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Bridal Show Brochures from Bay Photo

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

It’s that time of year!! Bridal show season.

Are you ready? Are you ready to show your brides something that stands out? Sure, you are going to be in your booth, talking to them, meeting with them – but what are they leaving with? When they get home – how will they remember you from the other photographers? What is your leave-behind?

A flimsy piece of photocopy paper with your pricing on it?

Good luck!

And what about when you meet face to face? What are you giving them? Every business in the world understands this concept of a leave-behind. Why don’t you?

It’s inexpensive and sends the right message to your clients.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF BAY PHOTO DISCOUNT

25% Off Press Printed Magazines – Promo Code: SAL25MAG – Expires January 15th.

Also – Check out our St Louis Wedding Photography brochures below.

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Make 2017 Your Year

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

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Make 2017 Your Year with Sal Cincotta

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the January issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

 

Stop wishing for better times. Stop hoping. Stop thinking that the gods are going to bless you with an incredible year and newfound wealth and success.

 

It doesn’t work that way.

 

It’s about busting your ass day in and day out. Put your time in and plan for success. Success is not an accident. It’s the result of hard work and some serious planning.

 

Every year, we step back and assess the year before. We look at what we did right, what we did wrong and what we need to fix. We look at new opportunities and how we can take advantage of them before our competitors beat us to the punch.

 

Below is your cheat sheet to putting your team through this exercise to ensure you maximize your success in 2017.

 

Take a couple hours of your day to sit quietly. No email. No TV. No distractions. You are about to plan your entire year: Give this the time and attention it deserves.

 

Now, grab a sheet of paper. Create four quadrants and label them Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

 

Let’s start with an easy one.

 

Strengths.

 

This should be somewhat easy for you. What are you doing right? What are you good at? This is no time for modesty. This is about you beating your chest. Surely this is something you are doing well. If not, it might be time to call it a day and move on to something new. I doubt that’s the case, so let’s think about this.

 

What should be listed here? Here are some things we have listed for our studio.

 

// Customer experience. Something we pride ourselves on is being very attentive to our clients. We quickly respond to all requests. We treat our clients to gifts and subtle gestures throughout the process.

 

// Turn times. Our clients see their fully edited images in two weeks. This is a huge competitive advantage for us.

 

// Distinctive style. Every day, I work hard to ensure my style of shooting and editing stands out from the crowd. This ensures we can charge a premium in the overcrowded marketplace.

 

Weaknesses.

 

This one is going to be tough for you. It requires brutal honesty. A lot of artists can’t handle the truth. They operate in a touchy-feely world where everyone gets a hug and a trophy. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that’s not how the world of business works. If you want to grow professionally and personally, it’s time to put your big-boy pants on and get down and dirty.

 

What should be listed here? Where are you weak? What are your clients saying? If you are in business, one thing is for sure: People are complaining about something. I operate under an 80/20 rule. If a single complaint comes in, I am unwilling to make changes to my business. But if I start seeing a trend, I start investigating.

 

Things to look at.

 

// Turn times. How long does it take you to get images to your clients? Anything over two weeks is too long. Anything over 30 days is suicide in today’s instant and insatiable marketplace.

 

// Response times. How long does it take you to respond to client emails and phone calls? It should be less than four hours.

 

// Product offerings. Do you offer your clients relevant products? What’s that, you say? You are not offering products? Then you are an idiot. Sorry, but in photography and business, you are not living up to your potential. Are you offended? Good. You should be. I am offended for you. You are a business owner! Your job as CEO is to make intelligent decisions for your business. So make them! You cannot earn a sustainable living in this industry if you are shooting and burning. It is that simple. You need product to sell to your clients. Otherwise, they are going to take your files and buy products from someone else. Stop convincing yourself that people don’t want product. They do. Our studio is built on that assumption.

 

For those of you who get it, make sure you are staying relevant and looking for new products to offer your clients. Prints and canvas will always be a staple, but there are lots of other products in the marketplace that clients want. Look at metals and acrylics. Our clients love them.

 

Opportunity

 

Every day I wake up looking for new ways to grow my business. There is opportunity everywhere. Executing that opportunity is an entirely different conversation. You always must decide on your top five. You need to look closely at both the financial opportunity and opportunity cost. Opportunity cost is the cost of choosing one opportunity over another.

 

From time to time, I am willing to take some risks and pursue an opportunity that isn’t fully baked, but one that I see a ton of potential in. I have to know that pursuing this opportunity might cost me in the short term, because I will have to pass on another potential opportunity. Hence, opportunity cost.

