By Heidi McLean, Crew Connection
Image courtesy of Scott Asano
Brides and grooms have their hearts, minds, time, and money invested in their wedding day. They also have complicated family dynamics to contend with during an event that represents one of the biggest transitions in their lives. It’s a BFD.
Add to that the inevitability that something—from the flowers to the catering to the wardrobe—will go wrong, and wedding photographers face potential landmines at every step. A vendor who takes pressure off the couple by taking charge of the details will earn their trust every time. Along with that, they’ll get the glowing reviews and referrals that lead to more work.
Scott Asano, a still photographer who is booked nearly every weekend during wedding season, says his goal is to be the detail that couples need to think about the least. This requires him to be a confident expert who truly leads his part of the process—which starts long before the big day itself. Here’s how he does it.
Here are 4 ways photogs can impress clients on their big day:
1. Set expectations up front
Asano talked about having clients send him examples of images (from Pinterest, blogs, etc.) so he can get an idea of what they like. From there, he lets them know what kind of shots are reasonable for their situation. For example, if they love sunset shots, but their wedding is in the middle of the day, Asano will help them adjust their expectations. Or if they’re drawn to images taken on wide open fields but will be married in the city, he’ll advise them to spend some time gathering urban shots that inspire them.
2. Ask the right questions
Speaking of the conversations that should happen before the day of, another way to set yourself up for success is to ask the right questions up front. For example, by asking for a list of who should be in which photos, Asano defuses any landmines (such as the bride’s mom and dad not wanting to be in a photo together, for example) before they have a chance to explode.
On the happier end of the spectrum, if the mother of the groom will be passing on a special piece of jewelry to the bride or the couple will be reading letters to each other at the reception, Asano likes to know that ahead of time, too. It allows him to make sure the setting is conducive to capturing that moment. There’s nothing worse than having the most touching, emotional moment of the day preserved forever with a table full of dirty dishes in the background.
While Asano doesn’t seek to stage the emotion of the moment, he does want to put people in an environment that will allow him to preserve the moment in a beautiful way.
3. Take the reigns on setting, lighting, and other mechanics
Asano always arrives at the venue early to scope out a few good locations to shoot. That way, he’s not telling a bride in high heels or a grandfather in a tux to clomp across a field only to come back the other direction because it’s not going to work as well as he thought. He’ll determine the locations and then tell the wedding party what to expect. He’ll say something like, “We’ll start here at the lake and then we’ll swing over to the gazebo. After that, you’ll be ready for the cocktails and the chicken dance.”
When it comes to the mechanics of the biz, you’ll always have that one guy in the crowd—the great uncle who thinks full sun is the best lighting or the step-cousin-in-law who asks five times why you aren’t using a flash. Since Asano has already learned what the couple is looking for and they agree that his style is a good fit, he just gently reminds them that he’s picked the lighting or the setting for a good reason. If he still senses some concern, he’ll often show them a shot or two on the camera itself just to ease their minds. It might take a little extra finesse to get people to relax, but it’s worth it. Anyone who is at ease in front of the camera is going to be happier with how the images turn out.
4. Reassure them that it’s going to be OK
Inevitably, the father of the bride or another important member of the wedding party will disappear at the worst possible moment. This can throw couples for a loop and annoy the heck out of them. Asano sees part of his job as remaining unperturbed himself so he can reassure clients that everything is going to be OK. He’ll make them laugh or ease the tension until the perceived crisis passes. Often, what’s really bothering someone isn’t what it appears to be on the surface. Asano remembers that, while a bride might be intensely worked up about dripping some water on her dress, she’s probably just stressed from managing a million details and family dynamics. If the couple needs a few minutes to regroup, he offers them some privacy. Without realizing it, clients look to him for cues. If it doesn’t bother Asano to wait for the wandering member of the wedding party to show back up, it sets the couple at ease, too. If he doesn’t mind waiting for the dress to dry, they’ll be more likely to relax and enjoy the moment, too.
The bottom line Asano tells potential clients that everyone they’ll meet (at a wedding expo, for example) is a good photographer. The deeper question is who they want to tell their story. The right fit will make them feel most at ease in front of the camera. Clients are happiest when they’re comfortable with you and how you’ll capture their story. That’s a relationship thing, not a skill thing. Scott seeks to create an environment where clients would want to come over to his house for dinner or hang out together again. Even with a highly technical skill like photography, a good relationship is vitally important to success.
About Scott Asano, Photographer, Atlanta, GA
Asano is not a formally trained photographer, but he has a great passion and talent for capturing moments and telling stories. Fortunately, he’s been able to turn that passion into a career. Asano has had the opportunity to work alongside some of the best in the photography industry to learn and fine tune his craft. He has worked with couples across the country telling their wedding day story and capturing their timeless moments.
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