Wedding Photography Business

Lesson 9/16 - First Wedding on My Own


Wedding Photography Business


Lesson Info

First Wedding on My Own

Now this is going to bring us teo shooting my first wedding on my own ok so what we just talked about was meeting a prospective client and I get it it didn't happen like this for my first wedding but I'm gonna talk about this chronologically cause I just wanted to make sense as we move forward we on the same page oh yeah okay one person's on the same page with me that's awesome. Okay, internet I hope you're on the same page okay here's the thing so this is just a story when I think about when I think about shooting the first wedding it makes me a little ill not gonna like my fingers get clammy I get all nervous it was one of the most stressful things I had ever done I had probably shot I don't know what this time a handful of second shot a handful of weddings this is my first wedding on my own and I was really nervous but I was feeling kind of like I think I could do this I think I could do this and I'm ready to do this. Um the wedding was on a friday and since I was working my day was...

the friday I took friday off and on thursday I went and I rented a j d a twenty to twenty four to seventy to seventy two hundred and rented him a flash and um I actually brought on a second shooter because j I didn't expect jd to be ready. We had just been studying and we'd gone out and shoot on her own. He had never done a wedding before, and so I brought on the second shooter, but I had j d come on is a third shooter just because I felt like I just needed him, even if he didn't take a photo, I just need him to be like, collect yourself. I'm definitely needed that moment if it arrives, if it came and boy, did it definitely come. So the night before I call the second shooter and she's working in l a and the wedding is in orange county and I'm like this is what time the wedding starts. It's a friday when he was like no, I totally know I'll definitely be there don't worry was like, okay, and silly me, I believe that nothing would go wrong. So the next day I go and the bride is getting ready at norge trump she's getting her makeup done it nordstrom j d's at work jd goes and works to a half day. He works until noon and then takes the rest of the day off and we meet at the venue we meet at the venue. The bride getting or make it done I'm getting shots of the bride getting her makeup done and I'm texting the other shooter being like hey what's going on where are you? Is everything okay? Not hearing anything then we go to the venue icy jd then we sink cameras because I'm all about singing camera's eye like I was like we're having a moment and I was thinking ok what's going on what's going on and then um when we get to the venue that's when the second shooter should be there and then I get a call and thinks she's stuck in gridlock traffic and I'm just like who and then I have like a panic attack and I'm just like oh my god oh my god oh my god it is not this other person's fault I get it but as a first shooter if I had experience I would be like no I should have known that this had the propensity of happening but it was my first wedding and he didn't and so um the photographer said I'll try to be there when I can and what else could I do? And so I haven't I have a moment and then there was jd to be like calm down I was like, I might have to shoot the guys and the girls what's going on did it and he's like all go show the guys and to have jamie kind of just step up and say I will go shoot guys meant so much to me because I feel like he was putting himself out in a complete lately different capacity and so what was the one piece of advice I offer my husband for he's like entrenched in a thrown to the lions keep it on p mode no lie, no life so yeah that's love I give u p mode um yes, but listen, I was shrunk out in every capacity I had no other option, but I did bring a backup. Unbeknownst to me, j d became serious backup for me. I went to go shoot the girls and they were getting ready at the same venue, but the guys weren't entirely different building, so I go into the girls, he goes and shoots the guys um, an hour hour and a half later, the second shooter shows up much to all of our relief. Didi's like I was the coolest thing go because when I was looking back at the pictures j d did such a great job with guys. Good thing the guys we're running a little bit late, so you know, he didn't have to have like, an hour with the guys he had about thirty minutes guys and they were already dressing all hanging out in natural light drinking tequila great yuppie mood people it is your friend you know it was okay at that time I was with the girls and the second tox showed up she went with the girls with me and we did what we could and I was like, okay, okay, now we're on ron so then the ceremony starts and we're going to see how many kind of working like okay and all of a sudden they haven't even got to communion to having got to the sand ceremony having got to the kiss they haven't got to the exchanging of vows and the sun is down and it's a garden wedding with no lights and I'm just like, oh god and I'm seeing that it didn't even occur to me that oh, this place has no light as they're walking down the aisle from the recessional it is like desk like dusk and I'm just like, oh my god family formals were set up to be ten minutes after their sessional, where they moved everybody to cocktail hour. By that time I am in a