Question… Should you build photo shoots into your planned promotional and marketing activity as a successful wedding venue? Absolutely!
Whereas inspiration shoots used to be purely for the ultra-creative industries, they are now an essential ingredient in building a successful venue business and being able to present and importantly attract your target market, whatever and whoever that market is. I see great results time and again with my venue clients who have committed to regular seasonal shoots to showcase their spaces and these clients report being able to attract not only more business but those couples who are the perfect match for them, making business easier to manage too.
So a question we’re often asked is how do you go about it? What’s the best route if you’re new to this? What’s the investment and much more?
WHAT’S YOUR DESIRED OUTCOME?
Before running away with a photo shoot project, really consider, what is the purpose of this shoot? Yes it’s about having photos but is this about showcasing certain areas of your venue that you haven’t had photos of before, is it showing the versatility of your spaces set up in different ways, it is about showcasing a higher level of wedding detail than you’ve been able to attract before? Is it about showcasing a certain style or design that just works in your spaces?
And importantly what is your desired target market you want to reach with this shoot? What its vital to know is how much you intend to use this shoot – is this something you want to last for a long time to form the basis of your website key pages, brochure and marketing campaigns or is this going to be just one of multiple shoots and serve a certain goal, for example promoting winter weddings?
Be sure that you communicate your goals with your team all the way through. It’s often when team members interpret the brief differently and have different goals and expectations that things don’t work so well.
HOW IS IT ORGANISED AND PAID FOR?
There are lots of ways of this working and things to be aware of:
It’s very tempting to take advantage of the requests of bridal designers, florists, cake designers for whom shoot creation is very much part of their marketing mix and provide the venue in exchange for a shoot but do be careful of this option as I hear and see a lot of shoots which are beautiful but the focus of the shoot is on the bridal fashion for example not on the practical shots of the venue that really showcase what you have from a banqueting point of view. This is fine to do if you are doing a lot of shoots, but if you are doing this for key images for your venue’s marketing, you really need to have a dedicated shoot to your brief and overseen in detail by your team.
Another option is to organise your shoot with the support of a professional stylist, blogger or wedding planner; they should have a flare and passion for creating wedding looks and the little white book of suppliers and products to bring it all together and this is a route I’d certainly look at and be open to. However, be prepared to invest some budget in a good stylist – they may be looking to portfolio build or attract new markets to their business, so many do it on a contra deal but they will be looking for some commercial angle – it could be some sort of trade off depending on how they obtain customers and pay their bills – but do be prepared to invest some budget here and be clear on what everyone is going to get out of it.
When you are putting your team together, it’s usual that your preferred/recommended supplier team are invested into the shoot and usually will offer their services at a much reduced / at cost rate or on a complimentary basis (it might be for example covering the market rate of the flowers but not the time factor). It does depend how much exposure the shoot will get and how much credit suppliers will get in the resulting coverage and how much business that supplier of course gets from you – as a general etiquette, if a supplier has given their time and service to be part of a shoot, then they should be mentioned and tagged in all social media every time and on key website pages wherever practical.
It’s also important to consider if you will submit the shoot to a professional blogger or media outlet. Most of my venue clients focus a shoot for their own branding and marketing purposes and blog coverage is secondary, but don’t forget to consider submitting to a well-matched professional blog and discuss suitability with your team.
PICKING YOUR TEAM
It’s more usual for a venue working on a branding shoot that they are heading up to pick from their own excellent supplier team (this is my recommendation) they know your spaces and will have endless ideas of how spaces work, what styles work best, which of their products work together and more. I’d suggest a team members’ use of a shared Pinterest board for on-going collaboration to work out the finer details of a shoot – and the details do matter – the more you can bring to life your spaces with creative touches that inspire your future couples, the greater success you’ll have. A shoot does take time and particularly if you are not outsourcing to a stylist or planner, be prepared to put in the hours, but it’s worth it!
WHEN YOU’RE IN IT YOU’RE IN IT
We’ve already spoken about the need to be specific about what you’re doing the shoot for and this is extended to really thinking through and writing down the exact set-ups and shoots you need. Really map out exactly the angle you want the ceremony space to be photographed from, do you want close-ups from the front and back of the room, do you want birds-eye views of your dining spaces – often it’s a mix of having close-ups but for many venues it’s about wide angle and large space shots rather than up close of the flowers although you’ll often need a mix if you’re putting together entirely fresh marketing materials for example. Make sure the entire team have this list with them on the day and use it as a tick list to ensure things aren’t forgotten.
If you’re going to the effort and cost of hosting a shoot you might as well make the most of it, so do take the opportunity to plan lots of setups and turn the rooms around where you need to in order to show alternatives for your couples. Allow plenty of time for this – it does take longer than you might think and the more creative detail you have the longer it will take – a shoot with furniture movements and more can take several hours or a full day even going into the evening. Don’t forget, you will likely want to capture your spaces to show the versatility across a wedding day whether that’s daytime shots or nighttime ambience for partying with candles lit for example.
There is much more advice we can certainly give and working with professional stylists and bloggers forms one of the modules of our SHINE in-person training days and online SHINE training programme for venues.
Our next in-person trainings take place in London on 2nd and 23rd November; if you’d like to uplevel your offering and attract more wedding business, take a look HERE for details of how to join us:
Photo Credits from a Venue Photo Shoot We Planned and Styled for our Client, Warmwell House.
Venue – Warmwell House // Photography – Imogen Xiana // Film – Gorgeous Film // Florals – Martha And The Meadow // Cakes – Fancie Buns // Bridal Accessories, Hair and Makeup – Victoria Fergusson // Model (bride) – Tanya Louise Cumberland // Bridal gowns – Naomi Neoh // Stationery & Paper goods – Emily And Jo // Silk ribbons and silk runner – Pompom Blossom // Furniture – white chairs for ceremony, pool furniture, white easel, gold cutlery – The White Chair Company // Tablescape hires – glassware, charger plates, tablecloths and napkins – Couvert // Cross back chairs & wooden bar unit for cake/champagne station – DP Marquees