 

So, where does opportunity lie for you? Here are some things you should be looking at.

 

// Vendor relationships. Want to grow your business? I’ve got news for you. You won’t grow it alone. Start investing in vendor relationships. Try doing some free stylized shoots. Work with vendors to build your portfolio. Give them your images to use for their own marketing—with the appropriate photo credit, of course.

 

// Expand your offerings. Are you a wedding photographer or a baby photographer? Maybe it’s time to expand past that. What about high-school seniors? What about offering headshots to local businesses? There is a huge opportunity there. I don’t know a single business that doesn’t need updated headshots.

 

// In-person sales (IPS). Are you still shooting and burning? Maybe in-person sales is the opportunity you have been looking for. Make this the year you try IPS, and then watch your sales go through the roof.

 

// Customer service. This is an opportunity for all of us. Look for ways to improve your turn times. Maybe send a thank-you card after a client books, or even a bottle of wine to your top clients.

 

Threats

 

Every business faces threats. It’s foolish to ignore this fact. You need to be aware of those threats. It’s like anything else in life. Acknowledging the issue is the first step.

 

So what are the threats to your business? Here are some things to consider.

 

// Low-cost competitors. There will always be the low-cost provider in any industry. How do you plan to compete? What will you do to stand out from the crowd? If you don’t have a competitive advantage, you are just another person with a camera.

 

// Consumer preferences. What consumers want today is completely different than what they wanted two years ago. Is your business adapting? If not, this is a huge issue. Your photography style, editing style and product offerings all matter.

 

// Indifference. Indifference to good photography is one of the major threats I see to my business and our industry. People are okay with shitty pictures for some unknown reason: “I have a friend”; “I only need a few pictures.” Statements like this send chills down my spine. How will you deal with this threat? We have to educate our clients on why great photography matters.

 

If you invest the time in this exercise, you will, without a doubt, come up with a matrix of action items you will need to implement for the upcoming year. Meet with your team, or just lock yourself in a room and review your action plan. How will you execute it? You don’t want to wait until the end of 2017 to evaluate your station. Constantly reevaluate your plan 30, 60, 90 days out. Keep staying on track to your most successful year yet.

 

2017 is your year. Make it great.

 

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the January issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

10 Things You Need To Do For Your Business in 2017

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

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10 Things You Need To Do For Your Business in 2017 with Laurin Thienes

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the January issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

 

Welcome to 2017. For some of you, it may feel like the photography world is closing in on you, and closing in fast. But as we start the new year, if you have ever felt that you are like a fish out of water in this wild and crazy industry, there are ways to stay away from that feeling the world is collapsing. Hopefully, one or all of these 10 tips for keeping your head in the game will help you create your best year yet.

 

Keep a sharp pencil.

 

It seems simple to record your expenses and your income for your business, right? Wrong. The number of conversations I have with photographers who do at least one of the following is staggering: keeping a separate business bank account, mixing personal expenses with business expenses, not knowing profit margins, thinking they’re making money when they aren’t…. The list goes on. Running into financial issues creates the wrong kind of stress, both personally and professionally. There is a simple way to avoid it: Know where your money is going. It doesn’t need to be a complex model. Just tracking your income and knowing whether or not you are profitable is half the battle.

 

Cut out the cancer.

 

This topic alone could fill a book. Let’s break it down with this one simple sentence: Remove the people from your life who hold you back and are not helping you get to where you want to be. I feel like I should be yelling that statement from the rooftops. Every entrepreneur has people around who are negative, who are jealous of your successes, and who love to rub salt in the wounds of failures. You don’t need these people around you. It’s a simple test to ask yourself: Are you a positive person in my life? If yes, they can stay. If no, cut the cancer.

 

Make “laser focus” the new standard.

 

I’m an artist with attention deficit disorder. Focus is not my middle name. Hell, focus is barely in my vocabulary. And I know I’m not alone. Laser focus has to be a priority. Focus on your mission every day. Set your goals for the year. Then, once a month or once a week, refocus those goals. As part of your daily morning routine, reflect on what you will do that day to further those goals. And stick with it—no matter what else is going on, no matter how big or small the task, always be doing something to better your business.

 

Shoot for yourself.

 

It’s easy to get into a routine where the only work you shoot is paid work. Making money is all fine and good, but making images for you can be creatively liberating. Maybe it is test shoots to try out new poses or conquering off-camera flash. Maybe it is getting a press pass and shooting a college sporting event. Maybe it’s setting up an elaborate fashion shoot. Whatever the concept is, shoot for you. The most successful pros in the world make time to shoot for themselves. This sets the stage for honing your skills and advancing the quality of your work.