pitch black garden to shoot family formals I completely freak out and I'm like, I have no like I have no life like it was so dark I couldn't get my flash to focus on family yeah, it was that dark and I'm just like and I'm sitting there like okay what we do when we get teo I turned to sadie I'm like okay on the outside and look at the family oh, great grandma come here. Aye aye davey d'oh team of divers and he runs to the car and crabs a flashlight grabs a flashlight hold it on grandma. Which is enough light for me to get my flash to focus I look like a black background. Listen, we took what we had and we made it work and at this time what do you think is going to my mind? Screw this will be the first and last wedding I ever shoot because I thought we were actually doing a good job until that point I was like and then I was like but you were done, mrs it you're totally screwed you think that that's where it ends oh, no the flashlight because you know we're so high but it's like they hold the flashlight the emergency flashlight in the emergency kit in the car oh my god great yellow were professional people oh lord god. So the family goes to cocktail hour and we're just trying to have a good time talked everybody be not that's the big thing that's what you want to be branded be nice as you talk to family members and get every so then we have to do riding groom photos in the dark what do you do oh lord, you know that's when like sixteen hundred so is like your best friend we put them in the best possible locations they had lights in the trees that's the lights that we use is their background they had this like lattice and like the lattice had like tungsten light bulbs above you crapped out lightbulbs we still got a little bit of the light, you know? I mean, listen and then they have this house and I was like, let's go inside the house and we're turning on lights everywhere I mean, listen, we did the best we could, but because I was in office because I wasn't in control of the wedding day I wasn't I could have avoided all of those mistakes, but it was my first wedding. So the moral of the story is if you screw up on your first wedding it is o k because at the end of the night, as they were eating dinner, I created the same days like joe, I always believe that I want my pictures to be the first pictures anybody sees from that wedding and that could only happen specifically with today's technology and specifically facebook you could upload photos from your phone I want my photos to be the first experience that the bright has from photography on her wedding day so asked for eating dinner, I'm sitting there literally literally next to a port a potty because that's the only place I can get an electrical outlet and j d's like bringing me like you want a bread roll want water and I'm sweating because I was expecting me jesus like this girl is like so nervous because we're shooting in a pitch black area in my mind I think she's nervous in retrospect I don't know if she was she was like okay you know she's never been married before you know it's like her third wedding she's like my second photographer did this different she doesn't know any better right? So she what she knows is this I can control this I'm thinking I'm hoping I can control this we put together a slide show I put it next to the lake um like the deejay area just out there her friends start telling her christina you look so beautiful christina oh my gosh so her into any go and see this light show and christine is like la dee da about it like great her wedding for a sneak peak of our wedding photos look great I am controlling her emotions about her photos before she sees an entire gallery before she sees anything also the second step which would later happen what she would see them on the block and she would see them in a web slideshow again controlling emotions before we see the full gamut of what is going on when you talk about branding, it is an experience it is that level of emotion that somebody can connect with you about what you're doing and how you're doing it as we left that night when I firmly believed it was my last wedding of my life, christina gave me a big hug and said thank you so much and in my mind I'm just like, well, just wait to see you family pictures okay, wait we edit the photos and I sent her I sent her the disk and she sent me a thank you card and she says that she has her what her wedding photos hung up around her house in back of my mind I'm like waiting for the pete s the family photo suck that's what I'm waiting for that never happens ever I ran into christina five or six months ago randomly at cheesecake factory like, oh my god, it is so good to see you and in the back of my mind I'm still thinking she's gonna say really wrote, but guess what she was there in that dark area to she knew what we were given she's not expecting daylight in the background we were in a dark garden, I did the best I could and the beauty of this which is what I'll get into it a little bit is she knew exactly what was coming from jenny white charged the thousand dollars. She knew that this what? She knew that I had experience the second shooters, but she knew that this is my first wedding like she knew all of those things going in. And furthermore, a year after her wedding, she discovers that her wedding photographer is charging three times of what she paid for me. So she clearly thinks my business is growing and good for me. She made a good investment or good