Alyssa Whalen: Photography Re-branding

Digital and Social Media Marketing

For my senior project, I wanted to re-brand my photography business. I have been taking pictures for a few years now and have photographed a couple of weddings, but those clients were not my target audience. I want to shoot high-end weddings and get paid to travel for them. My goal is to re-brand my photography business on Instagram, and create a website within this re-brand, to market towards these clients and book a wedding within my brand/target audience.

A high end wedding would include a beautiful and unique venue, catering, event planner, photographer, videographer, formal ceremony, cocktail hour, reception, and more. Budgets for these weddings in full cost upwards of $20,000+. Photographers easily charge between $3,000-$5,000 for a wedding of this size.

My goal with re-branding is to be able to sign a wedding contract for $3,000 or more by the end of my project OR have at least 5 inquires for these types of weddings.

The very fist thing I did was I started looking up photographers and treaters I really admired on Instagram and I studied their profile and feeds. I narrowed it down to my top 4 and really picked apart what I was drawn to in their profiles. Here are the top 5 things I found in my research

-photos that filled the square frame
-consistent coloring
-highlights that looked clean (some theme to organizing and color coding them)
-a profile picture that showed their whole face
-not using emoji’s in their bio

Once I finished my research and narrowed down what I liked about their profiles, I got to work changing my profile.

My profile was a mess of my personal life and my photography. I didn’t know what I wanted from the account so it became a melting pot for everything. I cleaned it up by putting a new profile pictures that showed my face openly, I edited my title to more accurately say what kind of photographer I am. I ended my bio to remove emoji’s and make clear my purpose. And I updated my highlight bubbles to be organized, updated, and look cohesive with the color palette I was going for and complimented my profile picture.

Here is my before and after of my Instagram profile:

Before After

The after feel more cohesive and easier to read. I think my profile picture is more inviting, and is brighter, I think my statements are clearer on what I do, and where I am located and willing to go.

You can find my instagram here.

The next step was curating my Instagram feed so that it had the look of my new style, was focused on weddings, would attract high end clients, and had pictures that filled the frame.

I went through my galleries of previously shot weddings and pulled the best photos from them that I felt fit this criteria. I re-edited them so the style was all cohesive to my current editing style and I made sure they fit my frames like I was wanting.

I used a free instagram planning app to pre-plan my feed so I knew what it would look like and knew that it would be cohesive to my targeted style.

Next I planned out which posts would be reels, this included picking trending sounds on instagram, coming up with ideas or themes to relate to those sounds, and finding more pictures and content to use in those reels. If the content I was using in the reels did not match my feed, I would make sure to pick a cover photo that did so it all stayed on brand while posting.

Something I have never done is post reels to my feed. This was something I wanted to try out, but found that those I did post to my feed seemed to get a lot less views that those that I did not post to my feed.

I also planned out which posts would be paid instagram ads based on what I though would most attract my ideal client.

The last step was planning my captions on each post. Thinking up things to say about pictures was extremely hard! I feel awkward making CTA’s about my work. Promoting myself was extremely hard. But when I did, I got a lot better responses from posts! (more to come on the date side later!)

Here is a before and after of my Instagram Feed:

Before. After

The after feed feels more full, focuses on my target audience, takes my life out of it, and feels more luxurious and high-end.

When I initially changed my profile and feed, I did lose quite a few followers, but I did not see this as a bad thing, I felt it was a good thing because I was losing “dead” or inactive followers and gaining followers that were engaging with my content. Overall, I need with more followers than I started with!

Running instagram ads was a lot harder than I anticipated. A few years ago I ran a few ads for fun just to see what they did, and they did very well! I got over 500 likes on a photo and thousands of reaches.

From that one experience, I had high expectations on the outcome of my ads. But instagram has since changed its algorithm several times.

Although my target audience was females between the ages of 20-40, and my key words were everything to do with bridal and wedding categories, I was hitting a 95% male audience in my ads and I was only reaching about 2,000 people. I tweaked some things and it dropped to 65% male audience on the next few ads.

Unfortunately, I was not able to run an ad I was truly happy with, but I plan to keep trying to figure that out and what I was doing wrong to hit that audience.

This is the post I ran an ad for, below are the analytics of that ad.

In this add, I did get some new followers, but they were mostly male. I was hitting my target age, and in this ad I was targeting California.

When I went to make my website, I had a similar approach to Instagram. I looked up photographers I really admired and liked and studied their websites and compiled a list of things I thought worked well and what I thought didn’t work well. I used this as framework when I started building my website.

I had bought my own domaine a while ago, so I decided to use that even though the name doesn’t fully fit my brand at the moment. I know I can change that later pretty easily. I used a Six template for my front end building, and the Yost plug in for my backend SEO building.

I have very limited experience in building a website, but studying digital and social media marketing, I have studied a lot about analytics, SEO, and how to drive your website to better clients. I tried to take advantage of that and I spent a significant amount of time on the back end, working on my SEO and trying to get my website to rank within the top 100 searches on Google, and then continuing upwards from there.

I ended up spending a little too much time on the back end and did not finish my front end all the way. I need to add a few things and get some back links working, but it is live and mostly functioning!

I plan to continue this and have a fully functioning website by the end of the semester!

You can find my website here:

One thing I wanted to do that I had not originally planned, was to connect with a high end wedding photographer and learn from them how they got to where they are now and how they market themselves. I reached out to Ariell View Photo’s, who is a photographer in California I admire, and we connected. She invited me to come out to California and second shoot a high end wedding with her to learn from her and gain. more experience at that level!

I jumped at the opportunity and flew to califonrina a few weeks later to shoot a beautiful wedding with her in the mountains of Lake Arrowhead at the UCLA Lodge. It was a gorgeous, high-end wedding and I learned a lot from Arielle!

I asked her about her equipment, how she communicates with clients before the wedding, her website, Instagram, timeline, pricing breakdown, turn around time, etc. She taught me so much and from that I was able to add to my portfolio, try new things, and gain insider information from someone who is an amazing, established photographer.

(Photo of Arielle and I photographing the wedding, photo Arielle took of me right before we photographed the ceremony)

From that experience alone, I realized how important it is to reach out to just ask. All I did was ask and I gained some of the most valuable experience and insights I could have asked for in this project.

I made business cards to hand out to people when they asked about my photography. I also had them at my booth for people to take. Just form my senior showcase booth, I had someone who worked at a bridal store take a stack of them to put on the stores counter to give out to brides when they asked about photographers! Networking everywhere is so important!

In the end, I had 3 inquires for photos! Generally not all of your inquiries will book with you, and I expected and planned for this. It was exciting when a bride would tell me her budget and it was higher than most brides I’ve talked to before. I knew what I was doing was working and starting to reach my target demographic.

In the end, I did book a last minute wedding for a $3,000 contract! I was able to hit my goal and book a wedding contract higher than any contract I’ve booked before. They have a fun wedding theme, at a beautiful a unique location, and are going all out for their big day! They are a dream client of mine and I am so excited to shoot their upcoming wedding!

Out of respect for the clients privacy, and because they do not know I was doing this for a project, I am not sharing specific details about their wedding or the contract.

Overall I am extremely happy with the outcome of my project and I learned so much. I put in 58 hours towards my project and could have easily put in more. I am excited to carry this on and continue marketing my little business to higher end clients and to fully finish my website.

My Senior Showcase Presentation Display
November 17th, 2022