Today I wanted to share another installment of my workflow series for photographers -- how I systematize the sharing of wedding images with vendors. If this is your first time tuning in, click here to find a complete list of the posts in The Workflow Series and get caught up!

One of the biggest opportunities wedding photographers miss is following up by sending vendors images that showcase their work. They connect with a planner or a florist at the wedding, exchange pleasantries and promise to send images. Then they are never heard from again. Or, they are heard from, but there is one reason after another that they can't get images to the vendors and after months of waiting, the planner or florist finally gives up.

I've heard this story time and time again from vendors I work with. I listen in shock thinking how dumb that photographer is. I mean seriously. HUGE missed opportunity. And it was staring them right in the face. It's not rocket science. We as photographers have a valuable commodity -- a visual representation of every other wedding service provider's blood, sweat, tears and creativity. They want these images to show off their work to future clients. All we have to do to earn their goodwill and referrals is GIVE THEM TO THEM. Without any strings attached. Quickly and generously.

Again, it's not rocket science. So why don't 80% of photographers do this one simple thing? Two reasons:

1 -- They don't grasp that they are missing a huge opportunity and therefore don't prioritize it as such.
2 -- They have great intentions to do so but don't have a system in place to make sure it happens, so it falls through the cracks as they move on to shoot their next wedding.

If you find yourself in the 2nd camp, determine today to fix your workflow so that this simple yet important task happens after every single wedding. Here are some tips for doing so:

-Add it to your Wedding Workflow Checklist. If you don't have one yet, click here to read more about how to set one up, or here if you'd like to purchase mine and customize it for your needs.

-Delegate this task if possible. My full-time office manager is responsible for sending images to vendors after every wedding. This task is something that you can easily train someone else to do. Remember, you can't do it all yourself. If you have hesitations regarding delegating and outsourcing and when to do it, review Part 4 of this series.

-Give direction on who to send images to. I use the vendor contact list that our clients fill out as part of our Final Details Questionnaire about a month before the wedding. I take a highlighter to it and mark the vendors I want to send images to. Typically, I mark every vendor whose work is showcased in my images that I would like to work with again.

-Send high res. images with no watermark. Oftentimes photographers are overly protective of their work. They want to control every image, where it appears, and how it appears. In my mind, these photographers are missing the forest for the trees. Yes, we want photo credit. And that's something reasonable to request when another vendor is using our images to show off their work. But the most important thing is the relationship. If we want to build genuine relationships that will span the length of our careers and fuel our businesses with referrals, then we need to build those relationships on the foundations of generosity and trust. To me, getting credit for an image is not as important as building a good reputation of being generous and growing a solid referral network. In other words -- I'd rather show a vendor I genuinely care for them and their business by giving them images with no strings attached (and hopefully earning their trust and referral) than micromanaging them and treating them like someone who cannot be trusted with my images. So when we send images, we send high res images without a watermark. In our email or note we let them know they are free to use the images however they see fit to show off their work, and if they are able to give us a photo credit, "photo by" would be great.

-Send the digital images by any number of methods. The method of sharing images is not as important as doing it. We've used Hightail, PASS, branded thumb drives and Two Bright Lights to send images to vendors and each of these methods works great. Pick one and do it.

-Create books for venues & planners you want to work with again. In addition to sending high res images to most all of the vendors we work with for every wedding, we also send 7x7 gift books with about 80-100 of our favorite images showcasing the venue or the planner's work to venues and planners that we want to work with again. Venues and planners are typically a client's first point of contact in the wedding planning process and we get a healthy amount of referrals from them, so we want to make sure to take special care of them. These books are simple -- one image per page created in Lightroom and ordered through Blurb -- but they make a great statement, especially if you send them out for every wedding and the venue or planner starts to develop a library of them. We work with planners who pull them out during every consultation with a new client and show them ideas and things they have created for past weddings. What a value for the planner and what a statement to the client!

Imagine this. A client meets with three local vendors -- a venue, a planner and a florist. The client sees your name on the venue's preferred vendor list. They meet with a planner who pulls out a book to flip through a wedding they planned and you photographed. The client mentions that they saw your name on the venue's list and the planner begins to gush over you and your work. And when the client later pulls up the florist's website, they see a photo credit for you on the front page. Guess who they are booking to shoot their wedding? YOU. This seems like an ideal too-good-to-be-true scenario, but it's happened for me and my business time and time again. Simply because I've made sending images to vendors a priority and a happens-every-time part of my workflow. Don't miss this opportunity. Take the necessary steps to start today.

Let me know if you have any questions by leaving a comment below. And to find out about more resources I offer photographers, click here!

Click here to read Part 18 of the series -- Updating Your Website Portfolio
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