Introduction to Wedding Photography Reviews
Imagine this: the wedding is over, the pictures are great, and the thank-you cards are in the postbox; what’s left to do? Consider writing a wedding photography review. Reviews are a tremendous way of paying it forward to couples that are starting to traverse their way through the minefield that is the wedding industry. Recall yourselves in the preceding months as you were attempting to decide between florists, entertainers, venues, caterers, and wedding photographers.
Reviews provide couples who are just getting their feet wet with the tools necessary to make informed hiring decisions based on former clients’ experiences. Positive reviews reward good wedding photographers by making them more desirable. Negative reviews steer clients away from photographers who don’t deliver on promised results or provide an undesirable experience. Let’s begin by analysing why reviews are more crucial for hiring wedding photographers than other wedding service providers.
Wedding Photography Reviews Inform Future Clients
Wedding photographers differ from other service providers in two distinct ways. First, unlike other wedding service professionals, wedding photographers can’t provide you with an exact example of what you’ll end up receiving before you get it. For instance, a baker can create multiple cakes and make them all look indistinguishable. Talented caterers can reproduce delicious dishes hundreds of times across dozens of events and make them identical to the samples you tasted. And a florist can recreate a bouquet of flowers that’s equivalent to one ordered months beforehand. Conversely, wedding photographers cannot guarantee such interchangeable and reproducible results. Our work takes place in the present, beholden to the random human variability experienced in the heat of the moment. This cannot be duplicated for your approval in the months ahead. All you have by which to judge our suitability for your wedding is the quality of our portfolio, the consistency of our past delivered works, and our wedding photography reviews. Accounts of former clients’ experiences will allow you to understand whether a particular wedding photographer’s work surpassed, fulfilled, or failed expectations.
Second, wedding photographers, along with videographers, hold the unique privilege of spending more time with you on the wedding day than any other wedding service providers. My minimum term of engagement is for six hours worth of photography, which is longer than you’ll spend beside any other hired party, and it’s frequently extended beyond that. (My personal record is fourteen consecutive hours). No matter how many hours you order, it’s a long time to spend with a relative stranger in circumstances that can border on the intimate. No amount of browsing through portfolios and galleries will help you glean if they’ll behave professionally, inappropriately, patiently, or brusquely. Wedding photography reviews from former clients that reveal such insights are invaluable resources.
Reviews work to help both consumers and businesses. Hesitation often means a delay in making a decision, and a delay can lead to losing your preferred photographer to another couple. Positive wedding photography reviews can help couples overcome the hesitation to commit.
Reviews are an excellent way to establish trust in a company. This is especially true for local businesses without multi-million dollar marketing campaigns that build and maintain a brand’s image. Not having such marketing budgets is something all Toronto wedding photographers have in common. Earning more positive reviews than other Toronto wedding photographers can go a long way towards being more competitive and securing future work.
Since there are no multi-national wedding photography brands, when a couple is undecided between two or more candidates, they will form their decision based on concrete facts—the flexibility of their budget and the appreciation for and perceived quality of the work—not loyalty or a long-standing brand perception. Having a greater number of positive wedding photography reviews over your competitors may help secure the deal. More positive reviews translate to more work, and both are incredibly rewarding. Of course, the most satisfying element is knowing that you’ve provided your clients with exceptional service for a momentous event. ;)
Reviews Inform Wedding Photographers Where To Improve
While it’s important to write wedding photography reviews, I’m not advocating only writing reviews of positive experiences. Sometimes, it’s just as important to inform future couples about your unique negative experiences with a wedding photographer. Despite that, it helps when your critiques are both nuanced and constructive. Negative wedding photography reviews can substantially harm a business’s reputation; however, they can also serve as a sobering way of highlighting aspects of a business that require drastic improvements. While I have been fortunate enough to receive only positive reviews, it’s critical for unsatisfied clients of any wedding photographers to be unprejudiced in what they say. By sticking to the facts and leaving your emotions out of it, you can avoid potentially false and malicious statements that can amount to libel. It’s just too simple to envisage a situation in which one disastrous review can sully a small business’s reputation, leading to a downward spiral and eventual closure.
