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Why are more photographers starting to specialize in the intimate weddings photography niche?
As a slightly introverted wedding photographer, I struggled severely with wedding hangovers (and even anxiety before the ‘big day).' So the intimate weddings trend is like music to my ears! No more over-peopling 🙂
Read on to find out why more photographers are opting to specialize in small and intimate weddings, with my top tips on how to attract intimate wedding clients.
But first, you need to know whether choosing such a specific niche for your photography business is right for you. Here we go!
Intimate weddings have been around for a while. However, according to this Brides article, they are only set to grow into 2022, meaning lots more opportunities for photographers to specialize in just this area.
If you want to stand out from the crowd and make a name for yourself, often the best way to do that (and to attract the high-end client) is to create a niche service or attract a niche audience – this means focusing on your benefit and becoming known for a particular thing.
For example, Jose Villa is known for film photography, and Elizabeth Messina is best known for her romantic, feminine images.
You can become known for many niches! And the best part about choosing to specialize in a particular photography niche is that you get to tailor your business and make it about something you love, vs. just shooting anything and everything that comes along.
Examples of photography niches that are currently successful are those that focus on
Specializing in intimate and tiny weddings is the kind where you become known for working with a particular wedding client.
Choosing a particular photography niche to specialize in enables you to gain recognition faster and command higher prices. It is a much faster route to establishing yourself as a leader within a very competitive, general industry.
Think about it – if a publication wants to hire a ‘luxury high-end wedding photographer,' would they be likely to pick someone who touts themselves out at the lowest price, shoots the budget venues, cheap dresses, has inferior DIY branding, and in short, is a NOT the kind of photographer they are looking for?
Specializing in a photography niche can help you stand out quickly. And it's not so that clients are more precise about booking – it's also much easier for you to market and promote your business if you work within a niche.
For example, you'll never run out of topics to write about and share if you're a ‘whimsical woodland wedding photographer' specialist, for instance!.
The best way to choose a photography niche can be to combine more than one niche for maximum results.
For example, ‘Goth weddings in NYC' or ‘Fine Art Intimate Weddings.'
When I shot weddings, I always struggled with a ‘wedding hangover.' As most wedding photographers will testify. Of course, this had nothing to do with alcohol! But the feeling is very similar to the day after a big night out.
I felt wiped out for an entire day, barely even able to string a sentence together. Because everyone else used to talk about it, I used to think it was entirely normal. It didn't even occur to me that there might be another way of working, one that didn't involve you feeling like the missing dead the next day.
But over time, I started to resent that ‘missing day.' I hated that I would spend the whole of the next day feeling like a wreck and not able to be fully present with my kids. I felt like I was losing time with them while they were little.
But since having time away from shooting weddings, I began to reflect on how I could have managed my energy levels better. I started to learn what kind of wedding was best suited to my personality type and how I like to work.
I realized that as I am an introvert, shooting a large, flashy wedding was not suited to maintaining my energy levels and happiness! My comfortable space was always when I spent plenty of time with very relaxed couples, which happens much more often at a small and intimate wedding.
Thankfully, other people have started to realize that large-scale weddings with masses of people aren't always the best choice for them, including brides and grooms. So small weddings are becoming a massive trend. That's great for those of us who are introverts who want to feel good the next day!
If you're also an introvert who prefers working with small groups, enjoys small weddings with plenty of time for creativity on the day, and a relaxed shooting environment, you'll want to read on!
In my opinion, there is no better photography niche to consider specializing in than intimate weddings.
The intimate and tiny wedding trend looks to grow even more in 2022 and beyond! There's even an entire site dedicated to intimate and small weddings (see it here). But what defines an intimate wedding, exactly? Is it budget? Size? Amount of guests?
Well, it could be any or all of these things. Usually, an intimate wedding is a wedding where the couple has a minimal amount of guests, usually under 20, and sometimes just the couple. Intimate weddings are also called tiny, small, and minimal weddings.
While some people opt for an intimate wedding to save money, more people opt out of the traditional large weddings to focus on other things. Usually, couples want to be able to relax more, enjoy the day without the feeling of having to ‘get round' to everyone, and to be able to create more sacred and special memories.
So get intimate weddings that are expensive and elaborate, just not swamped by hundreds of guests. Small and intimate weddings generally focus on the couple. They are also often popular with couples opting for a destination wedding.
More and more photographers are expressing their desire to shoot smaller weddings. Specializing in the intimate wedding photography niche is perfect for photographers who are more introverted, who like more time with their clients, who don't enjoy the hustle, bustle, or grandeur of larger weddings, and who want to feel like an honored guest rather than someone hired to do a job.
Couples having a small wedding because they want to preserve the focus on intimacy and preciousness are more likely to be selective when choosing their photographer – they're not going to likely want to hire the kind of wedding shooter who loves bellowing at the top of their voices and shooting with giant long lenses when they're focussing on beautiful, peaceful, affairs.
