Market Segmentation in Wedding Photography

A blog about business and economics.
April 13 2012 9:35 AM

Market Segmentation in Wedding Photography

I'm getting legally married in a couple of hours at the lovely DC courthouse and will be celebrating tomorrow without the assistance of an expensive wedding photographer, but apparently there are complicated dynamics in play in terms of the relationship between working in the wedding segment of the photography industry and other niches:

Brides are happy to learn that she shoots editorial work, [Catherine] Hall says. “I’m interested in [the bride] knowing that I don’t only shoot weddings—I do a lot of different things, I think that’s a unique selling point.” At present, however, she rarely volunteers the fact that she shoots weddings to non-wedding clients. “There are definitely a lot of [mixed] opinions about wedding photographers, so if I was looking for editorial work I wouldn’t exactly throw out my wedding site.”

There are a few situations where she might tell a potential editorial or commercial client about her wedding experience. “If it was a commercial job that involved shooting a couple, then I would feel like it was relevant to share, and I don’t think it would hurt me.” 

It certainly did not hurt her with her most lucrative commercial client to date: John Deere. During a wedding, Hall was approached by a John Deere executive in attendance who was “smitten with the way that I interacted [with the wedding party and guests],” she recalls. After meeting with the company, Hall was hired to shoot a campaign that involved showing real people using John Deere products. She has continued to work with the company.
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The implication, I guess, is that wedding work serves as a negative signal. Given that so much of wedding spending is about signaling, you can see how this might work. If people who aren't getting married generally think that people who are getting married are overpaying for things for signaling related reasons, then knowledge that someone is primarily a wedding vendor serves as a signal that he or she specialized in providing poor financial value to cost-insensitive clients. Conversely, as someone who is getting married arguably one of the best signals you can send is to hire someone who is not only expensive, but who is considered to be worth the expense by important clients who aren't cost-insensitive.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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