and capture additional memorable moments.
  • Photobooth Services: Photo Booths are a fun addition to weddings and events. Consider whether you’ll provide photo booth services.

3. Specializations:

  • Editing Services: Some photographers offer specialized editing services, ensuring each image matches a specific design or theme (like the Ivy or Film Dream Presets). 
  • Destination Weddings, Events, or Photoshoots: If you’re open to traveling, you can specialize in destination weddings, events, or photoshoots, expanding your reach beyond your local area.

Defining your product and service offerings is key in shaping your photography business. It not only helps you communicate your value to potential clients but also enables you to set clear pricing and packages. Stay true to your unique style and strengths as a photographer while considering your target audience’s desires.

Trust me when I say this: if you understand who you are and what you want to provide as a business, you’re 90% of the way there. 

Now, let’s get you the next 10%. 

Who Are Your Products and Services For?

Ok, most business and marketing books will say something like, “Understanding your target audience is paramount,” where they describe things like demographics, age, income, hobbies, blah, blah, blah. 

Pretty boring, right?

The most important element of understanding your target audience is understanding their needs. 

The first mistake I see new photographers make is making their unique selling proposition logical. Usually, their unique selling proposition revolves around how cheap they are compared to competitors or focuses specifically on what products and services they offer instead of why they offer them. 

As humans, we all make decisions based on feeling, not logic.

Sounds counterintuitive right?

Think about it: how often do you decide what you’re having for dinner based on how you feel?

Sure, a sandwich made at home is easy to make if you have all the ingredients. But doesn’t a pizza just sound better?

Unbeknownst to us, we make decisions based on feelings every day and use logic to justify those decisions. 

I don’t want to get too far down the rabbit hole of neurobiology, but the point is that your future clients will always choose you as a photographer based on how you make them feel. 

So, as you navigate the journey of setting up your photography business, remember that it’s not just about knowing the ‘who,’ but more importantly, the ‘why.’ 

It’s about crafting an emotional connection with your ideal clients that will set you apart and make them choose you, not just as a photographer but as a storyteller who captures their most precious moments.

Now that we have that out of the way. Let’s get into the business of setting up your business.

How to Structure Your Business: Setting Up a Wedding Photography Business as an LLC

Choosing the right business structure is essential to setting up a successful wedding photography business. 

For many photographers, especially those operating solo or with a small team, forming a Limited Liability Company (LLC) can be a smart choice. 

What is an LLC?

Before we get into the steps, let’s clarify what an LLC is. An LLC is a legal business structure that combines the simplicity of a sole proprietorship or partnership with the limited liability protection of a corporation. In simple terms, it offers personal liability protection while maintaining a flexible and straightforward business structure.

What You Need to Create an LLC

1. Choose Your Business Name:

Remember what I mentioned above about your Why Statement? Use that to help you select a business name that reflects your brand identity. Ensure it’s unique and not already in use by another business in your state. You can always check with your state’s corporate commission to do that. I also suggest searching for your name on a domain service like GoDaddy to ensure it isn’t already used. 

2. Register Your LLC:

You’ll need to register an LLC with the appropriate state agency to form it. The process varies by state, so consult your Secretary of State website or seek legal advice to ensure proper compliance.

3. Draft an Operating Agreement:

While not always required, it’s wise to create an operating agreement outlining how your LLC will be managed, the roles and responsibilities of members (if you have partners), and the company’s decision-making rules. If it’s just you, feel free to skip this step. 

4. Obtain an EIN:

Your Employer Identification Number (EIN) is your business’s unique tax ID number. It’s essential for tax purposes and may be required when opening a business bank account. Think of your EIN as a social security number for your business. Once you register your business, you will receive an EIN. However, like I said before, it can vary from state to state, so check with your local state agency to ensure you’re all set. 

5. Separate Personal and Business Finances:

Now let’s talk about finances. It’s important to keep your personal and business finances separate. You will need to open a business bank account to manage your income and expenses. 

