Five Ways to Up Your Wedding Game with Sal Cincotta
I love wedding photography. It is my passion. Every week, every month, every year, there are new couples getting married who want us to document their big day. In the United States, there are over 2 million weddings a year. There’s no shortage of opportunities for you to get started in or expand your wedding business. The real question is, how do you up your game and charge a premium for your services? How do you and your studio stand out from the never-ending barrage of competitors in your market?
Here are some tips and tricks to getting the attention of couples and standing out from the crowd. Anything you can do to maintain an edge will translate into happier clients and bigger sales.
Over my career, I have watched trends come and go, and that likely won’t change. One thing I have learned, however, is that there is a formula to a successful wedding day.
Here’s what I do to make sure my couples are happy and that I’m building a portfolio of work that will lead more clients to my doorstep.
The Beauty Portrait
I have never met a bride who didn’t want to be beautiful on her wedding day. This is their day. Our job is to capture that beauty no matter where we are. Ugly hotel room or not, you’d better leave that scene with a beauty shot of the bride.
Earlier in my career, I would always forget this shot. I don’t know why, but I did. I would push it off till later in the day during creatives. One problem is that at that point, the bride’s makeup is not as fresh—and in St. Louis, where we are based, the heat index in the summer is north of triple digits.
Your best bet is to take these images when you are with the bride and she is fresh and ready to go, preferably in a nice temperature-controlled room. I use window light, flash, constant lights—whatever I need to get a great portrait. Usually, this is shot with an 85mm lens and lighting that is somewhat flat to evenly light the skin.
The Badass Groom
All too often, photographers tend to pay very little attention to the groom, or most of the shots are of him and his boys being goofy. I find that while this may showcase the flow of the day, very rarely do the bride and groom order large prints of these to hang in their home or for their albums.
Think about how the images will be used. The mother of the groom wants something showcasing her baby boy for her desk at work. The bride wants the same thing. You know what they don’t want? The groom shotgunning a beer with his boys.
For the groom, I like to take more chances where I can, maybe some directional light or a lower angle. And of course, the pose should be masculine: arms crossed, mean muggin’ and looking away from camera. This becomes their hero shot. Every bride wants to be beautiful and most grooms want to be a badass.
There is emotion throughout the wedding day. That emotion gives you the perfect blend of coverage. Mind you, I am not a photojournalist. Those guys are like ninjas looking for and anticipating the shot. If you are like me, you get caught up in the moments, as a spectator. I often find myself laughing and then thinking, shit, I should have taken a picture of that! Or am I the only one that happens to?
The point is, we have to realize we are part of a special event and we should be looking for moments throughout the day where people are laughing, crying, yelling or otherwise just letting their guard down.
This is not something I am able to do myself. I rely on Alissa, my second shooter, to anticipate those moments while I am busy talking with clients and setting up my next shot. This tag-team approach works well for us, ensuring we capture lots of candid moments throughout the day. While clients love these images and put them in their albums, they very rarely enlarge them for wall portraits. Let’s look at that next.
The Signature Shot
This is my bread and butter. You go to my website, you go to bridal shows, and this is what you see. This is what draws people into my studio. And this is what people spend money on. So you’d better believe this is something I spend a lot of time crafting on the wedding day.
Think cinematic. Think Hollywood movie. Think fantasy. This is that one shot people will put on their walls and look at for years and generations to come. Make time for this shot, and nail it. This is a defining shot for our studio. This is what represents our brand.
This shot should look a little surreal. The pose and lighting should be dramatic. You want to create something for them that looks and feels like effort was put into it, not like a shot one of their friends could pull off.
The Final Shot
This is something new for me. I just started this in 2018, and so far the results have been incredible. By the end of the night, you are exhausted and you get a little lazy. We have all been there. Dancing pictures, cake cut, flower toss, check, check, check, good night. This year, I wanted to shake that mindset and force myself to do something more creative, a sort of sign-off-for-the-night type of shot. Maybe it’s the closing shot of their album.
Spend a little time while everyone is eating dinner to scope out the venue. After all, they chose the venue for a reason. Not only will the couple love the shot, but the venue will love it as well.
We are only at the start of wedding season, and this strategy has been paying dividends significantly, with two new venues adding us to their preferred vendor list once they saw our images.