Getting Published, or Not.

Getting PublishedI have, for the past year or so, been struggling. I’ve made it pretty known. I’ve written a few posts on this very blog about my struggles. I’m not struggling with booking, pricing or workflow. I’ve been struggling with being inspired, but mostly with STAYING inspired. I only write these types of posts so that anyone reading, whether you’re a brand new photographer, or season veteran, know that you are not alone.

 

Because of all of that, I have been pushing myself. I was bound and determined to GET PUBLISHED.

For some reason, I had it in my mind that I needed to be published to be worth something.

Even writing that it sounds nuts, but I know a lot of photographers put a ton of pressure on themselves to be published, whether print or blog. I’m not saying getting published is bad, so hear me out.

BEING PUBLISHED DOES NOT EQUAL YOUR WORTH. 

I have tried getting published a few (more than a few…) times. And every. single. time. I’m told that they need to see more detail shots. You know; cake, shoes, dress, venue, centerpieces….yawn.

Don’t kill me or anything, but I just don’t see the merit in photographing those things for an hour. I know some photographers do, and I’m so glad that works for you. It’s not for me, because

I’m a photographer of people. 

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I’m a photographer of moments. 

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I am NOT a photographer of things. 

I know there are more of you out there like me, which is why I’m sharing this with you. I always get what I need of the details. I know how hard my brides work on their wedding day details, so they are important for that reason. But, if I have 30 minutes to photograph the bride and groom AND the details? I’m going to spend 25 minutes with the bride and groom and 5 minutes on the details. The photos of the two of them, on one of the most important days of their lives, completely outweigh photos of the napkins and chairs.

I know some people (ahem, other photographers) say that being published gets you free advertising. Especially if you make it on a really well known blog. Somehow, unless you are VERY specific in your niche, I doubt you’re getting much out of that one blog post. I would rather provide my couples with really kick ass customer service so they tell their friends about me. Personal referrals are everything to me.

I’m not saying getting published is stupid, or that I’m bitter because I was rejected so many times. I know my clients are happy, and I’m happy…so that’s what matters.  Just know, if you are struggling with the desire to be published, but are getting denied; don’t get discouraged! Take a step back and figure out WHY you want to be published, and if it’s actually worth it.

 

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4 Advantages to Editing Photos Faster

4 advantages to editing photos fasterWe all have excuses, right? You’re a mother, a single parent, a spouse, a family man, or you work another job. With all that on your plate and trying to prioritize for the things that matter most you just can’t get the editing done fast enough. Sometimes I feel like I’m drowning in editing. There are times I wish I could take forever to edit photos, but what I’ve learned over the many years of being a photographer is that the faster you can edit photos and get them back to your clients, the more you benefit as a business owner. Even though you have a thousand other things going on maybe these points can help you figure out how to edit faster. There are so many photographers who wish they could edit faster, but don’t have either the motivation or the means. I’m not here to judge. Everyone’s life is totally different. You gotta do you first and foremost at all times. However, if you’re interested in a change and you’ve been wanting to make one, maybe these tips will help give you the kick in the pants you need.
  1. More Print Sales – It doesn’t matter to me whether you do IPS (In Person Sales) or whether you sell online when your clients download their gallery. There’s always an opportunity to sell more prints. The sooner you can edit your photos the more excited your clients will be. I always want to hit my clients with their photos when they’re still in that euphoric week after their wedding. When they’re the happiest, relaxed and so much less stress. I love my clients, but I also know it’s the best time to end up making print sales too. If I chose to wait it out then my clients start emailing, calling and texting about their photos. They get impatient and are less likely to be excited and thus less likely to order through me.
  2. Happier Clients – If you’ve ever heard that saying ‘happy wife happy life’ I feel like this sometimes applies to clients too. A happy client is a happy business owner. The sooner you can get your clients their photos the happier they will be. Who doesn’t want their clients to be happy? I want mine to be as happy as humanly possible. Happy clients bring all kinds of advantages to there business owners.
  3. More Referrals – More referrals is a sign of a happy client. When I shortened my editing time a couple years ago one thing I noticed was how quickly my clients were to refer me, tag me on Facebook and let their friends and family know how soon they got their photos. That inevitably led to more bookings.
  4. Less Stress – Every photographer knows what it’s like to be suffocating under the weight of sessions upon weddings upon sessions to edit. It weighs down on you and it feels like it will NEVER end. If you can find and create ways to edit faster you get less stress. Less stress means you can take your life back. More time with family, with your kids, or spouse. More time for you.
I couldn’t write this article without leaving a couple tips on ways you can actually accomplish editing photos faster. I’m more than wiling to admit that it’s just not possible for every photographer to edit faster. That’s ok. It’s totally ok. Ultimately what matters most is that you are happy and so are your clients. Businesses are always run differently. There’s no right way to do any one thing in business. There are a million ways to do it. The way that makes you the most happy is most likely going to be the right way so don’t worry if this isn’t possible for you.
I have two big tips for accomplishing editing faster. One is to outsource your editing to a company like Shoot Dot Edit. That can be pricey and may cause you to have to raise your prices. It makes some photographers nervous. You never have to outsource though. It’s not your only option. I run four businesses. Yes. FOUR. I still edit 30-35 weddings a year on my own without outsourcing. Here’s how I manage it. When a client books a session (like engagement photos) or their wedding I don’t just mark off the day of the shoot or wedding in my calendar. I mark off an entire day in my calendar on the next week for editing. It may just be me, but I feel like I owe it to them to ensure that I’m not only making time in my calendar to photograph them, but also to edit their photos. This method doesn’t work for everyone, but it definitely has changed the way I run my business and ensures that I can make time for editing (which I do love to do myself).
I hope this article may inspire you to edit faster or give you some ideas on how to accomplish it if you’re motivated. If you need support, hit up our Facebook group, or shoot me an email! Don’t be afraid to ask for help or look for support in a community of like minded people!