 

Create a yearlong project.

 

This idea is not for everyone. A yearlong project takes shooting for yourself to a whole different level. This is where planning, concept and technical skills all mix and are taken to the extreme. Think visual art. Think conceptual ideas. Think thought-provoking imagery. It can really boost your skills and vision. Perhaps this even turns into a gallery showing at a later date. Any publicity is good publicity.

 

Upgrade your gear.

 

Everyone wants the newest, greatest, most expensive toys. But it’s easy to forego buying new equipment because you don’t “need” it. While I am the king of justification, sometimes adding a new lens or lighting equipment can be a boon to your business. Can that new piece of glass help you think differently? Capture different images? No, you probably don’t need it, but it might force you to leave your comfort zone and create things you never thought possible. Purchase something that you normally would not think you would use regularly, such as a tilt shift, fisheye or Lensbaby, and challenge yourself to use it on every shoot.

 

Outsource.

 

Come on, you knew this was coming. I love outsourcing. But surprise, I’m not just talking about outsourcing your post-production (yes, do that too!). What do you do today that distracts you from your business? Do you really have to spend two or three hours on yardwork each weekend, or is the few bucks you pay the neighbor kid a better use of your time? Should you be trying to manage all your bookkeeping/accounting needs, or is that better left to the professionals? How much time would that save? Can that time be reinvested in your business? Recognize the value of your time, and focus on things of bigger value—both quantifiable and nonquantifiable.

 

Invest in your brand.

 

Does your website look like it was made with Geocities? It’s like a bad dad joke, but many photographers and business owners have not embraced the 21st century. What about your logo? does it look like it was designed in Microsoft Paint? Whether you have a big or small budget for a new logo or website, these two things can almost always use an upgrade or refresh. As you look inward, are there other things that can change your client’s experience? Better packaging? Betting communication? Better products? Just because it’s what you’ve always done does not mean it is the correct or best way.

 

Network.

 

The first part of the year is always full of great trade shows and conferences. I’ll shamelessly plug ShutterFest as one of these. Go there. Have conversations with peers. Play with gear and products you would normally not be able to see, touch or feel. Most importantly, create a network of people you trust, a network of photographers you can ask questions without feeling awkward. To network, you have to push through your shyness. Your local chamber of commerce is a good place to start. If not there, many cities have small-business groups that you can get involved in to meet other small-business owners. Draw on their experiences, and, who knows, you might find your next whale client.

 

Invent a better you.

 

I’m not a shrink and I don’t necessarily buy into the “me day” mantra. But what I do know is that all of us can always become better people and better business owners. Communication with those around me is a constant cause of tension. It is easy to put all my energy into the business day to day, but then fail at communicating elsewhere. I strive every day to improve my communication skills.

 

Learning (and sticking with) fundamental business skills can be life changing. Even though change is hard, learning these new skills will help you become a better version of yourself. Can you be a motivation to those around you? Can you learn the skills to become that motivation?

 

Hopefully you are able to apply some or all of these ideas to help focus and shape what 2017 looks like for your business. I apply them every day to myself and my business. Some I apply better than others, and I constantly strive to better those weaker areas. Each year that passes gives us more time and experiences to reflect on—to look inward at what went right, what went wrong and how we can come out the other side better.

 

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the January issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

21 Tips for Getting the Most out of Photography Conventions and Trade Shows

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

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21 Tips for Getting the Most out of Photography Conventions and Trade Shows with Skip Cohen

 

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the January issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

 

It’s suddenly the new year, which means trade show season is about to kick off. Most of you will make it to at least one convention or conference between now and the end of April. Sadly, many of you will also waste time and money from the minute you walk into the convention hall to the time you get home.

 

This isn’t a new topic for me to share. Having spent over 35 years attending conventions, both as consumer and exhibitor, I’ve learned the return on your investment is only as good as the planning you put in before you start the trip.

 

It’s time to put together a complete recipe for success at every conference you attend.

 

  1. Why are you attending?
    Before you commit to any convention, think through why you want to go. “To thine own self be true” should be your mantra. Think about where you need the most help. Think through your goals for 2017—what do you need to achieve them?

 

  1. What companies are you working with?
    Make a list of every manufacturer and vendor whose equipment or services you use. No matter what role they play in your business, put them on the list.

