Q&A Days 5-11
So we've covered very, very, very briefly what went on during the business days, how the business is set up, finances kind of managing everything that has to do with the business side of running a business. I like to think I'm a pretty good photographer, but I like to think that I'm a better business person, so when I look at myself and I look at my strengths kind of weaknesses, I feel like I'm a business person in photography, that the photography that I actually do is really only, like five percent of the component of running the entire business, so ignoring the business in the marketing side of things and just focusing on the work is going to leave you a very one sided photographer, likewise, not focusing on the work and pretending that you could do it all with marketing and selling your personality that's making you only a one sided photographer, so I just try to be awesome all the way around with varying degrees of success. So at this point, you know when when we broke when we lef...
t, we were taking questions about business, about everything under the umbrella of business and because this is my last day because it's the day thirty of the thirties, not only is it the last day that the course is actually on sale, but it's the last day that I'm here so if you have a question for me, you should probably ask it like, I don't know now so let's do that any more business questions from the studio audience before we toss it out to our friends on the internet? David, you know books you're good got you another one teo hit me, you speak about when you're talking about the ways that you make money with photographer, you have a lot of commitments both with your family, well off with your family entirely and so there's things that you don't dio if you like selling prints like selling canvases, things like that if you didn't have the family obligations that you have and say you are a single photographer maybe in a smaller community that didn't have extorted in rent, what would you do to maximize your profits? Or even if I was married but didn't have children? I would definitely have a studio and I would have viewings after every single wedding I would do in person sales for every single wedding that I did and I would also do more portrait even though I don't like him, I would still do them, but I really do I believe that I'm leaving money on the table by not doing in person sales four weddings absolutely I know that I am I'm not dumb, I know that I'm missing out on that, but at what cost? Really? So we're going to take some business questions from the internet I have yet to hear from my friends on the web what can I help you with business wise um well d photo ask kind of a general beginning question about how did you get your fine work in your early days and how long were you in business before most of your weddings were coming from referrals and finding you online when did you kind of feel that traction right? I talk about how the very first wedding that I ever shot was a favor for a friend or a favour of a co worker of my husband at the time and I had no other weddings at that time I actually had no inkling that I wanted to be a wedding photographer so I shot that wedding using the limited skills that I had and then my first few jobs after that came from friends of hers and then when I decided that I really wanted to do this full time or kind of make a go of it as a career I did a bridal fair and that's what started getting people in the door for me so it was the referrals from that first girl it was the referrals from that bridal fair and then getting my website online and going I was probably in business for about two years before things really started to pick up steam okay, um, this is from lovely and light, who says I've been in business for five years and never shot more than seven weddings per year, but I want to shoot fifteen to twenty I have seven so far this year, I've done bridal shows, networking. What other advice would you give to someone as far from a business standpoint, to get more weddings coming in? I mean, that's, a hard one, right? Like, I part of me just wants to say, I don't know, I don't know where you live, I don't know what your markets like, no disrespect whatsoever, but I don't know what your photography looks like. I don't know what you're like in meetings with clients or how you're presenting yourself on the web, it's really hard to kind of give generic advice to someone without knowing the specifics of what they are, but I would just say, you know, go back to in this kind of jumps into marketing a little bit, go back to the day on marketing, look at all of the different ways that you can put your business out there, from blog's to facebook, to twitter to instagram, too, being featured on other blog's to vendor relationships and all of that, and examine your own business and all of those arenas and see if you're deficient in any of them and just double down and redouble your efforts. I do the same thing year in and year out, it's just some years, some things work better, then others and I'm just constantly pushing at them. You can't be lazy at all. Competition will just eat you, and even worse, they'll forget about you that sad. All right, I think we're going to move to pricing it. We'll get about this that's good let's. Move over to pricing, which I know is also a kind of a hot button topic here. So in talking about pricing and in one of the things that you get if you do purchase this course, we've kind of not talked about your bonuses if you purchase the course I have. And this is not a commercial for me. But I have to talk about it to explain what's going on. I write three different things. I write something called think books. And the main thing book is called the compendium, where all of the think books come in tow. One it's a three hundred paige manual on how to run your wedding photography business, it's basically the thirty days of wedding photography in textbook form. So those were the think books at the case studies which I mentioned earlier with your new on also on sale right now so sweet which are kind of before and afters and behind the scenes takes on images but then I have these things called quick sheets and they're just six bucks each it's a one page pdf download about one thing so there's one for rings and there's one for shooting toast it's just kind of ah cliff notes of sorts while there might be a whole chapter of that in the think book dedicated to it the quick sheet is a quick and dirty example of how to do it if you do purchase this course you get all of the quick sheets included in the price of the course that's a sixty nine dollar value you also get some quick sheets that are not even released on my website at all yes so if you want them you gotta buy the course one thing that you'll get is you will get a pdf that is a kind of a pricing and profitability spreadsheet that you can print out and fill in your own numbers and the reason why that's important is because we talk about the cost of running your business and these are the three things that you need to know you need to know the cost of running your business the cost of shooting each individual wedding and your cost of living all three of those things go hand in hand when it comes to pricing yourself from maximum profitability and my spreadsheet on how to do that is actually included in the price of the course we talk about how to figure your costs how do you know what your day to day costs are? How do you set your packages? What? How do you know what your base price is? And once you figure out your brace price, how do you know what type of collections to build on top of that, you wanna have collections? Do you want to be all a card? But most importantly to me is I need to know that every time I go out the door, I'm priced for profitability, whether I go out for my lowest collection or my highest collection, I know exactly how much money I need to make every single year toe live my life, and I'm not talking live my life at the bare bones minimum I'm talking about live my life in the way I the way I want to live my life. I just took my daughter's on vacation and I paid for it in cash. I didn't have to charge it at all because I'd budgeted for it, and I'm not standing up here and saying, if you become a successful wedding