for her. She need a good investment. This is what's happening through my what first wedding experience? If you shoot a wedding and it doesn't go as perfectly as you anticipate, you can control emotion if you want to. This is how you protect your brand is how you create a sentiment about what you're presenting to a client. And at the end of the day, I did the best possible job I could for this girl. Absolutely. And I still maintain that she's still happy with her wedding photos. And that makes me happy, tim. Well, I think I can speak for all of us here when I say that, I think having that experience of first wedding, our first engagement shooting, looking back on and just being like right, good, yeah, I think it's a rite of passage, you know, something we can all look back on and, like it's a bad thing you know about the same day slide shows uh I've been thinking about it and one of things that I wonder about constantly is the value of the photos I feel like the anticipation the waiting on it's in itself is kind of building the value of them and create something that is worth waiting for something that's displayed right away it's like, you know, there wasn't much in between how do you feel about that? Well, I'm I'm being confusing no, no, I totally understand the question I'm gonna speak is a bride I saw my wedding photos on the day of my wedding and david j held up a computer like this and he held it up to the table and twenty five people were sobbing there's something the closer the pictures become too the moment the closer the emotional connection is to that moment and I firmly believe the longer my clients are waiting for the pictures, the more they expect or believe that I had spent the entirety of that time working on just those pictures. So what they're going to expect is an ansel adams meets annie liebowitz meets chase jarvis photo you know, like they in their minds I am their one client if I'm waiting to post their photos seven eight weeks after their wedding, they think rightly so that I spent seven to eight weeks on their photos when we know we're doing other chutes were doing other edits we have a lot of stuff going on but in their mind where they're only client I firmly believe emotional connection is developed with rapidity my opinion um I know it works though it also works is it in person marketing tool? There are clients who prospective clients who are looking at this new league these photos are from today if I shoot and I put the pictures most of the pictures unless the black of my conversions I shoot from the camera and I put him on a slide show and they're on a three second lieu and I put it by the bar I'll say the joke again because it was really funny last time no the more people drink the better my photos look you know so it's okay I don't have music going to the deejay or the band is playing and people as they're waiting for their drinks or like was from today whoa I like she looks good oh the bridal party always took a bridal party picture in there oh, they love it and they're like oh I'm going to go and tell the bride now here's the thing the bright is hardly ever the first person to see the slide show so what the other people are doing are validating her decision to hire me as her photographer what they're essentially saying is that car you just bought is awesome oh my god those shoes amaze the photographer great that's what they're saying before she sees the pictures so regardless if she thinks like oh my god I don't look if a thousand if her best friend is saying you look so good she's gonna think she looks good which means she's unlike my fido my photos photos that's that's that's that's that's kind of what the deal is right now but we on the same page okay so that was my first wedding the moral then becomes don't worry it's a rite of passage it's a badge so let's do a couple questions then I'm gonna go back tio this like so that we could stay in slight questions so these questions are gonna be related to your shooting the wedding to shooting the wedding because we still have tons of questions about the client interview oh great let's do that too actually bypassed that that section because we started a little bit later right way so similarly to meeting at starbucks but would you ever cem a lot of people were asking if you would ever do client meetings a in your own home if you did have like a separate a room that was dedicated for that or be in the client's home what would you do have feelings on why you would or wouldn't do that? I have feelings that everything I have opinions about opinions so no, I won't have clients come to my home I'm extraordinarily private person if everybody thinks that I'm really like open and I share everything and it's like my life is so complex not like I'm so deep you know there's so many layers to everybody's life right? And so we put out online is literally one percent my home is my sanctuary like the people who come to my house of the very closest of clothes and clothes I'm not gonna have clients come in I have a dog too and could you just imagine like yes so this collections twelve thousand eyes like you know I don't know if that again is a good reflection we brand and I will say quite honestly my client's um I want richer than I am it's just it I don't want them to look at the house and I think anything about it I need to control what the brandt how the brand appears when tommy hilfiger has a viewing he doesn't say come to my apartment in new york he says