Wedding Photography Referrals + Etiquette


I’ve been thinking about referrals lately, specifically referrals in form of peer endorsements. Nothing feels greater than receiving a referral from a fellow photographer…no, really, a referral from a friend feels the way Nutella-stuffed strawberries taste: amazing. I’ve mentioned this before, but I built my business on word of mouth referrals, and a large amount of these referrals came from fellow photographers my early years of business. I go into depth about how I created a network of photographers to pass referrals to each other in Exposed Magazine, but today I want to chat about referral etiquette.

I love helping photographers build their businesses, so if I can send referrals to brides looking for wedding photographers when I’m booked or unavailable due to budget constraints, I will. In fact, I love pairing up photographers with clients! I feel like I’m fulfilling my lifelong dream of being a matchmaker!

In order for me to find the best match, I request basic wedding information and budget so I can give realistic options for the bride. Now, I’ve assembled a short list of photographers in different price brackets in Southern California and I consult this list when sending referrals. I encourage every photographer to make a list of referrals and hopefully your business is on someone else’s list too! I believe what goes around, comes around…

Here’s a a few tips on business referral etiquette…

*Avoid asking photographers for referrals…if another photographer wants to send business your way, s/he will. Trust me.
*Do not send a mass email to a group of photographers requesting their overflow business. Not only is this impersonal, it’s tacky.
*Don’t feel entitled to a photographer’s referrals…when a photographer sends a lead your way, it’s an honor and should be treated with humility and respect.

*After every lead you receive, follow up with a thank you. Email, a hand-written note, a gift…anything to express appreciation. I can’t express how disheartened I am when photographers don’t say thank you. I’ve stopped sending referrals to photographers who habitually refrained from saying thank you…I prefer to endorse those who know how to express thanks.
*If you want to build your referral network, get out and get to know people. Like, really know them. Make friends, become invested in others, and find ways to help. The more you put yourself out there, the more chances you have to showcase who you are in a professional capacity. This means going to mixers/networking events, getting involved with an online forum as an active participant, and/or offering your assistance before expecting anything in return.
*Send referrals. It’s always nice to cc other photographers in the referral email to let them know you’re directing a lead their way…the next time they have a lead to send, you might be in the forefront of their mind because you showed interest in creating a business alliance. Total win/win.

I hope this offers insight into referral etiquette within the wedding industry, but if you have any questions, leave them in the blog comment box and I’ll try to answer them later today!
Happy Monday!

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  1. Monica Justesen Photography

    April 1st, 2013 at 11:57 am

    Great advice! This is something that honestly never even crossed my mind until a fellow photographer lead to me booking my FIRST wedding! It was an incredible feeling not only to book the job, but book the job because someone else in my field had enough faith in my work and my craft to recommend me to a potential client. It’s definitely something I will keep in mind in the future!

  2. heather

    April 1st, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Thank you for emphasizing etiquette! So often I find I don’t get a thank you when I pass a lead on. We all need to be a little kinder πŸ™‚

  3. Liz Cowie

    April 1st, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    I loved this article. You make some excellent points.

  4. Tim Hilario

    April 1st, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    Awesome, as always. Noted every single point! πŸ˜€

  5. Tanya

    April 1st, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    Thanks Jasmine for the insights and advice, much appreciated! You mention gifts – what type of gifts are appropriate do you think for a referral?

  6. Jennifer Medeiros

    April 1st, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    Classy and helpful. Thank you!

  7. Roze Studios Photography

    April 1st, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    I absolutely love the idea of the cc. This is a great way to make sure the other photographer knows that it is coming from you. I always just relied on the client mentioning that I had referred them.

  8. Kristin Cooley

    April 1st, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    LOVE this! I’m big on thank you’s, especially hand written notes and gifts. Thanks for reinforcing my belief in them. I once had a boss who made an effort to send at least 10-20 handwritten notes every week, it sounds like a lot, but it made a huge difference in her business.

    Is that the 35 you’re shooting with? Debating my first L prime purchase, hmmm….

  9. Shauna Nicole

    April 1st, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Great stuff… THANK YOU!

