If you’re anything like me, the thought of adding another item to your business to-do list may call for another pint of ice cream or jar of Nutella. But there’s hope. For the last few years, I’ve been running a great senior business without a senior rep or spokesmodel program. Believe me I tried and let me tell you it was an epic fail. My senior reps were shooting with the competition and not referring any clients and I had spent a ton on rep cards, swag bags, and t-shirts without any return on my investment. I couldn’t even get a genuine re-post on Instagram or a share on Facebook without asking first. I was losing the fight and decided to go against the grain and operate my senior business without a senior rep program. And guess what? It worked. Instead of depending on someone who possibly still forgets to turn in their homework to refer me business, I became the spokesperson for my business. And you can too.
Rock Your Brand. That’s right wear your own company t-shirt while heading to the grocery store, mall, movies, or running errands. You are best spokesperson and face of your company! Building brand awareness for your company is great and allows clients to “put a face with a name.” This is great especially if you’re in a new town or have recently launched your business.
Be Your Own Kind of Awesome. Say goodbye to doing what your competition is doing. Be your own kind of awesome. Your senior clients will love you for who YOU are. If you’re into sports, Broadways and musicals, video games, or shopping, show them and share your awesome. They’d love to know more about the person who’s taking their photos and book someone they can relate to. Don’t be afraid to post behind the scenes of you doing your favorite hobbies on Instagram. You’ll be surprised how much they adore you for just being you.
Be Visible. You can’t be the number one senior photographer in your market if you’re always behind your computer. Get out and be visible in your community. Whether it’s volunteering at their school, handing out business cards or flyers at the local craft show, being involved in the PTO or booster club, or attending sporting events. Teens would love to get to know you and your business.
Growing your senior business will take work but being active in your community and truly getting to know your clients will have the parents talking about YOU in no time! Before you know it teens will be talking about you and spreading your name with no strings attached! I’ll tell you more next month about how I’ve built lasting relationships with seniors! Senior photography is all about building relationships with your clients.
Hey you! Yes you! Ugh do you ever get sick of the photography industry’s ability to just judge everyone and tear each other apart? We’re all guilty of ranting and complaining, but today let’s stop for a minute and do things differently. Let’s acknowledge that we’re all human and we’re all doing the crazy insane hustle that is owning a business. Owning a business is literally the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it’s also the most rewarding. So today, smile and remember you’re awesome for even being here and trying this thing. It takes a lot of guts to put your work out there, to ask for help, to make mistakes, and run a business.
I don’t care if you’re a newbie, an experienced photographer, a hobbyist or something else. I don’t care if you charge $10 or $10,000. Maybe you’re working for free to build your portfolio. Lets put our judgements aside for just one small minute and give ourselves a pat on the back for even being here and trying to do this thing. Because this business shit is hard enough. What makes it worse is when we don’t acknowledge how hard we, or others in the industry are working to get to where our personal goals are.
Today I just wanted to post on the blog to remind you that you’re awesome, you’re worthy and to keep kicking ass. Ignore the Facebook posts complaining about photographers who do XYZ, or the haters. If you’ve ever been a hater, stop for a moment and re-evaluate with me. We all make that mistake. Be proud of where you are now and what you’ve accomplished.
If you do one thing today, aside from reading this blog, I want you to be proud of yourself. Find 5 quiet minutes today and sit down and list 3 things you’re proud of in your photography business. You don’t have to shout them out to the world or post them in a Facebook group where you’ll have to worry about the judgement of everyone around you. Just say them to yourself and take a minute to realize that it’s okay if you’re not where everyone else is around you. It’s okay if your goals aren’t as lofty as that photographer down the street. You do you and be proud of that.
Seriously have MAD RESPECT for yourself (and hopefully others) for even trying to do this photography business thing. Spend some time today celebrating that! We all make mistakes and we all learn from them. Today let’s wipe our slates clean, start fresh, and be proud of wherever we’re at.
You may discover it is a little harder to find a spot in your cities more popular public places for your portraits sessions, and it’s not an Uncle Bob. No, it’s a more menacing threat that you may be facing, a group of people just trying to catch them all.
