Here’s what I know. I’ve been planning my own event now for 3 years (this last year’s just finished). I know what it’s like to try and afford food to feed everyone attending, styled shoots, planners, venues and more. I also know what it’s like to pay huge prices to go to events because I’ve paid them myself. I have a background in teaching, a K-12 Art Education degree and I always struggle with this balance of should a conference profit, or should education be affordable and accessible.
So, today I’m here to say that thanks to some clever planning, sponsors and more, the 4th Awesomesauce conference (now known as Photo Camp) is only going to be $99 a person to attend. That’s all your ticket costs. I want to focus on giving you the education and cutting all the icky stuff that goes along with planning events. Instead of feeling stretched thin trying to coordinate food, shoots and more (although this year I had an amazing planner to do all that for me), I think in the future I’ll be focusing on just the education. That’s what you pay for – just the education.
Here’s something I’ve learned this past year too. When you, as a business owner, focus on doing what you love, not for the money, you end up more abundant than ever (and I’m not just talking wealth here). So 2017 is for you guys. The cost of your tickets pays for the cost of the venue (oh and s’mores). My time is yours. I want you to come not knowing anyone and leave with a huge community of friends.
2017 is also going to change in a big way as in – no more shoots! That’s right, a photography event without shooting. You can go to almost any photography event and shoot. I often find that the shooting distracts from the learning. As photographers we all started this business for the love of shooting and it’s the business end, that most of the time, we need major help with. 2017 is ALL about your business. It’s about branding, marketing, Facebook, social media, Instagram, blogging, Pinterest, snapchat and learning how to connect with your ideal customers. I want you to walk away with actionable tips to put in place as soon as you leave (or even during). I don’t want you to walk away simply feeling inspired. Inspiration and motivation to keep plugging through your business is great, and we all need that, but we need to know how and what to do exactly that can help us, right?
I’m really looking forward to our biggest and best year yet next year and I hope to see so many more of you who are a part of this community in person, meet you, teach you and – learn from you. Every year doing this conference has always been a big part of learning for me and I love that challenge! So let’s rock it in 2017!
As I am approaching my one year anniversay in June of becoming a full time photographer, I have been reflecting on what I have learned this past year. I am SO grateful to be doing my dream job everyday but it has been a bit of a bumpy road. Being an entrepreneur is not easy, and I didn’t expect it to be, but I didn’t realizehow much work I was going to be doing and how much time it was going to take to be successful but let me tell you, it has been worth it!
Some backstory for you is I was working full time in a health care facility as a receptionist. I did some college but never figured out what I wanted to dedicate my life to. I have always been a creative and wanted to something creative but didn’t want to be an art teacher. So I was getting my generals out of the way expecting that one day I will wake up and know what I want to do for the rest of my life. Well that never happened and instead, I met a boy and got married!!! I never finished school and thought I would be a receptionist for the rest of my life. Then one day my husband and I bought a camera so we could make music videos for him (he’s a musician) but instead, I started playing with it and began taking pictures, posting them on facebook, and wa-la(!), I began getting clients. I did it as a hobby for two years when one day I had the opportunity to quit my full time job to pursue it. By opportunity I mean my boss wouldn’t let me take time off to photograph a wedding that was two weeks away and had been planning to shoot for months and I couldn’t just cancel on the bride. Also hubby got a new job making enough money to cover my income.
So, all of that to say, even though I am full time I am not making a ton of money (yet!) but I am constantly working on finding ways to build my business. Not only that I am constantly learning about how to run a business and what tools to use to help run a business. So without furthe adieau, here is what I have learned (in no particular order):
1. Writing down my dreams and your goals for my business and looking at them regularly will get you far. I have writen down my financial goals, educational goals, my personal goals, and have made a timeline of when I want to have these goals done by. By doing this, I have executed my first styled shoot this past year and have been published a couple of times all because I wanted it really bad. Plus I have met all of my financial goals every month, have booked double the weddings I had last year, and have learned so much by taking classes and workshops including Carrie’s Photography Awesomesauce Photo Camp.