photographer, you to spend a week in the bahamas I put money away for it I planned for that for a really long time so that when it was time to go, I knew I could just pay for it not have to go home and be in debt because it took a vacation so I want to vacation with my children I want to buy ridiculous and impracticable yet gorgeous shoes and wear them all over the world you know, I I want to not worry every time I go to the grocery store about can I afford this thing that I want to buy? No not sitting here saying, you know, I want houses all over the world like first of all, it's never gonna happen has a wedding photographer no matter how successful you are and I'm not looking to live some ridiculous lavish lifestyle, but I want to send my kids to college and one day I'd like to retire I don't want to die it somebody's wedding that sounds just wretched, so I'm preparing myself not only to live a good life that makes me happy and provides for my children, but also so that one day sandra and I could be a little old lady sitting on the front porch screaming at the kids to get off the lawn, eating twizzlers and watching trailers for scary movies that were never actually gonna watch because they scare us too bad um we're weird, I'm so sorry, we're very strange, so we talk about knowing your costs and knowing every single thing that goes into pricing your wedding's so that you are profitable and a lot of those things also come into knowing how much money you need to make every single year. Also talk about destination weddings. How to price for destination weddings how pricing for a destination wedding is different than pricing for a local wedding because it involves travel because it involves being away for multiple days, and we have lots of questions about these things. I'm in a small town with masses and amateur photographers that charge very little. How do I combat this? If I branch out into a larger area two to three hours away, how to my local prices need to reflect this? I don't know, I don't know, I don't know, I need to know more than this to be able to answer questions like this. I'm in a small town with lots of photographers that charge very little. How do I combat this? Well, I don't know are you on a skill level that is, even with those photographers, they're charging a little are you better? Are you really better? And I know that that sounds awful, but being objective about our own work is a really difficult thing. And being a fifteen hundred dollars photographer and wanting to charge five thousand dollars, you need to get your skills up to that five thousand dollars level. So I can't tell you how to combat photographers that charge very little without knowing what your work looks like. I'd say that the first thing you need to do is make sure that your work is better. Make sure that your client's khun see a distinguishable difference between your work and their work. Make sure your customer service is better when they call you when they e mail you when they need something from you, make sure that you get back to them quicker. Make sure that your presentation of packages individually air initially is better make sure that you are playing on a completely different playing field in the other photographer, and if you branch out into a larger area, how do your local prices need to reflect this? I don't see why your local prices would need to change it all. I would just say if you branch out into a larger area two to three hours away, make sure that what you're charging for those weddings that are further away, you're not losing money by traveling there and back, I was wondering what a good deposit is, what a good deposit to ask for up front. I asked for a thousand dollars depending on what it doesn't matter what collection they want, it's a thousand dollars flat kind of my rule of thumb is it needs to be expensive enough that they have to think twice about walking away, and my payment structure is that I ask for a thousand dollars up front and the remainder is do seven days before the wedding, I used to break it up into thirds, but I find that I manage my cash flow a lot better when I get that one final payment and I kind of like to be paid for the work that I'm doing when I'm doing it, I have a business, my portfolio was complete, I live in a small city with many other photographers, I don't have a lot of money for marketing and I haven't seen any result from the marketing I've paid for. I do free marketing, too, and I work on seo I'm not looking for an easy way, but I need an idea on what to work hard on is I'm not getting enough clients to support myself financially again. I don't I don't know because I don't know what your work looks like you say your portfolio is complete, but I don't know where it's at. Right like I are you having trouble booking clients because your work isn't there yet because your work isn't in line with what your prices are because you're you thinking that you're working hard you're not really working hard in there right way or you're working on difficult things that the's air really hard things to quantify so I include these questions simply to say I can't give you a silver bullet and if anybody is standing up in front of you in any class or with any book or with any marketing material or any seminar telling you that they can tell you one generic thing that's going to take you straight to the top of your game that's crap it's not true there is no fast track or silver bullet or quick way to go all the way to the top it takes time and experience and if I stand up here and I give some generic boilerplate template answer to a question like this I'm doing the person who actually asked the question a disservice so carly if you're watching this and if you do watch this or now we're on a rebroadcast or later email me again give me a little more background show me your work show me your competitors let me see if I can help you because these are questions that are answered on a very personal level how many weddings events did you do prior to officially starting your business I remember you saying you began charging for weddings after the first one you did for a friend, but at what point did the business officially begin? At what point do you have enough experience to be able to start your business and charge people for your work? I shot that one wedding basically for free. I shot her two friends weddings as a favor at a very, very, very low price point, and then I stepped back and reassess myself to find if I was actually comfortable taking money from other people to shoot their weddings and that's in my business began, I'd say it was probably at about the fourth or the fifth wedding that I kind of went forward and it's really hard to quantify. At what point do you have enough experience to be able to start your business? I can't tell you that I know that after three weddings, I was good enough to get started, but I was also very honest with the people that were considering hiring me. What my experience level wass they knew they were hiring someone who'd only shot three weddings, they knew that I didn't have an extensive portfolio and I hadn't shot in a lot of places, so it really doesn't have anything to do about experience per se, I think it feels it has more to do with technical ability. When do you feel that you can handle a wedding on your own? With your technical ability and experience doesn't matter as much as being honest with your clients about the experience that you do have? How would you find out if you're legally able to shoot in other countries permits or visas? Google it look it up, I can tell you, I don't know. I know that if I'm approach to shoot a wedding in another country, that's the first place I go is to mr google and I ask work visa in mexico work visa in france and I start looking I can't tell you how to legally shoot in other countries it's fiendishly difficult and I just don't do it anymore. I just don't it's not it's, not worth the hassle. It's not worth being illegal. It's not work. Take it's not worth taking work away from incredibly qualified other photographers in that country. I'm just not going to do it. I shot in turks and caicos not long ago a couple of years ago. And I obtained a permit to work there and I did it by asking a local photography studio. Listen, I have an inquiry to work