Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tips of the Trade: How to stay sane during wedding season

While exploring some of the news items on, I came across this great list of "rules" about surviving wedding season from photographer Susan Centineo of Studio C Photography. I love Centineo's candor and transparency. especially her willingness to share how to maintains good relationships with her clients through communication. Here is a sample of one of her letter's to a client to summarize the events of the wedding day as was originally discussed when the wedding was booked, serves as the reminder for any balance due, and assures that the photographers will have their break during the meal. Here is a sample letter:

Dear Lauren and Aaron,

This is Rickilynn Dyer, your Coordinator of Services at STUDIO C Photography. As you know, we are coming up the big day, and I’d like to summarize a few things to assure that on your wedding day there will be smooth sailing. CAREFULLY READ THE FOLLOWING and contact me if there are any discrepancies.

Your photographers will meet you at Morningside Inn at 4 PM, approximately 1 hour prior to the ceremony. We will take pictures of you separately, with your wedding party, family, and friends. We will photograph the ceremony, and continue through approximately 10 PM, or until all key points of the reception are completed. The photographers usually stay through all but the last hour, by which time all key points are covered.
We understand that you are requesting both traditional and candid shots, which is typical of most weddings, and your photographers will capture images in both styles. Your photographers are prepared for both outdoor and indoor shots.
Please ask your of´Čüciant to make a short announcement right after the ceremony about immediate family and the wedding party remaining for photos.
Your photographers will take their break while everyone is eating the meal. Please remind your catering/venue director to provide a separate table for the photographers to take their meal, and to check camera gear, etc.
After the wedding, please allow a full twenty-one days, at least, for a proof gallery. The editing process is lengthy and time-consuming, and thus it is often closer to four weeks. Please be patient – you don’t want to rush the editing! This is what makes the difference between great STUDIO C images and awesome STUDIO C images.
Once you have your proofs, take all the time you need to view them and decide on your favorites. Your photographers are available to review them with you in our Studios if you need guidance choosing album photos, or if you would like to see our latest products. According to our records, your balance has been paid in full.
In the meantime … Enjoy your Wedding Day, Honeymoon, and the beautiful life that we are sure you will have together in the years to come.:)


Rickilynn Dyer
Service Coordinator

The tips that spoke the most to me:
1) THE JOYS OF POST-EDITING – JUST DO IT! – Weddings are really two-day events, the wedding itself, and then the day of editing. No matter how good your images are, there is always a certain amount of cropping and general enhancement that must be done, not to mention the special effects that we always add to at least a handful of images (about 25 – 30) to really ‘wow’ the bride and groom. With 800 – 1000 or more images to wade through, narrow down, and edit, this takes a full four to six hours on a really good day. Rule of thumb: Edit the entire thing before the next wedding. Now, if Wedding A is on Friday evening and Wedding B is Saturday morning, you aren’t going to have time to squeeze in your editing unless you choose to forego getting any sleep, which of course we do not recommend. The key is to schedule a full day on Monday or Tuesday to knock out both weddings, and be thus ready for the next. If you don’t, you’re going to find yourself backed up on three weddings, and this is when we start to sweat, forging a stressful path for ourselves to be sure. Treat it like an appointment: Schedule it, be there, be on time, and leave when the appointment is over, and not before. Too many photographers leave editing for that vague and indeterminate future date, ‘when we have time.’ We never have time – you know this – and before you know it, you’re backed into a corner. Forcing yourself to edit before the next gig with be worth it’s weight in gold – and your sanity – later on.

2) STAY IN TOUCH AFTER THE FACT- OK, you’ve gotten all their images and products to them, signed, sealed, and delivered, and a big check-mark on the file. Now what? Stay in touch, that’s what! Your past clients are rich sources of future referral business, and by maintaining a system of regular contact you will stay fresh in their minds. We start by sending a feedback form in a thank-you card about 2 weeks after the products are delivered. The letter starts like this: “A penny for your thoughts … how about a dollar?” A crisp new one dollar bill is in the envelope, along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope, as inducements to complete the form. We get about 95% of them back. Next, we send Christmas cards, a one-year anniversary card, and two or three emails over the course of the year sharing a gallery here, a special there. No overkill, just a system of occasional communications. If we receive a referral and the client books, we send our referring clients a gift certificate to a good restaurant, or a general Mall certificate, which they can use in any store there. Always reward referrals, and make each reward better than the last for multiples.

That last one is filled with great ideas to make your wedding clients repeat customers through occasional communications. I definitely need to work on this.

1 comment:

Susan Centineo said...

Thanks for enjoying the article! :)
I am a tad backed up on editing, even though I try to take my own advice; and vacation didn't help. But in less than a week, I will be all caught up.
~~~Susan Centineo

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