2. This kind of piggy backs on the last one but never stop learning. I feel like I’m still barely scratching the surface of photography and everything there is to know about it (even though I’ve been shooting for 3 years) but thinking about the things I want to learn and maybe schedule an hour or two everyweek just to research it has helped me so much. I’ve learned a little bit about off camera flash, what the difference is between a Canon 6D and a Canon 5D miii is, what the Brenzier Method is, how to fix chromatic aberration and a few other things. Since I learned photography on my own I have had to learn about a lot of things the hard way and have had to do my own research but it helps me feel a little more confident as a photographer and not feel like a fool or a fraud lol. Can you hear some of my true feelings coming out lol?
3. Shoot for yourself regularly. This has kept me feeling inspired and creative and not burnt out. It’s so easy for me to get in a rut and feel like photography is work, which it is, but I don’t ever want to forget why I’m doing it and why I love it. When I was starting out I would take my camera everywhere with me just to make sure I captured everything that was beautiful to me but now I think about how much editing I already have to do and I don’t want to add to it. I still don’t take my camera everywhere with me but instead I plan a shoot with a family member or a friend and go buck wild with it. I plan weird poses that I’ve been wanting to try and I have them wear something that correlates with the mood or theme I’m going for, and I just create. Most of my favorite images have been during these shoots and they always leave me feeling rejuvinated and inspired.
4. If you have read my last post then you know I’m an introvert. That means I can so easily get cooped up in my house and become a loner (fo real doe). What I have learned is that community is important. By seriously stretching myself and purposing to go to workshops and networking events (because that is literally work for me) I have met some incredible people and have had their help making my dreams come true. For example, I went to a workshop here in Denver for wedding vendors and met some incredbile women who were just starting their businesses and we partnered together for our first styled shoot. It was so much fun and we all were so excited to work together and now we are all good friends.
5. Even though I have been shooting for only 3 years I can already tell that my shoulders and back are starting to hurt from holding my camera and my camera bag. Since I am on my feet a lot during weddings and shoots and sitting hunched over a lot while editing, I have decided to take better care of myself. I am only 26 and if I am already feeling pain in my body. That is a sign for me to do take better care of my body. If I want to be the best at what I do and live a long healthy life and stay mobile, I need to take care of my body because I only get one and it’s suppose to last up to 70 to 100 years. I have wanted to get a little healthier anyway but I have decided that my health and body are worth investing in so I am doing accupunture, some chiropractic, an occasional massage, and doing yoga. Now that wedding season has begun I will really be able to tell if these are helping by the end of the season but so far I’m loving all of them. And just a tip (I am a huge budgeter and like to find deals), if you can’t afford preventative care a suggestion for you may be to do trade work with them. I have been trading photos with my accupunturist so that I can get “free” care and it’s been amazing! Also I go to a yoga class occasionally to stay inspired but I have found some amazing resources on YouTube for free and have been loving practicing at home.
Anyway, those are just a few things I have a learned this year from being full time. I know it was a little bit longer of a post but hopefully the photos helped a little! 🙂
How cool would it be if you just got a check in the mail every month with extra money on the side for your business? Sounds too good to be true right? Well, this isn’t any “get rich quick” scheme. It won’t exactly make you rich right away, but it can be a great tool to add to your business if you think it might be a good fit.
This blog post is about becoming an affiliate! Affiliates are usually people like you and me who sign up to be an affiliate with a company, and you get a custom link. When you give that link out to anyone and they purchase something from the company through that link you get a little kick back. I love affiliate programs because they’re great for bloggers to earn a little extra bit on the side.
Here are a few tips you should know about affiliate marketing before I get to the nitty-gritty and tell you some awesome places you can become an affiliate for as a wedding photographer.