go to the studio because again he's controlling that brand as far as going to people's houses um I grew up with after school specials so I never ate apples because they have razors in them at halloween you know I never take candy from strangers like I I watched dateline too much like the photographer who went missing you know I just probably would never walk into two I know you guys really do this girl's a weird I know I just would never go to somebody's house and admit online okay here's my album you know I just wouldn't do that I want to be in control of that so but again what works for me may not work and again it's my market it's my weird upbringing all of those things it's totally again it's total you if your brand is like home spahn motherly down to earth like hey let me just show up this is what I do I know photographers who do that that's great and if I had a wedding coordinator or say I have a really high profile busy client can you meet her newport coast if I have a third party vouching for that of course a great this is what we do there are exceptions but as a general rule of thumb no I just wouldn't say this is what I deal uh question from g two how many meetings weddings did it take you to finalize the strategic approach towards the couple's interview? Um I learned it on the first on the first yeah but it's not like I knew the even flow so what happened was I had never clearly I had never done a meeting so the meeting so I book the first wedding and then I booked my second wedding sight unseen there was how a book the second wedding was there was these coworkers and this one girl who was doing research on cancer I blogged about my mom having cancer she came across the block she started reading my blogged about the journey she wasn't getting married she just wanted I don't know you seem interested and so she started reading and then her co worker jody was getting married and she's this like oh it's just this photographer that I follow and what he's like why do you follow a photographer just like I don't know so joey came and she e mailed me and said, hey, can I book you for the wedding and I say again sight unseen her friend validated her friend felt like she knew me because she was connected to the story connected to the idea the personality connected to the idea that she trusted me her friend did and because she trusted her friend and her friend trusted me that in and of itself was alone enough for me to book my second wedding third wedding however the client wanted to meet and so I went to the ever trusty starbucks and he said let's needed a starbucks halfway between your house and my house because we lived quite a distance from each other I said I'll bring a sample I'd even have a simple about him I just have a computer they'll bring my computer we'll talk about things and when I went in there, I had no idea how to conduct a meeting I didn't even know I was like, hey, how's it going, you know, hurting so sweet monique when he walked in, I was like I was going to this big personality was like, let me get you something to drink and I'm at the counter and I left the slide show going with the computer and I was getting the drinks I'm thinking to myself, okay, professional professional, how do we act professionally? I don't even know what real photographers do and so I just went back and I was like, tell me about your wedding how's it going like, oh my god, what your dress house that you taught me? How did you guys me? I just did what I would do if I was meeting a girl for the first time because I had just got married a few months earlier and so I just got married. I totally knew that she was having a destination wedding, and so I was like, I totally understand the drum of getting your family they're all of a sudden that set, oddly enough, a template for me to learn shut up, let them dictate the pulse of the pace of the meeting, so now what I learned the process was talking in a way to answer questions that's what I learned over time but the overall approach just happened I think it was less strategic and it was organic and it worked if it ain't broke don't fix it yeah yeah okay how about another question yes so if a question from carisa joy and she's wondering about you can go step back a little bit too before the client meeting so beforehand you get an email inquiry what is your first step is it uh email back setting up a phone call is it a direct phone call? No design doesn't want to have a phone I don't want to help so you get a phone call from no okay, so the way that it works I'm like guests get your getting up tio when you're meeting the client person what what I client will email me and then I just want to get basic information so I want to know her name the wedding day because I need to know if I'm available if you want to know where she's getting married because again that the collection centers and tailored according to the location there's nothing worse than say oh this is my prices and she's like oh, I'm getting married in antigua and you're like oh great I mean, which is exciting because well, I don't know what texas dallas what I mean texas dallas way to go generally whatever way you have your cards in a row and then if she's on the same page and she knows what the collections cost and then I'll send her whatever what kind of information that she wants her needs and so such isn't she could make the decision of whether or not she wants to set up a meeting or a phone call it's basic just