111: How to Establish Yourself as the #1 Wedding Photographer in any Market - Catherine Guidry Photography

June 27, 2022

111: How to Establish Yourself as the #1 Wedding Photographer in any Market

As a wedding photographer, you likely know that being the “go-to” for your particular niche in your particular location is a coveted spot on the wedding photographer hierarchy. But just because you’re local to an area doesn’t mean you’re restricted to that area. You can make a name for yourself in other markets.

I’m going to break down how to do that, and share the 3 key takeaways you need to help you get your foothold in a new (or existing) market.

The #1 Thing You Need to Establish Yourself in a Market

Establishing yourself in any market is doable, no matter where you live. Whether you want to establish yourself in a market you already live in or one you don’t, there is ONE thing you can do to create a name for yourself in any market, anywhere. 

Build relationships.

No matter your niche or location, you need to create relationships with already established key players in your desired market. And that means that you have to physically be there, whether you drive 20 minutes or fly 2 hours. 

People are going to recommend the services of photographers who are there often – so you need to stay top of mind and be in the market frequently. But once you’re there, who are the people you want to connect with? There are 3 key players.

Connect With Venues

Most venues are open for tours and have the staff to accommodate you. That means it’s always a great idea to go tour popular venues to connect with the staff and people who run them. Put your best face forward, bring your camera, and show them why you’re the photographer they need to recommend the next time a couple asks. 

While you’re there, take some photos of the venues. This will give you the opportunity to take the photos home, edit them, and have a beautiful product to post on social media or blog about. When you do this, you’re not only creating a great relationship with the vending coordinator, staying top of mind, and reminding them of your skill & talent. 

BONUS: You’re also giving yourself content to post on social media and your blog, using the correct hashtags and keywords. Then, when people are searching for the venue on social media or Google, they’ll have the opportunity to stumble upon your work before they’ve even looked into other photographers or spoken with venues.

Connect With Planners

Where do clients start when they get engaged? With wedding planners! Now, I know that most planners are extremely busy and might not be able to meet with you for a coffee or lunch chat. But I would still always give it a shot. 

Don’t just reach out to one, though. Reach out to as many planners (and venues) as you feel aligned with. Even if you’re coming from out of town, it’s best to channel your best “social butterfly” and establish a relationship with as many of these people as possible. Remember, you have to nurture these relationships in order to consistently stay top of mind for these busy planners. 

Just like with wedding venues, planners are great photo opportunities, too! Offer to take their business headshots, do family portraits, or photograph other things that might be of interest to them in the location you’re wanting to grow into. 

Show them firsthand what it’s like to work with you and establish your talent so that they will automatically want to recommend you to their clients.

Connect With Other Photographers

It sounds counterintuitive to connect with other photographers in a specific market, doesn’t it?

Nope! First of all, it’s always great to have a network of friends in the industry and in your desired market, so that if you ever get into a bind, you have someone who can step up and take over for you. The other photographers are going to want this as well, so connecting with them and showing that you’re a team player can be invaluable! 

You also want other photographers to know your name and mention you in meetings and rooms that you’re not in. There’s nothing better than a client mentioning your name to a venue or planner, and that person reinforcing how great you are simply because the other photographers know your name!

Next Up: Building Your Portfolio

OK now that you know the three types of people you should connect with, what else can you do to establish your foothold in your new or current market?

One thing I encourage photographers to consider is having themselves photographed in the area where they are working to establish their name and brand. This is especially important if you don’t live in this area. 

For example, if you live in Colorado, but are working to establish yourself in New York City, you want to ensure you have high-quality photos of yourself enjoying the city on your website and social media. If all of your pictures are of gorgeous mountain locations and showcase you in the hills and mountains, that might not fit the vibe of a high-fashion NYC bride. 

You want to have images of both yourself AND your client in the market of interest so that your client can envision you photographing them at their wedding.

Get to Know the Area

Even if you live in the market you want to establish yourself in, I also encourage you to get to know the area. This goes deeper than just the local tourist spots (though these are important!).

What are some hidden gems in the area? 

What’s the weather like on a good day? A bad one? Average? 

Which streets are the best places to get the perfect shot? 

The more knowledgeable you are about the area and the more time you spend exploring and getting to know people in the community, the more trust you’re building between yourself and potential clients!

Your #1 Spot Is Waiting!

So… are you ready to start connecting with venues, planners, and photographers in your chosen market? I hope so!

It’s so important to build those relationships and make connections because all of that work will eventually come home to roost — in the form of inquiries and new clients. I also want you to get to know the market you want, as much as you can. Cross streets, favorite eating spots, hidden gems, and so on. And build up your portfolio! You want folks to come to your site and see themselves in your photos, and that includes the location and vibe.

Another thing I haven’t mentioned yet? Pricing. Make sure that you know what competitive pricing is in your market — especially if it’s new to you. You don’t want NYC prices on a small, Southern wedding (or vice versa). If you’re not sure what your pricing should be to attract your ideal market’s clientele, grab my Pricing for Photographers mini-course.

For just $147, you’ll learn:

  • How to increase your bottom line and become more profitable, all while better serving your clients
  • The why behind pricing and how it affects clientele, marketing, and workload
  • Instructions on how to create and set up your pricing structure
  • A proven method for calculating BOTH pre-set offerings and custom quotes
  • Details on when and how to deliver pricing to the client so that you lead them directly to the booking
  • The most frequently asked questions surrounding pricing

Want to create better pricing for your market?