This blog post series is going to bridge the gap a little between the tech heads who typically follow my gearing-up series, the brides & grooms and the fellow wedding photographers (primarily those who may be new to the wedding photography business). I’m going to be writing a little bit each week on what a typical booking is like from a behind-the-scenes, wedding photography business perspective, start to finish. What happens before the big day from as early as the enquiry stage, throughout the day and then through the editing process on to delivery of images. Every wedding is completely different, but the process of customer service and editing remains the same for me as I aim to deliver the best quality to everyone and anyone. Today is all about the early stages of the booking.
This is where everything in the wedding photography business begins. Sure, there’s advertising and marketing to bring clients forwards, but the enquiry is the first stage of getting to talk with the bride and groom about their big day. I often take enquiries anywhere from 6 months (sometimes even less) to 2 years in advance. I love receiving new enquiries because it’s a bit like opening a Christmas present particularly when it comes to the venues. There are a few venues that I visit frequently (Manor by the Lake in Cheltenham for example, Ellenborough Park, Cripps Barn), but there are a lot of times where I’m completely new to a venue; there are literally thousands of them out there and I happen to be in the Cotswolds, prime wedding venue real estate. Researching new venues is so much fun to me, and something that I feel is very important. So much of shooting natural images relies on me focusing entirely on the guests, so the last thing I want is to be out of my depth with a venue I know nothing about. More on that soon….
Once I’ve discussed the requirements and the day with clients, we’re hopefully on to the booking stage. At this stage, I take a 30% deposit and issue contracts after finalising the main details for the day. The date is loaded into my calendar and marked as secure after the deposit is received. If the bride and groom are interested in an engagement shoot this will happen at some point in the coming months.
Around 2-4 weeks before the wedding I’ll make a venue visit (assuming I haven’t recently worked at the location). This is to make sure that there are no nasty surprises on the roads, that my sat nav takes me to the right place and then to get a feel for the place. It’s a good opportunity for me to check out what the light is doing in different rooms and if I’ll need to make any special considerations to my gear. Once I return, I write myself a little schedule along with any specific timings provided by the bride and groom.
So that covers the early stages in some detail – next time we’re going to look at the wedding day itself, from start to finish complete with how I approach shooting certain parts of the day.