That’s right folks, your favorite photo location might just be overrun by people playing Pokemon Go.
Now, I should preface that I personally love Pokemon Go (team red represent!) and think it’s a fun game with tons of nostalgia. However, at a few recent weddings I’ve shot, we’ve arrived to our planned photo locations and have found hundreds of people playing Pokemon Go. Lawn chairs, pizza, and people everywhere sitting and playing and just looking for a Snorlax on a Saturday afternoon. Can you say stress for your family or bride & groom? It’s hard to get those genuine photos when there are tons of people mulling about. It’s even harder when the location is a spot your client has dreamed of having their photos taken in.
So, what can we do about it? Largely, there isn’t a ton we can do. It’s impossible to try to keep people from playing their game in a public place. Throwing Pokeballs at them to get them to move is probably going to be frowned upon. However, you can do a little extra planning to make your wedding day or family session running smoothly and avoiding stepping right into a Poke Gym.
1 ) Scout Your Location – The easiest way to prepare is to scout ahead of time. Visit your portrait spot around the same time you’ll be doing portraits another day of the week, see how the flow of traffic goes and try to find a few alternate spots in that location that aren’t as popular. There may be a less populated section of the park you can take your clients into. Weddings can be pressed for time as it is, so picking a few back up locations will help you save time later!
2) Find A More Secluded Spot – If your location is totally overrun and your client doesn’t have their heart on a more popular location, perhaps finding a private venue would be a better fit. Make sure to check out if they require a permit!
Photo By: Elizabeth Haase (iphone)
While not 100% ideal for us as photographers, Pokemon Go is here to stay and is something everyone will eventually run into. These “Pokefolk” might be in the way, but most people are understanding that you are doing formal photos and will move if you ask them nicely. If they don’t, you can always drop a lure on the other side of the location to get the group to move!
I’m knee-deep in what seems like endless to-do lists for the next two months. We’re moving. 5 hours away from the Denver area to one of the most remote spots in the state. It’s a small town. When I say small. I mean small. I know it can be hard to comprehend, but let me tell you…the only grocery store is also an Ace Hardware. At first my thought was, “well at least there’s a grocery store.” However, after my first visit to the grocery store…I’m preparing to shop for groceries at the nearest town, which is an hour away and also in Utah (it’s also still ridiculously small). The produce section had about one of a handful of veggies. You may have been able to get a small broccoli crown for $5 each. There was only one on sale at the time I was there.
Basically…it’s small. I think the thing I’m most sad about is no movie theater. I’ve been a movie-goer for as long as I can remember. The nearest towns to where we’ll be going are all about an hour and a half away. They’re still pretty small too. I’m moving at the end of this August and the biggest question I’ve received is, “Oh no! What will you do about your business?!” Then they quickly answer their own question and say, “Oh well you can just shoot weddings there.” Um yeah…because a town of 2,000 people without a real grocery store is such a hot spot for weddings.
So here are a few things I’m learning along the way. This will be the first time I’ve moved my business a long distance and hopefully I can follow up this post with more info as I go through it all.
Raise your prices right away.
As soon as I knew we were relocating I raised my prices. I still plan on shooting anywhere in the state of Colorado. That means my plan is to simply increase my pricing to include the cost of travel for all weddings inside state lines. That way pricing is simple and easy for people to understand. I did this a couple months ago when we got news of the move and it hasn’t stopped booking at all. Since I’m lucky enough to still be in driving distance of where I photograph a lot of weddings it may seem like much hasn’t changed, but it is a lot more difficult to balance double header weekends if they have different locations, find a place for the dogs and do everything else.
Change your locations online.
I’ll be moving to the “Western Slope” as we like to call it in Colorado. So it gives me a whole new list of mountain towns and wedding locations I can incorporate into my website wording. By listing those locations on my website, I’m opening up my search engine optimization (SEO) so I have a better chance of being found in a Google search for new locations. Make it clear to readers where you’re at and where you’ll be available. If you’re living in a small town one of the best things you can do is use nearby larger towns to anchor your locations to a larger audience. You might have to step out of your comfort zone and be willing to travel too. I’m still keeping my Denver stuff on my website so I can shoot anywhere. I’ll just make my audience larger by expanding to all new towns.
