It’s that time of year! Since starting this business in college 8 years ago, every year I’ve done an annual Q&A (even when I was an unknown and had to make up some of my own questions!!) And now, unbelievably we are at the tail end of 2017 and not only has this been our biggest, busiest year ever, but the questions I received are fresh, new and help to reflect the growth and changes this beautiful business has experienced over the past 12 months. Some were sweet and genuine, some were raw and hard-hitting. You asked, I asked. So here we go!
DOES YOUR BLOG HAVE ACTUAL FOLLOWERS OR SUBSCRIBERS?
Yes! Our blog does have consistent and loyal subscribers (equal parts clients and equal parts just fans!) however this is not regularly monitored. When I first started my blog in 2014, the goal was to get a loyal following but not to be as interactive as some photography bloggers. About a year into having the blog, I dropped all blog posts about other topics and began posting weddings, session, proposal, etc. only. Our blog posts now not only serve as fun previews for our clients and their families but there’s a secret MO to it also…MARKETING! Our blog post previews go viral. It helps my work spread like wildfire and gets me the word-of-mouth that keeps me booking like crazy. Blogs don’t have to be stereotypically popular to be successful : )
YOU POST ABOUT ASSISTANTS AND PHOTOGRAPHERS WHO HELP YOU. DO YOU HAVE PERMANENT STAFF?
I have no permanent employees…that includes working in the field and back here in my office. As an s-corp, the only employee I have is myself! All hired help is per diem. SO grateful for my second and primary shooters who help to keep this business growing and thriving!
YOU POSTED THE PICTURES FROM MY FRIEND’S WEDDING BUT YOU WERE DEFINITELY NOT PRESENT AT THE WEDDING. ISN’T IT FRAUD TO CLAIM SOMEONE ELSE’S PHOTOS AS YOUR OWN?
Not at all! Most photographers have a clause in their clause in their subcontractor contracts pertaining to second and primary shooters which allows second shooters (either contracted out or permanent employees) use of the images for their own portfolios although the copyright can belong to the owner of the photography business they were hired to shoot for. When we pay them, we are paying for their photography services but also paying for the copyright of the images they take! Almost all of our shooters use the images on their own sites, too! In the event of taking another photographer’s images without their knowledge or permission and claiming them as your work is most definitely NOT ok. It’s theft!
I NOTICED YOU POSTED ABOUT HAVING MEDICAL ISSUES LAST YEAR AND RECENTLY BUT HAVEN’T POSTED ANYTHING ABOUT IT LATELY. ARE YOU BACK TO NORMAL OR DOES THAT STILL AFFECT HOW YOU WORK?
Thankfully after 2 major ankle surgeries last year and 2 health scares this year, I am SO unbelievably grateful and excited to be back to work and to have finished the rest of 2017 strong and healthy. I always say to my clients that it takes A LOT to take me down but I always bounce back fast! I credit my quick healing for the love and support from my couples who encouraged me throughout this temporary but scary series of experiences! That’s LOVE!
WHAT’S THE MOST EMBARRASSING SITUATION YOU’VE BEEN IN THIS YEAR?
I definitely tripped backwards over my own camera bag at a wedding this Fall…the groom’s nana laughed so it was worth it!
HAS ANYONE EVER SAID ‘NO’ DURING A PROPOSAL?
Oh my gosh, NO (knock on wood!!!!)
WHAT MACRO LENS DO YOU USE?
I use (and love!) the Canon EF 100mm 2.8. It’s the secret behind our infamous ring shots! Great for pretty details like wedding jewelry.
HOW MUCH MONEY DID YOU SPEND TO START YOUR BUSINESS? EQUIPMENT, ETC.
It’s hard to give a ballpark estimate since it took me several years to save for new and necessary equipment as my business grew. Each year I’d invest a little more as I began to earn more. But I would say that in my first few years of business, I spent upwards of $20,000 on equipment alone. But do NOT let this discourage you if you are starting your own photography business. I actually worked as a nanny to fund my business in it’s infancy stage!! Patience, hard work and saving that money to invest wisely!
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF THAT YOU ACCOMPLISHED THIS YEAR?
Definitely the destination weddings we shot! In 2016 we were lucky enough to shoot our first destination wedding in Bermuda and I thought that was heaven…so to ever think that I would be shooting weddings in Hawaii, Germany and Mexico is so incredible to me. Plus the couples who flew me to these beautiful places to share in their big days are even more wonderful than the places where they said “I do” which just adds to these amazing experiences. I’m SO proud of that!
TRAVELING ANYWHERE FUN NEXT YEAR? WHERE DO YOU WANT TO SHOOT A WEDDING NEXT?
No destination weddings planned for 2018 (yet!) but fingers crossed! I’d love to shoot in Greece, France or Scotland!
AS SOMEONE WHO IS JUST STARTING OUT (STILL NEED TO WRITE UP MY CONTRACT AND FIGURING OUT SESSIONS FEES, LOTS TO THINK ABOUT) DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE ON GETTING INQUIRIES BEING NEW TO THE FIELD?
