I recently had a disheartening experience and the key word here is EXPERIENCE. It’s ultimately about how it can make you feel. An experience can pamper you to leave you feeling relaxed, such as a beautiful facial which gives you an hour of bliss and quiet time out from your busy life. Perhaps you book something to revive you. Maybe there’s an adventure you wanted to experience to invigorate and excite you!
Experience matters and so does service.
They are intertwined.
We see wedding photography as a luxury service – and whilst we provide beautiful photos, a product at the end of it, but we very much see the whole package as a service. The conversations, the time you spend with us, how we help you to feel comfortable, the extra information and help we pour our hearts into so that you feel confident and assured, the inspiration and ideas we spend time creating so that you can feel excited about the possibilities.
Service and experience, how you feel – matters.
A recent experience that I had highlighted this even more to me. It made me feel so proud about the care and attention we offer to our clients and the appreciative feedback we always get . Although I realised that we are quite humble and don’t often tell people enough about this side of our business. We provide so much more than the numerous clicks of a button on your wedding day. Many photographers don’t go these extra miles and so perhaps it’s even things you don’t expect!
So, let me tell you about what I thought about that. About the people who don’t provide good service or experiences. That to us warmth, atmosphere and connection is imperative, yet it takes people who actually care, about you!
Today I entered a hair salon, filled with excited nerves and for the restyle I was about to get – the new hair, new look and how good I was going to feel for it too! I waited an the reception desk to let them know that I was there for my appointment and whilst there were staff all around no-one came. I felt a little silly just standing there in the middle of a salon, people staring at me, but also being ignored.
No ‘hello’ or welcome. No ‘I’ll be with you in just a few minutes’. Nothing to acknowledge me at all. It wouldn’t have taken much, and it costs nothing.
Eventually someone decides to tend to the reception and after checking in for my hair appointment I’m led to have my hair washed. No conversation, greeting, not even polite conversation. I’m given a robe, ushered to a seat at the sinks and to experience a hair wash from hell – where a person doesn’t even provide gentle direction. You know, the simple courtesy such as – ‘now you can lift your head up’ – no, they literally yanked my hair to pull me up to a seated position after finishing. My head was rubbed furiously with a towel so much that my scalp hurt and then they sent me to a seat.
I felt pretty vulnerable. You’re sat there with your hair all wet and crazy looking. A load of your makeup has now washed off or run so I really don’t look half as glam as when I walked in. I felt confidence slip away, as did the excitement I’d had. And still no-one has really spoken to me.
I sit there trying to dispel how I feel and just enjoy it from now on. I’m going to have a whole new style of hair cut and I’m going to leave feeling great about myself! Except I still don’t know who is cutting my hair and I’ve just been left here for quite some time with my wet hair and run makeup.
It turns out that the stylist was sat at the just desk behind me all this while as she waiting for her newly applied pedicure to dry. This wasn’t explained to me, I simply overheard about it. I genuinely wouldn’t even mind having to wait if someone had just told me, communicated with me. Not knowing what’s going on can feel uncertain and stressful, especially in vulnerable circumstances.
Finally my stylist is here, but still no greeting or introduction. I’m a new client, they’ve never met me before and I’m about to hand them my head and trust. In some ways it feels like handing over a part of my identity – that may sound shallow but this is a shorter hair cut and part of me for months. If it goes wrong there’s no tying it up out of the way, this is how I’m going to look.
I try to be warm and enthusiastically show her photos of the kind of style I’d like. I always think it must be more exciting for a stylist to have a good length of hair to play with, especially when it’s going to be cut shorter and they are going to make the client feel awesome with their new hair style. But it didn’t appear so.
I’m still sat there with no conversation as the stylists talk between themselves and turn up the radio. Actually, I’m talked about as if I’m not there. As someone comes into the salon they ask if they could be fit in for a cut – my hair dresser replies to say yes but you’ll have to come back in ten minutes as “This hair is all over the show and too thick.”
I felt even better as you can imagine, I almost felt like apologising for my hair, I began to feel so uncomfortable, I would say it was one of the most uncomfortable experiences I’d had in a long time – and it was supposed to be a nice one, a treat and something to perk me up.
The end of the story is that I left the salon feeling really rubbish. I just paid to be treated like that too. It doesn’t take any extra time or money to say hello or make someone feel comfortable. What a difference it makes to someone’s day when they do make that effort – like the coffee shop I go to sometimes to do my work in as a change from home. They always make you feel welcome, say Thank you and goodbye when you’re leaving. The little things matter. The little things are sometimes not so little.
As well as running a business which promotes feeling good, warmth, welcome and a connection – we also strive to work with others who provide the same kind of service.
We don’t always know or understand how a situation or experience may make someone feel. Sitting in the hairdressers with wet hair and crazy makeup may not matter at all to someone, yet to others it can feel embarrassing and very vulnerable. To some having their photograph taken may be great fun and to others they are nervous and shy in front of the camera. The key is to be open, understanding, to communicate and provide a service which cares. Go those extra miles to make someone feel good! Make someone’s experience with you FEEL GOOD. That’s always important to us and you can rest assured that you are cared for, considered, thought about and welcomed by us.
I won’t be visiting the above salon again, but of course with wedding photography, you don’t have that option! It’s a one off experience and if the service and people are important to you – here are some tips on how to find the right ones for you:
– Who are they? Read their blog and social media, it usually is filled with beautiful open hearted pieces just like this. You’ll find glimpses into their personal lives, and they will share their personality with you. If it’s all just business the likelihood is that’s all you’re going to get. If you want personality look for personality!
– Meet them. Even if your chosen photographer isn’t local to you it doesn’t matter – it’s so popular to just use skype to meet and it truly can be as much fun! I’ve even grown friendships through skype with people in totally different parts of the country and Europe – you can really use this to have a cup of coffee and chat away about your wedding plans and ideas with your photographer!
– Share you too! If you want that connection, be clear about it, be warm and friendly too. If you have any concerns that you’d like to work on with your wedding photographer, such as being a little shy of the camera, confidence or just understanding what to expect better – tell them. Most photographers will be more than happy to work with you on things like this, just remember that they aren’t mind readers and can’t help you if you don’t let them know. But also – if you put these things out there and the photographer you’re talking to doesn’t seem to care – the chances are that they aren’t going to give the kind of service you’re looking for.