In this special Father's Day episode, Gary Pageau of the Dead Pixels Society talks with Olivia Pageau, a marketing and events expert, about trends in the event and wedding photography industry. She talks about what traits high-end wedding and event venues are looking for in wedding photographer partners, trends wedding photography, and why the classic black-and-white portrait remains wall-worthy.
Visual 1st is the premier global conference focused on the photo and video ecosystem.
Erin Manning 0:02
Welcome to the Dead Pixels Society podcast, the photo imaging industry's leading news source. Here's your host, Gary Pageau.
Gary Pageau 0:10
The Dead Pixels Society podcast is brought to you by Mediaclip, Photo Finale and Advertek Printing. Hello again, and welcome to the Dead Pixels Society podcast. I'm your host, Gary Pageau. And today we're joined by Wedding Marketing Coordinator and thought leader, Olivia Pageau. Hi, Olivia. How are you today?
Olivia Pageau 0:33
Hello, Gary. I'm well how are you? It's so good to finally be here. I know, you've just been begging for this for years.
Gary Pageau 0:41
So let me tell us a little bit about your background in the wedding events. Market.
Olivia Pageau 0:47
Right. So I'm a bit of a rare breed myself. I knew at about like middle school age that I wanted my career to go in the events and wedding industry. So right when I started in college and 2016, I kind of dove headfirst into the events industry with school and that experience. So I studied both event management and marketing. And then I kind of got my first taste of the events industry, in 2018 2019 was my first wedding job and it was an internship and it was pretty, you know, grimy, like it was fun. And it was hands on, I got to see the beauty of it all. But I also got to see the not so beautiful part of it all and a lot of the labor that goes into putting an event on and ever since I've just kind of been involved in the event industry in different ways. So that transitioned me into my position as part time wedding coordinator, more full time marketing coordinator at a high end events venue in northern Michigan. Okay,
Gary Pageau 1:57
so what kind of events did that venue have? Was it solely weddings, or were there other events that went on?
Olivia Pageau 2:04
We're known as a premier wedding venue. So though we did quite a few weddings, a good year would be about 150 to 200 weddings. We also did smaller events like you know we did your your bridal shower, your corporate event, even some children's events that brought in people local to the community, but also people like I had a client from Iowa come and have their wedding at our events venue just because it was it's very unique. And it's very, there's no other place like it. So it was huge for
Gary Pageau 2:41
so in terms of photography, what was the role that you had working with photographers at that venue?
Olivia Pageau 2:50
In my role for marketing specifically, obviously, as I coordinated weddings, I worked one on one with photographer, but as far as working with photographer on the marketing side, so my job largely was reaching out to photographers communicating with them getting these photos from the hundreds of weddings that we have per year, and deciding how to use them for advertisements, website updates, content, like blogs, YouTube videos, social media, all that kind of stuff and kind of communicating with them getting to know each of their styles and getting to know how I can use their work in my work, essentially. So how can I use these photos from this wedding or this event? For a blog post coming from our venue or advertisement for a venue? So it was so it was
Gary Pageau 3:43
a cooperative arrangement? Right? They got publicity they got they got exposure from that they also probably because they were working with you and your venue, they probably got some referrals back and forth. So it was very much a one hand washing the other type of relationship right?
Olivia Pageau 4:01
Oh, definitely. There were some photographers that for whatever reason weren't too keen on giving me access to their photos, which you know, to each their own is their business, they do what they want with their photos that they want it to be completely private to their client. Fine, but we always gave credit to photographers and always made it clear who the photographers were and that built some loyalty between them it offered them the opportunity to become one of our preferred vendors have photographer who knew our ground and knew our policies and knew when it was okay to use a drone and how to use a drone at that specific venue and things like that. And also just little things like posting a certain photographers work on Instagram and then brides who are big demographic for Instagram, you know, ages 18 to 2430 so are on Instagram so they're seeing those posts and they're seeing those photographers If they say, Hey, I like that go to their page, get to know their work, get to know their style and reach out. So ultimately, it was a huge loyalty thing.