 

  1. Who’s exhibiting?
    Every company and association that hosts a convention publishes the exhibitor list online well in advance. Review the list and isolate those companies whose products/services you use. They’re a must-see at any trade show. This isn’t about just knowing their product line, but about building your network. At some point, everybody has a crisis. A great network is key to getting the help you need as quickly as possible. Every product and service you use should be represented by at least one contact name of somebody you’ve met.

 

  1. Need new equipment?
    If you’re in need of specific equipment, know your financial strength before you walk into the show. What’s your budget for 2017? I’m a huge fan of renting and leasing equipment. It doesn’t tie up your cash flow, and you get to use somebody else’s assets without depleting yours.

 

  1. How’s your skillset?
    Every conference offers an extensive list of programs, but people often flock to the most popular speakers simply because they’re entertaining. Once again, it’s about being true to yourself. Think through what you’re missing in your skillset. What techniques do you need help with? The complete platform of speakers/classes is available online. Review the list and pick programs with topics in which you need the most help. And always attend at least two programs completely out of your comfort zone.

 

  1. Exhibitor activities
    As you review the exhibitor list, check out in-booth programming. Many exhibitors have guest speakers presenting in their booth on the trade show floor. At a convention last year, Profoto had 22 speakers over a three-day period. In-booth mini-workshops allow you to meet industry icons face to face.

 

  1. Pre- and post-show events
    As many of the conferences have grown, so has the availability of excellent education. Look for special events going on before or after the convention. The key is to get the most bang for your buck, and if you’re already on the road, why not expand your education with another day or two of education? ShutterFest, for one, offers “Extreme,” which is an intense hands-on experience taking place after the general conference.

 

  1. Schedule meetings
    If there is somebody you want to meet with at a convention, set it up in advance. There are few things more hectic than a busy trade show. You’ll only be disappointed if you try to schedule a meeting with someone you bump into at a conference.
  2. Print a postcard
    There’s nothing worse than working a busy trade show and having a photographer put his iPad in your face and start showing you his portfolio. It’s not a problem if it’s a scheduled meeting, but this sort of “cold call” is the wrong way to go. Instead, print up a postcard-size piece showing three to five of your very best images on one side, and your contact information on the other. I’ve always liked oversized cards. While they’re more expensive, you’re not printing thousands of them. Also, don’t forget your business cards.

 

  1. Don’t be a storm trooper
    Something strange happens with too many of you in the chaos and excitement of a convention: You forget your most basic manners. If you see a person you’d like to talk to but they’re already in a conversation with somebody else, wait your turn. When you get their attention, ask if it’s a good time to talk. Be willing to come back later or call them after the convention.

 

  1. Breakfast, lunch and dinner
    Never eat alone. Meals are the perfect time to network. The social side of a convention is incredibly productive, but not if you’re only spending time alone or with people you already know. Find a balance between friends and potential associates.

 

  1. Never miss the bell
    You snooze, you lose. There are few things as fun as going out with friends and barhopping in a convention city. But you’re at the show for a reason, and if you need to sleep in late the following morning, your evening out with friends might become the most expensive investment you make in the show, especially if you miss appointments or presentations.

 

  1. Reservations
    If you’re attending a larger convention, make a few dinner reservations in advance. It’s no fun when you’ve worked to get people together for dinner and can’t find a place to eat within a decent timeframe.

 

  1. Walking the trade show
    Start in one corner and work every aisle. Technology changes so fast. You never know what new companies and products you might find. You don’t need to stop at every booth. Just keep your eyes and ears open for products and services that might help you build a stronger business.

 

  1. Meeting the icons
    My buddy Brian Malloy wrote this in a guest post about conventions a few years ago: “Keep an eye open for your heroes, and don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to them. I have met photographers whose work I have admired for years, and finally got the chance to chat with them and thank them for inspiring me.”

 

  1. Evaluate each day
    At the end of each day, look over the literature you picked up at the show. Write down who you met that day. List anything you promised somebody you’d mail to them when you get back, return phone calls, etc. This is also the perfect time to look at your progress on your hit list of companies and people you wanted to meet.

 

  1. Follow-up
    When you have been lucky enough to get time with somebody, especially an exhibitor, send them a thank-you note when you get home. Yep, a good old-fashioned thank-you note. It’s even better if you use customized stationery with one of your images on it.

 

  1. Photographs
    Take a decent camera. I know everybody has a cellphone, but you just might find something here and there that deserves better. My camera of choice is the LUMIX FZ300 with a 25–600 zoom, perfect for anything that comes along. Whatever you travel with, just make sure you can get great images suitable for publishing or sharing later.