here, first of all, would it offend you if I came here to work? I understand I'd be taking work away from someone locally, and would you be willing to help me figure out how to do this legally? And if you tell me no, stay away, I'm not even gonna take the job and they're like, that was very gracious of you. We'd be glad to help you, and I went in with a visa ah lot of times if you're goingto work somewhere else, if there's a coordinator or the new coordinator and they know I've shot in colombia many times probably six, seven times, and I always obtained the proper paperwork because the coordinator that I worked with every single time I knew how to get me into the country legally and she was willing to do that don't sneak in and pretend you're a friend don't go in illegally and post it all over the internet just just do it right. Please, please do it right questions about pricing pricing profitability package is how you put packages together, how you figure out what to put in your collections, anything about money that I can help you with pricing wise, figuring out money is one of my favorite things ever. Can I help you guys with anything? Did I just help you so thoroughly that you have nothing to ask david klempner? You're not opening the note. The note book isn't even opening for a couple more days. Phenomenal high internet how's your pricing well, darkroom junkie would like to know. Can you share how much you charge for those very first weddings, or even that? Very first one for a friend. I love how you're being so transparent and honest, so I would appreciate knowing the specifics and some about to do the exact same thing shooting awaiting for a cousin and hopefully moving into the wedding business as opposed to just portrait's. Okay, so, there's a couple of lessons there, right? The first wedding I shot, he did it for free. I just did it for free. I had no experience. I had no right whatsoever to be charging money for wedding photography. It was just a straight up favor for a friend. She knew I wasn't professional. She knew what she was getting into. It was a favor. I think I charged those first two people after that five hundred bucks. It was really just to cover my costs. Can you read me the end of the question again? I'm so sorry. I know I got all excited. No, I'm about to do the same thing, shooting a wedding from my cousin, hopefully moving into a wedding business, as opposed to just okay, so there's two lessons here there's the cousin lesson don't let me forget that and then there's the first couple of weddings lesson so it was free then there were two for five hundred bucks and then I forget the exact specifics but I know that they jumped in little bits I think I went to eleven hundred twelve hundred dollars next and I included a set of proofs and then I went from twelve hundred to fifteen fifteen to eighteen eighteen to twenty five which was my biggest jump twenty five to three three to thirty five thirty five to four to forty two forty four forty six to forty eight last year I got super ambitious and I jumped I jumped my price is up to the next level and my client said andi I said okay and I put him right back so there is no shame whatsoever in trying out a new pricing structure realizing it doesn't work and then change it up at all. The cousin lesson is that I don't work for my family I don't work for family and I don't work for friends I shot my brother's wedding a long time ago but I was still just kind of an amateur and it was really just a favour I would never shoot a family members wedding at all I shoot sanders family every single year we do family portrait's every single year that's different um I find that any time that you combine family and business or friends and business, you're just asking for trouble now. Jennifer cody, who run sidecar post she and I are very dear friends. We were dear friends before she started sidecar post and I knew jen well enough as a business person, I knew her ethics. I knew that she was. When you take the myers briggs personality test online, she and I are both weird and exactly the same way. So I knew that when we started working together when I gave her my business as a sidecar post customer, that it would be totally fine, though our business relationship is here and our friendship is over here and it's completely different the last time that I worked with a friend on a friendly photography basis that ruin the entire friendship. So if you are sitting there and you're thinking this is never going to happen to me, o my friends and I are cool. Oh, my family and I are cool. You just try it's not worth sacrificing your friendship it's not worth sacrificing your family just don't do it. That's that's kind of a two point question yeah, a lot of people think the packaging, anything else, um, nicole henry asked you list or mention the most expensive package package first or the least most expensive passing first kind go one two and three one is the most expensive three is the least expensive there's tons of different philosophies on why you should do it in both ways I just find that this way is the way that resonates with my clients the best do you find that there's a more popular package than another do you see kind of ah I do I do the most popular packages in my bottom too the bottom one is just time and files the middle one is time files in a small album most people commit to one or the other I can tell you that most of the people that buy the package with a small album end up with the bigger album in the long run most of the people who booked the lowest package are doing so because they just can't decide on which package they want and that's the one that gets them in the door and I do have great success of selling them toe albums to overtime to engagement session other things so fall my booking average might be a little lower than the number that I actually need to make it through the year. I know that based on prior track records and obsessive record keeping that I'll be able to get them up to the next level pretty well question from photo chipmunk thie usernames today are fantastic what? How do you structure the timing on when you raise your prices? I don't it's when I feel motivated to raise them it's mine, I feel comfortable with where I am for the next year, I obsessively track how many weddings that I have at this point in time for this year and for next year, and I do it in a basic google documents spreadsheet as of march eleventh you know, I actually booked one of the other day, so as of march sixteenth, two thousand fourteen, I think I have thirty nine weddings for this year, and I have like seven or eight for next year. I can then look at that spread sheet from last year and say, great, I'm on track or oh my god, I'm behind our oh, wow, I'm ahead now last traded fifty four weddings, and it almost killed me this year, I'd like to do about forty five or so, so I'm on track to get there. I just realized that that's my threshold at which sander and I are broken is wedding number fifty four uh, so I am very kind of conscious of where that coming? Um, I just totally derailed my train of thought, well, can you repeat the question one more time? I'm still traumatized by microphone gate that happened earlier, basically it's how you structure the timing of reason you're right that's it thank you I knew that that story was going somewhere I only raise my prices if I'm ahead of where I should be for the next year and if I'm comfortably enough ahead that if I raise my prices and it doesn't work, I can come back to where they were without too much impact on the following year. Great thank you daniel three to three asks, is there a general percentage of weddings he thinks should come from past clients, vendors and marketing? I have a profitable business that continues to grow, but my percentage of bride referrals isn't huge I'm in a high price point from my area and were often the splurge bender there's there's no hard set fast, it has to be this way this number of referrals should come from this person I mean, I don't have any formula for that are you ever concerned if you're not getting a lot of referrals like it? No, I'm not from past brides no because I'm in the same position is that poster? I'm often the splurge for people, so while I will get referrals from them just because they wanted