intuitive like hey, I'm having an e mail conversation with you what do you want to know? And I'll give you what you want to know that's really it in that you know in your first e mailed you like because I get so many plants are like I'd just like to know prices that's right? It's often an email sounded just like more filtering absolutely and you know what? I don't a lot of times I don't even get people to respond to the filter email and that's great because if you don't have like literally I'm not asking twenty five questions it's like I don't know a few questions if you do not have the time or the decency to respond to those questions, then clearly you're looking for a photographer and you're not looking for me great perfect another level of filtering does it sound diva? Absolutely, but as like high school as it sounds it's like it feels good to be wanted I want you to want me, you know again and again it goes back to the site idea of a brains one time I met with a client and way into the meeting and she was adorable and they were going to move forward of me and I was like, okay, great just like I was so nervous that we wouldn't be able to like live up like we might you might want to book us and I was like oh are you kidding me? I was like no, I'm like this is so great that we've had this opportunity to connect and she needed the meeting to make sure that I was a good fit for her and that was perfect that was great that's exactly what I want my bride to be feel but if other people are more like hey, I'm busy I really live in another city or whatever let's move forward whatever they want it's totally fun of me it'll set the tone for how we move forward yesterday you mentioned is part of a filter like if somebody comes back and says I'm getting married and in the basement of the f w or whatever like how do you proceed from there? No, they're not your client still send them information because it's crazy last year I shot planes weddings where I was like five percent of the budget and I also shot weddings around fifty percent legit never no never dismiss anybody and also it's decency you that pretty woman moment a big mistake huge to me and be like you in the bahama really work you know I didn't think that like you wouldn't respond but I didn't know if you had like response a for like people you know I mean if she wants to hire me the v f w will rock out the v f w you know like a lightens club church basement we'll do it up you know I'm okay with that definitely so claudia everybody gets everybody I'm an equal opportunity so yeah I'm going to get into a workflow and outsourcing because I want to make sure that we stay on track but then I think we'll be able to pat it because they think this is gonna be we have a lot of stuff going on today okay so we're gonna move on to the workflow in outsourcing now at this point I've shot my first wedding correct rate we're back on the same page we just shock cristina's wedding and up until this point I had never cross yes I had never I'm sorry nobody can see what's going on I have people in the back holding signs up for me talking to me and I'm like I'm talking to myself okay tio their workload outsourcing up until the uh first here I hadn't on this um I had been second shooting now what a second shooting entail me giving the images to the other photographer and me editing my favorites fun bill awesome, amazing cool actually first wedding and all of a sudden I realize that after calling like keeping the keepers and getting rid of everything else uh eight hundred pictures to edit and up until this point I had never really done editing in a large scale and I had heard rumors of like a time adobe bridge that's what all the cool kids were using adobe bridge and I was just like, oh my god, I have to learn to duck bridge but I'm still trying to learn photo shop but wait, wait I'm trying to look I'm trying to learn quick books and oh, maybe I should learn illustrator or in design for album designed that's what people say so I'm trying to do all of these things I'm trying to balance a part time job and oh, every once in a while I'm trying not to burn dinner you have a lot going on totally addressed at a puppy you know just moved into the apartment with my spouse there was so much and to sit in front of eight hundred images was a lot because like an idiot, I was opening each photo photo shot and editing each photo I know because you guys I'm telling you I didn't know which way was up in my mind thank you, I know okay, okay so that was me being dumb so here I am, ok? I'm editing every single photo it took me almost three weeks with no life toe edit each photo, and in my mind I knew that this candid photo of cocktail hour we never surface anytime or anywhere, and I was editing it. I knew I was doing it wrong, but I felt like learning bridge was going to take me longer and I had other shoots coming up and I was working part time. I had too much on my plate and I remember remember cause I'm working on it swelled inch I book with an external hard drive and I'm working on tuesdays and thursdays, and I come home after work on monday, wednesday fridays, and I'm stressed out because I still need to do at least two or three hours of work and try to make dinner simultaneously and tried to watch some sort of like reality television with my husband for quality time, you know, it's like all of these things I was trying to balance, and I would knew that I was doing it wrong. So on, like the third, like two