Whether you're a seasoned pro or elopement photography newby, most of us find ourselves in a "slow season" every year. Whether it's the chill of winter(us East Coast photographers feel that!) Or it's the lull after the flurry of summer weddings, or a combination of various factors! Elopement and wedding photographers alike usually have some time when the calendar is pretty empty, and it can seem daunting! Rather than viewing this period as a drawback, savvy photographers seize the opportunity to revitalize and strengthen their business while preparing for fuller months ahead!
This blog aims to provide you as an elopement or wedding photographer with a roadmap for navigating the slow season effectively. By delving into strategies that go beyond the lens, we as photographers can weather the quieter times and emerge with a more robust and resilient business. From assessing past performance to embracing new marketing tactics, personal development, and working on fine-tuning your craft! I LOVE diving deep into how I can improve our client experience and make positive changes to my business! What better time to asses and address than January?!
As we dive in, remember that the slow season is not a standstill; it's a chance to recalibrate, refine, and rejuvenate your passion for elopement photography. Let's explore the avenues that will not only keep your creative spirit alive but also set the stage for a thriving business when the next busy season arrives.
So let's dig into what to do in your slow season as an elopement photographer!
Understanding the Slow Season as an Elopement Photographer
The ebb and flow of business in elopement and wedding photography is often influenced by a variety of factors that collectively contribute to what we commonly refer to as the "slow season." Understanding these things is crucial for photographers to navigate this period strategically. Do not be disheartened if you're not "booked out" every single month out of the year. While that may work logistically for some photographers, realistically most of us have time off - whether that be weeks or months at a time!
Factors Contributing to Slow Seasons
- Weather + Seasons
- Weather plays a significant role in determining when couples choose to elope. Harsh winters or scorching summers in certain regions can realllyyy be a deterrent for couples wanting to elope in the outdoors. While I'm all for a Winter Elopement - it's not uncommon for winter to be the slower of wedding and elopement seasons!
- Traditional Wedding dates
- Elopement photography is not exempt from the influence of traditional wedding seasons. Spring and Summer are typically popular times for weddings, and fall isn't far behind (especially in New England). Warmer temps, longer days, and easier travel conditions make this the prime time to get married for most. But that is slowly changing, in addition to weekday weddings becoming more common!
- The Economy
- Economic factors can definitelyy impact elopement photography bookings. Economic downturns or uncertainties (heyo 2020) may lead couples to initially delay or reconsider their wedding plans - we saw how the Pandemic affected the industry! Spending often drops off right after the holidays, so couples may be less ready to book a shoot or invest until later in the year.
What to Do in Your Slow Season as an Elopement Photographer
1. Reflect on Your Business
Taking the time for introspection during the slow season can be a powerful catalyst for growth. Reflecting on your business's past performance allows you to identify strengths, pinpoint areas for improvement, and lay the groundwork for a more successful future!
So what are some ways to best do this? Here are a few things to get your started:
A. Assess the Previous Season's Performance
- Begin by analyzing the outcomes of the previous elopement season. Evaluate the number of bookings, client satisfaction, and any challenges faced. Tax season will definitely force you to look at your numbers!
- Identify the types of elopements that were most successful and those that presented difficulties. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses from the past season forms the basis for informed decision-making moving forward.
B. Gathering Client Feedback for Improvement
- Client feedback is an invaluable resource for growth. Reach out to past clients for their thoughts on their elopement experience and the photography services provided. PS: Get those Reviews in too!
- Use constructive criticism to make adjustments where necessary and leverage positive feedback to highlight your strengths in future marketing efforts.
C. Hire a coach or mentor
- Get some accountability and I guarantee you will grow so much faster than trying to get to where you want to be on your own. Hiring an experienced coach can bolster your business and improve your mindset sooo much. It can be hard to see the blindspots in your business, we as artists take our work so personally. But hiring the right elopement photography coach can make a world of difference is moving you closer to your goals.
2. Work on Marketing and Branding
A. Dive into SEO (it's not that scary I promise!!)
- Dive into the intricacies of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to enhance your website's visibility and attract organic traffic. Do keyword research, narrow down your audience and implement strategy to your marketing!
- Giving your online presence a facelift – update your website with fresh content, showcasing your best work and incorporating any new services or packages. Craft engaging blog posts that tell the stories behind your favorite elopements, providing potential clients with a deeper connection to your work.
B. Utilize Social Media
- Create a posting schedule for social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, strategically sharing captivating images and behind-the-scenes glimpses to keep your audience engaged. Check out How to Use Tailwind to Get Clients through Pinterest
- Show up on your stories, post all those amazing photos you took last year that you were too dang busy to ever showcase!!