 

  1. Publicity shots
    Take a few shots of you interacting with other photographers and vendors. Good images like this are perfect for publicity releases after the convention. If you meet with a new album company, get a shot of you and the vendor that you can use later in a press release announcing the new products to your clients.

 

  1. Network
    The greatest benefit of any convention is expanding your network. At every program you attend, talk with people around you. Introduce yourself, exchange business cards and discuss why you’re at the convention. Afterward, follow up with people you hit it off with, and keep in touch.

 

  1. Comfort
    I made a mistake 20 years ago at Photokina in Germany, where I wore a brand-new pair of loafers. I was limping after just two hours. Wear comfortable shoes. Don’t worry about making a fashion statement. You’re going to be on your feet all day. Stay hydrated. Pick up a bottle of water each morning on your way out of the hotel.

 

Here’s the bottom line, the reason I’m emphatic about planning every convention trip: Time is your most valuable commodity. You’ll never have enough of it. Attend every possible convention, conference and workshop you can. Plan your experience in advance, and then evaluate each one when you’re home.

 

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the January issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

 

Never Give Up: The Art of Pushing Through When You Feel Like Giving Up

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

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Never Give Up: The Art of Pushing Through When You Feel Like Giving Up with Alissa Zimmerman

 

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the January issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

 

This time of year has represented an incredible struggle for me for as long as I can remember. The days are shorter, the temperature is colder, motivation is often nonexistent and hibernation mode is on full power. This is the time of year when you’re stuck behind a computer screen day in and day out instead of being outside on photo shoots. It’s mentally exhausting, and very easy to let yourself fall into a funk.

 

This dark time of year, it’s easy to want to give up. Here are some tips to help you push through the mundane days spent in front of your computer when you feel like throwing your hands in the air.

 

Take Time to Understand Yourself

 

Losing perspective is usually the catalyst for the seemingly never-ending thoughts of, “I can’t do this anymore.” That lack of perspective is an interesting beast to learn to control. Learning to control your mind and negative thoughts is one of the most powerful things you can do as you grow within your business.

 

The most valuable skill I have learned in business is the ability to acknowledge when I am in a dark place and talk myself back into the right perspective. That doesn’t mean things don’t get tough for me on a regular basis. That doesn’t mean I don’t still struggle with perspective. It just means I have trained myself to become more self-aware, and to understand that in these dark times, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s all about whether you choose to see it.

 

Remember Your ‘Why’

 

Think about why you started down the path you’re on. Reflect on the decisions and sacrifices you have made over the course of your journey to get you to where you are. Why do you continue to fight for your business every day? Why do you wake up every morning and hustle until you close your eyes at night?

 

For me, it’s the satisfaction of knowing that I am an integral part of building something bigger than myself. I am a 29-year-old successful woman working my ass off every day to build a career and a life for myself. It’s about waking up in the morning, going into the studio and having the luxury of creating with my closest friends, people I consider family. No longer do I dread the thought of having to go to work every morning. It is something I fight for every day because I never want to take these opportunities for granted or lose sight of the fortunate life I have worked so hard to build.

 

There is freedom that comes with reflecting on your “why” anytime you’re feeling disconnected. Write your why’s down and keep them in an easy-to-access place for the times in life when you need some clarity.

 

Set Daily Goals

 

When you feel yourself getting overwhelmed with work and your personal life, make a short, realistic list of tasks to accomplish each day. This can lighten the weight on your shoulders.

 

I keep a master task list that I pull from to create my daily to-do list. During those times when I feel the weight of the world on my back, it’s difficult to focus. My master list only perpetuates the situation. So in this scenario, I start fresh with a piece of paper (there’s something therapeutic about handwriting tasks when I feel I’m in over my head). Write down everything that needs to get done in the upcoming seven-day window, no matter how mindless or strategic that task may be. Go through that list and decide which, if any, tasks can be delegated. Determine the urgency for each task that is still on your list. Assign tasks to each day of the upcoming week, along with an estimated length of time per task. That gives you an idea of how many hours of work are needed from you per day.

 

This allows me to get a grasp on what’s overwhelming me. It could be as simple as a client order that is late and keeps getting pushed back on your to-do list. Until you lay everything out, you won’t be able to put together a plan of attack to get over the mountain of stress you’ve created for yourself.

