Intro to Micah Cook
Micah is a full-time high-end destination wedding photographer based in North Carolina. Micah grew up on the East Coast and started his business there. He has since transitioned to shooting destinations worldwide. He’s a huge extrovert, so his job is just getting to know people and exploring new places. He has a huge sense of FOMO, so he can’t miss out on any opportunity that comes his way! One of his big passions recently has been utilizing social media marketing for his business.
How Micah Got into Destination Weddings
Destination wasn’t even on his mind when he first started. His first initial thought was that he wanted to do weddings. He went to his first content retreat in Arizona that his friend was putting on.
He came home and started posting those photos and started getting Arizona inquiries. People were reaching out since they knew he traveled.
Micah has gotten to the place where people get excited and are waiting for him to say he’s traveling to their location. For example, he’ll post about traveling to Miami to visit family and he’ll have people reach out who are ready to book a shoot with him. He’s been able to do that with trips to New York, Chicago, and all over.
Tips to Get Started with Destination Weddings
A lot of people think destination is solely Europe or solely Hawaii. Destination is when you are going out of your town literally to do a wedding or they’re getting married elsewhere. It can really start with someone you know personally who is getting married in a destination different than where you live and they book you to photograph it.
Growing on Social Media
Micah really started with social media taking off in very late 2020 early and 2021. He started with Instagram reels and his goal was education and humor that was solely self-deprecating. He was getting traction and was getting to know different photographers at that time. Micah really did not want to get into TikTok. However, he decided to a little less than a year ago and it grew almost exponentially.
Social Media Tips
- What perspective are you trying to accomplish?
- Are you trying to solely book your schedule and slowly trying to build your portfolio?
- Are you trying to go in a specific direction?
We’ve all been in that position where starting out you want to build your portfolio and you take anything and kind of everything you can get. That’s where we learn and where we make mistakes. That’s where we grow from that.
Posting Content You Find Interesting
One wedding that might fit Micah’s style is not going to fit someone else’s and vice versa. It’s not just about the couple finding the best photographer, it’s also about a photographer finding a couple that will ideally mesh.
Micah started posting content that was speaking to couples about cool ideas for their weddings instead of talking to photographers. This allowed him to show his experience and was able to cater to the wants and needs of potential couples. Therefore posting what you find interesting and what you want to grow in, that’s going to attract clients to you.
Cater Your Content to Your Niche of Weddings
Find your niche of weddings and specifically try to cater your business to someone. Micah made a shift to talking about the type of weddings he caters to. With his experience in the wedding industry, he’s able to share tips and talk about what works and what doesn’t. He speaks to the couple’s perspective and they can see if he’s what they’re looking for.
Going Viral is Not the Goal
Micah’s biggest thing is prioritizing not going viral. If that’s your intention you are going to be disappointed and you are not going to be able to fulfill the needs of your couples and photographers that are trying to pay attention to you
Success Story Social Posts
Micah shared about venues he wants to work at around the world in 2024. He posted about 10 venues and downloaded photos from Pinterest and in the bottom corner he said “not my photos”. This video blew up. It was the likes and the saves that really sent it. Three of the eight or nine venues in the video, he ended up getting inquiries for.
Another successful video of Micah’s is a video showing previews from a recent wedding. In the video, he shows what preview photos he sent to his couple and is explaining why he loves these photos! He’s gotten a lot of support and encouragement from people. It’s not just about the content you’re posting, but also the interactions with people!
Favorite Social Media Strategies for Photographers
A lot of social media is about interaction. People have a mindset that it’s only about consistency. However, when consistency fails there’s nothing else to rely on.
With content Micah likes to think about:
- What are things I believe in and what things do I specifically want to share.
- What are things people are going to agree with and share with others.
- What are tips and tricks for either couples, clients, or photographers.
Making Interactive Content
Avoid long videos with no transitions and just sitting and talking. Unless you’re a great storyteller or somehow are very interactive it’s not going to go anywhere.
Marketing to Ideal Clients
Remember every person’s wedding is going to be their own dream wedding. So when speaking of an ideal client it’s not in a way that’s like, “Sorry you don’t fit my style.” It is solely that as a business owner and as a photographer there are directions we want to be able to take our business. For example, it could be a specific floral decoration you want to photograph or a specific location.
Share What You Want to Photograph More Of
For Micah there are so many things he would love to photograph when it comes to weddings. His big push has been for bigger florals and weddings with bigger floral budgets. Micah loves creating content that reflects the floral details he wants to see at weddings.
