This afternoon, I was watching an interview with Barry Manilow on a daytime talk show and he was asked by one of the hosts about his music living on once he is gone. His response was this...
People won't remember what you did. They'll remember how it made them feel.
The way I see it, the same holds true for us as wedding photographers. I've heard successful photographers over and over again say that the reason a client chooses you shouldn't be because you have awesome images... great photographs should just be a given. To me, that makes perfect sense.
The fact is, most brides and grooms could care less whether your white balance is perfect or that your background is overexposed. They don't care that you're a member of PPA or WPPI or any other acronym (no offense intended - these are great organizations). Their affinity for our images isn't because we took a great photo or won a bunch of awards. It is because of the emotion we are able to elicit with that photograph. It is because that photo possessed so much power, that it was able to make them cry like a baby, laugh out loud, or feel the same butterflies that they felt as they were walking down the aisle. It is because it made them feel more beautiful than they have ever felt. I know that a photo has that power because I wonder why my face is hurting while i'm at the computer editing images from my recent weddings and realize that i'm smiling from ear to ear because I too am feeling the joy that they were experiencing in those photos.
It is because their photographer made them feel like a million bucks. Because we made them feel like they were our only client. Because we made them feel like they were more than just another bride.
So many professionals in our industry make it all about the photographs and not at all about the people. Photographers especially tend to have a reputation for being grouchy, impersonable, and difficult to work with. I realize that this statement may upset some of my fellow photographers, but it is true. If you think it's not, survey some former brides, event planners, or wedding vendors and ask them their opinion on some photographers. It's a harsh reality, and it's the stigma we're up against.
I know there are plenty of people out there who may not think I have any right to be giving advice, but i'm going to give it anyway: If you want great feedback from your brides and if you want them to send other brides your way, give them amazing photographs AND an outstanding experience. Make them feel good about themselves, their day, and their photographer. Give them a reason, a positive reason, to talk about you. And as Barry says, they'll remember how you made them feel.