Affiliate marketing requires that you have a disclaimer on any blog post, email or social media post that you earn money when people purchase through the link. Make sure you read more about how you’re required to provide disclaimers. Sometimes different companies have different rules, and you always need to obey the law.
In the US the law really wants you to make it bold and easy for people to find your affiliate disclaimer. That means don’t bury it at the bottom of a blog post or try to hide it. You can put a big disclaimer at the top of the post, or put it right next to the link that you make an income from. Just try to be obvious and honest.
Don’t become an affiliate for anything and everything just because you can. Be an affiliate for companies you know you’ll actually promote a lot and actually like. That way it’s genuine when you link to them and suggest them.
Now, before we really really actually do dive into where to become an affiliate I need to tell you something. Truth. I don’t want my clients to print at Shutterfly or Canvas Pop. Obviously, I’d like them to print through me as much as possible. However, my theory is that if for some reason they are going to print through someone else – at the very least I should make money off of it. That’s why I’m an affiliate for companies like Shutterfly and Canvas Pop. At the end of the day I’m a business and I do have to pay the mortgage and eat. I know some of you are judging right now, but don’t worry – I always push ordering through me and my quality labs first.
Shutterfly, Tiny Prints, and Wedding Paper Divas – These are all the same company. In fact, Borrow Lenses is also part of the Shutterfly team. Shutterfly can be good for quick prints for scrapbooking and I love sending clients to Wedding Paper Divas to make save the dates, invitations and thank you cards. How great is it to get a little kickback off each of their paper goods at every wedding? I have done a lot of in person sales in the past and used to design and offer these paper goods as services I could provide, but I just didn’t find joy in it and decided it wasn’t for me and this was a better alternative.
Miller’s and Mpix – Miller’s and Mpix have an affiliate program now! I know a lot of photographers who would suggest Mpix to their clients as a good consumer printer lab. Now you can make money every time you suggest it and they go print there.
Modcloth – Modcloth might not be for everyone, but they have some wedding dresses, bridesmaids dresses, and great shoes which a lot of my clients love!
Artifact Uprising – If clients don’t want to print an album with me, this is one of the amazing places I suggest.
Canvas Pop – If they want to print their own canvases…here you go!
Mixbook – This is a new album printing company. Or at least it’s new to me. I discovered it because one of my brides used it and loved it, so I figured why not promote it too?
Now, I’ve got to tell you how you can make these affiliate sales happen. I do it in two ways. One is through my automated email reminders with my clients and another is through blogging. With automated emails I use both Pixifi and Shootproof‘s systems. I use Pixifi to send email reminders from the moment they book up until the day after the wedding. In those emails I link back to a lot of blog posts and other resources I think my clients would love and I can throw in a few of these links too. Once their photos are delivered I switch to Shootproof‘s email system which is connected to their online gallery. With each email reminder there’s instructions to order through me, coupon codes for ordering through me, and several of these printing options with my affiliates that I suggest as well. It is totally okay to say, “If you appreciated working with me at all I’d love it if you used one of these links when you order because it sends me a little kick back.” If you want to start using Shootproof use my exclusive coupon code to grab 25% off any annual plan. Code: SWAILS25
When it comes to blogging I know I can blog about any one of these companies, and mix them up into various resourceful posts for my clients as well.
This is just how I roll and it’s something I’ve implemented more recently, but I’m already loving and seeing a lot of success from. This isn’t going to be for everyone, but for those who have asked I hope this post helps. Maybe you’ll find it appalling that I’d even let my clients order from Shutterfly and that’s okay too. I get it. We all run our businesses differently and do what works best for us and this has been an amazing way to but a cherry on top of the cake of business income.
If you want to know how to become an affiliate for a lot of these companies you can head right over to Share a Sale, which is a website that can connect you to all kinds of companies to start doing affiliate sales. All of these except Millers are listed on there and you can even use my link to sign up with Share a Sale and hey it sends me a little love too (note the disclaimer)! Here’s a link to Miller’s information about affiliate sales.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means Photography Awesomesauce receives commission if you make a purchase using affiliate links.