To clarify, I’m not advising to go easy on wedding photographers who have been negligent or disrespectful to their clients, such as neglectfully missing your event, losing photographs, committing fraud, being drunk on the job, insulting the guests, etc. My advice is to be mindful of excessively harsh reviews of wedding photographers for what would objectively be deemed as minor transgressions. These can include poorly established expectations due to miscommunication or failure to listen, reasonably prolonged delivery of images, business policy disagreements, and the absence of expected but never guaranteed images. In the grand scheme of life, raising a big stink about such minor issues isn’t worth the consequences, especially when the complaints have the possibility of being interpreted ambiguously by an impartial party.
Instead, consider writing a careful review that focuses on all key aspects of the work while highlighting critical areas where your wedding photographer should improve. This allows future couples to gauge the relative strengths and weaknesses of the wedding photographers they’re considering. Having your work criticised is incredibly stressful, by keeping it cordial and not making it personal, you allow the photographer to stay engaged in the content and take your advice to heart. Constructive reviews help wedding photographers improve their operation to better serve future couples and grow their business.
Challenges To Obtaining Wedding Photography Reviews
In an ideal world, every client and customer would review every business experience, and it would be to everyone’s benefit. In reality, most clients won’t write wedding photography reviews no matter how delighted they are with your service. My business can be reviewed on three of the major online review platforms: Google, Yelp, and more recently, Facebook. These platforms don’t permit anonymous reviews to limit fake reviews (whether to benefit or damage the business). Google requires a Google account to use the service, which significantly reduces the likelihood that a customer with an Outlook or Yahoo email account will bother to write a review. Most of my clients don’t have Yelp accounts; if they were to create one for the sole purpose of reviewing my business, Yelp would flag that review as suspicious and not count it towards my overall score. This wastes their time and doesn’t help anyone. The best course of action is to follow the recommendations of these services: never solicit paying clients for reviews. Let it happen (or not) naturally after letting them know that reviews are welcome and serve to benefit future couples with their wedding photography decision.
What to Include in Your Wedding Photographer’s Review
It’s important to review wedding photographers based on all elements of the experience, not simply the end results (although the delivered images are, in my opinion, the most important part). The following is a short list of topics to mention when writing a wedding photography review:
- What was the photographer like during the first meeting?
- Was the photographer friendly, informative, and easy-going, or did she use pressure in an attempt to close a sale or make you upgrade her service?
- How was the photographer’s level of communication and speed of response?
- Was the photographer’s payment schedule simple or complex, and did she accept a variety of payment methods?
- How was the photographer on the day of the wedding?
- Did the photographer dress appropriately for your event?
- Did the photographer arrive on time?
- Was the photographer effective at manipulating people in portraits and were her instructions clear?
- Did the photographer conform to her described method of working?
- Did the photographer deliver the work within the agreed period?
- Did the photographer’s work live up to your expectations?
Final Thoughts Regarding Wedding Photography Reviews
For Wedding Photographers
As wedding photographers, it’s important to establish client expectations before agreeing to work with them. Don’t set client expectations higher than you can deliver. You don’t want to promise the moon and deliver a pebble. It’s better to lose out on one commission than to win an unsatisfied customer, or worse, a vindictive one. I know the feeling of having to turn away clients as a new wedding photographer. It sucks! You’re at a point when you’re pouring everything into your business and seeing precious little in return, and every new client—hell, even every new inquiry—is a tiny glimmer of hope in a vast dark cavern. But please be mindful, because this is a time when your business is also at its most vulnerable; you don’t have the inertia of many years of work to get you through a negative experience. Take time to explain how you work, what you will and won’t do, and what you require from your clients to work efficiently.
Writing a wedding photography review after everything has been delivered allows your photographer to know what they excelled at, what areas need improvement, and allows future couples to make educated decisions based on the experiences of former clients. It rewards exceptional photographers, teaches valuable lessons to those who are learning, and pushing to the bottom those who disrespect their customers and sully the profession.