Wedding Portals Offer Listing for Wedding Photographers in India

In recent years, there’s been a surge in wedding portals that offer a plethora of ideas, and a whole host of listed wedding photographers that they claim are handpicked from the best of the best. Wedding photographers in India usually have to pay anywhere between Rs. 1 lakh upto Rs. 5 lakhs annually for a premium membership on these portals. Portals like WedMeGood, WeddingsOnline and others claim that wedding photographers who sign up will get a significant amount of business through them, exclusive stories on them, features on social media and more.

Portals For Wedding Photographers in India

Sonal, a bride we spoke with, was eagerly looking forward to planning her dream wedding. Everything had to be just perfect, and so she decided to look for some inspiration on one of the Indian wedding portals. There were hundreds of photo galleries, tons of blog posts on colour schemes, décor ideas, wedding favours, food ideas and so much more. Apart from that, there was a dizzying array of wedding photographers and other vendors to choose from. At what point did she realize how overwhelming all of this could get? “After a point, I started feeling like I was losing track of what I really wanted, and not enjoying the process of planning my wedding at all,” she told us. “That’s when I realized it would be better to focus on a few of the most important things and let the rest fall into place.”

Wedding Photographers in India - Rimi Sen Silk Photos

Photo: Rimi Sen. *All images used are for illustrative purpose only.

A photographer we spoke to had signed up for an account on one of these portals a year ago. While he was initially in the ‘basic’ tier, he upgraded to the next level of membership, which he was told would get him a lot of recognition, which would in turn lead to more clients getting in touch. A year later, he feels extremely disappointed. “Their marketing team was rather pushy about the supposed benefits I would gain from signing up as a paid member so I decided to give it a shot,” he said. “But all I got was clients who would demand for quotes that were far below what my charges usually are, with even the website team pushing me to settle for that quote, and so I did not close a single lead. I was also told I would be promoted on their social media channels and on their blog but I was never featured in anything either.” He also brought up how these portals do not seem to have a selection process in place to claim that their listed wedding photographers are truly the best in the industry. It is almost as if you are guaranteed a listing solely based on whether you are willing to pay.

Another photographer we spoke to differs, though. He has had a great experience with the portal he signed up on, having closed many leads, in addition to being featured for his work. “Such portals give us an opportunity to reach out to new audiences, where we usually get work through referrals and our own websites,” he says. There were often leads who would approach him quoting the name of the portal as the place where they saw his work.

While this does seem to open up new ways of client acquisition for wedding photographers, how many of these leads actually end up coming through? Does the hefty investment involved actually reap any benefits at all?
This brings us to the question – is there a certain approach that is needed in order to truly benefit from being on Indian wedding portals? Do wedding photographers in India have the wrong kinds of expectations from them?

“We cater to a certain niche target audience,” said Karan Singhania from Weddingsonline. “We get tremendous amounts of traffic, mostly from people who are specifically looking for wedding photographers, which is what makes it so beneficial for photographers who sign up. We connect wedding photographers with their potential clients, and set up the initial stage for them to communicate.”

SILK-Apresh Chavda_Indian wedding photographer

Photo: Apresh Chavda. *All images used are for illustrative purpose only.

Building up a strong portfolio as a wedding photographer and gaining a strong foothold in the industry can take years, and wedding portals should not be seen as a shortcut route of sorts to getting clients. It may also have to do with the target audience of these websites. It is possible that established wedding photographers may not find clients within their niche bracket to work with. A lot of the audiences visiting these websites may prefer closing with a photographer that offers them the best price.

There are many new and emerging wedding photographers in India today who might be willing to tweak their pricing to suit the needs of the client, to build up their portfolio. Such wedding photographers could possibly book jobs more frequently than their more experienced counterparts. There is also the question of making your work stand out in a sea of options. Developing your craft to such an extent that it makes you distinctive would make clients approach you more, and be willing to pay for it.

In addtion, while wedding portals can be a stepping stone for those who are trying to establish themselves, it cannot be the sole way to market oneself. One has to think about whether the investment would be worth it, while also making an active effort to effectively market oneself and network better.
It remains to be seen that wedding portals are here to stay, but we conclude that while the investment may not seem to be justified for the most part, it may just be lucrative for some wedding photographers if used in a certain way.

 

Tell us a bit about your experince. Are you listed on any of the Indian wedding photogrpahy portals? Are you a paid member, and do you feel your investment is paying off? We would love to hear form you in the comments below.

13 replies
  1. Satya
    Satya says:

    I think the traffic of a portal and no of photographers listed are two deciding factors for the number of leads you will get from a portal. Higher traffic and less photographers increase your chances.

    Reply
  2. Sam
    Sam says:

    Hi Sephi,

    We too, have had a similar experience with one of the photographers quoted here, who didn’t find much value with the paid membership on wedding portals. While it definitely helped us in the beginning, there are too many portals now doing the same thing and somehow this has affected the value that these portals provided. I believe that this boils down to a few points. This is entirely our experience, and may be different for different photographers.