to splurge on photography doesn't mean that their friend that they referred me to is also willing to do the same thing interesting, okay, this is from uh, chicago sarah for a forty, eight hundred dollar wedding, getting seven hundred images that make her files less than ten dollars each. I can't reconcile that price point in my head. I didn't watch the pricing day, but just did the math on that. What am I missing? You're not the least expensive, but how do you make that work? Sure, I know I'm sorry that I want to make sure that I get the multipart question and I get all of their part. It is a little tricky, its said, for a forty, eight hundred dollar wedding, getting seven hundred images that makes the files approximately less than ten dollars each. I can't reconcile that price point in my head. What am I missing? You can't reconcile that price point because you feel like it's too little for each file that's kind of what I'm thinking question is, I just don't look at it that way, I don't look at it because everything wedding that I shoot gives you a different number of images I can't and it's also very faulty toe look at it from that at forty nine hundred dollars, your finals are not the only thing that that forty nine hundred dollars is providing, you know what I mean like that's looking at it that way, it's sort of a skewed perspective that's not sort of how I approach the problems and if you're not comfortable, including your your files at that level because you feel like they're being undervalued nobody's saying that you have to why don't you pull your files out and put a different price on them? I could try something like that, but no that's that's not how I because I'm not delivering a solid seven hundred per wedding, it really varies. I can't quantify each digital file is x amount of dollars it's just not kind of not how I go about looking at it. Cool of sorts of sorts. Thank you. Well, I think we'll move along, keep on going back you only you let's talk about another day that's really fun let's talk about marketing, so day six was the day that we all sat around and talked about marketing, and we talked about exciting things, such as do you have a target client? And I said that I don't that really and in my world view of things and in my business view of it, my target client is a client that loves good photography and is willing to spend on it, and I feel like if you write down this really specific, my target client eats here, shops here drives this car, then you're losing out on all of those clients that don't do those things but value good photography we talked about ways to advertise and ways to get seen and ways to develop your relationships because just as advertises it, advertising is important, facebooking is important getting your name out there it's also important to develop the relationships of the people that you're working with the venues that you want to work out, the coordinators that you work with all of those things are all incredibly important and that the best marketing of all is simply tow have happy clients because if you have good customer service, your good customer service and your previous clients that are really happy with you, that's the best marketing of all we're going to cover marketing also when we talk about post wedding because there's marketing in general for the entire year, the ads that I take out in magazines, the features that I have on june bug or style me pretty. But then we have post wedding marketing, which is where I take every single wedding and use it differently in my marketing schemes. We're going to revisit this when we recap that day and I was asked a branding question, how do you determine how much the budget for a website and logo design for rebranding an established professional? How do you find a designer that's a good match I found infinite by finding another web site that I really loved and tracking down their web designer that's how I found them I looked at their portfolio, I realized that it really resonated with me and I have enjoyed a fantastic relationship with them since two thousand six and it's really hard to say how much do you budget for a website and a logo design for rebranding a professional? You can spend anywhere from ninety nine dollars to ten thousand dollars like everyone is completely different every branding house, every website company they all come with a different set of experience it's like saying how do you determine you know the budget for a wedding photographer? We range all over the place and website and logo design are exactly the same. My pricing is closer the high range of the market that being said, my client base is still in the mid range and I'm being referred by low in mid range venues. I'm still getting bookings, but it's nearly always a booking stretch for the couples I work with. How would you recommend jumping directly into the high end wedding world? I don't want to be in the high end wedding world, I heat the high end wedding world and I understand that hate is a very strong word sander and I actually talk about this aa lot we see these extraordinary these amazing, these high budget weddings and and they come with a set of stresses and expectations and needs that I don't enjoy while I have had extraordinary clients with high budgets and beautiful weddings that have been a joy to work with it's such a three ring circus booking these hiring at these these high end weddings and working on them that that's not the client base I want to service I want to service the middle class and people who are having just your average everyday wedding that's lovely but not insane but they're good people who value good photography those are my clients that's what I'm looking for and you cannot jump directly into the high end wedding world again there's no silver bullet if you want to get into the high high end of the wedding world that you're working into it is a long, slow, arduous grind and to get in there because the venue's refer the people they know and they know how to work with the other vendors air going to refer their high end brides I will never ever, ever crack the high end market in new york city as long as fred marcus studios is still there it's just not gonna happen. They are the best of the best in taking care of the high end. They have incredible customer service, they have extraordinary relationships with vendors and venues. They are going to be the go to people for the weddings at the plaza or the st regis that's not going to be me but that's also not what I want but if that is what you want you have to be prepared to work at it for a very, very, very long time and I'm not talking about two three years I'm talking about like a decade it's way hard to get up in there unless you look out look out with a great client at a great venue and you really hit it off with someone you might get in that way but you cannot jump directly into the high end wedding world there is no such way do you show same sex weddings on your website for those of us living in the south are areas that are not completely supportive of g l q weddings do you think it hurts our business to show same sex couples in the main slideshow of work? I can't say what this is going to do for you based on where you live but if somebody is offended by the fact that I showed to women in love are two men in love on my website I don't wanna work with you anyhow I don't care I don't care who you love or how you love them documenting your day whether you're a woman that loves a woman or loves a man or it doesn't matter I'm honored to work for you I'm honored to be there for you and I am proud to show it I've been trying a number of marketing tools with varying success, but most of my lead generation is mid to long term building relationships, print ads, etcetera. Do you know of any good ways to more quickly get a few leads? Our enquiries? Absolutely not. There is no quick way what you're doing is absolutely right keep at it, I have a very difficult time determining which of my work is going to be the most attractive to potential brides. How do you choose which specific images to use for contests and advertisements? Now those are two completely different things. The images that I'm choosing for contests and competitions are contest in composition, competition, images that has nothing to do