There’s a ton to dive into here, which I won’t do here, but the most important thing you should remember is to run your business like a business. Don’t go crazy purchasing things you don’t need for your business, especially if you’re starting with a credit card. 

6. Licensing and Permits:

Depending on your location, you may need specific licenses or permits to operate a photography business legally. Check with your local government or small business administration for any required permits. The licensing and permits can vary depending on your city, so don’t be afraid to get hyper-local. 

7. Taxation:

One advantage of an LLC is the flexibility it offers in taxation. LLCs are pass-through entities by default, meaning business income reports on your tax return. 

However, you can operate as an S Corporation or C Corporation for potential tax benefits. I highly suggest consulting with a tax professional to determine the best tax structure for your business.

9. Maintain compliance:

Stay informed about your state’s requirements for maintaining your LLC’s good standing. This compliance may involve filing annual reports or paying state fees. 

Is it Worth It?

Setting up your photography business isn’t just a checklist of tasks; it’s a journey of self-discovery, creativity, and a relentless pursuit of your passion.

As someone who has been growing my own photography business for the past five years, let me tell you, the journey isn’t always easy, but it’s oh-so-rewarding. Capturing those precious moments, helping clients realize their dreams, and watching fellow photographers like you grow and flourish—it’s what makes this journey worthwhile.

Photography Business 101: Wedding Photography Meeting with Clients

In wedding photography, the path to capturing cherished moments begins with the very first meeting. This initial encounter is pivotal, shaping the relationship between the photographer (you) and the couple and laying the groundwork for a successful collaboration. If you’re an extrovert, this is an exciting opportunity. Meeting with clients can feel less than stellar if you’re an introvert. Which is why I want to help you. 

Drawing from my experience, I will walk you through the crucial steps, strategies, and best practices to help you win over potential clients and establish quality relationships. Let’s dive into the second chapter of our Photography Business 101 series, wedding photography and meeting with clients. 

Setting the Stage for Meeting with Clients

If you haven’t read the series’ first chapter, start there; it will walk you through everything you need to know before starting your photography business. 

Otherwise, let’s dive in!

If you gain anything from this article, you don’t have to be anybody but yourself to connect with your clients. That’s the point about client meetings: creating a connection. While the first meeting is usually considered a sales meeting (yes, I know there’s some negative connotation to the word sales, but more on that later), you shouldn’t think of it that way. Instead, your sole focus should be creating a genuine connection with your clients, listening for their pain points, and understanding where they are coming from. 

So, how exactly do you create a connection with your client?

Creating a connection with your clients can be done in two easy steps:

  1. Listen
  2. Ask questions

Yup, that’s it. 

If you do these two things, you will likely create a genuine connection. 

Let’s start with listening. While this first step sounds easy, there’s a lot more nuance. Listening isn’t just about hearing what your clients say; it’s about listening for specific pain points, observations about their behavior, and motivating factors in their decision-making. Listening to someone with a type A personality is much different than someone who is more subdued. 

While they both may need a wedding photographer, they have other motivations as to which photographer to choose. Your role in this scenario is to listen to these specific questions to help you better understand their needs and how you can help them. 

The second part of creating a genuine connection is pivotal in listening: asking questions. When you ask questions, your goal should be to gain insight into what you should be listening for:

What are the client’s pain points? 

What kind of photographer are they looking for? 

How do they envision partnering with a photographer for their wedding?

While there are many questions you can ask, what you really want to get out of the conversation is a better understanding of the clients and their motivations. 

The more you meet with your clients and better understand how to lead the conversation to create a genuine connection, the better you will get. Like everything in life, learning a skill differs from practicing one, so as you start, there’s no shame in struggling through a conversation. I’ve had my fair share of difficult meetings, but if you continue to keep at it, the better the chances are that you will improve and turn that weakness into a strength. 

Where Should You Meet Photography Clients?

