You may be a wedding photographer thinking of ways to secure additional future jobs, or you might simply want to focus on doing a wider variety of shoots other than just weddings. So, in what ways can you branch out?
If there's one thing that I've realized even more clearly now during the pandemic than ever before, it's not to put all my eggs in one basket — not just in terms of having other streams of income to fall back on but also for my own sanity and creativity. You don't need to become a jack of all trades, but it can bring something positive into your life by diversifying what you do and using your already-acquired skills in other types of photography that will benefit from your existing experience. As a wedding photographer, you know that you are documenting a celebration in your clients' lives. It's a social type of photography, and the experience you already have in this field can be helpful when you're considering branching out.
Maternity and Birth Photography
As someone who already has built rapport and relationships with your wedding clients, you don't need to lose them as clients after the wedding has finished. A fairly typical cycle of life will involve the couple getting wed and creating a family together. This means that your past brides might be future maternity and birth photography clients.
Whether you shoot more photojournalistic weddings or you enjoy adding traditional aspects by styling shots and posing your clients, you can pursue maternity shoots in the same style and manner. The fact that you have already worked with your clients before is likely to make them more open to booking you for a maternity shoot, and they will be more relaxed in front of your camera, too. These shoots can be done either in a studio environment or outdoors, depending on what suits your way of shooting.
Now, birth photography won't be something to everyone's liking, but birth photography can bring something special into your life. Each one of us has a unique way of shooting weddings: some of us do it full-time, some of us do it part-time, others take on only a certain number of weddings a year and use the rest of the time pursuing other jobs, hobbies, or businesses. In regards to birth photography, you will need to be mindful about availability, because when that baby is due is not necessarily when they choose to arrive. You will need to create a buffer of days or weeks on either side of the due date and be on call. This might be an issue for more busy wedding photographers, but others might split their year up by mostly doing weddings throughout spring and summer and births during wedding downtime.
Newborn and Family Lifestyle
Naturally, the next phase for your maternity or birth photography clients is that of newborn and family lifestyle. Some of your wedding couples will be having a baby for the first time in their lives, so that first year is a very special one for all parents. It generates many firsts for the parents and the baby: the first time their baby smiles, the first time they take a bath, and so on. Documenting just a few hours within that first year of a baby's life can produce beautiful and meaningful photos that the parents will cherish for years. It's up to you to decide how you want to shoot. Whether you do a more stylized shoot or a completely unposed one, you can once again put your signature style on these sessions, too.
It is possible that you might not enjoy photographing and working with children, which is absolutely fine. Instead, consider different phases of one's life and how you can use your interests and skills to document parts of it. When you obtain that first wedding client, it can become a returning client if you make it clear in your marketing that you photograph other parts of your clients' lives, not just a wedding. From one wedding booking, you could potentially generate several jobs, and the more rapport and trust you build with your clients, the more likely it is that they will recommend you to their friends and family who might be in similar life phases, too.
Family lifestyle shoots offer you a chance to choose whether you want to work with younger children or not. Each family will be made up uniquely, so you can aim to reach your chosen target audience by displaying appropriate images that show the type of client you cater to. Make sure you know what kind of client you want to reach, and show that in your marketing through the right visuals and words.
The same way your clients are celebrating their wedding, it is likely that they, their friends, and family will also be planning other life events, such as baby shower, christenings, special birthdays, engagement or retirement parties, and many more. The way you capture candid moments and details in wedding photography, you can use those same skills in capturing smaller-scale events for your clients. For example, when it comes to birthdays for younger children, you can either use a stylized and posed approach if that's your way of shooting and photograph children in a more controlled manner or even in a studio, such as doing "cake smash" shoots. Or, if you're more into documentary-style photography, you can create a beautiful gallery for the parents and the children for when they grow older consisting of candid and unposed moments.
It's not that often that families get to see photos of everyone together, because someone is always holding the camera and taking the shot. The unique selling point for you as a photographer is that these are memories where everyone is included and everyone can enjoy themselves not having to think about the photos. Most often than not, quick snaps have a very short shelf life and get lost eventually or quickly forgotten about, whereas professional photos give your clients a push to print them and preserve them. The cost associated with them is higher, and so is the emotional reward when receiving them.
Whichever route you choose to go down, you need to create a strategy for your marketing materials. If you are adding family lifestyle shoots to your repertoire, will you include these sessions in your wedding brochure and website or will you consider creating a fully separate account that focuses only on family photography? Brainstorm about what you enjoy shooting and what you could realistically incorporate into your business without creating too many loose ends that don't bring in enough of the target audience. Consider not only your experience and skills but also your personality and preferences.
While we are saying goodbye to 2020 spring and potentially summer weddings, use this time to give your photography and business an additional edge. Even if you don't have any images that you can use for promotional materials just yet, you can still put together a website and create shoot packages that can go live the moment you can fill it with suitable photographs. If you don't have anyone suitable in your friends and family circle for your chosen type of photography, you can prepare posts or stories with a model call for when social distancing restrictions have lifted.
If you already have a good rapport with your wedding clients, it's possible that they'd be willing to book you for a future shoot even without seeing images because they have already worked with you before, they know how you shoot, how you edit, and what quality customer service you provide. You could also create a promotion specifically targeting your past wedding clients by giving them an introductory discount for your new additional photography services as a thank you for working with you before. The opportunities are endless!
Will you expand your social photography services? Or do you enjoy focusing on one type of photography instead?