Today I received a wedding inquiry from a girl who let me know that she was proud to be a curvier girl but still didn't always love herself in photographs. That she found me through a friend and when she was reading reviews, she came across several that said something along the lines of, "Victoria made me feel beautiful even though I hate myself in photos usually." So, she emailed me about her wedding. Maybe she books me, maybe she doesn't - but it's still cool that she reached out because of something someone said and not just my photos or my Instagram stories about the twins' messy room post-Christmas.
Another inquiry that came in today asked me to describe what it is like to work with me if they hired me for their wedding photographer and while I did answer I also encouraged her to read reviews - because some of them are hilariously accurate depictions of working with me on a wedding day.
A little behind the scenes thanks to Lightning Captures Photography.
I've had couples see reviews talking about how I helped alleviate stress and brides let me know that they suffer from anxiety but saw how I helped another bride with her anxiety in a review so they figured they would reach out.
I've had mothers reach out because they saw a review where I was good with their special needs child - and they also have special needs children.
Mothers who were nervous about maternity pictures but saw reviews thanking me for talking women into them even though they were hesitant, also.
In our industry there are awards given solely based on the number of good reviews (The Knot & Wedding Wire being two of them) because reviews matter so much that this is how they encourage vendors to ask for them - by rewarding them for a certain amount per year.
There are so many of us.
In Asheville alone it's a safe bet that there are at least 1,000 photographers. Probably 500 or so being really, truly amazing professional photographers (just that I've heard of... with countless more).
Go to any Facebook wedding page for Asheville and put a post that says, "Looking for a wedding photographer." & The sheer number of comments will be overwhelming. Frankly, I'm thankful I work in the industry and already know who my wedding photographer would be because I can't imagine not knowing who I like and having to sort through us all.
What I do know is that word of mouth referrals has supported my business for almost a decade. Vendors who refer me (The Parker Mill sent two couples to me just today, for instance) have led to some of my favorite weddings that I may not have connected with otherwise because I have no other connections to them. For instance, Fresh Air Spa & Salon sent this couple to me - and Amanda ended up being a fast friend and they are so much more than clients to me now. We have plans to visit them this summer, and they made time to see Christmas lights with my family this past December.
& if Danielle, the owner, hadn't referred me? I might never have met her.
Danielle also introduced me to Brooke, who owns the bridal boutique in the same building and because of that connection I've met so many amazing brides & fellow vendors and models and also made another life-long friend in Brooke!
Side note - how adorable are Hannah (above) and Brooke (below)?
All of the couples who reach out (okay, 90% of them) read through reviews before ever even contacting me.
Couples who find my style pretty often have a list of photographers with similar enough styles to make it difficult (though I like to fancy myself someone who's style is recognizable to someone who has seen it before - it doesn't mean there aren't other colorful photographer who love cotton candy pallets and floral details). How do they decide between me and someone with a similar pricing structure and editing style?
They read through reviews.
They read about how Skylar thinks I have the world's most calming voice and how she was stressed out until I walked in and she heard me say, "Hey Skylar, it's Vicki!"
Maybe they read a review from someone who's never hired me but loves my work and likes that I do community service - and because community service matters to them, they reach out.
Maybe they hire me because they read a review talking about how I ate a leaf for baby smiles or made dolphin sounds to get their dog to look. Trust me - it works. Just play this near your dog.
They read about how I kept the secret of a first pregnancy and answered questions from one mama to another.
Maybe they read about how impressed someone was with me for juggling single motherhood when the twins were little and work and the single mama reading it thinks, "She'll get my life," and then reaches out.
Or about how I brought a ton of clear umbrellas and let guests use them when a random monsoon decided to show up mid-ceremony.
They read about how a spouse who usually hates photos found himself wondering when the previews would be online (Dani - tell Matt I love him for that, still).
They read things that separate me from other photographers, and they hire me.
Because they hire me, I get to be there for the 2am phone calls when they freak out and need me to talk them down because they are in crisis mode (Andi - I miss the calls, and you don't have to be freaking out to text me at 2am, lady).
I get to answer questions about wedding plans and timelines and hear ideas for everything from ring pictures to wedding exits (Brit, one of my brides, texted me almost every week for a year - and I love she trusted me).
I might be hired by someone who's hairstylist no shows and luckily, I can do a quick updo on the fly. Or who's videographer no shows and now my second is handling that for them. Or who's caterer got stuck in traffic so now I'm helping set tables.
& they'll share those things (hopefully) in a review one day - and another round of couples will read them and think, "Man. This Victoria lady sounds like the right fit for our wedding."
& they'll hire me.
& I'll celebrate by spending part of their date retainer on queso with the twins & Nick.
The best part??
Leaving a review is FREE.
& it'll make me smile THIS big.
The most important place to leave one is on Google.
You can click here to leave a review there, now.
If I get 5 in a calendar year on The Knot (https://www.theknot.com/review-wedding-vendors/972840) and/or Wedding Wire (https://www.weddingwire.com/shared/rate/new?vid=f45a998aecc854de) I am eligible to win their "Best of" awards. Seems silly, but people see it and think, "Hm! That lady wins awards - I shall call her." I always tell couples to start with Google and then copy paste their reviews onto one or more of those sites if they get bored enough.
Another good place? Facebook. Victoria Grace Photography | Facebook < you can find them there!
Already wrote one for Google and want to share another elsewhere? Like I said - copy & paste if you don't want to write out a totally new one!
I feel like 2020 & 2021 I spent in survival mode. & for 2022 I am determined to be more intentional with my time, my goals, my time off, and to fill my days with happiness and not just to-do lists. Something that makes me happy? Reading these reviews.
PS - every example I left is one that has either happened (like a single mama hiring me because someone mentioned I juggle a lot as a mom and still provide great service) or has been talked about in my reviews online (like having a calming voice) - take a minute and scroll through them if you're on the fence about hiring me or if you're a previous client who isn't sure what to write in a review. Or you know, if you don't believe there are some funny ones - because trust me, there are.
Now - enjoy some of my favorite snowy pictures because hopefully I'll wake up in a few hours to several inches of snow and the twins can end their Christmas break with some snow time. Fingers crossed!
This last picture, fun fact, is January's cover for Our State Magazine! Which is one of the coolest (pun intended) starts to a year my career has ever had.