Tomko uses Kubota’s Imaging Tools to enhance what he calls his “artistic candids.”
“I incorporate a little bit of a fashion look, a little of a candid look, even though some of the couples are posed. But I pose them in such a way that it looks like I’ve captured them doing something. I know there are a lot of photographers out there who just let things happen, but I have yet to meet a bride who walks through a park, stops, and twirls on her own!”
He figures his style has caught on in wedding circles mainly because he doesn’t go overboard while retaining his look.
“I don’t do your typical veil blowing up in the air with the bride throwing her head back and laughing,” he says. “Plus, I don’t try to impress my brides with a lot of special effects. What I do in the camera is what they’re going to see as a finished product—enhanced somewhat, but not completely changed.”
Besides offering a stunning style, Tomko has tried to build his client base over the past couple of years by offering services and products that very few, if any, other photographers are offering.
“I have getting-to-know-you sessions, for one,” he says. “Then there’s my guest book. I’ll take couples to the beach and do some really cool portraits, and then I’ll make those portraits into a really nice guest book for the wedding. I tell clients who want that one big picture that can be passed around to sign that I can certainly do that, but I was doing that in the mid-‘90s. This is something no one else is doing, or hardly anyone else, and it will create a lot of excitement with their guests.”
Another service Tomko discreetly offers at his weddings is on-the-spot slide shows.
“As I’m photographing with my second photographer, Jennifer, my daughter Amy is downloading the images and picking 50 or so of the best ones. She cleans them up really quickly using Photoshop and some of the Kevin Kubota Actions, and then we put together a slide show.” But Tomko is sure not to let the slide show overshadow the lady in white.
“My couples are getting married not for my business, but because they love each other, so I don’t make a big spectacle out of this,” he says. “We run the slide show on a laptop with a 23-inch monitor, on a small table against the wall. We bring the bride and groom and their parents over, let them see it first, and then just let it play, because I don’t want to take away from the band or DJ, or from the catering venue when they’re serving dinner. The slide show is extremely subtle—I don’t have to go into a reception and let everyone know I’m the photographer.”
Tomko has used Kevin Kubota’s Red Boot Design team to come up with another innovative idea: a wedding trilogy proof book, “a three-volume AsukaBook coffee table book no one else is offering right now,” he says.
“The proof books have been going really well, especially when incorporated into my larger packages.”
It’s Tomko’s personality and openness with his clients that seals the deal. He started a blog in August (www.gerardtomkophotography.net/blog), which has already experienced close to 5,000 visits. And he treats his clients with respect.
“I don’t treat them as just another wedding,” he says. “Everyone thinks they’re a wedding photographer today. But it’s not just about being a photographer. How can you handle the day? If something happens, do you know what to do? If you don’t, it can be a real disaster. I have a very good relationship with my clients, which is part of the reason I don’t run a big-volume business—I get to know everybody.”
Tomko is already running full-speed ahead for 2007, looking forward to the feedback he’s certain to receive.