Be OCD about planning.
This. So much this. I can’t even tell you. I run 4 businesses so photography is just one of them. While the other ones aren’t location sensitive, the wedding photography is. Between doing most of the paperwork and packing myself and everything else I will admit I’m totally overwhelmed. Knowing that I still have to photograph about 15 weddings in the month before and after I move means that I have to become a time management goddess. I sat down with a calendar and wrote down which days I have weddings and where they are. Then I had to plan for the first month after I move where I get to drive back down to Denver every weekend for double (and triple) header weddings. So I marked off the weddings, the driving days and looked at what was left. Just enough time to keep up on editing. I have a very tight calendar with days marked off for packing now too. The best thing you can do so you don’t lose momentum or fall behind on editing for your clients is to plan which days you’re going to do it all – and then STICK TO IT.
Decide how to let your clients know.
I’m not one for announcing price changes or big things on social media. I don’t feel its necessary, but I understand why other business owners do. I just made my price change and started handing out those prices to all my inquiries after that date. I also won’t be making a big announcement about moving in the midst of one of the busiest parts of wedding season either. No need to panic my clients. I’m just going to keep on with how things are going because I know I’ve got my plan, my strict schedule and that I’ve got this. Moving isn’t allowed to be an excuse for neglecting my clients.
With as many projects and businesses as I’ve got going on prioritizing is key. There are big things I’ve been wanting to work on, but I’m learning they have to wait. Right now my priority is to simply stay on top of things for my clients first and foremost. My to-do list for all businesses is left to blogging, social media, and editing. With a bit of client communication, wedding timeline building and things like that thrown in. Updating my website, making new online classes, and any other big projects are not happening. During the move itself I’m just going to keep up with the bare minimum of things needed to keep the business running and in Winter when wedding season is done and I’m living in the middle of nowhere (with no movie theater to distract me), I’ll have tons of projects and things to work on. It’s important to not burn yourself out and ensure you’ve got your clients and customer service at the top of your list during stressful times. If your clients see you handling things like a boss when they know you’ve got a lot on your plate, they’ll love you even more.
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A few weeks ago I returned home from shooting a wedding. It had been a particularly draining day, it was late, I was tired, and all I wanted was my bed.
Until I looked on the fridge and saw a newspaper clipping with my photo in it. A photo that I didn’t give permission to use or even release to a vendor. And suddenly my exhaustion turned to aggravation and instead of my bed, I wanted a carton of eggs and some toilet paper. #sweetrevenge
To make a long story short, a vendor from a wedding took an image off my Facebook business page. Without permission. Then submitted that image to be featured in an article by the city newspaper. And I was upset, furious, and really frustrated because I believe in sharing images with vendors. I’m happy to share images because I know that it takes a community to make a wedding happen. The food, flowers, lighting, music, etc. are a part of the day and as the one who captures the day and those details, I’m happy to share.
Sharing is caring and stealing is not cool. I took a few days to cool down from this because I didn’t want to react out of anger. I find it valuable as a business owner and as a human being to have guidelines to help me deal with conflict. These are the points that I always come down to:
How would I want to be treated in this situation?
Is this a valuable relationship?
Yes they did something wrong. Yes I was upset. But ultimately I want to have a good vendor relationship with this company because they produce good work and I know I will work with them at future weddings. At the end of the day, I didn’t want to bury this company with bad reviews or demand a stack of cash. I want the wedding industry to be a good community and I think that starts with maintaining good relationships among vendors and coming from places of respect and value.
I wrote an email to the vendor in a polite (but stern) way. Within 45 minutes, I received an email from three different people in the company, including the owner. They were apologetic, got to the bottom of it, and made sure that this would not happen again…to me or any other photographers.
No matter how badly people may treat you, the way you react to situations is a reflection of your business and ultimately, you. It’s important to stand up for yourself and your business and communicate with people in the industry if there are issues. I encourage each of you to stand up for yourself and each other to make the wedding and photography industry a better place.