In 2011, UK-based Lisa Devlin won the British Journal of Photography's first ever Wedding Photographer of the Year Award for her edgy, rock-inspired, and Gothic-style wedding shoots. But she didn't start out that way. Lisa began her career as a music photographer, ultimately shooting for some of the biggest acts of the 90's including Eric Clapton and The Backstreet Boys. Starting off as a music photographer's assistant and working her way up the ranks, it was this experience that taught her some very important business lessons: Be nice to everyone and keep your options open.
Lisa's shift to wedding photography came a bit unexpectedly and if you ask her she'll tell you, "I never imagined in a million years this is what I'd be doing." In 2000, Lisa's close friend was getting married and she reluctantly agreed to shoot the wedding. When the wedding day arrived, she surprised herself and loved the experience. "The day was incredible. I just loved working with someone who got to be princess for a day and capturing two people expressing their love to one another."
After getting great feedback from both the wedding party and guests, word of Lisa's work quickly spread. Realizing the fit was right, she grabbed the chance to make a shift in her career. "When I realized this is what I wanted to do, I asked the groom from that wedding to put together my website instead of paying me a fee. He was a great web designer and his efforts helped me get established fast."
Today, as a full-time wedding photographer, Lisa has a developed a niche far different from the pack. "About two years ago, I really took time to review my work and figure out how I could photograph weddings that truly inspired me," Lisa says. "I thought long and hard about who my ideal client is, what they're like, and where I could find them. That's when I realized I had to tie my wedding photography back to my music routes."
Inspired by rocker, alternative and Gothic-themed weddings, Lisa connected with the UK-based wedding blog Rock n Roll Bride that promotes "inspiration for unique brides." The weddings featured on this blog were exactly the clients she was looking for, so with this discovery she revised her website to fit her new goals and develop a fresh brand identity. "I wanted to showcase clients on my site that would only attract the clients I wanted to work with," Lisa says.
The rebranding worked. To date, some of Lisa's favorite assignments are the ultra-alternative rocker shoots, including a portrait shoot she did set at a grave yard, as well as a wedding decorated in orange and red with a cake shaped like a skull.
To keep her full-time photography business up and running smoothly, Lisa uses PhotoShelter to manage her workflow. "When I made the switch to wedding photography, I needed a system where I could easily let me do a single upload and have a place where clients could see the images and place orders directly without me facilitating the checkout process. It seemed like such a simple concept, but at the time no one had it. That's when I put a shout-out on Twitter asking others what they thought and the answer was clear: PhotoShelter was the way to go. I've never looked back."
Lisa adds, "I'm very time poor and PhotoShelter helps me efficiently connect with clients and run my business. My clients couldn't be happier." Lisa also chose PhotoShelter because through her career, she's been very loyal to her local print vendor, DNA Imaging. "I wanted keep using them, which is why I was delighted to find out about PhotoShelter's Print Vendor Network, which let me set them up as my preferred lab. It was a big selling point for me."
Today, Lisa's receives over 50 client requests a week from all over the world, including a request she recently did for a couple in Singapore. She tries to navigate the demand by going against the grain and actually makes it more difficult for clients to find her both on Google and her site. "Believe it or not, I don' t want to be on the first page of Google results," she says. "My work is so niche-driven that if a more traditional couple reaches out to me for a shoot, it ultimately ends up wasting my time and theirs. I only want clients to come knocking on my door who know my work."
To market her rocker wedding photography, Lisa was very careful to choose a brand that wasn't too feminine. She also made sure that her blog was one of the biggest components of her site. "When I visit a new site, I always go immediately to the blog first because it should be the most updated section of the website," Lisa says. "It really helps you get to know a person off the bat. That's why I make sure my blog is current and accurately reflects my most recent work." On her site, Lisa also created a short video to help clients get to know her better. "The video helps me make a connection with clients, which is important because 90% of people I work with have never met me before they make their deposit."
Lisa brings in revenue from the clients themselves, in addition to the photography business workshops she hosts for photographers looking to gain inspiration to help their business grow. The workshops were inspired by the phone calls and emails she received after winning the Wedding Photographer of the Year Award. Photographers wanted to pick her brain. "I started doing one-on-one mentoring and then realized maybe I should get everyone together in the same room. I advertised my workshops online and they sold out. I was baffled." Today, Lisa hosts multi-day workshops at Photography Farm, a former residential recording studio where she teaches photographers everything from price structure, branding, media relations, and includes a full-day style shoot.
So what's next for this award winning rock-inspired wedding photographer? To help build her brand, Lisa plans to amp up her social media presence, especially on Facebook. "I see photographers with incredible Facebook Pages who upload galleries and slideshows. Their pages look great, but I know work like that can be time consuming."
In the near future, Lisa will be heading off to LA to shoot a couple, and also meeting Kat Williams from Rock n Roll Bride in Vegas for the highly anticipated annual WPPI convention. "This is a great event to check out how the other guys do it, as well as an opportunity to network and stay in touch with all those involved in the wedding industry including florists and stylists. It will really be a chance to bring everyone together and get the creative juices flowing. I've found that sharing your creative side with others in the industry is a way to open doors to promising opportunities down the road, so we'll see."
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