3 Steps for Creating an Annual Marketing Plan

PHOTOGRAPHYAWESOMESAUCE.COM-2There’s this business I know personally. It seems like every week I see them floundering when it comes to marketing. Whether you’re a business owner yet or not you’ve probably seen another business and thought the same. You’ve wondered how they have survived so long on such a minuscule marketing plan. I wonder that about businesses sometimes. I was having a conversation with someone the other day and they said this business is ‘reactive’ and not ‘proactive.’ I’m pretty sure that statement created immediate fireworks and has sat with me ever since. Reactive marketing. Proactive marketing. I’ve been throwing those words around inside my brain for weeks now and decided to write about it.
Here’s what I’ve realized. Reactive marketing is the kind that responds to customer complaints and tries to fix problems after they’ve raised. Proactive marketing anticipates everything in advance, plans in advance and avoids those kinds of fixes and complaints that come with not being prepared. So…I want you to be prepared! The best way to prepare yourself for any business marketing is to create an annual marketing plan. I realize it might be March, but that doesn’t matter. We don’t have to start these things at the New Year no matter how much my organizational issues like it.
An annual marketing plan can help you create a plan of attack in advance that anticipates customers needs, reactions and basically beats them to the punch. Not all business owners are planners  though. I get it. I know I’m in the minority with my hand written planner, notebook full of scribbled notes and need for a very specific type of pens in my office. Even though planning and organizational skills come natural to so many people you can still work toward having a more organized approach to your marketing plan and here’s a few tips that can help.
  • Create a marketing calendar. This is your first step. I don’t care how it’s done. Print out a blank monthly calendar, write it in your planner, write down the months in your Evernote or a Word document. Just create a calendar somewhere right now, or at least after reading this blog post. In order to create an organized marketing plan you need a calendar. This calendar will serve as a place to make notes on what you need to do to prepare in advance for different events.
  • List out holidays and events. Tons of businesses plan holiday-related sales and events. I want you to go through your calendar for the remainder of this year (or next year or wherever you are in the future reading this) and mark down any holiday you are using as a marketing opportunity for business. If you’re a photographer and you do Fourth of July mini sessions, or Halloween Costume photo sessions you need to mark down the dates and set them aside in this calendar right now. The more you plan in advance the more successful you’ll be.
  • Planning! That’s what’s next. Now that you have your calendar and your dates you are holding events or need to plan marketing events around you actually have to do the work. If you have Fourth of July mini photo sessions on your calendar then you need to go in and mark the date when you are going to start marketing and selling these to your customers. If you want to get really fancy, maybe make a few notes about how you are going to do the marketing. Email, social media, fliers…you name it. This is how you build your marketing plan.
I’m hoping this blog post helped you stop what you are doing and break out a notebook and pen (my preference) or Evernote (eww digital stuffs) and start brainstorming and creating some organization for your business when it comes to your marketing efforts. You’re going to be so much more prepared and booked when you’ve spent a few minutes planning in advance. This isn’t a project that has to take hours or days by any means. Just sit down for an hour and make a list or two and put it somewhere you’ll be able to find and check into regularly. Add the reminders for your marketing plan into your Google Calendar or iCal. Take some action and you’ll see the results!