Gary Pageau 5:09
Was that something that you grew and or nurtured? Or is this was that the policy the venue? Is that something as you know, you as a young marketing professional looking to enhance both your venue's visibility and the photographer's visibility, is that something you nurtured? Or was that something that was in place prior to that,
Olivia Pageau 5:28
I will say there was an element of certain loyalty for certain photographers that were continuously coming to our venue. But as far as kind of having them in publications and sharing their work, it was something that I really wanted in my position to build consistency towards, because once I stepped into my role there, it all went very, very fast. And I was very, very young. I'm still very, very young, but I was fresh out of college. And my job there and next thing, I knew I was running the department, it was something that was important to me to make sure the photographer's we were working with, were recognizable. And their work was being used in a way to benefit their art and promote our venue,
Gary Pageau 6:16
as well, right? Because he obviously wanted someone who was going to make your venue more appealing, right. So, you know, there's ways to, you know, highlight a venue because it was a very picturesque place. So it had a certain visual appeal, and you want people to accentuate that. So if you're a new photographer, who's maybe starting up, how would you how would you suggest they approach like a destination venue to become part of a preferred list? I mean, it's kind of a hard way to break in, isn't it?
Olivia Pageau 6:43
Yeah, I will say there are plenty of amateur photographers out there who just got a camera, and they are ready to dive in and take on all the weddings, and they're reaching out to me saying, hey, I want to do a wedding at your venue, what would it take to get me to do that, and I say, Hey, that's not really how it works, you're gonna have to build your clientele yourself. And then the more you come to us, the more you work with us, and understand what we're looking for in our photos and what our clients are looking for. Um,
Gary Pageau 7:16
in our recent guests, we had talked about how, you know, photographers really can grow their business, not only by talking to brides, but also get building relationships with event venues and coordinators, that's, that is something that they tend to they actually get more referrals from those avenues then from brides or even you know, the other people in the wedding party,
Olivia Pageau 7:41
I will say, a huge thing for whether you're an amateur photographer just starting out, or you're like a landscape photographer, and you're trying to transition into doing weddings and other shoots like that, a great way to get your foot in the door with that was another thing that I coordinated at this venue was styled shoots. So styled shoots are a way you know, whoever whatever vendor is leading the shoot will hire models, vendors like cake decor, and just kind of make a beautiful setup to be captured strictly to build portfolios. So if you're just starting out, that's a great way to build your portfolio. Because if you're just approaching brides or approaching venues or other vendors saying, Hey, I'm a wedding photographer, and you have nothing to show for that, it's not going to do much for you, you know, people, especially brides and grooms and clients in general, they want to see your work, and they want to envision themselves in that place as that focal point, the subject of the work.
Gary Pageau 8:48
But on the other hand, it's very difficult if you're just starting out, right. So you may have to start out with, you know, photographing little kids and you know, child ports and that kind of stuff and work your way up before you approach a venue. So what are the two or three biggest plus signs you have for working with an event photographer, venue photographer like that, for example, you know, obviously Punctuality is a big deal reliability. Is it more of that than the pictures themselves?
Olivia Pageau 9:16
I would say since I did both the coordinating of the weddings and the marketing for the wedding venue with the photos. Both sides are very, very important because I worked with photographers who I love their work, and they were loyal to our venue. You know, we did a lot of deals together. We helped each other out a lot. But they themselves were a bit difficult to work with, you know, they just kind of they show up to our venue. They're like, Oh, I'm here every weekend. I know exactly where everything is. I can go wherever I want. My couples, you know will listen to what I say versus what the coordinator says. That had happened quite a few times. And when you're trying to run a very high end premier venue, you can kind of run into some issues, especially when you're hosting three to four weddings in a weekend or a day even. And then on the other end, you know, you can be the most punctual, organized, friendly photographer for your client, and then I get your work back. And it's just not comparable to what I'm used to, or what I see at the high end level 150 to 200 times a year, it's probably not going to be put out anywhere.