Today, there are more ways to connect with your client digitally. From FaceTime and Zoom calls to emails to direct messages, it’s pretty hard not to be able to reach out to someone. 

But I’m going to burst your bubble.

The best way to meet with your clients isn’t digitally. It’s in person. 

I know that setting up a Zoom call is infinitely more accessible. But, if your goal is to create a genuine connection, as mentioned above, you should meet with your clients in person. 

According to a Harvard study, face-to-face meetings have the most opportunity for relationship impact. When you meet with someone face-to-face, you get the whole picture. You can see subtle weight shifts, understand the tone of the discussion, and even track where your clients are looking when speaking.

You can take in a lot when you’re with someone face-to-face. 

In fact, not to get too sciencey on you, but when you meet with someone face-to-face, your body releases a hormone called oxytocin, called the “trust drug” because it facilitates the bonding process. 

For this reason, in-person meetings are almost always better than online ones. 

So, if you are to meet with a potential client, where should you meet?

Here are a few of my suggestions:

  1. Cafes and Coffee Shops
  2. Fast Casual Dining Restaurants
  3. Local Libraries
  4. Co-Working Spaces

As you meet with clients, some things are of the utmost importance. In fact, this is more important than meeting with the client: your safety. 

Before you ever meet with a client, ensure you feel safe. That is why if I meet with a client, I always ensure it’s in a public space with plenty of people. This will not only help you feel more at ease and comfortable, but it will also put the client at ease. 

What Questions Should You Ask Wedding Photography Clients?

Let’s say you’ve set the meeting and are ready to meet with your clients. 

What questions should you ask?

Enter the Wedding Photography Questionnaire

A wedding photography questionnaire is a valuable tool to establish alignment between you and your client’s expectations. This questionnaire equips you with comprehensive insights, ensuring your thorough preparation for your significant day. 

This document is a set of questions you proactively gather to understand the wedding day itself and critical touchpoints, event schedules, vendor particulars, and any pertinent information necessary to remain well-informed.

So, what should your Wedding Photography Questionnaire include?

  1. What are your and your partner’s parents’ names?
  2. Are there any particular family circumstances you’d like me to know?
  3. Are there specific individuals you’d like me to focus on for candidates?
  4. Are there any formal family photos you’d like to see?
  5. Can you provide a list of family groupings for family portraits?

Want to learn more about crafting the perfect questionnaire? I wrote an extensive article on that exact subject. Feel free to check out How to Create a Wedding Questionnaire for Photographers. 

As a rule, I always send out this questionnaire before meeting with my clients. This sets up an opportunity for me to review this with my clients and provides me with ample opportunities to ask meaningful questions to foster a genuine relationship. 

How Do You Discuss Contracts with Photography Clients?

Talking about photo packages and contracts can feel intimidating once you’ve gotten to the point where you are ready to discuss the details. 

Transparency is vital when it comes to establishing a successful client-photographer relationship. Discussing contracts, cancellation policies, and refunds might not be the most exciting part of your initial client meeting. Still, it’s one of the most important. 

Clear and honest communication lays the foundation for trust and understanding between you and your clients. 

Contracts, cancellation policies, and refunds are not just mundane legalities; they’re essential components that protect you and the client to ensure a quality relationship.

  • Contracts: Contracts serve as a roadmap for your collaboration. They outline the scope of work, expectations, responsibilities, and legal protections. Discussing contracts upfront demonstrates your professionalism and commitment to delivering a high-quality service. It also helps manage expectations, preventing misunderstandings down the road.
  • Cancellation Policies: Life is unpredictable, and sometimes plans change. Discussing your cancellation policy ensures clients know the consequences of postponing or canceling their event. While it might feel uncomfortable, explaining this policy shows that you respect your client’s time and your own. It also helps you plan your schedule effectively.
  • Refunds: No one wants to think about the possibility of dissatisfaction, but addressing your refund policy is essential. It demonstrates your commitment to client satisfaction and fairness. Be transparent about the circumstances under which refunds are possible and the process for requesting them.