A lot of Micah’s content is him speaking on a green screen over a photo from Pinterest (giving the photographer credit). He makes a video saying why he loves this idea and why he wants to photograph it.
People that are just relating to that content are going to start kind of flocking in and he’s seen it happen over and over.
Quick Marketing Tips
Instagram has really become nothing more than a portfolio. Make your grid showcase the content you want to be photographing more of.
Honesty and transparency are something people are wanting and look for.
When sharing your experience as a wedding professional never talk bad about a wedding or talk down on someone else’s wedding idea.
Show people that you are more than just photos.
Micah’s Inquiry to Booking Process
Inquiries are not booked until you have pen to paper and the deposit down. Too often you get your hopes up and you get excited (it’s ok to be excited) before an inquiry is actually booked.
Micah does his inquiry process a bit differently:
First, he responds with a personal email responding to the inquiry content or to any questions they answered. Ideally, if they fully complete the form there are a few things to connect with.
In this email he tells them pricing and what’s included. He ends it with “When’s a great time to chat?” or “Let’s set up a time for a call”. He ends it on a note where they have to answer.
From inquiry to booking he’s as personable as possible.
Be honest. Be transparent about everything. Don’t hide cost or hide what’s included or not.
Do what you can to show the value of what you’re offering. For Micah, he explains that his job is more than just being the photographer and that he is there to help run the day and help with any questions leading up.
How to Share Your Value as a Photographer
Are you trying to sell your packages or your coverage? Or are you trying to sell yourself?
Micah wants people to like his work, but to also understand he is here to be more than a photographer. Micah is here to really be a part of the day and not just provide photos. He talks to the couple about this is why he wants to be part of their day or event and isn’t just focused on the photos he can deliver.
Set Yourself Apart from the Competition
A lot of photographers are feeling that there is a huge saturation of photographers in the U.S. While you do want to be of the mindset of “community over competition,” if a couple reaches out to you and three other similar photographers you have to sell yourself over those three. It’s competition as in this is your business and you want to provide the best for this couple.
This is where value steps in. In such a saturated market what’s going to push you further than everyone else is emphasizing your value and showing your couples what they’re going to get. That doesn’t mean adding more coverage or more add-ons to your packages. The value is putting yourself behind your work and your passion into it.
Micah wants his couples to understand he is there to assist them. They have his time and his effort. He has the experience and the education to help them have a smooth, beautiful, perfect day.
When it comes to really communicating that value, it is going to be how personable and responsive are you going to be to your couples.
It’s also the understanding that they might find someone who to them is going to value one area a little bit more than you. You have to learn that’s okay because you cannot change your value and you cannot change your coverage to fit someone else’s.
Step one of getting over imposter syndrome is not changing who you are and not changing the value behind your work. That’s really what’s going to end up selling you and that’s what’s going to help you grow. You can learn to change what you value and change what you offer to couples. You’re not stuck!
How to Learn Your Value as a Photographer
When starting out you’re trying to have consistency in your work and still book and find clients. You’re trying to find your value, your style and everything else.
Offer Free Shoots to Build Your Portfolio
Offering your services for free is a great way to build your portfolio when it is specifically designed to be what you’re looking for. As you build your portfolio you’ll learn to recognize what you value and what you don’t.
Ask for Feedback
Reach out to previous clients to ask for things that went well and things you can improve on. Learn from your experiences.
Be Aware Of Your Couples During Photos
One thing that’s important is not just trying to get all the photos, but understanding how your couple, clients or individual are doing with the photos. On the wedding day there are some couples you can recognize they’ve been doing this for an hour and they’re having so much fun. You will also work with couples where after 20 minutes you can tell that they want to be done with photos.
It’s not that you’re doing a bad job with photos, but that might not be where their heart is and they want more candids. Be able to understand where your couples are and understand how can you read them.
Find Ways to Get Creative
As you move forward understand what are things that you might want to spend more time doing on a wedding day or during during a shoot. Find ways to be creative.
Micah’s mindset has changed over the past year when it comes to a lot of photos. For example, learning how to go from a lot of poses and prompts, and instead work that’s so much more candid. That is something he’s learned to value because it’s something he found attractive and realized he wants to go in that direction. Don’t be afraid to try something out in your work because you’ll be able to learn and understand the direction you want to go in. You’ll find this is much easier. This is something you want to add to your portfolio.
Find Value in Your Photos
The best point is to find value in your photos first. If you can’t value yourself and can’t have that respect for yourself, you’re not going to be able to know how to serve others and respect others in the same way with your work.
Thanks Micah for coming on the Oh Shoot podcast!
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