We live in an image driven world of social media. There’s no getting around it. Today’s photographers are dealing with clients who have access to millions more “ideas of imagery” than the clients of yesteryear. In the past, a bride would likely have only seen a few friend’s wedding images or a few in magazines. Today, from the second she changes her Facebook status to “engaged” she is immersed in ads, blogs, timeline photos, instagram photos, and (insert foreboding music of doom here) Pinterest photos.

I get it all the time. Potential clients coming in for consultations with their iPads prepped and ready to show me their 5,682 wedding pins. There are beautiful images on there (our community of photographers can do some pretty sweet stuff!) but it’s rapidly apparent to me that 95% of what they’re showing me is completely unrealistic for their wedding day. The best is when a vineyard barn wedding shows me photos of beach weddings. Or night photos when they only want to contract you to a time that ends before sunset. Facepalm.

It’s easy to let frustration get the better of you since you know darn well what they want is impossible, but it’s also easy to feel flustered in how to respond since we don’t want to disappoint, alienate, or make our client’s feel “stupid” or like their vision is silly. Here’s a few ways I diffuse the Pinterest Bride:

1)Ask her to show you a few of her absolute favorites. You may be able to discern a pattern of imagery that she’s after. If the images are comparable in style to you, you can feel good about moving forward. If they’re completely unlike your style, you may want to broach the topic of perhaps finding a better fit, photographically.

2) When you’re looking at the photos with her, ask her what it is that draws her to the photo. Does she love the light? Is the emotion making her tear up? Does she love the scenery? Does she like how closely (or not) it is cropped. All of these clues get to the essence of what she’s after.

3) Start a dialogue about photo timing. If it’s a photo of sparklers at night spelling out “LOVE” talk about how fun those photos are but how they need to be carefully planned to turn out properly. Remind her of the logistics (needing a super dark space, needing multiple people, needing a fair amount of time as people will need to do multiple takes before they get their pattern just right, and of course making sure their venue allows sparklers). If it’s sunset photos, pull up the sunset times online for their wedding date and look a where that falls on her timeline. If sunset is during her first dance and toasts, she needs to be willing to alter her timeline to let it happen. Photographers can do a lot, but we can’t stop the world from turning!

4) Always, always, always (did I say always?) broach the topic of copyright. I tend stay away of being overly direct with big scary reminders about federal copyright law. Instead, I’ll say something to the effect of “I love seeing your inspiration (emphasis on the word inspiration) from Pinterest. While I don’t make exact copies of other photographer’s work, it helps me to see what you love and how we can custom tailor that inspiration and vibe to your wedding day.” This gently reminds clients that while copying work is bad, what they like is not, and I’m a person that has their specific day and interests in mind.

Using these techniques makes me feel much calmer when dealing with a Pinterest Bride. It helps me feel as if I’ve let my client feel heard and understood while still effectively communicating to her all the aspects she needs to consider for the day in regards to photography. These techniques have helped me talk many a bride down from delusions of grandeur to visions of reality and truthfully, they’re happier for it! You don’t want to sacrifice yourself for other people’s visions that don’t (or won’t) get replicated on their day. Reinforcing that you are a professional and know how to make her day the best it can be builds trust, loyalty, and makes the entire day go way more smoothly.

I’d love to hear what other techniques you’ve used when encountering the Pinterest Bride! Share them in the comments below!