Guidance for Transparent Discussions

  1. Use Layman’s Terms: Legal jargon can be intimidating. Break down the contract and policy language into plain, easy-to-understand terms. Explain each clause and its implications. This approach clarifies things for your clients, reassuring them that you’re not trying to hide anything.
  2. Be Open to Questions: Encourage your clients to ask questions and seek clarification. Create an environment where they feel comfortable discussing their concerns or uncertainties. Address any queries with patience and empathy.
  3. Offer Scenarios: Use hypothetical scenarios to illustrate how contracts, cancellation policies, and refunds work. This helps clients visualize the situations in which these policies come into play.
  4. Written Documentation: Provide written copies of all discussed policies and contracts. This allows your clients to review them independently and seek legal counsel if necessary.

If you have any questions about setting up a contract agreement, plenty of available parties can help you along the way. A few easy options for creating up-to-date legal documents are Rocket Lawyer and Honeybook.

How Do You Follow Up With Wedding Photography Clients?

As I’ve said throughout this article, your primary goal during client meetings is to establish a strong trust foundation.

However, the process doesn’t end with the initial meetings. Continuous follow-up is equally important in reinforcing trust. 

Here’s why you want to follow up after the initial meeting:

Shows Confidence: Continuous communication assures your clients that your commitment extends beyond the initial consultation. It conveys your dedication to capturing their special day as they envisioned.

Adaptability and Flexibility: Weddings are dynamic, and plans can evolve. Staying in touch allows you to seamlessly adapt to changes. Whether accommodating a new photoshoot location or adjusting to a revised schedule, your clients will value your adaptability.

Addressing Concerns: Ongoing communication fosters an environment where your clients feel comfortable sharing their concerns, preferences, or special requests. This ensures that your approach aligns with their vision.

So, how do you follow up with your clients?

Start with a genuine thank-you message after your initial client meeting. Convey your excitement for the opportunity to be part of their wedding journey. This small gesture goes a long way in forging a positive connection.

I also suggest summarizing the key points discussed during the meeting in the follow-up. This is a gentle reminder of your commitment and the details you’ve agreed upon.

Finally, clearly outline the next steps in the wedding photography process. Inform your clients about the timeline for contract signing, pre-wedding photoshoots, or any upcoming meetings. Transparent communication prevents misunderstandings.

Summarizing the Initial Client Meeting

As we’ve explored, the key to client meetings is forging an authentic connection that transcends mere business transactions. The first meeting may traditionally be seen as a sales pitch, but it’s more than that; it’s an opportunity to build genuine rapport with your clients, listen intently to their aspirations, and truly understand their perspectives.

Photography Business 101: How Much Should a Wedding Photographer Charge?

When starting your photography business, there’s much to look forward to. From creatively coming up with your name, logo, and overall design to getting your name out there and meeting with clients. But how should you price your services? How much is too much? Better yet, how little is too little? When starting out, it’s easy to look for photography package examples and start there for many people who work great. However, there’s a better option than simply reflecting on examples you see online. In this chapter of my Photography Business 101 series, I’m going to break down some of the most prevalent photography pricing examples, as well as ways that you can scale, update, and change your pricing. 

Photography Package Examples That Work

I know it can feel overwhelming when figuring out your photography packages and pricing, especially if you don’t have an optimistic view of sales. 

It’s intimidating, I know!

But one of the first things I need to teach you about photography pricing is that charging for your service isn’t a scam. You’re not cheating anyone out of their hard-earned dollar, especially if you’re just starting out. 

Think of it this way, did you need the most recent Tour de France winner to teach you how to ride a bike?

Obviously not!

The same is true for charging for your photography services. You don’t have to be Richard Avadon to be a professional photographer. 

With that out, let’s dive into how you should approach wedding photography packages for your business. 