If you want to learn more awesome behind the business stuff like this make sure you subscribe to our weekly newsletter below, where we’ll be giving out extra special discounts and a few free products only for subscribers this Winter. You can also join our Facebook group, follow us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, and even follow me on Pinterest where I love to pin social media, blogging, business, and photography tips from all over the web! If you subscribe to our newsletter you’ll need to head on over to your email after you hit the submit button here to confirm your subscription. If you don’t see a confirmation check your junk/spam!

WPPI Wrap Up: My #1 Suggestion for Newbies (and Veterans too!)

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If you’ve never attended WPPI (Wedding and Portrait Photographers International), it might be hard to understand the scope of what I’m about to write about (and why it even needs to be written about). The thing is, Las Vegas is a whole bucket of cray-cray all on it’s own. Add tens of thousands of photographers to that mix, throw in a handful of photographer “rock stars”, and a ginormous trade show to boot? It’s like crazy took crazy pills. There is so much to do, so much to see, so many vendors and new gear and demonstrations and platform classes and that’s just the photography side! Add the parties, the casino floor, aaaaaall that cigarette smoke, the focus groups, the meals and meetups, the let’s-go-test-what-we-just-learned-and-have-a-photoshoot-in-our-room-oh-crap-who-can-we-get-to-model-forget-it-we’ll-just-shoot-each-other moments, the no sleep, the endless walking, the lights, the shows…. it’s seriously nuts.

And if it’s your first time attending, it can be really (REALLY) overwhelming. It’s easy to get lost in the fray and to feel truly starstruck as you walk around passing by your photography heroes and meeting so many people that seem to be doing all the things you wish you were doing too.

Now, I’ve been in this business full-time for over a decade now, and I feel like I’ve finally gotten the hang of this whole insane conference thing. I had the opportunity to not only room with a few people who were brand new to WPPI this year, but to observe several different levels of experience. I spent time with WPPI’s marketing team, with one of this year’s Grand Award winners, with various “famous” photographers, with a lot of the vendors, and with a whole lot of people just like me who spend their year day-in-and-day-out in the trenches of this business. One of the things that struck me was how people choose to let their conference experience go.

Hands down, the best advice I can possibly give to anyone attending WPPI (or similar conferences) is this: go up and talk to people.

It sounds simple, but let me expound for a minute here. I watched so many new conference goers “fan girl” and freak out about talking to someone (a photography hero, a vendor, etc). I’ve been that person myself. I’m watched people do the circling-to-land maneuver, flying around the periphery before finally working up the courage to say a simple hello. And I can’t tell you how much I’ve seen people leave the conversation at a simple “I love your work”, take a selfie, run away combo.

Whether you’re new or not, I would urge you to try to connect with people. Is it terrifying? Yeah. Of course it is. Even the most extroverted of people get a flutter of I’m-about-to-make-a-fool-of-myself when they open themselves up like that. But I’m telling you, there is nothing more inviting and nothing more rewarding than being vulnerable. It is the universal connector. It is the author of authenticity. If you see a photography hero in the halls, walk over, introduce yourself, tell them something you learned from them, and then listen. Ask them a few questions. Connect with them as a person. Smile. Be confident in knowing that you’re both just people. Give them the space to do what they need to, but acknowledging the vulnerability you both feel to be opened up to the world like that will allow for a genuine connection.

Don’t have time to talk one-on-one with someone (ps – after a class or presentation is a bad time to try to do that), that’s ok. Leave them a thank you note (scribbled on the back of an envelope if you have to, but if you bring cards, awesome!). Tell them something you’re thankful for in their presentation. You’d be surprised how many of the presenters never hear that stuff. Leave your email address on the bottom and let them know you’d love to connect.

But the bottom line? Choose connection. Choose to talk to people instead of skirt the edges. Choose to be vulnerable. Choose to put yourself out there not only with presenters and “famous people”, but with the people you sit next to at your classes, the people you bump into on the trade show floor. Go to lunch together in that lame food court and learn from each other through conversation and shared stories. Grab coffee or sit in the hallways charging your phones and really listen to what the people around you have to say.

The best moments at a place like WPPI rarely come from the presentations or the tech talk or the selfies. It’s the people and connections you make. I promise you won’t regret it.

