Secrets of a Story Teller: How Does Joe Buissink Compel Couples To Book Him?

This week’s article comes to us from G.E. Masana is a NYC based wedding photographer and author of “Advertise and Sell Your Wedding Photography” published by Marathon Press. His roster of clients have spanned from the Beauty Editor of ELLE to actors, cinematographers, and even a NYC art gallery owner. He was previously was on “The List” of contributing photographers for Martha Stewart Weddings. NYC Wedding Photographer.

When noted wedding photographer Joe Buissink meets with prospective wedding couples, he doesn’t merely sell his service by detailing specifications. In other words, his presentation isn’t about telling couples that he’ll go to the park for bride and groom portraits or that they’ll receive thirty 8x10s in a leather album.

Then again, maybe he does mention some of these specifics… but my point is that’s not what his presentation’s selling.

Some say he sells art. And they base that on the fact Joe shows prospective wedding couples a handful of mounted prints, all of them signed. And that he charges additionally for his signature. Each image presented as a signed piece of art.

And you might think that’s what motivates couples to book him. That because this way of presenting his work puts the idea in couples’ minds that his product is something they can only get from him and nowhere else. And so, they book.

That may play a part in the booking. But I don’t think that’s exactly what’s at work here that motivates people to hire a photographer.

It helps to differentiate himself from other photographers showing their work in a more mundane format, sure. But sufficient enough to get someone to buy in? Don’t think so. Couples can opt for Buissink’s unsigned versions, which he offers at a lesser price point than his signed pieces.

So while it may increase its perceived value, people aren’t motivated to buy in simply because the thing’s signed.

Here’s the key: They still have to desire it first.

Here’s what I believe is at work that helps build this desire. And what you can do to put it to work for you too.

With each image Joe shows, there’s a story he tells with it. It’s the story behind the photo.

And the story isn’t about what aperture he used or which lens. A photographer may be interested in that kind of story, but not a wedding couple.

He tells stories which mean something to a wedding couple.

They buy in partly because of Joe’s artistry, and a few other factors, but that’s not enough fuel in itself. A photo may be worth a thousand words, but a photo with a hundred words is worth a thousand and one hundred words. This is a fact: People are moved by the stories Joe tells about the photos.

He’s a skilled story teller, sure enough. But the basic reason why storytelling is a wonderful tactic is because stories sell.

The late Don Hewitt was the producer behind CBS’ long running show, “60 Minutes.” Even surrounded by talent and the best circumstances, he once famously said, “the reason for my success was that all I did was tell stories every Sunday night. There is nothing magical about it.”

We take in stories starting from the time we’re babies. Bedtime stories. Fairy tales. Aesop’s Fables to teach us ethics. Ghost stories that delightfully scare us. Comic books. Kiddie movies. Then as we grow, we engage in stories found in the way of classroom rumors and playground gossip, tall tales. Then plays, movies, magazines, books, television shows, literature. We get stories from the news, from other peoples’ escapades, tales, histories, biographies, scandals and exposés. And we share these stories, and tell our own stories, with others.

Every culture, every civilization, has its stories. Its legends, myths and history.

And every family, every generation, every person, has stories, about family members notorious or not, about their trials and tribulations, whimsical stories, love stories, stories of daring and courage, and so on, passed down from generation to generation.

Storytelling is embedded in our core as human beings. It hooks us. Draws us in. Teaches us while entertaining us. There’s an element to stories we all relate to. Stories can move us on a deeper level than simply spouting facts ever will.

So try adding stories to your presentation. Make them compelling, compact, intriguing stories people can relate to.

And you can use your stories in several ways. But use them judiciously, don’t springboard everything into a storytelling tangent. You can tell stories as a way of explaining what you do. Have stories on tap that answer common objections you often hear.

And use stories that position yourself as the desired photographer.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Jess March 16, 2015 at 4:12 pm

So so true! I absolutely love this.

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Yannis Larios | Wedding Photographer Greece December 6, 2012 at 2:19 pm

You are so right about Joe’s approach.
I have been studying his story-telling approach and he really excels at that!

Thanks for reminding us who valuable stories are!

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Lindsay Wakelin December 6, 2012 at 6:56 am

Hi

Thanks Lara, I think we can get stuck in the technicalities and practicalities, sometimes the thing which influences the most is taking some time to relax and tell a story which others can relate to.

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Lungi December 5, 2012 at 1:02 pm

Dear Lara,
Thank you for an incisive article. Rather than showing a couple a number of wedding photos that one has taken – rather take one or two. make them big and sign them. That will display them differently.
Good and brilliant idea.
Regards

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Max Almonte December 5, 2012 at 11:48 am

Awesome article Lara. It is a good remainder about where do we as photographers fit. Where did we started learning about stories and how we can create some with our cameras. Thanks.

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