Three Ways to Think About Wedding Photography Packages

Comparative-Based Pricing: One of the ways to discover your wedding photography package pricing is to do your own research on wedding photographers in your area and base your packages around similar photographer packages. This kind of thinking is called the comparative pricing model. What this does is it aligns your services with the going rate the market is supporting; if photographer A can get this rate, I, too, can get it for a similar service. However, while this pricing model is great for an overall idea of the market, most new photographers undercut their services in a race to the bottom, thinking they’ll book more business if they undercut their competitors. At first glance, that sounds like a great plan, but remember, in a previous chapter, I explained that people don’t buy because of your price; they buy because of who you are. 

Percentage-Based Pricing: Another way to price your wedding photography packages is to consider your pricing based on percentages. When you first start out, you often have a lot of new expenses. These expenses can involve computers, software, equipment, websites, etc. On top of all those expenses, you also have to pay taxes. So, when considering your $3,000 photography package, you’re not making $3,000. The question then becomes, how should you think about your wedding photography packages based on the right business percentages? 

Each photographer will have different business percentages based on their goals and business health, but a good starting out point will include:

  • 50% going to paying yourself.
  • 15% going towards taxes.
  • 25% going towards expenses.
  • 10% is towards a profit account (funds for a rainy day or a slow booking season). 

Here’s how that would break down for a $3,000 wedding photography package:

Total income: $3,000

Take Home Pay: $1,500

Rainy Day Fund: $300

Expenses: $750

Taxes: $450

As you can see, when you break down your pricing, things can get allocated quickly. 

For this reason, I like this pricing method better than comparative pricing. 

When you start to break things down this way, you think about your wedding photography packages as they relate to your business rather than just what they mean for you as a photographer. 

That sounds like semantics, but it’s a big mindset shift when considering scaling and growing a photography business. 

Another reason I really like this method is because it starts to put your livelihood in perspective. Can you charge $3,000 for a photography package and only book two weddings a month, or do you need to book at least 4 weddings monthly? As you can see, it gives you a roadmap of what you must accomplish to make the income you want.  

The Rule of 3 Yeses

Now that we have a better understanding of how we should think about pricing our photography packages let’s think about how you should update your pricing based on your skills. 

As I said earlier, I completely understand that if you’re starting out, you’re probably not going to charge top dollar, especially if photography is something you plan on doing on the side. 

But how do you know you should charge more?

As philosophical as this question seems, there’s a framework that we can use to automate the entire process. 

And it’s super easy to follow. 

It’s the rule of three yeses

If you receive three yeses for your photography services in a row, you know it’s time to raise your pricing. 

How much should you raise your price, you say?

This is a question only you can answer, but I definitely suggest raising your price to more than you’re comfortable with. 

For example, let’s say your top wedding photography package is $3,000, and you’ve received your third yes in a row. I suggest increasing your price by at least 50%, meaning your new package should be $4,500. 

However, this is completely up to you. If you want to scale your business faster and increase your price from $3,000 to $6,000, great! The point is that the number shouldn’t be an incremental increase but a price that should feel scary. 

But Tess, what happens if I raise my price too much? 

No problem at all!

If you find yourself in a situation where you begin to hear more nos than yeses, you know that your market doesn’t support your pricing model. Simply adjust your price and return for more of those yeses. 

As Chris Do mentions in the video link I posted above, it’s all about the law of supply and demand.

I can talk about this subject all day, especially the psychology of what it’s like as a small business owner to charge for your skills. 

Trust me, there are a lot of ups and downs, confusion, and reward when it comes to selling your skillset. 

But before we go too deep down a rabbit hole of your inner critic, let’s move on to wedding photography pricing examples. 