  10. Laura | Crowned Photography

    April 1st, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    I was so excited to hear you talk about this during ReSTARt! Definitely been networking with a lot of photographers here in Colorado & excited that because I am venturing solely into a very niche market of birth photography now, I can send my portrait sessions their way, and vice versa! Making genuine, mutually-beneficial connections with other photographers is so important!

  11. Lissette Suarez

    April 1st, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    Thanks for the great tips and reminders. I get leads which I honestly appreciate and feel very humbled but I’m not quick to thank them. That’s going to change starting now! They’re going to know how much I appreciate their trust in recommending me to their clients.

  12. Shhivika Chauhan

    April 2nd, 2013 at 2:53 am

    This question had been on my mind lately, and imagine my joy when I saw your blogpost addressing it! Thank you Jasmine. Its always about paying forward πŸ™‚

  13. Matt Ramage

    April 2nd, 2013 at 5:02 am

    So true. I feel that sometimes this is overlooked in my own interactions. Thanks for the reminder. πŸ™‚

  14. sara

    April 2nd, 2013 at 5:03 am

    So huge. Referrals can make or break a young wedding photographer career..

  15. Xiomara

    April 2nd, 2013 at 5:11 am

    Once again, thank you SO MUCH for the great advice. On Creative Live Restart you said that early on you started sharing a calendar with a few close colleagues. We began doing that in our Restart Oregon group and just had a little meet up to get to know one another…. this wouldn’t of happened had you not given so much of yourself at Restart . So again….. THANK YOU!!!!

  16. Alan Law

    April 2nd, 2013 at 8:23 am

    Great post, Jasmine – agree with you on all accounts. Sending business to other photographers when you’re already booked is not only good business sense, but it’s just a nice thing to do all round – for both the clients, and the potential photographer. Also gree with you 100% about expressing thanks – I also stopped sending referrals to photographers who couldn’t even be bothered to say a simple thank you.

  17. Samantha

    April 2nd, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    Great post Jasmine! I definitely know what you mean about sending out referrals to my peers and not receiving a simple thank you. I have definitely decided not to pass along referrals to those people any more, business shouldn’t be so one sided!

  18. Wedding Photographer Braintree

    April 2nd, 2013 at 10:51 pm

    I regularly meet up for lunch with fellow photographers, it’s a great oportunity to chat catch up etc and provides a nice little net work to make referals to each other.

  19. Belinda

    April 4th, 2013 at 10:57 pm

    Thank you Jasmine for sharing this info! I’m currently trying to build my network of Orange County photographers too, as well as figure out what the proper etiquette is and this post in particular has given me some helpful tips. =)

  20. Leon

    April 10th, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    If it was only this simple here. I haven’t really met a lot of nice photographers/videographers here in Orlando within the wedding industry. πŸ™


    April 11th, 2013 at 1:04 am

    My rule is 5 referrals and if I don’t get a thank you or a some feedback perhaps a referral (quid pro quo) I stop sending the referrals to these photographers. Love is unconditional, wedding referrals are not.

  22. Paul Keppel

    January 24th, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I have 2 or 3 photographers local to me and we pass each other booking if one of use is double booked. I to always CC the photographer in the email so they have a point of contact with them straight away.

  23. Shah Photography

    June 11th, 2014 at 11:28 am

    I agree, passing work if I’m already booked enhances the industry in the eyes of the couple which can only be a good thing. I’m very selctive who I refer and always appreciate acknowledgement of a referral.

  24. Faridism Photography

    July 14th, 2014 at 9:35 am

    thanks Jasmine for the tips

  25. Amy Sampson

    February 11th, 2016 at 6:40 pm

    I couldn’t agree more Jasmine. Referrals is such a strong way of building up not just a business network but trust amongst clients that if you cannot photograph their wedding you can signpost them to someone who’s style will suit them too.

  26. Ashley Davenport

    August 3rd, 2016 at 12:51 pm

    This is blog post Jasmine, more please

  27. Richard Skins

    January 16th, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    This is great, I have to say referrals have made a huge impact for me the past few years! it’s definitely made a huge part of growing my business. At first the industry seemed very stand off but it’s quite often the opposite, the more you share knowledge and referrals the more you get back in return.