In January last year I made a somewhat controversial decision for a stills photographer – to venture over to the ‘dark side’. Yes, I wanted to see what film was all about and how I could use it to improve my wedding photography business. I had heard a lot of hype about DSLR cameras being able to record HD video and that had piqued my interest. With the two technologies being used side by side, was I missing a trick by not learning how to use film alongside stills?
Around this time a photography magazine, Photo Professional, released a mini magazine entitled ‘HDSLR Movie Maker’. The editor, Terry Hope, spoke about when photography moved from film to digital and how this shift was a huge change for businesses everywhere, as visual content became more accessible to everyone. Given the meteoric rise of digital photography, it goes without saying that many photographers who dismissed digital cameras as a fad and didn’t adapt were left on the shelf. Also in the article, Terry implied that we’re now at a similar point with the integration of film into photography. Photographers need to embrace the change or get left behind.
The timing of the article couldn’t have been better for me and I knew this was something I wanted to start thinking about seriously. I started playing around with filming in March of 2011 and I was very quickly hooked on the world of video.
Every wedding company should embrace video
In today’s fast moving and highly competitive digital marketplace, it is more important than ever that you and your brand make a good first impression on a potential client. It’s still true that nothing quite sells like a real person, so I started to think about how I could put the ‘real’ me across online. The answer was simple – video. If used properly, it creates a much more personal connection with your clients. Customers, particularly in the wedding industry, generally prefer to get a sense of who you are, as well as what you’re selling them. And instead of relying on a forced and formal ‘about me page’ or a faceless contact form, video can go a long way to make them feel like they know you before they get in touch.
Unless you’re a fantastic writer, it can be difficult to convey the feeling of your business with text alone. Copywriters can be great, but in an industry where being personable and authentic is so important, having someone else write about you will never be the same as you speaking to your clients directly. This is where video is irreplaceable in conveying who you are. They say that the actual worlds you say are not the most vital part of communication – body language, tone of voice and inflection are just as, if not often more, important.
Still not convinced? Here’s a few statistics to back up my theory that using video will revolutionise the way you do business online:
♥ Only 20% of web visitors will sit and read the majority of the text on a website, but 80% will sit and watch the same content when presented in the form of a short video. Forrester Research
♥ Adding video to your website makes your site six times more likely to convert a ‘browser’ into a paying customer. Forrester Research
♥ Video currently accounts for a third of all web traffic, and by 2013 it will be 90%. YouTube
So why aren’t all wedding businesses harnessing the power of video? In a nutshell, it’s scary. The idea of getting dressed up and talking to camera can be terrifying. Video is still unchartered waters for many, they have had no experience of it, and that can leave people with the idea that it is inaccessible to them. However these days, broadcast quality video is achievable without a huge or extraordinary investment. Even newer web-cams and mobile phones now offer (what I like to call) ‘scarily good’ quality video capture – certainly high quality enough to put up on your website or blog. There is also a plethora of free or very cheap video editing software available.
What should your videos cover?
As a wedding supplier you should want to quickly and easily tell potential clients about yourself. Therefore I would say an introductory video on your homepage or ‘about me’ section is a great place to start. If we look over to our industry colleagues in the US, many of them have taken it a step further with the introduction of their use of video blogs (or ‘vlogs’) within their blog posts. I have to say I personally get much more addicted to watching these short videos than I do to reading the text in an article.
Another great thing to use video for is to use it to help others or pass on knowledge. Mini tutorials that show off your expertise but also help brides are a great way to use video on your site. Hairdressers for example could show basic tips and tricks in video snippets. Florists could explain flowers in season and the preparation that goes into the flowers before and during the creation of their work. Stylists could demonstrate how to lay out a table for a wedding. The possibilities are as limitless as your creativity and imagination.
Is video the future for wedding photographers?
As a sideways thought to the idea of using video to showcase your personality online, I also truly believe that the quick accessibility of film to wedding photographers could transform many of their businesses. We have already seen that the emergence of digital photography has produced a trend for clients to purchase digital photographic files over prints and albums. Many photographers complain about this, however I think it’s something that’s going to keep happening, so we should move with the times and see what else we can offer them. What could that be? Well, video of course!
The digital age actually creates a golden opportunity for stills and video to be integrated. If you’re a photographer you might start to think about incorporating film in to your packages or working closely with a preferred videographer to give clients a monetary inventive if they book you both. This will also change the way you can share your weddings online afterwards and potentially tap into a whole new demographic of client.
With social media dominating the way we buy, sell and interact, it seems we’ve come full circle. For a long time, the absence of personal contact was considered a serious down side to the otherwise amazing ability to communicate instantly with anyone in the world. Video is a way to get back to basics while still keeping that immediate contact we’ve become so used to.
Using video to talk to your customers gives them (and you) the best of both worlds. It also attracts the kind of customer who’s going to like you and what you do, as they’ve already had a feel for who you really are before they decided to get in touch. And if they liked you in your video, they’re far more likely to be ready to book you by the time they’ve picked up the phone or sent you an email. So I’d encourage anyone who’s hesitant to confront your camera phobia and put yourself out there. I guarantee you’ll never look back!
About the Author
Victoria Grech is a professional photographer and cinematographer based in London. She is the first female photographer to offer her clients a combination of wedding photography and cinematography as part of her service offerings, pioneering the way new technologies are used to produce high-end wedding films. Victoria has been selected by the panel from SWPP to speak at their annual conference in January 2013. For enquiries or bookings email Victoria on email@example.com or call 02085296715.