10 Wedding Photography Pricing Examples

When it comes to how you should charge clients in your photography business, there are several approaches you can consider. Some of the common strategies include:

  1. Hourly Rate: Charge clients based on your hours on the shoot, editing, and additional services. This is a straightforward method but may not always reflect the full value of your work. 
  2. Per Session/Event: Set a fixed rate for each photography session or event you cover. This can vary based on the type of event (e.g., wedding, corporate event, portrait session) and the level of service required.
  3. Package Deals: Offer bundled packages that include a set number of hours, prints, digital files, and other services. This can provide clients with options and potentially encourage them to spend more than they would with a basic hourly rate.
  4. À La Carte Pricing: Allow clients to customize their packages by selecting specific services or products they want to purchase. This gives them more flexibility but requires careful pricing to ensure profitability.
  5. Tiered Pricing: Create different pricing tiers based on the level of service or the size/scope of the project. For example, you could have basic, standard, and premium packages with increasing levels of coverage and additional perks.
  6. Value-Based Pricing: Determine your prices based on the perceived value of your services rather than just the time and materials involved. This approach considers factors such as your experience, reputation, and the quality of your work.
  7. Seasonal or Promotional Pricing: Offer discounted rates or special promotions during certain times of the year or for specific events. This can help attract new clients and fill your schedule during slower periods.
  8. Licensing Fees: If you provide commercial photography services, consider charging licensing fees for using your images beyond the initial shoot. This can be based on usage rights, duration, and distribution.
  9. Retainer Fees: Clients must pay a non-refundable retainer fee to secure services for a specific date or period. This helps protect your time and ensures commitment from the client.
  10. Custom Quotes: Provide customized quotes based on the client’s requirements for complex or unique projects. This allows you to accurately account for all costs and deliver a tailored pricing solution.

As I mentioned above, when deciding on your pricing structure, consider factors like your target market, competitors’ pricing, expenses, desired profit margins, and the perceived value of your services. 

It’s also essential to clearly communicate your pricing to clients and be transparent about what’s included in each package.

Your girl loves a good Photography Agreement

Putting it All Together

If you’ve read the first two chapters, How to Set Up a Photography Business and Meet with Clients, you’re well on your way to getting out into your community and booking clients!

If you’re unsure or looking for more assistance starting your wedding photography business, consider booking a mentorship session with me. 

Whether you’re seeking business advice or growing your photography skills, I’m happy to help!

Now, let’s move on to the next chapter, How to obtain and market using wedding photography testimonials. 

Photography Business 101: How to Get Wedding Photography Testimonials

As a photography business, word-of-mouth advertising is one of the most powerful tools you have at your disposal—what better way to utilize that marketing style than through client photography testimonials? But how do you go about getting client testimonials? What software should you invest in? And are there photography testimonial examples that you can pull from?

While asking for a testimonial may seem daunting, especially to those who are a little more introverted, I’ll help you get powerful testimonials AND automate the process. 

The Reason Why Photography Testimonials Work

Before we dive into the actual process of getting testimonials, let’s back up and talk about why testimonials are so important. In marketing, testimonials are a component of influence marketing called social proof. 

In Robert Cialdini’s Influence: The Science and Practice of Persuasion, he defines social proof as the principle that individuals are likelier to engage in some action if they observe others doing it. 

It’s the idea that if you saw your friend jump off a bridge, would you do it?

The answer is most likely yes due to social proof. 

The reason why social proof works is because it acts as a predictor of certainty. As humans, we don’t like being surprised by any form of negative interaction. It’s why we dread life changes, new environments, and, in some cases, choosing a wedding photographer. 

But that’s not all. 

We also choose to follow crowds because of reward behavior. When we conform to social norms, our brains release a chemical called dopamine, the neurochemical responsible for feelings of happiness and satisfaction. Because of this brain, feeling feedback loop, we are rewarded when we fit in. 

I know, growing up, we were all told we shouldn’t conform and just be ourselves. 

But, when thinking about the human experience, there’s freedom in knowing that we all want to fit in, whether wearing something trendy or choosing a photographer. 

Earlier in the series, I wrote about how people make decisions based on emotions, not logic. As a photographer, your job is to sell the feelings that accompany an incredible photography experience. 