3. Keep Shooting
A. To Diversify or Grow
- If you want to expand your portfolio, or maybe diversify it to shoot more of what aligns with your goals: don't sleep on Styled Shoots!! Whether it's a local or destination shoot, content retreat or workshop - don't be afraid to get out and get creative! Plus networking is always a bonus when attending group shoots! You can also set up your own shoot and reach out to vendors you'd like to build a relationship with!
- If you have the funds - consider investing in new gear and then use your time off to learn it thoroughly! I do not recommend getting new gear and then immediately going to shoot a client with it!! Watch videos, play around with the settings, and make sure you love it before committing to keeping it! Check out my top camera gear I use for every elopement!
B. For fun!
- When was the last time you took those self-portraits you've been envisioning? Or brought your camera on a personal hike? Getting back to the root of what we do - how we started out may spark new inspiration and joy! It's so so common for us photogs to capture everyone else's memories but skimp out on documenting our own! You may just fall in love with photography all over again.
4. Build Relationships
A. In your industry
- Consider collaborations with other vendors in the wedding industry for mutual promotion (like a styled shoot as I mentioned above!) The slow season becomes an opportune moment to build anticipation for the upcoming bustling period and establish your brand as a go-to choice for couples seeking intimate and beautifully captured elopement moments.
- Meet up with other local elopement photographers in your area; connect, create, cultivate community!
B. With others
- Engage on social media (oof ouch that one I have to always remind myself too!) Show up, reply to others, invest in your client relationships (past, present, or POTENTIAL clients!!) It makes a difference I promise you that. Even just once a week, try and spend some intentional time connecting online.
- Invest in your local community, take time to get to know your neighbors, volunteer, spend time with those you love. Once busy season hits it can be hard to show up when the shooting days are long and the editing queue is even longer! Take time while you can to nourish your relationships (and hey start building some boundaries in your biz so those things don't have to take a hit in the future!)
6. Solidify your Workflow
A. Client Experience
- Implement any necessary improvements or updates to enhance the overall client experience. This could include refining your communications (email templates, proposals) creating new guides and resources for those who book you, and assessing how to improve your value.
- Ask for reviews - good and constrictive criticism. Take polls on your Instagram to find out your couples pain-points in the process and then find ways to help solve them.
B. The Backend (not so fun stuff)
- Use the slow season as an opportunity to streamline and optimize your photography workflows. Get into the nitty-gritty of the backend of your business! Evaluate the efficiency of your processes, from client onboarding to final delivery.
- Make sure your elopement photography contracts are solid!
- Organize your CRM - or get one if you don't have one! Check out 5 Simple Ways to Automate your Business with a CRM on my blog! And How I Use Dubsado for My Photography Business
7. Personal Development
A. Taking a Break for Self-Care and Relaxation:
- Acknowledge the importance of self-care during the slow season. Take a well-deserved break to recharge both physically and mentally. Whether it's a short vacation, a spa day, or simply some quiet time for personal reflection, investing in self-care ensures you return to your photography with renewed creativity and energy. And don't forget to block out your calendar to make room for this throughout the year!!!
- Invest in other hobbies. It can be hard as entrepreneurs to not turn our hobbies into side hustles - but it is so so beneficial to have thing in your life to do just for FUN - not money. Whether that's a sport, an art, a craft - get back to doing the things you LOVE!
B. Reading (about biz or for fun!)
- Expand your knowledge base by delving into industry-related books and articles. Stay updated on the latest trends, techniques, and innovations within elopement photography. Consider exploring topics beyond photography, such as marketing strategies, client psychology, and business management, to enrich your skills and perspectives. OR dive into other areas of reading that interest you for fun!
In navigating the slow season with a balanced approach to personal and professional development, we as elopement photographers can emerge stronger, more skilled, and well-prepared for the thriving seasons that lie ahead. I'm so passionate about equipping other photographers with the tools to help them build a sustainable business with boundaries - that THRIVES. By implementing some of these things I hope you can get closer to creating something you are so proud of.
If you want more resources - or are looking for guidance in taking your elopement photography business to the next level - check out my resource page and let's be friends!
Elopement Photographer Resources
A New Hampshire + Vermont based adventure elopement and intimate wedding photographer team for the adventurous souls. We specialize in New England and destinations worldwide, empowering you to create the most beautiful, adventurous day and give you the memories you'll be able to look back on for all the years to come.
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