{Bridal Show Booth} | Fort Collins & Denver Wedding Photographer | BlueHaus Studios

Being a wedding photographer isn't always easy. I am constantly looking for new ways to market and expand my business, and the bridal show route is a great way to get started. I have been shooting for a long time, but have a newer business in the Fort Collins/Northern Colorado area and wanted the opportunity to get some face time with local brides. Overall, I felt like it went really well. This is definitely not an all-extensive super detailed post, but I did want to talk about a few things I learned.

 Excuse the picture quality, there was only an iphone on-hand that day.

Excuse the picture quality, there was only an iphone on-hand that day.

The Pretty Booth:

I have really tried to put a large amount of effort into branding my business. I personally love the feel of the vintage/DIY weddings, and would love to ultimately attract those types of clients. Of course I still love classic weddings and will always be open to doing them, but if I were to define my style I would say that I love the details. I think having consistent branding has been really helpful so far. My booth was covered in BlueHaus branding, and I got a lot of compliments. I had loaded it with blue & white (my colors), lace/burlap, old cameras, baby's breath, and even created a hanging contraption for photos out of my lighting stands. Creativity is key, especially when you want to keep your expenses down. Some people who had already booked a wedding photographer were even asking if I styled weddings?! Lesson learned: How you present yourself will determine what kind of clients you get. If you want people to appreciate and know the value of your work, show them why you are valuable. Branding helps achieve this. My office looks very similar to my booth by the way.

Creating Value: 
Brides are really busy, and bridal shows often overwhelm people with information. My goal of the day was to put my best foot forward (with the amazing help of my husband as well as my assistant, Kim) and get information so I could directly follow-up with the brides we talked to and book consultations. To create some value, we did a drawing for a $25 gift card to Victoria's Secret. What girl doesn't need this (bride or not)? Seriously. On the drawing form, I had them put their name, number, and email, as well as check a box on whether or not they wanted information on 1. Wedding/Engagement Photography, 2. Boudoir Photography, or 3. Both. I should have added "portrait photography." This gave me an excellent leads list to follow-up with, and I imagine I will be seeing more of these people book with me (whether wedding or portrait photography) in the future. Lesson Learned: Even if you're not seeing a ton of immediate results, if you get contact information and have a marketing plan of how to follow-up with people (i.e. email, email again, phone call, email again), you are almost guaranteed to reap some rewards. Sometimes it might just be a matter of when and how! Brand awareness is huge, and people have to see a brand 7 times before it resonates. Thus, why sticking with it and being consistent is important.

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Was it worth the investment?
This is to be determined. I might be hitting the Denver market for another bridal show in the future because it's a much bigger market, but I do feel like this was well worth my time.  I felt organized and well prepared; not bad for our first NoCo show. We'll see how many bookings come through. I am glad, however, that I invested in product and a few things to fill my booth. I have a new couch and rug, which get to double as a business expense, and I am readily prepared for my next show. 

I would love to hear about some of your bridal shows experiences in the comments sections ;).

Why You Should Use A Professional Photographer! {Guest Post by Wahlman Photography}

“Do I really need to pay that much money for photographer? My bride-maid’s best friend has a camera, I think, and she could probably do it for really cheap. That way I can save money on the wedding.” If you’re a bride currently going through wedding planning, I wouldn’t be surprised if you had similar thoughts. You know someone who has what seems to be a nice camera, so why not ask them to do your wedding photos? Well, I’m here to tell you why you need a seasoned, professional photographer. In our current day, weddings have gotten very expensive. Not that they weren’t expensive 60 years ago, but the standards of planning and costs has gone up. That being said, every bride and groom today would love to save a penny here and save a penny there. Photography seems to be one of those areas in wedding planning that brides and grooms tend to think they can bypass on the professional, ‘expensive’ photographer and save some money by using someone that they know. This just simply doesn’t seems like the best place to save money in and here are some reason

{Longevity}  Flowers will fade in about a week, some may even be thrown away immediately after the wedding. The cake will be devoured by every ravenous guest, and left overs will soon enough be eaten or thrown out. Decorations look pretty, but also won’t last past the day. Catering is nice, but guests will actually live if they go 5 hours on only some small appetizers. Your lovely photographs will be thrown away... oh wait, you’ll be keeping those for a long time! Hopefully, you actually plan on keeping your photos a little longer than a week. If that is the case, then why wouldn’t you want them to be great, quality, professional images? So if there is any area to save money on, I wouldn’t think photography would be one of them. I would think that you’re going to want the best you can get, so that you can actually enjoy them for the rest of your life. Your wedding is a very precious memory that you won’t to forget.