with what potential brides think of my work. It has to do with me going up against other photographers trying to win an award that's one thing, the images that I put on my website or the images that I put in ads, I'm trying to appeal to brides and to potential clients. Sandra and I on the plane up here, I'm redoing the portfolio on my website, we sat down with my three hundred fifty favorite pictures over my entire career and I said, take a look at these, tell me which ones don't resonate to you. Find the past bride and say does this image work for you when I put an ad in new york weddings magazine I had three or four drafts of the same ad and I asked around to figure out which one would resonate best with people because what resonates with me as both the maker of the images and a photographer might not resonate with brides as well so I would ask a friend that has absolutely nothing to do with the industry whatsoever any questions about marketing yes we do and eyeballing you got the notebook you're ours all right now you're gonna regret her opening that notebook I just wanna make sure you guys are all nodding at me and you're smiling really hard so let's throw it over to the internet what they need alright internet um someone asked what would you say is the most important marketing action you do for your business and I'd love to add to that what would you say is the biggest problem or failure mistake maybe that you've made in marketing the miss is the biggest mistake that I made in marketing is taking out ads in places just because other people did right like paying for every single listing every single advertisement every single contest entry without actually sitting down and taking a look at it and saying ok hold on a second and re upping some of them even when I could tell that they weren't doing anything for me the absolute best thing that you can do is build relationships and make your client happy that is the absolute best that you can do and if you ignore those things there is no print ad or internet ad or number of facebook fans they're gonna help you um from karen and j does susan have a strategy for using social media for example posting at certain times of the day or a minimum number of times per day or week? I do and it's twofold first of all is figuring out your persona on the internet if you're going to do social media, how do you want to present yourself to the world? And I'm very careful about how I do it it's a very, very, very deliberate decision toe let people in but to still keep my personal life private did I share pictures of my vacation with my children to the bahamas? I did have assured pictures of my wedding I have but I let people in on ly to a certain degree so that my private life is still my private life and you don't get access to my private life. You don't need it really I try to make sure that everything that I write on my website and everything that are right in twitter and facebook and things that I post on instagram I do it for me the fact that other people like it and it's reaching my client base it's still true to who I am there's an inordinate number of pictures of my kids on instagram, you know, my facebook personal page is crap about books that I read and scary movies and the fact that I watched the trailer for oculus last night and now I can't sleep, which is awesome, it's just the mindless chitchat of my daily life and twitter, I'm very careful to do kind of a mix of the both I want people to get to know me, but I also I'm using it for business. I try to make sure that I tweet almost every single day, not a billion times a day, but I try to keep it active. I try to instagram a couple times a week, and I try to make sure that my facebook business page stays very active that I post to it multiple times a week. In the past week, it's been largely about my new book, coming out about the sales on my books, about coming back to creative live, but I posted the image that that won an award at w p p I I try to post images of the week I post galleries of my clients but because I have a kind of a readership from all over the world it's very hard to time out when to do it I try to not do anything major on the weekends or on a friday night like I launched the book on a friday night and it got good response over the weekend but relaunching it on monday morning got more of a response, so if there's anything major I want to do, I'll do like monday morning or wednesday morning there's a lot of psychology about when you shouldn't shouldn't be posting to social media, but because I've got people coming in from different time zones it's sort of hard to pay attention to that you do you do any sort of personal scheduling though on your eye cowlick saying close now okay, I post when my brain says post awesome and sometimes my brain says posted my husband says, oh my god, are you gonna post that I say no and then I had to leave good to know good to know also, do you, uh what would you say is the biggest marketing investment in terms of the r I either doing paper click or have you done any facebook ads? I know you've done print ads, you know, I used to do facebook ads until I realized that facebook ads are a bit of a scam it's getting a lot of people to look at my site that don't actually interact with my sight there's been a lot of rumblings on the internet about whether facebook ads air really targeting actual clients of yours or whether they're farming out toe like just I can't even think of the right word of random people when I do a facebook ad and all of a sudden I have, you know, one hundred new followers and they're all from egypt, that just seems a little weird, so I I used to do that, but I don't do that anymore now that I pick up steam it's kind of running on its own, I do not buy followers on instagram, I do not buy followers on facebook, I want people that are looking at me to be looking at me because they want to be so probably the best money. Honestly, the best money that I've spent is my own time in customer service towards my clients and towards venues and vendors that I want to work with. So kevin says, I have struggled to find my style and marketing because I feel like the blog's and clients love those light and airy photos, but I can always produce those bright images technically, and I'm not sure if I should try toe alter my style imposed to gain these clients, what should I do? Sorry camera came back to me as I was tearing my face and walking around in circles don't change your style to be featured on a log please god, don't change your style to be featured on a blawg I don't care about being featured on bloods I try it's kind of like a blood sport for me to submit to blog's and be rejected repeatedly over and over and over and over again they don't want my work I don't I shoot details, but the wedding is not about the details I don't shoot light quite bright, overexposed vaguely and focus images that look like they've been colored in some way had a better word but it's the internet so not going to say it? I'm not going to alter my style to get published on a blogger because the second I alter my style first of all, I'm not true to myself and then I'm putting out work that I don't really like and then I'm now I'm going to get lost in the sea of jose via wannabes there is only one jose via there is only one elizabeth messina I want my own style that isn't derivative of someone else's because if someone looks at me and I'm a knock off of him, they're just gonna hire him they're not gonna want me I don't want to be like the faux chanel handbag of photography so please don't alter your style just because blog's reject you, you'll stand out more in the long run by being yourself that's really good. And speaking of logs we had on one of our days, I guess we did like christie from june bug. Yeah, today she didn't. She came in and did pre show with you guys, right? She came in and talked about the process of submitting to blog's and knowing what they're looking for and understanding their editorial style and submitting in the way that they want you to submit. And when we talk about kind of blogging and my my strategy behind getting my work featured in blog's, we're definitely gonna talk about that in the post wedding marketing because that's on a wedding by wedding basis but to the original poster of that