Adapting to Technology Changes in the Wedding Photography Industry
Photographers are used to adapting to technology. Whether it’s more portable equipment that allows easier access to more remote engagement photo sessions or high-resolution phone cameras that have transformed weddings into paparazzi-like competitions for the best picture, photography has changed over the years and photographers have found ways to adjust. Some technologies have been more beneficial than others, but one that has begun to surface and is changing how photographers look at mixed media and photography is the addition of laser engraving to many wedding photographer’s packages.
The ability to differentiate your services is crucial to being able to effectively stand out in this highly competitive market. Looking at most wedding photography packages, you see a pretty similar selection of options – the number of photographers at the event, hours of coverage, access to an online gallery, but the list is pretty standard. When a couple is talking to three photographers that all take beautiful photos, you need to find a way to stand out without relying on a lower package price. Some photographers differentiate their services by creating their own wedding niche, for example specializing in urban weddings. Others stand out by offering unique post-wedding services like wedding albums and photo boxes. But what truly unique services can you offer?
One idea that has begun to take off is the addition of laser etched wedding photos that make a truly spectacular showpiece in the couple’s home. Wood, marble, metal and acrylics all lend themselves well to photography engraving. Whether you are adding a photo to a finished piece, like a wine box, or as a stand-alone picture for the mantle, laser engraving creates a unique look that they won’t be able to easily find elsewhere.
What Makes a Good Photo Candidate for Engraving?
While engraved photos are exceptionally popular, engravers sometimes have difficulty achieving the desired look on the medium they’re working with. Before engraving wedding photos – or any photograph for that matter – it’s important to understand how the process works.
The first thing to keep in mind is that not EVERY photo is going to engrave well. So, what makes a photo ideal for engraving?
Shading: Make sure you have a variety of colors from light to dark within your photo. A single color photo that has a lot of sky won’t provide much visual interest when engraved, and neither will one with large dark areas, such as a couple standing in the shadows. While it may look visually interesting when printed, it will lose a lot of that detail when engraved.
Close-Up Subjects: Your photo’s composition is an integral part to the quality of the etching. The most spectacular engravings are often of the couple in the foreground. The engagement photo of the couple holding hands in the meadow looks great artistically, but will lose detail when etched on wood.
Why is a Photographer the Perfect Engraver?
Your view of a laser engraving system may be of an intimidating piece of machinery that takes hours to program and takes up a lot of room in your workspace, but the fact is laser systems have evolved to the point that they are basically operated like your printer, and aren’t much bigger than one either. Operating the laser is truly as simple as taking your digital photograph into your preferred design program and printing it to the laser.
The learning curve with the laser is on the artwork, not on the machinery. Photographers are the perfect engravers because they understand what makes a good engraving almost intuitively. In the time others spend on finding a photo with the right composition, lighting and contrast, a photographer already has the perfect photo chosen and ready to engrave. And the natural graphic design abilities of a photographer lend themselves perfectly to using the machinery, allowing you set up your photo in most design programs including Photoshop, Illustrator and many others.
In-House Etching or Outsourcing Your Photo Engraving
There are two options for adding laser etching capabilities to your business – you can either outsource the laser etching to a laser engraving service, or invest in a small-format laser. Both have benefits and drawbacks to consider.
When outsourcing your laser etching, the start-up cost of adding the service is low because you don’t need to purchase your own laser. That’s a real benefit to photographers that want to add custom etching, but don’t want to invest in a laser system of their own. There are many laser owners that are very experienced with working with a variety of materials and willing to jump in and start engraving as soon as you have a photo ready to etch.
A big benefit of owning your own laser is scheduling your engraving time. Laser engraving services are often a very cyclical business with busy periods that coincide with busy wedding seasons. You can easily find yourself at the mercy of the schedule of the service, affecting your turnaround time for a custom engraving. Owning your own laser also means that you can test photos on scrap material before doing the true engraving to find the best picture for etching.
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