When it comes to shooting weddings, photographers are naturally focused on the bride and groom, but they should also be watching the relationship between themselves and their clients. Dustin Meyer, an Austin, Texas–based wedding photographer, is devoted to building a strong bond with the couples he shoots, as well as with the other vendors at the event, such as wedding planners, florists, and the people running the venue.
“I think you have got to be emotionally invested in your clients,” he says. “Photographers get so wrapped up in running a business that they tend to forget they’re selling an emotionally packaged service. It’s not just photos we’re delivering—it’s the emotions that are tied to them.”
Meyer’s sensitive approach has paid off both in new and repeat business—no small feat considering that he says Austin is saturated with wedding photographers. “It’s extremely competitive,” he notes, “so pricing and photo style alone won’t help you stand out. It’s your personality that helps you get the referrals.” In fact, Meyer—whose work has been featured in Austin Bride and Austin Monthly, among other publications—says he spends no money on print or online advertising, and he doesn’t do bridal shows or other wedding-related events. “All of my marketing for weddings is word of mouth or from getting published.”
When he meets potential clients, Meyer takes care not to seem intimidating, like some “big-shot photographer.” He also jokes around a lot. “I tend to say funny things to get people to relax around me,” he says. “I’m a regular guy with a passion for creating exceptional photos for my clients. Basically, I want them to feel like I’m just like them.”
He also takes the time to do thoughtful things that, while simple, make a big impression on his clients. For example, after a wedding, he stations a laptop at the reception featuring a slideshow of the images he shot. It’s a little something he learned from attending a photo convention. “That idea made perfect sense to me, seeing as how we live in an instant-gratification society,” he explains. “Basically, my camera holds both CF and SD memory cards. So I just have small JPEGs recorded onto the SD card, and then I import those images into Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.
“While the wedding attendants are eating dinner,” he continues, “I’m editing the images down to about 80 or so and using Lightroom’s built-in slideshow feature. Once it’s complete, I just put my laptop by the bar so people notice it when they go get a drink. I have the email signup sheet next to the slideshow so I can gather email addresses for online print sales.”
Sometimes the combination of his likability and his slide shows inspire his clients to promote him. At a recent wedding in Austin, the bride was so thrilled by the slide show that she started spreading the word about how great he was—right there at her reception. “She was actually going and seeking people out to bring them back to watch the slideshow,” Meyer recalls. “Eventually, I had several couples come to me to talk about shooting their upcoming weddings.”