Wedding Venue Albums
As any busy wedding photographer can tell you, there aren't many places these days where your advertising dollars can get you a good bang for your buck. It's all about referrals and connections. However, there is a form of advertisement that have not been overly flooded, unlike the multitude of online vendor listings. This advertisement comes in the form of venue sample wedding albums.
It makes perfect sense. Brides in your target market will visit the venues suitable for her budget, and what a better opportunity than for her to see your amazing work right there at the venue in the form of a venue sample album! And even better, would be that the coordinator personally recommends you and hands the bride your business card. It's almost too easy!
Of course, nothing is as easy as it sounds. In this article, we'll discuss some tips and strategies for making the most of your wedding venue sample album so that you do get the best bang for your buck. We will assume that you have shot at least one wedding for that venue, although having shot multiple weddings will allow you to have a more diverse sample wedding album.
In the grand scheme of the wedding vendor pyramid, the venue coordinators and wedding planners sit on top because they are usually the first ones to be visited by the bride. Therefore, it is to your best interest to make friends with the coordinators. Prior to the wedding day, introduce yourself to the venue wedding coordinator and ask them if they need any specific shots for the venue. After the wedding has passed, the coordinator should know who you are, and will more likely to agree when you ask if you can produce a sample album for the venue with the wonderful images from the wedding.
Once the venue coordinator has agreed to accept a venue sample album from you, the next challenge is to create an album that stands out. Your album will not be the only album there - often, there are at least 5 to 10 albums sitting at the coordinator's office or hotel lobby. How do you increase your chances of making sure the bride sees and remembers your album? That's easy….just be sure to have incredible, mind-blowing images. Well, that would be the ideal case, but we all know that our images correlate with other things beyond our control - such as the aesthetics of the dress/makeup/decor, etc.
Put yourself in the shoe of a bride visiting the venue. You see 10 albums sitting on the shelf, and obviously you will not have the time to peruse through all of them. Which album will you look at first? This is where the conventional "don't judge a book by its cover" wisdom should be totally ignored. The bride will probably pick up the albums that stand out the most. But what does that mean?
Well, it depends on the "other" albums. If most of the other albums are the traditional black-leather albums, then having a fabric cover or photo cover album will get her attention. If the other albums are regular square albums, then having a horizontal or a "calendar-style" album will make your album the unique one. If most of the other albums are "standard sized" albums, then having a much larger album will probably give your album more attention. So, what we're saying here is that you need to see what the other venue albums look like before you determine the size and cover material of your album - this will allow your venue album to have the competitive edge.
Design for the Venue
Your venue sample album should look like an advertising brochure for the VENUE, not you! This time, put yourself in the shoe of the venue wedding coordinator. A prospective bride comes into your office and wants to see what typical wedding receptions look like at your venue. Would you pick up an album that contains many artsy "getting ready" shots and artistic photos of brides and grooms, or would you pick up the album that contains pages and pages of venue images showcasing various reception setups and room decor? Obviously, it's the latter. You want the wedding coordinator to love to show off your album, and the only way to do that is for your album to show off the venue. Therefore, design the sample album with that in mind.
Don't Be Shy
Once you've designed the album to show off the venue, the next thing is to make sure the prospective bride knows who took all those wonderful images in the venue album. That means you need to prominently show your studio logo and contact info at the beginning and end of the album. This is not the time to be shy - too often, we have seen wedding photographers inconspicuously place their logos at a small corner at the back of the album. You don't want the bride to have to go looking for your studio info - put it right in front of their face.
Take Advantage of Studio Sample Discounts
Making a venue album for each of your favorite venue will not be cheap. Many photographers try to save money by using "cheaper" albums for their venue samples, but is that really how you want to convey your work to potential brides? Instead, take advantage of "studio sample discounts" offered by almost all album companies. Some companies will limit how many studio sample discounts they issue per year, while others have no limit. These albums will be seen by more brides than the ones coming through your studio, so don't skimp on this marketing effort.
Rule of Seven
The old marketing adage says that a consumer needs to see your marketing message 7 times before they take action. While this may not translate directly to wedding photography, it does remind you that you should try to have a venue album at as many venues as possible. Often times, a bride will visit multiple venues, and if they see your sample album in multiple locations, you can be sure they will be more aware of your studio.
Keep Albums Updated
The last tip is an important one: Wedding styles (makeup, dress, decor, etc.) change from year to year. What is popular this year may be looked upon as old-fashioned and outdated the next year. You should make sure that your venue albums are updated every few years to reflect the current trends. Not only does this apply to the images, but also the physical album itself. Plus, it always helps to stay in touch with the wedding coordinator to make sure they know that you are excited to shoot weddings at their venue.
An Example Venue Album
Having said all of the above, it would be useful to take a look at an actual venue album design created by yours truly. The album design below was created as a sample venue album for Stanford University's Memorial Church - a favorite wedding ceremony venue for those affiliated with Stanford in the Silicon Valley.
This album is designed as a horizontal 18x12" album, thus it is a bit larger than your average sized album. The cover text font used matches closely with the official font for the university - thus, providing consistency with website pages, literature, and other brochures that may be present along with the venue album. On the first page, the title declares this album as a guide for weddings at the venue instead of the usual "bride and groom" names seen on typical wedding albums. Also notice the prominent studio logo (along with website address) under the title.
Throughout the album, the concentration is on the venue and the photographic possibilities for the bride and groom. Images from various corners of the church are shown, as well as photos taken from nearby locations - emphasizing the architecture of the campus. Also note the use of the "rounded corner" design elements on some of the spreads - this serves to provide some design differentiation from other albums.
We hope this article has been helpful and has inspired you to create (or re-create) some venue sample wedding albums. Now, get out there and start booking some weddings!