My most valuable piece of advice for new photographers who are trying to build a loyal client base is not to book every session that comes your way, but to donate your services to worthy causes; aside from this being the genuine and right thing to do, it will familiarize you with proper networking skills, it will get your work and your face out there and it will allow you to practice and perfect your photography skills without fear of messing up. A triple win! When I first thought about starting a business, I reached out to local organizations and nonprofits and took photos at their events pro bono just to get myself out there and to give myself confidence while also helping to support great causes. I met so many amazing people who helped me build a solid networking platform that a lot of my current clients are still connected to somehow!
YOU SHOOT A LOT OF WEDDINGS. WHO WILL YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER BE?
This is a secret that even my own family and friends will never know until the big day ; ) but hint: it’s a husband/wife team and they live across the country!
YOU’VE NEVER MENTION YOUR BIRTHDAY ON YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA. HOW OLD ARE YOU?
27 going on 97!
WHO INSPIRES YOUR WORK?
I try not to get too obsessed with just one photographer’s work because I feel like I stop growing as an artist myself…recently I’ve been following a handful of photographers that I’ve discovered via instagram and the inspiration is FLOWING! I tend to be inspired by individual portraits, not just photographers’ styles in general. Also, my main source of inspiration is still the stories told to me by my clients. Hearing the stories behind their love and history makes my work more meaningful and better represents the couples in front of my camera.
WHAT DO YOU DO ON YOUR DAYS OFF?
It’s pretty seldom that I have a day off (I haven’t taken a certified vacation EVER…yes..EVER). But on those rare and elusive days where I’m caught up on editing and meetings and phone calls, you can find me doing laundry and catching an awful Lifetime movie!
WHAT MAKES YOU REALLY ANGRY? ANY PET PEEVES?
I hate when people tailgate me or go through red lights. For some reason this really irritates me. I don’t even drive slow! (ok sometimes I do)
CAN YOU POST MORE PERSONAL THINGS ONLINE? A LOOK INTO YOUR LIFE OUTSIDE THE BUSINESS
While I do like to share some of my personal life outside of my business, some stuff is best left off social media! I will be posting more about how my personal life interacts with my business life in the new year, though!
DO YOU STILL GET NERVOUS BEFORE BIG WEDDINGS OR PROPOSALS?
150% YES! I have always had a tendency of freaking myself out and getting super nervous and jittery before shooting…I just want to do my best and make my clients proud! But even after years of being put to the test, shooting in crazy difficult situations and under near-impossible circumstances and still doing a great job, I STILL struggle with being anxious before big events. My favorite way to calm my nerves is to make some tea, open up a box of thank you notes that previous clients have sent me and read all the ways I made their big days that much more special. Instant reminder that *I CAN DO THIS!*
CAN WE EXPECT A RING ON YOUR FINGER IN 2018? HOW WOULD YOUR BOYFRIEND EVEN PROPOSE? NO PRESSURE LOL
I guess we will just have to wait to see what 2018 brings! And SO many people can’t wait to see how THE proposal photographer will be proposed TO…as long as it’s photographed, I don’t care how it happens ; )
WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST GOAL FOR 2018?
My biggest personal goal for the new year is to finally BUY A HOUSE! It’s been something I’ve worked so hard for over the years and while starting a business is SO wickedly expensive, I still managed to keep saving whatever I could to reach my goal (even quarters at one point!!) For a 27-year old to build a successful and lucrative business from scratch and purchase a home on her own, with no financial help from a spouse or anyone else will be my proudest accomplishment so far. Fingers crossed that my little dream home will be out there waiting for me in 2018. I CAN’T WAIT!
For anyone thinking about starting a business, anyone who has started but is still finding their way, and for anyone who has a full-blown business but is at a crossroads, combat discouragement and stay positive! Running a photography business is anything but always smooth-sailing. I will openly admit to having days where it seems as if everything is going wrong and I’m getting nothing done. I’ve cried out of frustration SO many times at my desk but I’ve also pumped my fist in accomplishment.
Success can be defined in so many ways, but ultimately the goal is to build a business that earns you a comfortable income, happy clients and a proud and happy YOU. And to me, happiness IS success. There will be situations that will discourage you, frustrate you and flat out make you want to give up and think you were a fool for ever thinking you could do this; there will be people who will troll you and your work and make you feel like you are inferior to other photographers and even other people.
My ONE message that I hope reaches every photographer doubting themselves or their ability is that my secret to combating this discouragement and feeding this feeling of doubt is simple: instead of proving those who doubt you wrong by succeeding, prove those who support you RIGHT by succeeding. I never mention those who doubt me or criticize my business or myself as a person. Ever. Because they do not matter and they will never matter in any capacity; they serve no purpose and are not related to my success or my failure as a business owner or a photographer. I starve my doubts by ignoring those who bully or don’t believe in me and I feed my confidence and fulfill my potential by embracing those who have supported me and believed in me even when I did not believe in myself. This mentality has catapulted not only my ability to produce images and a service that continues to grow like wildfire every year, but also has made me a stronger, more resilient but kinder person.
So as easy as it is to use the doubts of others to fuel your inner fire, I say eliminate that negative energy completely and source more fuel for that inner fire by celebrating the tribe of positive people around you. Lift yourself higher in 2018!
Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a joyous New Year!