Success in wedding photography can depend on a lot of factors that are both in and out of your control. One thing I recommend is going the extra yard where and whenever possible.
Taking great photos isn't the only metric couples look for when searching for their wedding photographer. The photo quality is almost a given once you reach a certain level so you have to rely on good old fashioned reputation. Being known as someone who works hard and performs well under pressure can go a long way in booking your next client.
On a wedding day, there are a lot of moving parts and timed moves that can cause stress to even the most relaxed among us. If you can find a way to ease the tension throughout the day without taking too much away from getting the shots, do it. This could be as simple as being extra personable or as out there as running to the store to grab something. Most of the people in the wedding party may be well outside their comfort zone while you are not. You never know when small actions like making a joke, offering advice, or helping to carry something might get your name mentioned later on when someone they know is looking to book a photographer.
The guests at a wedding will see what you are doing and judge you without ever seeing a single photo. This may seem out of your control, but it is all part of the job and easy enough to put to work in your favor. Depending on whether you are photographing a wedding alone of with a second shooter might determine how much you need to move around, but moving around will add variety to your photos. During the ceremony, I'm literally all over the place if the venue supports it. I'm always looking for behind the scenes doors, upper levels, or empty isles to cut through. Just make sure you are paying attention to the timing of things so you don't end up too far from when you need to be at a critical moment. Weddings move fast and there are no do-overs.
Besides moving around and hustling to get the shots, part of being a good wedding photographer is conveying the plan and rounding up the wedding party and family for photos. The more people involved, the tougher this can be to be a calming force while also direct enough to get results when needed. Just make sure you have a clear plan and establish the needed creative control early. You would be surprised how crucial this portion of photos can be to the mood of the whole day.
The dancing photos is another important time where you can either phone it in or really go for it. If you can dig deep and keep your energy up, the guests will almost always be impressed and often even throw inquiries your way. This is the time to have a business card ready and not run through a sales pitch. Maintaining respect and professionalism counts all day.
Try this out next wedding you shoot. Photograph confidently. Put in the extra effort to be amazing for your clients and you will have people passing along your name for zero extra dollars.
Do you have any tips or secrets on ways to earn referrals? Feel free to drop them in the comments.