    Fundamental difference in strategy: Indian wedding portals are mostly about attracting maximum eyeballs & clicks through maximum listings for clients. Their play is about volume. For us, we focus on value. We prefer getting less enquiries but having a higher conversion ratio; whereas wedding portals may have a high number of enquiries, but conversion ratios are very low. The reason behind this brings me to my next point.

    Difference in consumer mindset: Most consumers contacting photographers through wedding portals are looking for the best priced deals. There definitely are exceptions to this, but this is a general observation based on our experience. The ‘best deal’ consumers have a certain acceptable benchmark for photography, and they are comfortable with choosing anyone above that benchmark. Their immediate next evaluation criteria therefore, becomes price. ‘Customer experience’, which is among our priorities falls lower down in the list for these consumers. There is a visible difference in the mindset of consumers who approach us through wedding portals, and those who approach us directly through our website. Consumers approaching us through our website are clearer about their photography preferences, and have already found that our work & our style resonates with them. They are interested in telling us more about their wedding – the approach is more collaborative, focused on figuring out the best way to tell their story.

    Photography listings being ‘one of’ the offerings for portals: Since portals have listings of a large number of vendors across categories, they have to find the right balance. Therefore, even among the weddings that are blogged by the portals, emphasis is on the photographs of decor, etc which can help them allocate space to more service providers. This ‘allocation’ may not always align with the aim of the photographer to have their best images showcased, irrespective of whether they have decor in them or not.

    Wedding portals may be a good way to build initial brand awareness; but photographers should continue to revisit their ‘return on investment’ for these portals.

    Reply
    • Sephi Bergerson
      Sephi Bergerson says:

      Thank you for taking time to write this informative comment Sam. What you say about the kind of content shown on the wedding blogs, is something that we have also noticed. I can’t agree more alsonin the kind of communications with direct clients vs those who. One crommportals. Good points.

      Reply
      • Sam
        Sam says:

        Thank you Sephi 🙂
        I foresee that consumer knowledge when it comes to wedding photography shall only increase with time, and this will drive more percentage of total consumers to seek photographers beyond portal listings.

        Photographers looking at long term careers in the category, and wanting to establish a good, differentiated body of work need to have their own branding & clearly defined online spaces. Something we learnt from you, as we ourselves entered the category a couple of years ago. Thank you for that!

        Reply
  3. Anil
    Anil says:

    Wedding portals seems to be an era that soon could be phased out quickly. You see almost every month a new wedding portal is created and you are asked to get enlisted. However, even for the portals to survive have to be extremely competitive which somehow translates to pushing the prices lower for any services listed in.
    As Sam mentioned, since most of them are just listing sites, their major income is from premium listing with promise of staying on the top of the list. And the sites have oversold the concept to an extent that the premium listing runs to 2-3 pages..

    I feel photographers should highly invest in the websites, keep them updated as new trends in marketing come and go, but your site always stays there and keeps growing and gets stronger every day.

    Reply
    • Sephi Bergerson
      Sephi Bergerson says:

      You are correct in a way Anil, however, not entirely. A website does not “grow@ unless you maintain it. Some people don’t know how, and don’t do much other than have it sit somewhere on a server waiting for traffic. Getting traffic is the name if the game, and this is exactly what these portals do. They have traffic that they work hard to get, and they bring the eyeballs to you. Precisely what they charge for.

      Reply
  4. Ravi Namburi
    Ravi Namburi says:

    Sephi

    In this era of everything online, every industry is hit if stuck to the traditional ways of doing business or reaching to customers. Customers mindset has changed and when we talk about experience its about access from anywhere.

    Most portals today are like yesteryears Yellow Pages and in new age called Lead generators. While few have gone beyond, we from oneglint.com has moved few steps ahead and are talking about end to end Photography focused portal with co-working for the photography ecosystem, rather than competing in the space available.

    We just went live with our beta and major modules under development for enhancing user experience very shortly.

    Do let us know your inputs !

    Rgds .. Ravi

    Reply
  5. Payal Kumar
    Payal Kumar says:

    Just the article I had in mind. I recently thought I must give paid membership a try with the basic package. Realised within a week possibly was not a great idea…coz everything u ask for over a base package comes at an additional price. Be it visibility in specific cities or get ur work listed to be noticed etc.I’m still too not sure what works. I think it has be an individual approach.I think this portal paid memberships are stepping like sinking sand u may get lucky sometimes most often ur money sinks 😜 But from my past marketing experience I still feel creating work that speaks for itself, being visible, present, and active at the right place /right time, word of mouth, and client referrals should be the approach …above all Keeping at it doing ur bit and trusting divine timing 😉

    Reply
    • Sephi Bergerson
      Sephi Bergerson says:

      It is always a combination of many things. One cannot just pay a membership and think it’s enough. This is just one more option to make the link with potential clients. It works for some. Does. It work for others.