Gary Pageau 10:33
So you really got to have the whole package together. Yeah,
Olivia Pageau 10:37
definitely, if you're trying to, like, if you're trying to, I don't know, get to that level, but kind of what you've said, you know, ask some friends to model for you or, you know, connect with local businesses and see what their needs are. And ask if you can do a shoot of some kind to just practice photographing people or taking candid shots, whether it's like, whether it's at a community event, or something really small scale with people, you know, like going to the park, it can all be helpful in building your portfolio.
Gary Pageau 11:11
Now, obviously, you know, you saw quite a few interactions between photographers and their subjects, right. brides and grooms are what were the biggest red flags you saw photographers have and working with their subjects?
Olivia Pageau 11:27
No, I have a few horror stories.
Gary Pageau 11:29
Well, we have time for that if you want to share.
Olivia Pageau 11:35
I think the biggest red flag is not communicating with your photographer leading up to your wedding of specifically what you want. Because if you don't give your photographer what you are looking for, and vice versa, they're just going to show up to your wedding day with a plan of what they typically do, or maybe what they had in mind. But if it's not exactly what the couple wanted, or the locations or the shots that the couple wanted, those that's not going to mesh well with your photographer, you know, if your photographer is running on their own timeline, without consulting the client, or the client had this great expectation of how the day was going to look and what kind of photos the photographer was going to be taking. It's not going to unwell, and it's going to land back, the coordinator or the venue staff or the marketing coordinator, and you're just not going to end up with photos you want. I always recommended to my couples who are working with their photographers loads of things, but one major thing was, you know, kind of setting up a meeting or a call and giving a list of what you want, or maybe taking photos from their portfolio or from their galleries online and saying, I like the way this looks. Can you do the same thing for me? Right?
Gary Pageau 12:53
Okay, just generically speaking. Whereas you see that as like the biggest potential conflict is the commis connection between the photographer and the bridegroom probably the bride more than the groom most likely, right? In terms of missed expectations, which leads to problems on wedding day. And as a coordinator and a marketer, you're probably thinking this, the last thing we want is bridal meltdown.
Olivia Pageau 13:18
Yeah, definitely. I mean, also, we've seen it multiple times, where you know, you have a couple getting married, and they're trying to cut down the cost of things. So they hire a friend or a family friend. And that can also ruffle some feathers, people get offended, because then there's feelings involved. And you don't want to necessarily fire your friend or your mom's friend from her club that she goes to or whatever. It's also meant to be professional, it's meant to be, you can you're more than welcome to build a personal relationship with your photographer, and you shouldn't because that better helps them understand what you're looking for. But it's something weddings are already very emotional for everyone involved. And kind of keeping those personal conflicts aside is huge. And that's something I've seen where you know, you hire a photographer who someone told you is great because they did their cousin's wedding and it just doesn't work out.
Gary Pageau 14:21
There's been a trend in the last few years including because of COVID. Where and because of cost perhaps because it seems to be that there's a general trend away from church, big production weddings, to more intimate environments, where people are using actually like guests or iPhones and they're using like, you know, multiple people taking pictures with their with their camera phones and kind of pulling the pictures and that's kind of what they do. Did you see any of that and what do you think of that as a way to contain costs?
Olivia Pageau 14:55
Honestly, I always hated that. But you saw it was rare but it happened when you deal with, you know, 100 to 200 weddings a year, you see a little bit of everything. What I always suggested when it was brought up, or when it was asked was to do an unplugged ceremony work technology is off the table for guests, you don't even take your phone out of your pocket during the ceremony. And you leave it strictly to the professionals. That way every guests can enjoy the ceremony and be in the moment and they're not fidgeting with their phone or when you're walking back down the aisle, after you've kissed everybody's holding a phone up at you, you know, it's not a concert. Always. I'm always a big proponent of leaving those things to the professionals. I think having a wedding photographer or even videographer will make a world of a difference. Rather than placing your one friend with the newest iPhone in the front row to get the shot you want.
