I was standing by the cake table, sizing up my shot like I always do. One of the band’s speakers was close to the table, so I adjusted my framing, stepped to the left to crop it out, and BOOM! I walked right into a wedding guest!
She shook it off quickly and we both laughed. She apologized for sneaking up on me at the same moment I said I was sorry for bumping into her, and we started a conversation.
About halfway through chatting about my business as a wedding photographer (side note: I love chatting with guests about just about anything), she finally said what I think she wanted to say the whole time she was talking to me.
“My wedding photographer took forever to give us our photos.” I asked her when she got them back, and she said it was almost 2 YEARS!
In almost every conversation I have about wedding photography, someone tells me about a photographer who promised to deliver their wedding photos in “a few weeks” but it took them MONTHS (or in this guest’s case YEARS) for them to deliver their wedding photos. Even though this guest loved her photos, she vowed to never work with them again or tell her friends about them.
The thing that bothers me the most is that this doesn’t have to be their story! As a wedding photographer, I can empathize with the photographers in these situations.
I know how quickly projects can build up and how important it is to have a workflow to tackle project deadlines. We entrepreneurs have to be savvy with our time management and dedicated to getting things done in a timely matter. If we don’t, then it’s easy to see things slip through the cracks.
The biggest mistake photographers make when delivering galleries to their clients is that they don’t set expectations properly and they don’t deliver on their promises.
Gallery delivery times can vary among different photographers. Katelyn James, a celebrity in the wedding photography world, boasts a two-day turnaround time that wows her clients! While that’s amazing, it’s inconceivable for a film photographer to adjust to that kind of workflow. Film has to be shipped to the lab, processed and then fine-tuned in post. Most film photographers take 4-8 weeks or more to deliver galleries.
We all have our different processes and workflows. And that’s okay!
The important thing is to make sure our clients know our processes and that we deliver according to the expectations we set.
Contracts set specific expectations to your clients. If it’s in the contract, you have to follow it, and vice versa. Your contract is a promise between you and your client that gives them faith that you’ll do what you say you’re going to do. It protects them from just like it protects you! Make sure that your turnaround time is written clearly and honestly.
A gallery delivery time of one week sounds great, but if you can’t consistently make that happen, don’t promise it. Instead, give yourself a grace period in case you get sick or get too full with work. That way, when you do deliver on that one week deadline, you’re overdelivering and wow-ing your clients even more!
Automate an email for immediately following the wedding day that informs your couple (again) when they can expect their full gallery. Even if your couple already knows your turnaround time, this is a great reminder that they can share with their family and guests (because you know they’re asking for photos!) If you want to go above and beyond, a great tip is to include a sneak peek gallery of 25-50 of your favorite images of the day so they have something to share!
Clear and consistent communication goes a long way in all aspects of your client experience, but especially your gallery delivery! After all, your clients have been waiting for their photos since booking you on day 1!