question, please don't alter your style just so a blob like she better it sounds like you don't want to do that anyhow, so don't do it let's get this. Yeah, yeah, we're good. Good to move on. Okay, so let's talk about day seven. We're about a third of the way through. We're gonna really start rolling. Pretty soon we were talking about booking the client, and when we talked about looking the client, we took a great tour. Through shoot q and we talked about what xu q does for me how it takes my leads in how it gives me information it's how I respond to clients it's how I manage their entire client interface we talked about how you take a call or an email and you turn it into a meeting we talked about where I meet my clients and when to meet them and what to bring in terms of marketing things like what they don't book on what if they don't book on the spot well I negotiate my friend will do it for free how do you combat that what if they don't book on the spot I don't necessarily want them to will I negotiate sometimes and my friend will do it for free unless I can show them that my work is better than their friends they should have the friend shoot it for free relocating to a new town what do you do if you move to a new place I did that myself in the absolute middle of my career how do you handle it and I got questions such as not everyone who contacts the photographer is going to be the right fit but how do we know if it's just not a fit or if we're lacking in our presentation what percent of people who call should be expected to call back and what percent would be normal for us to never hear from again I don't know there is no percent you know if you're getting one hundred enquiries a month and you're not booking anybody that's a cause for concern I can tell you for a fact I usually average somewhere between two and six ish bookings a month and I get anywhere from forty to eighty leads a month depending on the month those are just ones that come in via email ones that come in through for I do my lead tracking on shu que a lot and the ones that come in by phone unless I actually manually enter them and shoot cute those don't kind of get looked at it's really hard to tell whether you're not a fit or if you're just lacking in your presentation why don't ask them if a client comes to you and meets with you or talks to you and then calls you back or emails you back to tell you that you went into another and went in another direction? There is nothing wrong with having a questionnaire that you send them that says I totally understand in trying to serve my current clients and future clients better I would love to get your experience on what it was like to interact with my studio so far if you have a second do you mind filling this out? What was your reason for hiring another photographer? Was price a factor was presentation a factor let them do it anonymously and see if they can kind of help you out with that. If someone calls me back and they say we've decided to go in another direction with a different photographer all say, do you mind me asking who you chose gives me a sense of who I'm losing weddings to questions nice internet way got it? I think that's always a really good point about moving to a different town, teo, I think that comes up a lot, and I feel like photographers really love the idea of working another cities and, um, so that's, really, really helpful would be interested to know if internet if you have any more questions about that, what is your sort of famous favorite hook to try and hook a client? I don't really have one. My hook needs to be my work, it needs to be my work, and when I when I meet people, I want to talk with him on the phone, I don't have any closing strategy at all. My closing strategy is actually go out there and do some more research and talk to some other photographers, and then I hope you come back to me that way, it helps eliminate buyer's remorse, if they've done their research and I rise to the top, then they're very confident in their decision to hire me. And then we have two people asking about how you stand out from all the other photographers at bridal shows and fairs I don't do battle shows anyway so they're not at all because they are oversaturated I it doesn't it doesn't help me it's not it's never a good return on the investment for me not in new york it's not and if I if I were still living in florida and I were still doing bridal fairs, your work just needs to be better your work things to be better hands down someone else how you prevent burnout when you deal with clients whom you perceive as difficult or superficial do you ever almost fire a client before you even proceed absolute just say we're not okay no absolutely not okay clients are difficult clients are superficial clients are tacky plants or rude clients have bad social skills sometimes they're great sometimes they're really, really, really weird, but no, I don't fire our clients. There are a lot of photographers on the internet that we'll talk, sit around and talk about, you know, oh, I'm interviewing them as much as they're interviewing me and I'm like, seriously, you have so many weddings coming at you every single year that you have the luxury of turning away perfectly nice people who want to pay you money just because they rubbed you the wrong way in some way the way that I know that a client is good for me is if they're willing to sign a contract and only a few times do what have I ever lived to regret one of those bookings and they never showed me any red flags to begin with the ones that ended up just being very difficult on the backside had never exhibited anything beforehand that made me want to turn them away the only time I will turn away a client is that they're constantly pushing for me to meet the price point that I can't meet can you do it any cheaper? Can you do it any cheaper if you could do it three thousand dollars a bookie right now can you match this price for this other photographer if they're pushing and I know that I can't meet their demands I have no problem saying, you know, it sounds like you want you're looking for a package that I don't have and that I can't discount to get you to this point respectfully this is the number this is what it is this is the best I can do for you I'd love to work with you but I wish you the best if you decide to go in another direction and that sort of passive aggressively firing a client, I guess but I've never booked a client or signed a contract with somebody that I tried to get out of later ever that's just not how you do business so tammy would like to know at the initial meeting do you discuss prices for additional prints, canvases, etcetera or you just stick? I'm talking about the pricing for the different packages oh no no they know all the prices from the very beginning they know all the prices before they even walked into the meeting for everything that they could possibly want to spend on because I don't want them to come back later and be like you never told me this and this is so expensive I lay it all out there all of it what format do you communicate your pricing to them? Do something pierre don't know sometimes your link okay downloadable pdf so that they can download it and they can print it I have a lot of people download it print had taken to their parents for that around it's not an internal lincoln my website it's actually well it it's a pdf hosted on my server that they can just go straight to I don't attach it to the email causes too big cool I think we're good to roll awesome let's get going so after day seven we moved in today eight which was pre wedding planning which I thought deserved an entire hour on its own to talk about all of the things that you do before the actual wedding day things like managing your client's expectations setting the schedule of the wedding day working on the time line with your clients six weeks to two months before the wedding I send them a questionnaire we talked about managing that we talked about backup plans in case something were to happen to you or your equipment we talked about howto work with planners which is a big one we talked about the pinteresque defect how what do you do when a client comes to you and they want a picture they saw in pinteresque and we finally met blair in jeremy who were the couple that we're