 

Reach Out to People Around You

 

It’s easy to let yourself spiral out of control when you feel like you’re stuck in a dark place. The worst thing you can do at this time is isolate yourself from your team, family or friends. Whenever you feel like giving up, there is always someone in your life who has been in a similar situation and can relate.

 

I find it beneficial to have my “person”—that one friend I know I can reach out to when I need advice or simply just need to get something off my chest. Sometimes all I need is a quick venting session—10 minutes to spill everything that’s bothering me, and my person simply listens and doesn’t give any advice unless I ask for it. Be careful with this person in your life, however, as these types of relationships can start out with healthy venting sessions and lead to negative complaining and cancerous mindsets and/or behaviors. It’s important for that person to be your voice of reason when you’re going down a wrong path in your thoughts.

 

Cut Out the Cancer

 

The phrase misery loves company could not be more accurate. Surrounding yourself with cancerous people only leads to you giving up on yourself. A sense of entitlement can form over time as you spend your days whining about your problems without ever coming to any kind of solution. You will find yourself quitting, which you will justify with any excuse you can come up with. All because you’ve surrounded yourself with people who have positioned themselves as your support team when, in reality, they are just negative influences looking to bring down everyone else around them and form a union of misery.

 

It’s just not worth it. Cut the cancer out of your life as soon as you feel it creeping up on you (you will know when it’s happening if you follow your instincts).

 

Switch Up Your Routine

 

At work, if I do the same thing over and over day in and day out, I get bored. This boredom leads to restlessness, and the restlessness leads to a feeling of claustrophobia. That causes me to panic, and any stress in my life is multiplied tenfold. I get to a point where I just don’t want to do anything anymore, and would rather give up. Call it burning out.

 

Don’t go down that road. Switch up your daily routine. For a while, I was opening my laptop and checking email the second after opening my eyes in the morning. I made the small change of waking up and getting ready for the day right away, not checking email until I get into the studio. This made a huge impact on my daily routine. I found that I wasn’t getting as stressed out at the beginning of my day.

 

Take a Step Back

 

Many entrepreneurs believe they have to work seven days a week, 20 hours a day to be successful. Sal will probably kill me for saying this, but sometimes, you just need to take a step back and reevaluate where you want to target your efforts.

 

The work will always be there, I promise. Your health and peace of mind will not, however. So if taking off a day, a week or even a month is what you need to get yourself back on track, make sure all your ducks are in a row and tap out.

 

Once you’ve reached the point where you still feel like giving up and none of these tips seems to be working, take a day off and take a deep breath. Everything will be okay once you get your mind right.

 

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the January issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

Redefining the Client Experience

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

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Redefining the Client Experience with Michael Anthony

 

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the January issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

 

The quality of images you provide your clients is paramount to your long-term success in the industry. Throughout all stages of my career, I have strived to perfect my craft by attending workshops, seminars and trade shows. I have purchased books, online courses and every little gadget you can imagine.

While all this helped, it wasn’t until I recognized that our clientele was coming to us for more than just incredible imagery that I fully understood what we have created in our business. Our brand has become synonymous in our local market of Southern California with luxury photography.

In the beginning, we tried to be everything to everybody. If the Knot was publishing articles showing rustic wedding images, we were out there shooting rustic wedding images, which is clearly not the type of photography we do today. It’s scary ignoring the trends, but in an industry as crowded as ours, staying true to you will help you to stand out from the herd.

In addition to the photography you offer clients, the experience you give them is just as important to your success.

But what exactly defines the client experience? According to Wikipedia, the customer experience is “the product of an interaction between an organization and a customer over the duration of their relationship.”

That means the client experience is dependent on every single interaction your client has with your entire brand. Every interaction your client has with your business influences their experience with you. I want you to understand what that means for a second. If you list your hours on Google Places as 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and a client calls your studio at 10:10 a.m. and doesn’t get an answer, that has a negative effect on your client experience. If you promise a two-week turnaround time but you don’t get them an open appointment until week three or four, you have negatively affected your client experience. On the flip side, if you are delivering images earlier than expected, you are positively influencing the customer experience.

In redefining the client experience, the one thing I have noticed after photographing hundreds of weddings is that there is a direct correlation between the experience your brand lends a client, and their satisfaction with the actual imagery produced. It may be subconscious, but there is rarely an occasion where we have left a client completely happy without making any mistakes along the way, later to find that they have complaints about the actual imagery produced.

Here are some steps you can take to ensure a perfect client experience from start to finish.

 

Step 1 // Get organized.