{Knowledge} If you think that a knowledge of the camera is the only thing separating a professional from your friend, think again. As professional photographers, we have a much more intensive and broad knowledge than that. And even then, in almost every scenario, we’ll have a better knowledge of our gear and how to use it than your friend. However, there is more to photography than pressing the shutter button. Maybe you didn’t know this, but there is an art to proper posing. How about photographer behavior at a wedding; how to stay out of people’s way, be invisible, not distract from the ceremony, etc.? How about post-editing; don’t you want someone who will make your photos actually look finalized, not just straight from the camera. How about printing? Can your friend print from thousand dollar printers or have the photos printed at a professional printer? And that’s just the start of a long list that us photographers include in our services. 98% of the time, your friend is not going to be able to do or know everything that a professional photographer can offer you.

{Legality} Professional photographers have a legal aspect to them that your friend doesn’t have. We have documents as businesses, contracts, etc. that bind us legally to doing a quality job. If you don’t like the images your friend took, what are you going to do about it? You can’t have them do a reshoot and you can’t get money back, especially if you didn’t pay them anything. Just don’t go there; use a legally recognized photographer.

{Commerce}  Lastly, there is something to be said about the economics of using a professional photographer. Your friend, even if they do a decent job, may never shoot another wedding in their life. As professionals, this our career and our trade. Why not give that money to a person who is actually in the trade and can use it to continue in that area and benefit all the other weddings that follow. It’s a general sense of how commerce works. It’s almost the same concept as when people illegally download music; that’s a major reason why so many recording companies have gone under. Don’t be the cause for making professional services struggle to stay above water.

If you found this article interesting or helpful, please share it with those you know.

David WahlmanWahlman Photography www.wahlmanphotography.com

10 Ideas for Rockin’ Non-Profit Events

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Many non-profits depend on their events and fundraisers to financially support their organizations year after year.  It’s extremely important for them to utilize their resources in order to keep their budget down and maximize their attendees experience in order to get the type of financial support they need.  Here are 10 things to consider when planning a non-profit event: {Provide Value} When people donate money, they want something in exchange.  Not necessarily a take home trinket, but they want entertainment and a good show.  Make the program entertaining, and ramp up the energy a bit.  This does not have to be an expensive endeavor, but make sure the content is relevant and the program is not stagnant.  A great example is the Summit County event, Dancing with the Mountain Stars. They benefit Flight for Life Colorado, and put on an amazing show with local residents competing for the winning spot.

{Show Them Their Money} Show your supporters where their money is going.  This means show them numbers, pictures, testimonials, and even bring in people who are personally benefitting from the organization.  People want to know that their donations are being used effectively.

{Ask Businesses For Help} Get all the help you can.  Ask people who are directly related to your organization to volunteer or provide a business service for free or at a discounted rate.  You get their help, they get their business promoted. It’s the best of both worlds.

{Trendy Advertising} Have someone professionally design your branding for the event.  Whether it’s a volunteer, local college student looking for volunteer opportunities, or a local graphic design firm, make sure it has some eye-catching value.  Once you have posters, email them out, post to Facebook, advertise on Twitter and Pinterest, and get your volunteers to do the same.  With social media, you can spread the word like wildfire if you just ask people to help.

{Donate A La Carte} During the event, provide donation stations with some kind of purpose.  Recently, I was involved with an organization who did a “Wine Wall”  where $10-$100 of bottles of wine were donated to the event and attendees could purchase $10 tickets for the wine drawing.  They were guaranteed a bottle of wine worth at least what they paid for the ticket, and it gave the organization extra donation money.   Be creative here!

{Monthly Donations} Make the “official ask” for monthly donations while at the event.  Provide donation slips that Visa or bank account information can be written on, and ask for donors to donate $10/$25/$50 monthly.  You then would automatically debit their account every month, and could cause a $100 event donor to donate $600 in a year.  Maximize your donations!

{Provide Food} Have your event catered, and/or ask for donations from local restaurants.  Make sure you have enough food for the event so the donors don’t feel like you are skimping.  They are taking their valuable time and donating their valuable money, so the least you can do is feed them well.

{Plan Few, Not Many} Don’t go overboard on the number of events you plan per year.  Often you invite the same people over and over again, and they get tired of you constantly asking for money every other month.  Also, carefully planned big events tend to bring in larger donations than smaller events, and you don’t over extend your volunteers or organization.

{Stay on Schedule} The people who have the most money to donate usually have very little free time.  Make sure you stay on schedule during the event.  Donors need to know their time is valued, and that you care about them getting to their next commitment as scheduled.  It also shows that the organization runs a tight-ship; something that donors will appreciate.

{Maximize Attendance} When picking a day, make sure there are no other conflicting events or holidays that might take your donors elsewhere.  Also, decide whether it would be best to plan a breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner event, depending on your typical donor profile.  Knowing your audience is key!