Intimate weddings are a growing movement thanks to the millennial generation. Millennials love to travel, and they are also frequently budget-conscious and environmentally conscious. So intimate weddings are perfect for destination brides, budget-conscious millennials, and those aware of environmental impact.
They also tend to focus on meaningful moments and details rather than purely focus on flashy detail because Pinterest told them to. As a result, millennials are the driving force behind the tiny wedding trend and this emerging photography niche.
So tiny weddings are becoming popular for these reasons – and for the same reasons, some photographers love to shoot them.
If you love meeting people, being part of a busy day, and being the kind of person who buzzes the day after shooting a wedding, deciding to focus on intimate weddings might not be the right choice for you.
If you are more of the introvert, creative type who loves to focus on details and moments and wants more time with the couple than shooting great aunt Ethel and her next-door neighbor, then concentrating on intimate weddings might be an excellent choice for your business.
Specializing in this photography niche might help you maintain your energy, creativity, and love for your work.
(or any specialized photographer)
Choosing to specialize is not an easy move to make and will involve a lot of mindset work because your head (and most likely your competitors) will try to convince you you won't get booked when you go niche and specialize.
They'll likely tell you that you will lose clients, but the opposite is true in reality.
After all, if you were a gothic bride getting married in New York, would you opt for Joe Bloggs Cheapo Hobbyist Photographer or someone who shared your lifestyle, vision, and most likely your artistic sense of style?
A-ha! Here is where your brain tricks you again! You will most likely say, ‘I'd pick the most suitable person for the work, so it depends'! Nope. Research has shown that psychologically we naturally associate ourselves with people we feel are most like ourselves.
This is why many of my brides worked in fashion, business, and theatre. Despite not targeting ‘fashion industry brides' or billing myself as a photographer for ‘the fashion industry,' I did talk about my previous accessory brand and my previous study on my blog and social media, and my clients frequently mention that's the reason they book me even today.
My coaching even now gets booked by prominent women seeking more time freedom so they can spend more time at home with their kids because they can see that's what I've been able to do with my businesses.
People will always book people like themselves if given a chance. So you have to provide them with the opportunity to know you are using your content and marketing.
Choosing to specialize in a photography niche helps to inform your clients quickly whether or not they've found someone like themselves – if you've decided to specialize in tiny weddings and you have a LOT of content about budget-saving tips, beautiful locations, or whatever else your target client is interested in – you're telling your clients you share the same interests; i.e., you're alike! this will ALWAYS increase your bookings, by the way.
You won't necessarily entirely exclude other clients when you do this either. They can still see you're capable of creating beautiful work – but you're much more likely to attract the type of client you want.
In this case, intimate or tiny wedding clients.
Choosing to specialize in any photography niche can be a scary decision. For example, when I decided to specialize in shooting primarily film-based weddings, I knew I'd have to increase my prices by a lot to cover the cost.
Other photographers told me I would never get clients at the price I wanted to charge.
Thankfully I didn't listen and managed to create a thriving and great business based on the niche I chose (eventually leading to the company I have now as a coach and trainer. None of that would have been possible if I had not followed my heart and specialized in the area I loved most)!
So if you choose to specialize, you're going to need to be brave enough to commit to your choice until you start to see the results, which may take a while, especially if you're creating. You'll most likely have to endure the haters who envy your bravery or feel unsettled by your choice.
Whether you take on other wedding photography work outside of your photography niche or not is up to you – there is no right or wrong way to do this. But you will most likely get hired faster if you can get in front of clients looking for you. The same with marketing any photography business!
Deciding to specialize is about being brave enough to do something different before everyone else does it. Right now, the buzzword is ‘destination weddings' – so the photographers choosing to champion and celebrate their local area will be the ones that stand out when every single photographer looks like they want glamorous, overseas shots!
Intimate wedding photography is the same – if you specialize in shooting tiny, bespoke weddings, you're choosing to stand out in a sea full of people refusing to.
You can make money either way, of course! It's just about knowing what you would prefer to shoot and what makes you happy.
Can you commit to choosing to specialize when everyone else will tell you that you'll lose clients, lose reputation locally, etc.?
Can you be brave enough to commit to your choice while building your business under your new brand?
Is your desire to shoot intimate weddings big enough to help you reduce everything else you are shooting?
Becoming a photographer who can successfully work within a micro-niche is about understanding how to target your client, get them to find you, and then convince them to book you (and not a Generic Photographer who shoots corporate headshots to pay the bills most of the time).
To secure those bookings, you need to know your target client.
Most importantly, you'll want to know WHY they chose an intimate wedding. When you know this, you will be able to market directly to your client.
For example, a client who chose a small wedding because she wanted to keep her overheads under 5k will need an entirely different version of marketing than one who chose a destination wedding and is flying over 20 guests to Italy to stay in luxury accommodation for two weeks.