Tapping Into Emotions in Your Photography Testimonials

Now that we understand why social proof works let’s discuss what makes a good photography testimonial. 

A good testimonial will include:

  1. Specificity: While each circumstance is different, many couples want to see others who have had similar experiences. By getting specific testimonials, potential clients can see your work and how it relates to them. This kind of testimonial alleviates feelings of uncertainty.
  2. Authenticity: Another term for this kind of testimonial is trustworthiness. When working with wedding photography clients, a lot is riding on their special day, and couples want to know early on if they can trust you. 
  3. Diversity: As I mentioned above, clients want to know that you’ve worked with individuals like them, and because no one has the same experience, it’s essential to collect testimonials from all walks of life. If you know anything about me, I’m a big believer in diversity and inclusivity, especially when allowing other couples’ love to be displayed, so don’t shy away from including all kinds of clients in your portfolio and testimonials. 

The components above are good for baseline testimonials, but how do you know when you have a great testimonial?

Great testimonials will include: 

  1. Emotional Appeal: I cannot harp on this enough; emotions drive all decisions. Testimonials with emotional appeal often include heartfelt stories that share personal triumphs or joyous anecdotes that convey what you do and why you do it. 
  2. Visibility: In this article, I dedicate an entire section to this concept, but in short, your testimonials must be visible to your potential clients. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen photographers with so many great testimonials buried deep in their website, and in some cases, not on their website at all. If you have testimonials, use them! 

How to Get Photography Testimonials

As you can see, I’m a massive fan of getting as many quality testimonials as you can. The goal is to get so many great testimonials that your potential clients don’t need to read each one. 

Think about it: if you buy something on Amazon and see one product with 75,000+ five-star reviews or another with two five-star reviews, which one is more appealing? 

If you’ve ever been in this situation, how often do you purchase a product with only two reviews?

Not often.

To dive into this concept further, how often do you look at those 75,000 five-star reviews? 

Again, I’m going to bet it’s not often. 

This concept is the thinking you want for your photography business. To have so much social proof, getting your potential clients to trust you is practically automated. 

Now, let’s get into doing just that. 

How do you go about getting all of those highly sought-after reviews?

Ask at the Right Time

When thinking about gaining testimonials, you have to think about it as a process. The last thing you want to do is consider it an object or something to obtain. Gaining a testimonial isn’t transactional; it’s relational. 

So, with that in mind, you will want to ask for a testimonial at the end of a photography shoot. 

The first reason you want to ask at the end of the shoot is that you and your client will get to know each other better during this time. During this time, a neurochemical called oxytocin is released as trust builds. Oxytocin is the neurochemical often associated with trust and trust building. As the shoot continues, the brain releases this trust drug, which is excellent for laying the foundation for a great relationship. 

The second reason you want to ask at the end of the shoot is because this allows you to gauge if the shoot is going well. If things are going according to plan, you and your client are in sync; great, oxytocin is doing its work. But, if things aren’t going to plan, and there are struggles along the way, it’s probably not a good idea to build on this relationship with a testimonial. 

Suppose this happens; it’s not the end of the world. It happens to everybody. Sometimes, things don’t work out, and that’s okay! 

You want to establish trust with the client first, then seek to build upon that relationship by asking for a testimonial. 

Automate the Follow-Up

Here’s where things get a little interesting. 

If you followed the first step and asked for a testimonial at the end of the photo shoot, you’re doing great! But the reality is, you’re probably not going to get the testimonial. 

In marketing, the concept is “The Rule of 7.” This concept emphasizes the need for individuals to see an ad at least seven times before buying. Because our world is inundated with ongoing information, social media interactions, and constant movement, we often don’t recognize what’s right in front of our faces. 

The same goes for your clients. 

They have their own worlds, so expecting them to drop what they are doing to write a testimonial shouldn’t be expected. 

But that’s why you need to make it easy for them. 

As I mentioned above, the first thing you should do is ask for a testimonial in person. This sets the groundwork for automating the process. 