the common thread when we got into actually shooting the wedding day these were the people that we worked with and on this day you actually got to sit and listen in on my pre wedding planning meeting with them so that you can see exactly how I handle it with riel clients and blair and jeremy are really clients they're wonderful people there tremendous they're warm they're loving they're giving they are wonderful wonderful human beings and all they did was let me come to their wedding and document what was going on they are paying clients who had booked me and signed a contract with me before this creative life thing even happened I did compensate them for their time and trouble by giving them an album which we just finalized which is going to be beautiful, but these aerial clients of mine riel paying everyday clients, and when we talk about pre wedding planning, we get questions such as sometimes when I asked what they're looking for, the only answer is I have no idea maybe it's because I deal with lower budget weddings, but I have trouble showing the value sometimes, especially when they have no idea what they're looking for in style or package. Sometimes they don't have a theme or idea for their wedding. What do I do when you don't know what they're looking for? How do you deal with constant short answers? Like, I don't know? Well, this was a question that really could have gone into marketing or booking the client, but it also is very applicability all for planning on the pre wedding side of things. If you have clients that are saying, I don't know, I'm not sure I don't know what I want all present two options and have them pick. Do you want an album or do not want an album one or the other? Or do you not know? Do you want time or do you want an album? Do you want time and files? Do you want the files at all? Given simple questions, you have to remember that your clients aren't photographers. A lot of times they ve never been married before they don't know what to ask they don't know what to look for expecting them to know the ins and outs of how we run our businesses is really difficult and expecting a client even after they've booked you when we're talking about pre wedding planning do you want this or do you want this sometimes they don't know well do you want to see each other before the wedding or not? Because if you do we need to adjust the timeline for that if you don't we need to adjust the timeline for that if they say I don't know well let me give you the pros and cons of each and then you decide so sometimes you do have to lead them to answers we can't expect our clients to like understand the way photography runs when this is the first time they've ever hired a professional photographer for something so there is a great deal of managing expectations between the day they book me and the day their wedding rolls around and in the pre wedding planning phase of things I'm trying to keep my hand in it and help them out as much as I possibly can any questions about what that entails suite they're either glazed over I've done such a good job of teaching them that they have no more questions how does the internet field the internet's were always ready with questions this's from tammy doesn't make a difference to you if you have your pre wedding meeting, if you meet with just the bride or do you take steps to ensure the groom meets with you also know it doesn't matter. I'll meet with whoever is going to be the deciding factor and buy meat. I mean, either meet in person, meet on the internet via skype, do it on the phone or do it. The email, whichever makes you happy is, however, will do it. You don't have to come in and sit down with me. Some people I never meet or hear the sound of their voice until I show up on their wedding day. And what do you think is the most important thing that needs to come out of that meeting when you walk away like the pre wedding planning meeting way, we need to have the time line down and I need to know what their expectations are of me. Cool timeline, that's pretty huge eyes pretty major, yes and important. And is it isn't negotiable thing like when you're working with them? Do you guys kind of talking back and forth and you say, oh my gosh, you have ten minutes not gonna be enough for five minutes, you know, that kind of thing. Well, for the most part I kind of let them guide where they want the timeline to go and a lot of times I'll get a rough timeline for the from the clients first this is what we're thinking up for the timeline of the day what do you think? And I'll say well based on the questionnaire that you answered you have fifty three family formal groupings that you want to do and we have thirty minutes to do it we can't do it in that amount of time we either need to pair that list of groupings down or I need another hour to do family formals so it is a back and forth process and again understanding with respect that your clients don't know how long these things take so it's up to you to tell them whether you can or cannot do what they want in the period of time that they're willing to a lock for it cool when's you understood is when's your favorite time to do family foremost after the ceremony after right after the ceremony and how much time do you what's would our thirty minutes forty five minutes if the groupings air fairly normal I can knock him out in about thirty to forty men great first looks or not my preference because I under listen I get all the reasons for first looks I totally understand why people want to do them however if hair and makeup run late if anything runs behind if the brightest late getting ready you know who's going to lose you are if you do your portrait in your family formals after the ceremony you're going to know that you have that time but if you've got two hours to do bridegroom together and family formals and the bride gets ready an hour late now you only have an hour drives me insane freaks me out cool thank you yes good so then we actually moved in today nine which is where we picked up the camera and we started shooting we talked about engagement sessions you got to see a video of me actually shooting blair and jeremy's actual real life real engagement session but we also talked about what the point of the engagement session is how to price it how to schedule it why are you even shooting engagement sessions? What do the clients want with the images we talked about how they really want camera wear portrait this is a really important thing when I shoot engagement sessions they want a good picture of them smiling directly at the camera oftentimes to either display at their reception or to use for a wedding announcement in the paper we talked about how to work a scene we talked about the lenses that I use we talked through blair and jeremy's engagement session itself you got to actually see me shoot the engagement session and then you got to see all of the images that I shot complete with exit data to see exactly how they were all made. My question for susan is how many photos she normally delivers from an engagement session also I know she prefers to shoot with her seventy two, two hundred for portrait, so I was just wondering if she ever brings a second camera body with her in the off chance something should happen to the first camera yes, I do have an extra cameron having extra linz and I keep it in my car I don't need to drag it all around with me I don't take an assistant to engagement sessions, but I do have back up in my trunk if I need it I generally just run around and engagement session with a seventy two, two hundred and twenty eight millimeter linds just in case I want to go wide for something that's it no flash, no reflector know anything else just me and a camera and generally I deliver somewhere between thirty five and sixty final images from an engagement session. This isn't one of those engagements my sessions last sixty to ninety minutes these air not half day sessions these air not full sessions we don't go to tons of multiple locations these air quick and dirty get it done cover our bases, make the client happy and go home engagement session questions so how much if her engagement session how much do you guide the couple on the selection of a location whether it's something that's personal to them or maybe a location it is on your list of