You know that first impressions are super important in life in general. You meet someone at a party and they act like a complete idiot or jerk in the first 5 minutes of meeting them, they are going to have a hard time fixing your first impression of them. You meet someone at an office for the first time, they give you a firm handshake, look you in the eye and say hello, you are going to be confident in their words and ability to communicate with you. The way you present yourself for the first time to a stranger is super important.
As a wedding photographer, first impressions are just as important. (I’ll go as far to say that this post could apply to any vendor in the wedding industry!) This person meeting you or coming across you online could be your client one day. I feel like you have two ways to make impressions with potential clients: in person and online/social media. Today I will talk about in person first impressions. Be on the lookout for my next post on online first impressions. There are a number of ways to meet a potential client in person for the first time: bridal shows, weddings, consultations, the grocery store etc. These are easier first impressions to make. You can interact with the person, they get to see your personality, talk with you face to face.
Being an extrovert, it’s not hard for me to talk to a stranger for any period of time- y’all, I could talk to a wall and have it talk back to me; but I do know that this can be harder for others. I hope that these tips will be helpful to you as you meet and engage potential clients.
Tips for in person first impressions:
1) Give a firm handshake, a friendly hello, and greet everyone with them– Bridal shows are a great way to accomplish this. I make sure to introduce myself in a friendly manner and introduce myself and shake hands with everyone there, especially their parents if they are with them. The parents first impression of you often is more important than even the bride or groom. I do the same thing if I have them at my office for a consultation. A firm handshake shows confidence in yourself and a friendly hello makes them feel welcome.
2) Ask them their name and the names of everyone with them– People want their names to be used. So if I’m at a bridal show, I ask their names including everyone else with them. I write down their names and refer to them when I am talking about my business and how it will apply to them. If I’m at a wedding, I memorize names of the wedding party beforehand and PARENTS and use their names throughout the day. I can’t tell you how many times people are impressed that I walk in and know their names. I was shooting a wedding last year in which the videographer asked if I was a family friend of the couple. I told him no and asked why he thought this; to which he replied he was really impressed with how I knew everyone’s names and used them during the day.
3) Ask about THEM first– Ask how they met, how long they have been together, ask to see the (bl)ring. If I am at a bridal show, I let them talk the first 1-2 minutes about themselves before I share about my business. (Most vendors only spend this much time talking with couples.) Spending this 1-2 minutes letting them share their story shows you are interested in them and not just making money from them. If I am at a consultation, I let them talk about themselves for the first 10-15 minutes. Show them you are invested in them and their story and don’t just see $$$.
4) Engage and interact with them– I have gone to many bridal shows where I see vendors sitting down behind a table when the brides come to meet with them. I look at those booths and as a bride, I would walk right by them. There is nothing engaging or inviting about this. Another thing to think about on the wedding day is interacting with the bridesmaids, groomsmen, and parents and not just the couple. Too often at weddings, photographers don’t invest in the bridesmaids and parents. Y’all, these people can be as big of cheerleaders for you and referrals as much as your bride. I have had a handful of referrals from bridesmaids and mothers of the bride after weddings in which they sent me to their engaged friends because of how I interacted with them on the wedding day.
5) Be yourself- Show your personality when you first meet potential clients whether this is at a bridal show, consultation, wedding, whatever! All eyes are on you and this is the best opportunity to shine and show of you! At a bridal show, I have a short time to show of my personality, but I know that I can get that across in a few minutes. It helps that I am a pretty extreme extrovert (ENFP over here!). For those of you who aren’t, that’s okay. Still be warm, friendly, and show off your personality.
Hear from some of my brides about their first impressions and what I did to encourage them to book me for their weddings:
Natalie: I met Natalie at the Georgia Bridal Show 15 months before her wedding. I still remember meeting her at the show and calling her after the followed up and emailed me.
“My first impression of Mandi was that she was very personable, easy going, and fun. When I met her at the Georgia Bridal Show she exuded a friendliness that made me feel like she would be another friend at our wedding and not a stranger sticking a lens in my face. It’s already awkward posing for pictures for hours, so to have someone who makes you feel comfortable from the beginning was a huge plus.”
Katie: I met Katie at the Georgia Bridal Show over a year before her wedding that I shot just two weeks ago!
“I first met Mandi at a bridal show and immediately fell in love with her work. Like many photographers, Mandi shoots beautiful posed pictures, but what really made her stand out were the reception photos. She truly captures the joy and fun of all your closest friends and family coming together to celebrate. Mandi herself was warm and funny and charismatic. We talked about the importance of forming a real relationship between a bride and a photographer, and that philosophy absolutely shines through in her work and her care with each of her couples.”
Thanks for reading this post! I hope you found it helpful! Be on the lookout for online/social media first impressions and ONE BIG THING that I do to help book brides.