Once you understand your target client, you can tailor your marketing accordingly and be more confident in putting yourself out there in front of them.
Most photographers have started to understand that you attract clients most like yourself. That's ok, but it's much better to remind yourself that you need to target the kind of client you want to be.
Let me explain. If you're targeting someone just like you – with the same or similar interests, worldview, opinions, perhaps location, etc. – you're going to come across a problem regarding income.
Because if you want to get through to your next level of income/business, and you have bigger income goals you want to reach, you'll price your products and services at the level you believe YOU could pay – because you're targeting someone ‘just like you, right?
Instead, it's much better to target someone ‘just like you but the best version of yourself. Meaning, with the income goal you WANT to have, rather than the amount you would currently be prepared to pay.
That way, you are targeting the kind of client you want. (Rather than a reflection of where you're currently at).
This has nothing to do with being inauthentic, by the way – as a species; we are always naturally looking to grow and get better at something (it's how you got better at photography in the first place).
You're not being inauthentic; you're just looking to gain clients who reflect your best version.
You, but with the income you want.
Now we are getting into the generic-info territory, but I wanted to address a particular question about pricing intimate and small weddings.
Should I Charge Less To Shoot A Small Wedding?
I used to think I should charge less if there were fewer people at an event because I was there for less time. So it was less stressful, less work, and probably fewer images to work with afterward.
I didn't realize that I was not factoring in my experience, skills, equipment, and business costs. So instead, I reduced myself to price = amount of hours worked.
Which is excellent as a basic business model, not so much if you want to be profitable. After all, if you're shooting a small wedding, you're still not out there shooting something you could otherwise be paid much more for.
Don't drop your prices for a smaller wedding. Sure, it's less ‘work,' but the more prolonged-term impact on your business is the same as if you were shooting a wedding for 500 people. You are most likely paid to learn the skills you have to run your business, your marketing costs remain constant, etc.
You will only struggle to attract higher-paying clients if you repeatedly discount and cut yourself out of your profit.
Here is what I would do if I were looking to specialize in smaller weddings. First, I would make sure I knew my target client first, as per the above. So let's assume I already know her.
My client is someone like myself who wants a meaningful, intimate, destination wedding in Italy. Twenty people maximum sat outside under twinkling stars. Although budget would not be my number one concern, I would be looking for value. Above all, I want to provide my guests with a magical, characterful experience in Italy.
So now I know my client, here's how I would target them –
I would look to get published in every publication about Italian weddings. This could be from blogs to magazines, personal blogs, local supplier blogs, and international wedding blogs. This will help my clients find my clients in search results and boost my SEO.
For example, I might want to get found in search for ‘Wedding Photographer specializing in Small Luxury Weddings In Italy.'
You don't even have to have shot a tiny wedding in Italy to get featured! You could do some research and submit written articles on the best venues. It doesn't even have to feature your photography. Though obviously, it will help you more if it does.
I would set up my social accounts so that they were all educated on the topic of small weddings. (In particular small weddings in Italy). I'd write about how to find value in expensive areas of Italy. Posts about top restaurants and wedding venues for small weddings in Italy would also work. I could write blog post content on the value of small weddings.
In short, you want to create a whole ton of content directly targeted at your client, so you need to understand their needs!
I would also include personal posts. This could consist of memories of trips to Italy, smaller weddings, Italian dishes my grandmother used to make, etc. I don't have an Italian grandmother, but you get the idea 🙂
Most likely, I'd also have a brilliant email option on ‘Creating Your Dream Small Wedding In Italy.' Or ‘The Most Picturesque Places For Your Small Wedding In Italy.' This would help identify me as a specialist who shares my client's interests and passions.
You could even collaborate with local suppliers. If you get them to share it on their sites, this multiplies your visibility!
And finally, I would look to contact wedding planners and other suppliers—especially those specializing in small or intimate weddings in Italy (or wherever). Specializing in niche weddings will help you stand out to new contacts too.
To contact them, you start by relationship-building. This is a whole post in itself, but the general idea is this
And then, over time, continue to build the relationship. No, it's not an instant strategy. Yes, it works. Remember – people need you as much as you need them! Bloggers need content and readers; wedding planners need photographers and venues. And so on.
That's how I would reach tiny wedding clients by getting visible via SEO, publication, and using a network of contacts. This would all be based on a content-first strategy.
Note: I never said I would talk about my services, prices, or anything else. My marketing goal would be to appear/get mentioned everywhere.
You could also look at adding Youtube videos into the mix. Youtube is still hugely underused as a marketing tool by wedding photographers, which is a huge reason to use it.
Bonus points if you film your channel videos from Italy! 😉
So, this that's how I'd get started changing my photography niche by changing my marketing. And how I'd begin to quickly gain more happiness and joy shooting small and intimate weddings!
Have you shot a tiny wedding, or would you like to? Leave a comment below!
A post by Charlie
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