thursdays after the wedding, I'm laying on the floor because I was I would edit on my stomach and all my florrick this yeah, weird, I totally know when I got up and I was like, okay we're done I'm doing it wrong because this right your socks I didn't sign up for this so I went and got some ice cream and I sat in the kitchen and I was like okay we need to rethink what's happening and I need to make a decision I need to learn how to do bridge learn bridge how did you I need to learn bridge that's what it came down to do now it's light room I would say if I was speaking now I need to learn light room or I need to learn aperture from apple but then I was like I don't want to do that I didn't get into photography to be a professional light rumor nor did you get into photography to be a professional bridge rumor bridget where bridger whatever I didn't get into that to do that and I was like well what did I get into dio like feel basically I had to ask myself what did I want? Because baby what it was the first time in my life I just said I want to be a photographer but but what did I want that not as a profession just what did I want to do with my life? That was a question I had to ask myself and then it became I wanted to shoot and they wanted to write and wanted to be happy those might sound like really stupid things to you but it's fine if they were just there were what came to my head because I wanted to shoot because I saw that it brought good things in my life I wanted to write because I liked writing I feel like I can think better when I write oh how I love the delete key oh that you know that's a lifesaver more than anything I wanted to be happy for the five years preceding that it was a really dark time in my life so up until that point was twenty five five preceding years so about a fourth of my life wass really, really, really depressing and finally I was happy and I wanted to say to the universe I want to be happy I wanted to say I was a god please make me happy that's what I wanted so I think people who are watching home you guys should really realize what do you want? Because once you realize what you want if everything you're doing isn't what you want then how can you find a way to let it go? Amen. Thank you. Okay, so I found ways to do on lee what I love by outsourcing this is the key to my business this is the key to I really believe the rapid growth people always ask what do you think it was? Well, it was doing on ly the things that I loved and was doing the only thing that made me happy and if I was able to write in the process of that, then that was a good thing too. So what do I outsource? Outsource my bookkeeping because quickbooks and me are not friends I outsource my accounting because clearly if I can't even be a book keeper, I'm not going to be an accountant. I also outsource my post processing I outsource my print fulfillment I outsource my album design, okay, all of these things I'm outsourcing because as I started and I didn't make the decision all in the beginning I decided to do the first three instantly the post processing I mean the bookkeeping that counting in the post processing straight out after my first wedding, I was like there's no way I'm gonna spend three weeks of my life editing each photo one by one in photoshopped yes, I can learn bridge or yes, I could learn light room I understood that but did I even want to do that? That was the question and when the question was no, I don't want to do that then I just found solutions for it that was it let it go these were the things that was talking about yesterday these were my fixed costs and the last three post processing proof of women an element design I then created they then became fixed costs, not variable costs. I knew exactly the mount I was spending per wedding per album designed for what that client had ordered. That was what I wanted to focus on knowing my numbers distinctly. Now, the best part of post processing was at the falling wedding. I actually think that I went okay, so that the falling wedding two or three weddings later. Um, what I did was I simply got my images. I put them on a hard drive and I heard of another photographer in santa barbara who was trying to make extra money on the side. So she said she was shooting, but she wasn't enough to keep her afloat so she would take other photographers work and she would edit them in her own time. And so she charged me twenty cents of image. If I center a thousand images from a wedding, I knew that it was going to cost me two hundred dollars for her toe edit those wedding edit that wedding for me at the time, even though I was still trying to connect the dots. Two hundred dollars to me was so worth the time not having to be haing what I was doing. Cooking dinner, walking my dog, watching tv, having a life. That was my top priority, because I had been so unhappy that if anything that I was going to do is going to continually make me unhappy, it was out of my life making decisions to be happy. Results in heaviness, it's, very simple. And yet we want to be in control of it. Back in the day when people are shooting film, what we're waiting for, a ton of shooting, I mean shooting and producing their own film, like printing it, and they would find a good lab.

Class Description

In this workshop Jasmine explores how to grow your wedding business. Build a brand that embraces your unique strengths, and communicate that brand to attract clients through today's online social media tools.