This step is the most crucial in developing your client experience. Nothing will cause you more problems than lack of organization. It’s no secret that our studio consulted with Sal and Alissa midway through last year. While the common perception is that we did the consulting to better our marketing or photography, our biggest pain point had to do with organization and internal tracking. This one area of our business was running into problems and causing a terrible client experience. Had we failed to get this under control as our business grew last year, we may very well be out of business today.

Here are some of the things we have learned through our time running a higher-volume studio.

-Get a dedicated client relationship management (CRM) system

I can’t stress the importance of this enough. Great client tracking is crucial to your success in hitting deadlines and keeping your calendar organized. Most CRM systems allow you to automate much of your work, so those time-sensitive emails get sent out immediately. We have used all the studio management software. The easiest one is 17hats. It’s extremely easy to set up and use. It features workflows, which offer an intuitive way to automate tasks like sending emails and setting reminders. In addition, 17hats offers accounting and lead management. More importantly, the customer service at 17hats is incredible.

-Outsource your editing

You cannot take care of your clients if you are sitting behind a computer fiddling with white balance and tint sliders all day long. Our studio has been outsourcing editing from day one. Pick a company like Evolve Edits to outsource to, or hire an in-house editor. The latter is more expensive by far, but may be necessary for some types of studios. Just make sure you are free to do the things that make you money and allow you to focus more on your clients.

-Take control of your shoots

Clients lose trust in your ability to document their day if they are doing most of the planning. Our clients should never have to ask us what happens next. On a portrait shoot, a client should never be asking me, “What do you want me to do?” As the creative director, those decisions should fall on you. If you can handle that type of pressure, your clients will feel more confident in your ability to handle the day.

We created a timeline worksheet that we use for every wedding. Our photo timeline is much more detailed than the timelines our planners give us. They allow us to map out each aspect of the day, down to five-minute increments. This keeps us on track (and our clients at ease) so we don’t miss anything. Make your wedding timeline six months before the wedding. A good time to do this is right after the client’s engagement sales session.

 

Step 2 // Refine your details.

Remember, the client experience comes down to every interaction they have with your business. Look at every point of interaction your clients have with you, from the moment they inquire to the moment you deliver their final product. Make sure your website loads quickly and that all your contact information is on your contact page. If you think that is basic information, visit the websites of competitors in your area—I bet many of them have a form on their contact page, but no email address or phone number.

Make sure you are accessible. If it is not feasible for you to answer the phone during all hours your business is open, hire a studio manager or VA, and if you are a 17hats user, I highly recommend their studio management service, Ally, which provides live human beings who answer your phone for you.

Having a dedicated meeting space at your studio gives you the homecourt advantage. Don’t squander it. You are your brand. Dress for success. Keep your studio or meeting space clean. Make sure it smells good. Have relaxing music playing. Sensory perceptions influence impression, and you want to give yourself every advantage you can. Remember, part of providing a good experience is giving clients confidence that you can handle their expectations and needs. When clients walk into your meeting space, they should be overwhelmed by your imagery on the walls.

 

Step 3 // Perfect your pitch.

The type of pitch I’m talking about here is the verbiage you use on your shoots to put your clients at ease and get the reactions you want out of them. Repetition is key because, once you develop your pitch, you will sound more confident. Your clients will feel awkward and stiff in front of the camera for the first time, so it is imperative that the direction you give puts them at ease. Encourage them. Show the client the back of the camera if you nail a shot to put them at ease.

You are a professional photographer, but clients and all their friends and family are amateur photographers (everyone is these days). Your ability to control a scene and art-direct is vital to the client’s perception of your professionalism, and ultimately the perception they form of your brand.

 

Step 4 // Overdeliver on their expectations.

This step is the icing on the cake that can turn clients into long-time referrers. Whenever your client is expecting something from you, deliver it better and faster than expected. You will constantly analyze your target clientele and adjust accordingly.

A great example of how we have made changes to our process has to do with delivery. Many of you know we started our business using Sal’s model exclusively. Over the years, we have had to make many adjustments, but one that was particularly hard for me to make was the delivery of prints. Clients would spend up to $2,000 on a product collection, and when it arrived, we would inspect and package it for pickup like many photographers do. The argument is that if you package a client’s order in your branded packaging, you are delivering a gift rather than a commodity. But now we drop-ship directly from our lab.

Our target clientele is millennials. In every study done on consumer behavior of millennials, the need for convenience outweighs the desire for human interaction. Our clients’ prints would sit on a rack at our studio and collect dust until our clients finally got around to driving over to get them. In Los Angeles, if you live outside our suburb, “driving to get them” means a two-hour round trip or a weekend, which is hard to schedule because we are always out of the office.