Gary Pageau 15:56
I can just imagine that's just got to be kind of a not an eye rolling experience, but an exasperating one as a coordinator where you know, someone was paying top dollar for a venue, and they're probably spending a good amount of money on food and beverages and things like that. And the one area that's going to preserve that day forever, is the one they've spent the least amount of attention on. Right? It's gotta be very frustrating as a as a coordinator to see that.
Olivia Pageau 16:25
Oh, yeah, yeah, it definitely, you know, why do that when you hired a professional for a few $1,000 to capture the day, you know, so that people can upload their own photos to their own Facebook or Instagram? Like, that's not entirely necessary. So huge proponent of the unplugged family.
Gary Pageau 16:44
Sounds good. So what other trends do you see in the event photography sites like they used to be for a while, they're sort of the very formal approach, then there was sort of a journalistic approach where you're getting all the behind the scenes stuff. And then there was the, you know, trash the wedding dress deal where their bride would go in a mud puddle or something. And, you know, there's all kinds of stuff, what are some of the trends you're seeing now,
Olivia Pageau 17:11
some of the trends that I have noticed that I am actually more of a proponent of, are getting those candid shots versus, you know, formal, staged, all that good stuff. You know, it really better reflects how in the moment, the couple is on the wedding day, along with the family, the friends, the guests, it shows them happy, it shows them enjoying themselves, rather than you know, being like, Alright, next is going to be groom, mom and grandma, go stand over here, like get ARM and ARM, all that good stuff.
Gary Pageau 17:45
But you kind of need that, though. I mean, that's sort of
Olivia Pageau 17:49
like the family portraits on the wall shirt. But to better remember your wedding day and kind of look back and reflect on the day itself. I personally love the more candid shots of the couple, or even like the couples interacting with the guests, and I see that more and more. Another is that photographers are kind of moving away from kind of going with the more formal elements kind of moving away from like, the heavily filtered, black and white. Look, yeah. Which, when it comes to someone who's marketing a wedding venue like me, I'm more inclined to use the photos that are not heavily saturated with color, or black and right. Because they're timeless, they will always look good on your wall, no matter what color you paint it in an ad, it can be used again, and again, no matter what year because it just looks much more timeless, much cleaner. You know, you look at wedding photos from 10, even five years ago, this style of the coloring that's kind of played into is already a bit different to what it's become now.
Gary Pageau 19:04
Right. Yeah, you know, there's different technology that are coming into place. You know, there's I mean, that's what's interesting, I've seen photographers are shooting, you know, they're shooting digital, they've got video going on, they've got drones in the air, they're shooting film for a certain look. And it's it's almost overwhelming the amount of technology that they have available. And I'm not sure how much of that is super necessary, but it's out there.
Olivia Pageau 19:29
It's definitely out there. I mean, styles and trends come and go just like anything else. And they're definitely prevalent in photography, but I always say if you're looking to take pictures of the biggest day of your life and you want them to be timeless and be on your walls forever. Go with that more or less filtered, less trendy, quote unquote trendy look.
Gary Pageau 19:55
Just trendy may be like you said trendy but it may not be Like timeless?
Olivia Pageau 20:01
Yeah, exactly. Great.
Gary Pageau 20:04
Well, thank you, Olivia, for your time today appreciate your input. Where can people go online to interact with you,
Olivia Pageau 20:12
you can feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. I'm there. That's where I post a lot of the content that I work on currently and kind of stay updated on. And you know, you're also free to follow me on Instagram. If you want to see just the kind of fun person I am. What I bring to the table. Some shots of me and Gary hanging out maybe I don't know. He's an old friend.
Gary Pageau 20:39
We go a bit back we go a little bit. Well, thank you for your time and have a great week.
Olivia Pageau 20:47
Thank you. You too. Thanks for having me.
Erin Manning 20:52
Thank you for listening to the Dead Pixels Society podcast. Read more great stories and sign up for the newsletter at www the dead pixels society.com
Transcribed by https://otter.ai