by Barrie Downie Published 01/08/2009
It is hard to describe the style of BD Wedding photography. Documentary style with signature images is the closest they have come to a label for it! Their customers want a record of their day and yet they love the creative images the couple shoot and show on their website www.bdweddingphotography.co.uk
Barrie says, 'our signature images reflect how the couples imagined their wedding day in the months leading up to the wedding. Our job is to understand our couples and then take those thoughts and translate them into unique images that exceed their expectations.'
These signature images generate many sales after the weddings, with couples often choosing to purchase large prints, block frames or acrylic prints in addition to the initial package price. It is easy to live with these images as a work of art on the wall, which is not necessarily the case with reportage images. Barrie and Bev do realise that while these signature images generate the initial interest and spark the enquiries they also have to document the day as it happens and these images generally form the basis of the wedding albums. 'The market is constantly changing and with the popularity of reportage photography over the last few years people still want these unposed images but we are seeing a swing back towards more glamorous directed images and the trick is to be equally proficient in both styles to maximise business,' says Barrie.
A passion for the art is what motivates both Barrie and Bev yet both know that passion is not enough to develop and maintain a thriving business, particularly in the current environment. They both realise that it is essential to keep the business and, at the end of the day the bottom-line, in the forefront of their minds. 'It would be easy to get carried away with the art of what we do but great artists generally only make money once they are dead...we hope to make it while we are still about to enjoy it', says Bev.
Striking the balance between business and creativity while maintaining a friendly relationship with the customer is what makes for a good business. 'Giving a customer an image to use on a thank-you card or Facebook can generate pages of debate on the forums. We just give it and take advantage of the goodwill it generates,' says Barrie. 'The difference between this action and charging £30 for the image can be the difference between receiving a referral and not and our business is probably 70% referral based. The time we don't negotiate is at the initial booking stage. Many photographers will give away products or time for free to secure a booking whereas we prefer to set the tone at the beginning and then turn in to the good guys once the booking is secure. By paying full price at the outset the couple respect what we are doing and work with us.'
A strong internet presence is essential these days as this is where probably 95% of today's couples will turn to when looking for a wedding photographer. 'We notice peaks in our stats during working hours. We know that brides like to browse at work because they tell us when they come to visit!' Barrie spends many hours optimising the website which is all done in-house and it is a fairly constant job to maintain the rankings. This work has paid off with the website featuring highly in all the chosen searches - it even ranks as the first individual photographer on Google UK at number three in a worldwide search for wedding photographer. The site averages 145 first-time visitors every day equivalent to nearly 53,000 per year. By optimising the website in-house it is possible to react very quickly to any changes in search engine algorithms to maintain the high rankings.
Paid-for advertising does not feature highly in the marketing of BD Wedding Photography. 'We had a full page advert in Wedding Day magazine for a number of months but when it went under our enquiries didn't change one bit. It was then we realised that magazine advertising had very little benefit for us and we have not paid for an advert since' says Barrie. 'We are often contacted by magazines for real life weddings and images for editorial features and this is the limit of what we do in print. It means our name is still out there but it is not costing a fortune and even though brides will read endless magazines, choosing a photographer still seems to come down to personal recommendation more so than the less personal wedding services such as florists, cars, etc.'
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