It’s 2016. CDs are old news. Now people buy their movies on iTunes, own their music digitally and keep photos in digital format too. What inspired me to write this post is the surprising amount of photographers who are still proving a disc of images to your clients. If that’s you I want to encourage you to look to other alternatives, which I’ve listed in this post. Here’s why. In the last couple years many computer companies have stopped creating computers with a disc drive at all. Even though you can purchase one separately it’s likely that we’re now in an age where discs are going to become outdated, if they haven’t already. However you provide digital files to your clients, whether they’re included or you sell them separately, make sure you’re at the very least giving them in a format that will be working in the future.
It doesn’t matter to me how you decide to include digital files in your business and I know there’s still a lot of animosity in the photography industry about terms like “shoot and burn” or “shoot and share.” I’m not here to tell you what’s best. I think there’s a lot of great options for a variety of business owners, who may all like to operate their businesses differently depending on their needs. I’m just here to tell you that CDs are out…and these methods are in…
Online Digital Downloads – One of the quickest ways to give people their digital photos is through digital download and companies like Shootproof make that super easy. They also give you all kinds of ways to control the downloads too, so you can limit it to certain people, or sell them, or include them in the session fee. It’s up to you to decide how you want to do it, but the nice thing about Shootproof is that it’s easy for your clients to download and there’s no risk of a disc getting lost or damaged in the mail. Plus, you can also sell prints – so it increases your profit opportunities. Shootproof has an automated email reminder system that can push out reminders to your clients to download before an expiration date, or remind them to purchase prints. There are lots of choices in companies if you want to do an online download delivery, but here are 9 Reasons Shootproof is the Best.
USB Drives – USB/Flash Drives are the best option if you want to give your clients their digital files in a tangible format. In fact, there are all kinds of amazing ways to dress them up, personalize them and really wow your clients with them. One of my favorite ways is by sending a handcrafted wood box (which you can even engrave), with a few prints and a beautiful USB all wrapped up. Ryan’s Denn is literally my new favorite place for this. Their Luxe boxes are simply divine. I don’t say the word ‘divine’ ever, but I’m telling you their boxes are DIVINE. You can order boxes through them and USB drives.
In-Person Sales – In person sales might mean that you don’t provide digital downloads at all, or maybe you still do. But instead of just putting ye olde CD technology in the mail, consider getting together with your clients in person and trying to sell them all kinds of tangible prints, albums, canvases and other goodies that they can hold in their hands and pass down to generations to come.
Just whatever you do – no more CDs. If your clients still ask for them? Offer them a USB instead.
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“Ewww, my client wants me to do [SPOT COLOR/DINOSAUR/OTHER] edits.”
“What new PRESETS should I buy?”
“I can’t believe she put a baby in THAT?”
“How did I ever think that [PRESET/INSTAGRAM FILTER] looked good?”
“Milk baths are [AMAZING/GROSS]”
“Are those TRAIN TRACKS?”
It’s the good, the bad, the ugly, and the unsafe of photography trends. Many trends are followed by the masses only to be shunned a few years (or even months) later. One photography trend might have most of the industry in agreement while another is the subject of hot debates. And then – if you are new and don’t know that a particular trend has now become a faux pas – you might find yourself blasted in an open photography forum by a mob of people who forgot what it was like to just be starting out.
Well, let me tell you a little secret I’ve learned about photography trends: they come and go in cycles.
The super popular trends we are doing today may be the “selective color” of tomorrow and then who knows? The trend may come back in vogue in a decade. Spot coloring has been around for 50 years, at least. Double exposure has been around for over a century. But the popularity of these techniques rises, falls, and returns in new ways. Half those people who are blasting that “fauxtographer” for [insert photography trend of choice] have or will fall victim to a photography trend at some point in their career.