really want to shoot here I have this idea how do you navigate that? I don't really care where we do them I don't I'm not terrifically creative with engagement sessions I'm not I don't think who I want to shoot engagement session in this location are anything like that engagement sessions or my arch nemesis they're really really difficult usually people want to shoot in new york so it's an hour for me to get into the city it's an hour for me to get home it's walking it's time I could never price them high enough so they're very, very difficult for me and my clients generally aren't looking for anything crazy so I'll ask them did you have any idea of where you wanted to shoot the session and then it's like you know I'm not really sure I'll say what did you want something more urban something we're park like you do we want to go to your neighborhood and I'll say, you know, I don't know and then I can offer up suggestions of places that I've been before that I know we're going to give them good pictures and a lot of times just offering up suggestions will sort of help guide where we're gonna go yes sir. So you on typical how many engagement sessions in the year do you shoot twenty somewhere around there? I do them for a quarter to a third of my clients and they're not included in my packages at all ember no, sir yes sir please e like my engagement sessions are kind of taking over the year do you ever limit you know, between may and april they tend to limit themselves and I also limit when clients can do them. Engagement sessions are available tuesday, wednesdays and thursdays at three thirty and occasional fridays at three thirty in stop that's it no not sunday no, I don't care if you're just in town for the weekend no not saturday no you don't know if I have a wedding on saturday or sunday I'm still not going to do it it is not financially worth it for me to do it at all and I am very up front when you get my prices from the very beginning, it says. Engagement session six hundred fifty dollars tuesday wednesday or thursday with occasional friday availability tuesday, wednesday and thursday is in new york on ly friday could be in new york or philadelphia the end if you're getting married in silly and you need an engagement session friday at three thirty is my only option for you it gave it took me a period of time to be able to be firm on that. But to be perfectly honest, engagement sessions are the one thing that I am concrete firm on all the time the end done, and then we get to date ten were now a third of the way through, and we're actually at the wedding day. We're talking about details, and I included to images of my very own from my very own wedding day to show that yes, I like shooting details. Yes, I like being created. Yes, I like being different with the details, but I'm only going to shoot the details if they're actually important to the clients. I don't want to spend a lot of time photographing something that isn't important to them, so we talk about my equipment, we talk about my set up, we talk about my approach, and then you actually get to sit there and watch me sit in the bathtub and shoot a wedding ring and a bunch of other details at blair in jeremy's wedding, and you also hear me talk about other detail shots that I like to take my approach to them by lighting to them mei lin selections for them and how I make all that happen, and here I am in the bathtub was really fun I actually kind of enjoyed that questions about details from you guys, yes, sir. Yeah, glitter and sparkle or sort of a hallmark of your firing shots. You know that? What are your suggestions for? Rings that don't have diamonds? Simple approach. Okay. I mean, I'm not going to do a different background or a different anything because it's got a sound fire in it or because it's a plain band or because it's a small diamond or because it's a topaz it's still the same setup. Okay, my chute grooms rings the same way. Yeah, that was going to follow question. Cause I did like half the weddings. And I did last year. The bride's ring was just a simple band like there was no stone in it all started with that same approach. Any questions from you guys? About details? Yes, sir. How do you sort of avoid those cliche detail shots like, like, would you dig deep in, like, the the boot near and all that? You know, if I feel like I'm reverting to a cliche or something like that, I would just rather put it on a clean background and shoot a plane with nothing else thing. Go towards a cliche. Great cliche. Stress me out. Yeah, me too. All right, look, if a client actually asked me to take a picture of my ring in my bouquet of course I will but I'm gonna make it the best one that I absolutely possibly can to try to put my own spin on it. Cool as best I can so let's talk through a couple more of the days let's kind of get through getting ready and whatnot and then let's see if we have any questions from the internet about engagements details getting readies let's kind of go a little further day eleven dealt with getting ready you got to see a video of me doing such weird things as waving a champagne glass in front of my lens as holding a purse while sandra way than I slide around you got to see the angle at which I approached the getting ready we talked about how I like to set things up how I like the light of the edge of the curtains the direct light that I will use sometimes during getting readies we cover putting a bride directly against a window instead of against the curtain and I got questions such as for the best window light in the pre wedding bridal shoot bride getting ready how far do you open the curtains or how large of a window works best and to which I give you my sage and respectful advice of you are overthinking this I got a lot of questions that were okay do we open the window to theater three feet and how big does the window need? Two guys dude it's cool it's a window there is no mathematical it needs to be this open I've found that people were getting very mired in the details a lot of questions about details were now is it six inches or five inches from the background and how far in the foreground don't overthink it seriously if you overthink it, you will make yourself mental just go try it and see how it works before you go to this nuance like this nuanced level of questions and if you overthink it, you will make yourself crazy. Yes, ma'am, if you're working in the pre wedding getting ready stage and you don't have an assistant or a second shooter yes, but you want it capture maybe some additional light using a nice light or something? Is it going too far to ask a bridesmaid or someone there? Tio absolutely. I would never ever, ever ask anyone at the wedding to help me do my job and I'm not trying to say that to, like, be mean to you, but I wouldn't I would invest in assistant or I would put it on a stand before I asked anybody to hold it um what are the must have details excuse me what do the must have details shots that you make sure to get a shot of and then also what is the best way to determine what matters most of the clients you mentioned you won't do it if it doesn't really matter how do you do it? Termine there's absolutely no list that I walk into the wedding day with there are no must have detail shots and I start off by asking her straight out what's important to you you know, most clients asked me for ring shots right away because it's kind of a hallmark and they want it so I'll walk in and I'll ask them for their rings and I'll say you know what else do you have for me? Are there any other details that I could shoot for you that are important and I'll shoot whatever she gets me cool daniel one two three wants to know do you ever bring any of your own small props to ensure you have a it's a really photogenic background for your details? Absolutely not no no no never never it's found there or it's not found at all awesome. Um let's see her uh timmy says I really love love love the way you shoot through other images and in other images using chandeliers, candles, etcetera there gorgeous do you limit the amount of those kinds of images that you including the clients. Final collection. Absolutely not. If I shoot it and it works, and it helps me tell the story whether there's five or five hundred of them, I'm not looking for a quota on that one, okay?