Imagine this. A bride and groom who are in the beginning stages of wedding planning meet with three local vendors -- a venue, a planner and a florist. The couple 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 bride 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 couple later pulls up the florist's website, they see a photo credit for you on the front page. Guess who they are booking to photograph their wedding? YOU.

This seems like an ideal too-good-to-be-true scenario, but it's happened for me and my business repeatedly. Simply because we've made sending images to vendors a priority and a happens-every-time part of our workflow.
Time and time again, I've been shocked at how many photographers miss this opportunity that is staring them right in the face. Planners complain to me that maybe 1 in 10 photographers send images to them. And that's AFTER they've asked numerous times. What!?

All I can think when I hear this is how dumb those photographers are. I know that sounds harsh -- but 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 THE IMAGES TO THEM. Without any strings attached. Quickly and generously.

Again, it's not rocket science. So why don't 90% 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.

These are the 6 steps we've taken to systematize this process so it happens every single time and doesn't slip through the cracks:

1 -- Add it to the Wedding Workflow Checklist
If you don't have one yet, simply start one by writing down every step you currently take to serve one client, or click here to purchase our checklist and customize it for your needs.

2 -- Delegate
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, check out this post for more on this topic.

3 -- Select vendors
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. This is the only step I complete in our workflow in order to make sure everything I'm talking about in this post happens. I highlight.

4 -- 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.

5 -- Send the digital images via PASS (pictured above)
If you don't have PASS, use another method. It really doesn't matter what method you use, as long as you do it. But PASS is quick and easy for us. My office manager preps the images for vendors by copying them into separate folders before uploading to PASS, so the florist can quickly download a zip file of images of her work. We've had multiple vendors comment to us on how this additional step is such a blessing and makes it so much easier for them to use and share our images.

6 -- Create books for venues & planners you want to work with again
In addition to emailing a link to a downloadable gallery of high res images to most all of the vendors we work with for every wedding, we also send 7x7 press-printed 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 couple'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!
There you have it! Don't miss this opportunity! It does take some time to create a system, but once you have these steps in place, they happen for EVERY WEDDING. And the resulting reputation you build and referrals you garner make the effort well worth it.

Photographers: Did you find this post helpful? Click here to receive special email access to my most helpful content!

Vendor credits for top two images:
Venue: El Chorro in Scottsdale, Arizona // Gowns: Bella Bridesmaid in Phoenix // Floral: Carte Blanche Design // Hair: Emily Hughes // Makeup: Michelle Wight // Gray Dress by Amsale // Print Dress by Donna Morgan
This simple step is a HUGE marketing opportunity. Are you one of the photographers who is missing out?
+ Comment +