I fully admit it. I have participated in many a photography trend over my years doing this. Some were trends I really loved and others I jumped on for no reason other than I saw others doing it and I thought I should, too. In 2006, I was all about that selective color. By 2010, I was split-toning photos with yellow highlights and blue shadows. Now I process with a little matte, but even that is evolving in how I use it.
I’m totally willing to cop to it. I just have to look back and ask myself “Okay, did I do it well or poorly? What did I learn from that experience?” Instead of being embarrassed by the trends we followed that are no longer hip in the industry, we can embrace them as part of our growth and journey to where we are now.
So how do we avoid being photography trend victims in the future? Well, this is the reason some obsess over creating images that they consider “classic” and “timeless.” But even then we may be subconsciously following trends in our posing, our composition, the types of props we incorporate, or even the clothing we advise our clients to wear.
I want to experiment.
I want to be free to be creative.
I want my images to reflect the now.
I don’t want to constantly worry about what others think about the techniques I use or trends I might decide to follow or not follow.
So how can we do those things and still be true to ourselves and our work?
Here I’ve compiled some simple reminders for helping us own our work without being a “victim” to trends.
I don’t have to be afraid to take risks. Try new things.
The only way to learn, grow and become better at our art is to try new things. Why let someone else’s opinion of a technique prevent us from trying it? This is part of the growth process. We don’t have to put everything we try in the portfolio. We just have to get ourselves out there and learn new things so we can be better artists.
After I experiment with a photography trend, I will reflect on it and whether it’s right for me.
Does this technique work for my shooting style? Do I feel a connection with this type of work? Does it fit the vibe of my brand? Does it match the message I want to convey to my clients? For me, this means that I am currently on board with techniques like matte processing, prisming, free-lensing and in-camera double-exposure because these fit with my style and brand, but I still do them in moderation. There are other trends out there I enjoy, but they don’t fit my business. And conversely, the techniques that work for me may be a bad fit for you. Learning to be discriminate about the trendy techniques we use and committing to doing them well will set us apart by keeping us true to ourselves. When you find a trend that works for you, do it with purpose.
Just because a client asks me for something, doesn’t mean I have to do it.
I think the photography trend of wedding parties running away from dinosaurs is super awesome, but it doesn’t fit my style and brand so I don’t offer it. However, I once had a client ask for a fake snow effect even though that’s not something I normally like or offer. It was important to her and I figured out how to do it in a way that fit my style and was able to make a long time client happy. Some things to consider when evaluating client requests are: how it important it is to my client, am I okay with it potentially being out there with my name attached to it, and am I prepared to deal with requests from others to do the same thing if it’s not something I want to offer.
If a technique isn’t working for me, it’s okay to end it.
An on-going photography trend that I love [when other photographers do it] is the cake smash. Because I am primarily a family photographer, I thought that I needed to offer cake smashes because that was just what family photographers do. The problem was that the popular studio-style cake smashes don’t really fit my style or my brand. It finally occurred to me that just because I photograph families, does not mean I have to offer cake smashes. That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with cake smashes. They just don’t work for me. So simple yet so profound. If something isn’t a fit for me, I don’t have to do it!
I will be kind to others even if I think their use of a technique is awful or dated.
In other words, I’m not going to be a jerk. This doesn’t mean I have to tell everyone I think their work is amazing if I think it needs help, but I want to be mindful of back to when I was a new photographer and what helped me. If someone is committing a photography faux pas, there’s no need to mob them with criticism. I just don’t understand why people gang up on each other about these things. Why should it matter if my fellow photographer loves using selective color or [insert faux pas technique of choice here]? Does his choice ultimately affect me? If that person asks me for CC, then I will take it as a compliment that they respect me and give them criticism that is actually constructive – like why is their use of a technique ineffective rather than just saying that I don’t like that technique. It will make us better photographers for it. Plus karma.
I will own my journey.
We are only victims if we don’t own it. Let’s not be ashamed of who we are or how we got here.