~Brienne

* Brienne is a the snarky chick behind the camera and under the water for briennemichelle.com and hipeanut.com. Besides her love of sarcasm and wine, she also loves to connect with people, mentor, educate, and generally get her geek on with photography. Have questions? Want more input? Email her directly connect through the cool crowd on her website — briennemichelle.com/coolcrowd *

5 Things To Know Before Photographing Your First Wedding

5 THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE PHOTOGRAPHING YOUR FIRST WEDDINGDuring that time as a photographer where I was just delving into the wedding world I would find myself lying awake at night staring at my popcorn ceiling wondering if photographing weddings was a path I truly wanted to follow. Weddings are just so big and incredibly final. What would happen if I messed up? I’ve always been a cautious person so these thoughts are the ones I always found racing through my mind at inopportune times, like the night before I was going to photograph a wedding and really needed the sleep.
Despite the challenges that weddings possessed I took the ups and downs and learned as much as I could from them. I am still learning. I’ll always be learning, but today I hope to pass down a few tips that I wish I’d learned before photographing weddings. It’s easy to see these points written down on a blog post in some far corner of the internet and not take them seriously. In fact, I would venture to guess most people reading this blog post will be nodding and thinking they’ve got all this stuff down. You probably do. Or maybe you’ve heard these things a thousand times before in a Facebook group when some newbie photographer posts asking for tips and all the experienced togs swoop in with world advice and experience and scare off that newbie. My hope is to never scare anyone away from doing something they love, but instead to be here with a few tips to remind you of just how important weddings are before you start documenting the memories of the day.
  1. Study hard and invest well. Never cut corners. Do you hear me? NEVER CUT CORNERS. A wedding is (hopefully) a once in a lifetime event. If you’re cutting corners and just doing the minimum amount of work to get by then you’re doing the clients a disservice. Be an advocate of their wedding day and do the best job you possibly can.
  2. Get that back up gear! When I started photographing weddings I couldn’t afford all the fancy lenses and camera bodies that all the big leaders of the time used. Sometimes it felt as though I could never be a real wedding photographer without all the fancy equipment. We know that’s not true. The talent comes from behind the camera and the equipment is just a tool you use to create. Back up gear is essential to making sure your clients are secure and you’ll always get the shot. Camera drops into a fountain? Falls and breaks? You must have extras! The problem is that we don’t all have the financial ability to run out and buy whatever we want. Make sure you build a budget into your business for renting back up gear until you can afford to buy it. That way you’ll never let your clients down.
  3. Contracts are essential! You’ve probably heard that before. I know legal agreements are daunting. You might be nervous about having clients sign one. Just remember contracts aren’t just for you. You’re not using this tool to hoodwink your clients into submission. This is a tool for both of you. It protects both them and you. It outlines and sets the expectations for the day. A contract makes sure that everyone knows exactly what is happening and precisely what their roles are.
  4. Be prepared! There are so many levels of preparedness that go into weddings. I don’t think it’s even possible to be prepared enough. Anything that you can do to prepare yourself for this big business step of shooting a wedding is something you should do. If you have the opportunity to go to a venue walk through, do it. The wedding rehearsal? Do it. If those aren’t happening schedule a time to visit the venue on your own. Read anything and everything you can find about photographing a wedding. Second shoot as much as possible or be an intern at a wedding. Take every opportunity to learn and you’ll become more prepared.
  5. Timelines are essential. A wedding timeline is something you can work together to create with your clients and their planner (if they have one). This timeline will help you prepare for any major lighting traditions and let you know when you have time for a quick bathroom break. You need a timeline. If nobody has created one, talk to your clients about creating one. Everything seems less stressful and rushed when there is a timeline, even if you deviate from it.
If you’re getting ready to shoot your first wedding don’t be afraid to ask for help and tips. Sometimes you just need someone to commiserate with when you’re nervous. Just remember everyone who was ever successful at photographing weddings was EXACTLY where you are right now asking themselves the same questions. If you want to learn more awesome behind the business stuff like this make sure you subscribe to our weekly newsletter below, where we’ll be giving out extra special discounts and a few free products only for subscribers this Winter. You can also join our Facebook group, follow us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, and even follow me on Pinterest where I love to pin social media, blogging, business, and photography tips from all over the web! If you subscribe to our newsletter you’ll need to head on over to your email after you hit the submit button here to confirm your subscription. If you don’t see a confirmation check your junk/spam!