So you had a great experience with a photographer... here are some simple, practical ways to thank him or her. I would actually recommend these as valuable options to thank ANY small business owner! They may seem small or insignificant, but not only do they mean the world to us personally, they also have a truly positive impact on our businesses.
The great thing about reviews is that they can take less than two minutes of your time, but they are one of the first things people look at when selecting a photographer. It's easier to take another client's word for the quality of service because it eliminates bias and you get a better idea about the overall experience from an outside perspective. See some kind words about Kira Whitney Photography here. Two locations to write a review for a business are on their Google+ page and Facebook page. Google+ reviews are extra helpful because they help the businesses' online reputation as it pertains to Search Engine rankings. The easiest way to find this is to type the business name into a Google search, hit enter and look along the right column where their information is listed.
For Facebook, search for the business name, pull up their page and locate "Reviews" along the left column. Many people list the link to their business page in the About section of their personal profile so you can easily find it. Also just a note, 'reviews' on Facebook is a feature that isn't automatically visible, so the business owner has to go to their page settings and allow them to be shown. This might be why you don't see the option for reviews on some pages.
2) Sharing is caring
Social Media is such an incredibly powerful tool and, in my opinion, can make or break a business (especially a service with no physical storefront like my own). When misrepresented, a photographer's work is easily dismiss-able, but when our brand integrity is maintained through non-manipulated images alongside personal experiences from our clients, incredible things can happen! If you are another wedding vendor featuring a photographer's images online, correct links to our website from yours are the most valuable to us. These inbound links to our site show Google that we are reputable and move us higher in search rankings, so they are a big deal! As a client, linking to our site when sharing the images from your session is greatly appreciated as well.
Another easy tip that is often overlooked is correct tagging on social media. People will often tag my personal profile, especially if we are friends on Facebook or following each other on Instagram... but it is most helpful to tag the business PAGE in order to send anyone who may be interested in photos to the source where they will find more of our work and the most helpful information. The same goes for Twitter, Instagram, Google+, etc. Typically, photographers will have all of their social links on their website so the easiest way is to check there first if you have any confusion! For example, my social icons/links are located at the bottom of my home page, along with several other areas like the side panel of my blog... and right here of course ;)
Many photographers (including myself) offer a referral program to earn credit towards a free photo session. From conversations with others in the industry, I know I'm not alone when I say that most of us book more sessions by word-of-mouth referrals and connections in our network of people than by any other avenue. So, definitely take advantage of earning some credit, but even if you don't, know that the biggest compliment you can give us is to suggest us to someone looking for a photographer or [insert other profession here].
4) Just say thanks
It's hard to be so excited about the images you captured from a session, hit SEND on an email called "Your Photos Are Ready!" and then hear crickets for weeks... wondering if your client didn't receive them or maybe hated them so much they had no words. It is so reassuring to even hear something so simple as "thanks!" in response :) We care so much about YOU and knowing about your experience is so important to us.