      Reply
  6. Paramveer
    Paramveer says:

    Let me divide the whole conversation in Good and Bad :-

    The Bad :-
    1. Range of Photographers and Budget :- Although this may be a positive for clients to have options but they miss out on the most important aspect among photographers. i.e. their style. Wedding portals will offer services from various photographers with a same budget range which basically corrupts the client to go for a bargain deal or a cheaper alternative ( as they lack the technical and creative understanding at times ).

    2. Content Oriented :- While some may consider social marketing as a plus but if it is something that takes more of your time as an artist then there is something wrong. As a artist you must have the urge to keep learning and developing, exploring new horizons and breaking the shackles whereas at times you are compromising just to gain a bit of “exposure”.

    3. No Hard Core Rules :- You may hear things like “We only list selected photographers” and ” We do not believe in quantity over quality ” but due to recent increase in the number of portals ( hence the competition ) and the startup trend in the country, they are now answerable to their investors to get them the ROI they seek which negates the above statements as their priorities keep changing.

    4. Target Audience and Offers :- While most prefer targeting the UBER market, they seem to loose out on personal touch. We have seen people hit out on false claims and the offers they make such as 10-30% off on our services, which we are sure hardly anyone offers upfront.

    5. Judgement :- Lets face it, they are no photographers or understand photography more than actual professionals. They are at times bloggers pretending to know it all. Such as posts claiming top 10 or 20 photographers in a particular city or even in the country. That is sometimes a game changer as the person strolling over the link is a layman and has no clue on what basis the list is prepared ( basically sucking up and favoritism ) and many end up losing potential leads on search engines because these posts dominate the first page.

    Finally some Good :-

    1. Exposure and Presence :- If you are staring out and are not sure on SEO or SMM expenditure then let them help you, although figuring out the right channel may be a bit tricky. Submit your recent works and get them published socially and you may end up with a lead out of the blue.

    2. Branding :- Who doesn’t likes to be everywhere. If you have a decent turnover and can afford to gamble on random eyeballs then why not. ” Jo dikhta hai wahi bikta hai ” imagine a client seeing your profile on multiple portals with positive ratings, the confidence and trust gets a boost automatically.

    3. New Audience :- You may have a name already or regular clientele but if you like experimenting and getting new experiences then you may want to sign up as they keep you in touch with the trends and demands of the new gen weddings. Help you in closing deals ( in commission based portals ) whereas subscription based are mostly upto you.

    4. Long Distance Clients :- As a person living abroad, it becomes difficult to choose out of all the options available, specially when people claim to be award winners, best wedding photographers etc.. The portals offer a personal insight on certain matters and help work things out for them. As photographers they help us get in touch with such personalities who may or may not have heard about us or even were not aware about the trends in the industry.

    Here is our own experience :
    We have ourselves invested during our early years in portals in order to be able to gain exposure. Didn’t want to go for likes or rankings as we needed to understand the sources and opportunities, after a year maturing into the industry we spread our wings further and only worked with commission based models as paying subscription fees to every portal for the same lead gains you nothing. We take limited bookings and hence it is not advised to do so unless you take 50+ weddings a year.
    We ask them to opt for Commission based leads as they put more efforts in closing them and we only pay for the finalized deal.

    The trouble we face is that they do not relate to your clients, there is nothing emotional about it. Unless your bride wears a Sabyasachi lehenga or a Tarun Tahilini or unless their is something unique about the decor, theme.. it just doesn’t click for them. Mostly do not care about their story even if the clients wish to be talked about in blog post ( they love to share them among their friends, who won’t love that ). Same goes for the photography, even though they may not have the eye to notice it, there are times when it all seems materialistic and depressing as the weddings are not about bits and pieces.. its about when all bits and pieces come together and give a feeling called love. We recently opted out of one of the portals mentioned above, we had the premium package but were just not happy with the way things were carried out and for such a reputed portal to list just about anyone. Its more about ethics for us and we are not the ones who listen from one ear and forget the commitments and brand talks they do. They know that now.

    But again, with the number of photographers increasing in an insane rate, the industry will reach an equilibrium soon and only a few will be separated from the herd. We just hope that the clients become more mature because its not always about the money.

    To conclude..go for it till it lasts.. they need your pictures for their survival :p

    Reply
  7. Sagar
    Sagar says:

    We are listed in one. But in the journey we lost money and time. Reason you have mentioned. The worst Experience was with http://matrimonydirectory.com/
    And later got to know from many other fellow photographers how they cheated them. Surprisingly most of these companies take money in advance and not really a commission on converted deals. They are misleading. No, they are absolutely misleading and polluting the industry. Come on check their blogs…10 sites will have 10 differnent top Wedding photographers. Some cases, the images of the so called top photographers are so cheesy and repetitive…I don’t know how to react.
    Anyway, I hate them…but as all my competitions are going with them, I need to go as well. some cases it helps in SEO backlinks, which is important. But I wish if together we can change it.

    Reply

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