Hey there. You’re about to learn 3 very important things that I know will help you if you apply them to your wedding planning process.
Before we get into that (or forget the introduction and jump down to the **** if you do want to get straight into it), I just wanted to thank you for checking out So Gold Studio’s blog. As you may know, we’re a St. Louis based artisan wedding photography business that emphasizes in printed artwork, heirloom albums, and very hands-on service. We’re a little unorthodox, but we’re pretty sure if you found your way here, you fall into that category as well (or at least your friend that pointed you in this direction does). I’d love to spend the next couple thousand characters telling you how awesome our studio is, but a long time ago I heard someone say, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” and then I read that same thing on just about every photographer’s blog I’ve ever seen… so I won’t spend a bunch of time bragging about So Gold Studio and our clients and will just recommend you look at our Portfolio for “thousands of words” on that subject. I will however sum up in 10 words:
“We love what we do and our clients are amazing.”
You may be wondering what this image of our cat, Hondo has to do with this post. Nothing. It has no relevance. I just like picture books and this blog post is pretty long… so I figured I’d break it up with some photos of cats.
You can find out more ABOUT us if you like, but right now, let’s discuss: What makes an amazing client? That’s kind of a weird concept for some. If you’ve ever worked in the service industry, you know how to give great service, but you can probably count on 1 hand the number of times you’ve had a client receive service amazingly. Well, at So Gold, we’ve run out of fingers and toes and have moved on to borrowing hands and feet from friends (remind us to return those) to keep track of the memorably amazing clients we’ve had over the years… and it’s not a coincidence.
But hold on a second here. Why am I even asking this question? You want to know how to choose your vendors and venues, not how we would choose you, right? And naturally, since you’re the potential client, every photographer, coordinator, band, and officiant should all be eager to work with anyone who would hire them, right? Not really. Of course, there’s a fairly broad range of people that So Gold Studio loves to work with, but there have definitely been some great people that we ended up recommending to other photographers we love because for whatever reason, we just don’t fit perfectly. So far, we’ve yet to receive the rare individual we would recommend to photographers we don’t love. Don’t be that person.
Why should this matter to you? This is a discussion that should be had in-house, right? This is a discussion that maybe the florist would have with the DJ, or the venue owner would have with the caterer… Yes. That’s definitely true, but it’s also a discussion you need to be a part of. Deep down, everyone wants to be an amazing client. An amazing client has an incredible time. They have confidence in the people working with them. They don’t sweat the details because they know they have people watching their back.
So enough setup. I’m going to tell you these 3 ways to be an amazing client, and give you some reasons why it matters that you are. Not all the methods and reasons are revolutionary or mind-blowing, but if you keep them in mind, you’ll be an amazing client. Notice, I didn’t say “OUR” amazing client, just “AN” amazing client. That’s actually right in line with the first important point. To keep things relatively simple, I’ll talk about photography specifically, but remember, these can easily apply to every vendor you look at.
This is Misskers. She’s our other cat. She thinks she’s pretty important. She is.
****No. 1 –
Know what you want.
Seems super simple, but it’s really important. You have no doubt already seen hundreds of photographs of weddings that you love. But can you see yourself in ALL of those pictures? Probably not. You may be blown away by a super fashion-forward photograph of a solo bride in a disjointed pose wearing black lipstick and holding a tiger. We would be too. But, we might shoot that for fun… for editorial… but probably not as a part of every So Gold Studio wedding. In the same vein, unless that’s you, day to day, it’s probably not you on one of the most memorable days of your life. We’re not saying we’re not into crazy stuff… in fact, we’re very into it… but don’t fall into the trap of seeing something amazing on Pinterest and then going “Oh yeah… that’s me.” if it’s totally not you.
I can break this one down into two main categories to make it even easier to find your perfect photographer/florist/DJ/etc. IMAGERY & EXPERIENCE.
****To help nail down the IMAGERY, take a mental time machine to the weeks after your wedding and come back with a list of words that you want to think of when you look back over your wedding photos. You may come up with words like: Light, uncluttered, art, candid, sweeping, framable, storytelling, authentic, dramatic, tangible, laughter, fun, decisive, vibrant, timeless, printable, detailed, etc. Your list is going to be your own, but I can almost promise you there is a photographer out there that you can look through 90% of their photos and check all the words off your list. Find that photographer and hire them if they’re even anywhere close to your budget. ****
If you look at our BLOG, you’ll see the words I wrote above are very much the words I think of when I think of So Gold’s style. We’re not for everyone. We aren’t super pose-y. We’re not always going to go for the huge WOW factor shots where someone is dangling over a balcony covered in glitter with fireworks going off in the background (sometimes, just not always). Even though in a lot of ways we are, we don’t feel terribly DIGITAL, if that makes sense. We like the smell of leather, the texture of wood. We like to print things. To tinker with things in the woods. We want our work to feel more like a book than a Hollywood movie.
This is a larger cat that I photographed. He was in India.
****To help figure out what kind of EXPERIENCE you want, you may actually have to physically meet with some potential vendors to get a feel for them. I know… I know… “You mean I have to go see people and talk?” We feel the same way some days, but once we’re actually there… wherever there is (usually our house in the woods or a coffee shop)… we always end up having a good time. Some clients prefer photographers they almost never see during the wedding day. They know what the photographer’s “standard” images look like, and they want pretty much exactly that. They might hand a shot list printed straight from Pinterest and expect those images and nothing else. They don’t need to be friends, they don’t need to hang out, they just need a good strong solid shooter to show up for exactly 4 hours, take the “key” photos, and then get a disc to them within the week. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. A great client is someone that is upfront about that and a great photographer is one who can deliver that consistently.****
That said, that is not So Gold’s default style. We are very hands on, we want to grab drinks with you and find out all about you long before we spend such an important day with you. We have an organic approach to our photography, and although we have no problem wrangling… er… assisting and posing people to get a necessary group shot, we much prefer the experience of “hanging out” with people, making them comfortable, making them laugh, and capturing the essence of the story, rather than just pose after pose after pose. I’ll put it this way… we want to pose you without you realizing you’ve been posed so we can get the most flattering portraits, while still maintaining the most natural expressions. We are bottled energy poured calmly into a sexy goblet. You’re going to laugh if we work together. Your friends are going to end up at a concert with us some day in the near future. We’re going to end up buying jewelry from your cousin’s Etsy shop at some point. I’m going to convince the Best Man to start shaving with a Double Edge razor and sleeping in a hammock. At this point, these are just the facts.
Think about how and what you want to feel when working with your vendors, and look for signs of that when you meet your potential vendors for coffee.
This is the biggest cat I’ve ever been within “getting killed by a cat” distance of. Kind of awesome.