One of the best ways to automate a testimonial is to make it incredibly easy on your clients. What better way to do that than through email? 

After each photo shoot, you’re most likely communicating through email, which is the perfect time to link to your testimonial platform. 

A great way to engage with your clients through email is to provide prompts to help them think about what to put in a testimonial, prompts like: 

  1. What can you describe about your experience that stands out?
  2. How did you like your photos?
  3. What was the photo shoot like?
  4. Would you recommend me to any of your friends or family?

Not everyone writes like Shakespeare, so be sure to accommodate those who are less prose-inclined. 

What’s the Best Photography Platform?

Okay, let’s talk about platforms. 

As a photographer, which platform is the most effective at gaining testimonials? Your Google My Business page? Your Facebook page? Your website?

The answer to that is a little more nuanced. 

Each platform has its value. Google is great for individuals searching for you. Facebook is great if your website isn’t up and running. Your website is excellent because you ultimately control the visibility of your testimonials. 

The reality is that your testimonials are only as powerful as you make them. 

At the end of the day, if your testimonials are disappearing on a platform you’re not using, then they are a waste of space. 

Instead of considering where you want your testimonials, consider how to use them. 

I love having my testimonials front and center on my website. It’s the easiest way for me to control how visible my testimonials are to my potential clients. 

For others, I’ve seen great success putting testimonials in automated emails. 

Regardless of the methods, the main idea is that testimonials need to serve you and your sales process.  

Tools for Getting Photography Testimonials

Tying this all together is the tool to use to automate the process. 

As I mentioned above, follow up on a testimonial request via email. However, you don’t want to write email after email to each client asking for a testimonial. Instead, make it easy on yourself. 

Enter the testimonial survey. 

Whether you’re using Google Forms, Honeybook, Survey Monkey, Mailchimp, or Typeform, providing a quick and easy link is the best way to get the testimonial you need. 

Here’s a sample email:

Dear Jane and John,

It was an absolute pleasure capturing you two, and I’m thrilled to have created memories that will last a lifetime.

As we wrap up and you’ve had a chance to reflect on our time together, I’d appreciate you sharing your experience working with me. Your feedback helps me grow and improve and serves as a valuable testimonial for future clients who are considering capturing their own special moments.

Here are a few prompts to guide your testimonial, should you need them:

  • What were your initial impressions, and why did you choose me as your photographer?
  • How did you find the planning and communication process leading up to your session?
  • Any aspects of our session that stood out or pleasantly surprised you?
  • What are your thoughts on the final photographs and the emotions they evoke?

Feel free to be as open and detailed as you like – your genuine reflections resonate most with others.

I would love to feature your testimonial on my website and social media channels if you’re comfortable. However, if you prefer to keep your feedback private, that’s okay! Your comfort and privacy are of the utmost importance to me.

Thank you once again for trusting me with your photography needs. It was an honor to work with you, and I look forward to the possibility of capturing more of your life’s moments in the future.

To provide a testimonial, click HERE [Link to your platform of choice]!

Warmest regards,

P.S. If you have any further questions or if there’s anything more I can do for you, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

That’s it!

As you can see, this testimonial request is incredibly easy for you to automate and easy for the client. 

As they say, two birds, one stone. 

Putting it All Together

If you’ve followed along throughout this entire series, we’ve covered everything from How to Set Up Your Photography Business, How to Meet with Clients, How to Package Your Services, and finally, How to Get Testimonials. 

Starting a photography business can feel like a lot, and my goal was to help alleviate this stress. 

Photography has been a career that’s given so much to me, and I’m incredibly proud to pay it forward to others. 

If you’re looking for even more resources, check out my free wedding day questionnaire or my free black-and-white preset. 

Or, if you’re looking for something a little more hands-on, I also offer photography mentorships. Whether you are just starting or looking to grow your photography business, I want to help you! To check out all the opportunities to connect with me, click here!

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