We decided to satisfy our clients’ need for immediacy and drop-ship prints directly to their door within five days of their order being placed. Sure, it is not wrapped in fancy packaging, but the product they paid a lot of money for is being delivered right to their door. We calibrate our monitors to the lab directly, and rarely run into problems with prints. It’s better for us to send our clients their images much earlier than they expect them. In this way, we overdeliver on their expectations. It cuts down on time spent packaging, along with the money we spend on materials. It improves the client experience because we are meeting the needs of our target client.

Now, if you live in a town with no traffic and short commute times, hand delivery might be feasible. If not, find ways to adjust.

Another way to ensure you overdeliver on your client’s expectations is to give longer lead times. We tell our clients album designs are done in four to six weeks, but we deliver them in fewer than two. We use that extra buffer time to account for any mishaps in the design process; when there are none, it’s a nice surprise when clients get their designs early.

Give your clients a gift when they are not expecting it. A month before the wedding, our clients receive a $25 Starbucks gift card in the mail along with a handwritten thank-you card telling them how excited we are to work with them. The day after the wedding, they receive another thank-you card. Our system then sends them automated emails outlining the next steps in the process.

The client experience doesn’t have to be complicated. You’ll get a handle on it through shear repetition. Focus on making the client experience perfect from start to finish. If you don’t perfect it before your business grows, any problems you have will be exacerbated, which is what happened to us. Define your own studio’s client experience, and you won’t need expensive advertising because your clients will be your mobile sales force.

 

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Creating the Boudoir Experience

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

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Creating the Boudoir Experience with Amber Jones

 

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I remember my first boudoir client. I had previously photographed her wedding, and she wanted to do a shoot for her husband as an anniversary gift. My studio was awkwardly laid out, and it had almost no natural window light, but I did my best to create beautiful images.

 

From that session on, I wanted to continue with boudoir photography. I knew I needed to make some big changes to create the experience I wanted for my clients, an experience that starts before I ever take a picture.

 

The Preshoot Consultation

 

I ask all potential clients to come into my studio for a meeting. It lasts about 30 minutes, and sets the tone and expectation for the rest of our time together.

 

When someone inquires about a boudoir session, I send a template email message that includes the session fee along with product starting prices.

 

This first contact does a couple of things. It helps weed out those people who aren’t really interested, and also lets a potential client decide if we’re compatible on price. I mention in my message that I have more examples to show in my studio, as most of my clients don’t want their images online. It’s extra encouragement to set up an in-person meeting, which then becomes the preshoot consultation.

 

We talk about why they want to do the session—is this a gift for a fiancé or husband, a personal project or a celebration of reaching a fitness goal? My clients come to their boudoir sessions from many different places in life, and the more I learn about them, the better I can tailor the experience to them.

 

One of the most striking differences from client to client is the woman’s comfort and confidence about her body. Each woman comes to this process with her own insecurities, related to age, a specific body part or simply the fact that she doesn’t stand in front of a camera every day.

 

With every consultation, I learn more about identifying and minimizing those anxieties, while also discovering what she considers her best asset.

 

Women come to my studio with the goal of giving a beautiful gift at the end of the process, but they leave saying they have renewed self-confidence and appreciation for their body.

 

Creating that experience begins with this conversation.

 

She’s a Teacher, Not a Model

 

What I didn’t fully appreciate about my first boudoir client is how foreign this process is to the normal person. Imagining yourself during a glamorous photo shoot is a lot different than getting in front of a camera in your lingerie.

 

Putting them at ease starts at the preshoot consultation, where we talk about the items they already own and any non-lingerie pieces their significant other might enjoy (button-down shirt, tie, sports jersey).

 

There is no model release clause in my contract, since 80 percent of my clients are teachers, lawyers and other professionals who don’t want their images shared. Building that trust is a lot more important than building a large online gallery.

 

Once the contract is signed, they register for a series of automated emails with more information to help them prepare. The emails cover topics like the different types of stockings to buy, how to purchase the right size and “Don’t forget to shave!”

 

Women arrive with all sorts of preconceptions. Put those aside to make them feel more comfortable. This isn’t the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. There’s no right or wrong here; it’s about finding clothing and poses that make them feel beautiful and confident.

 

Those automated emails save me time, both before the session and during editing. They also give the client confidence. Having their questions answered before they ask (or knowing that someone else had the same question) allows them to relax and enjoy the experience.

 

In the Studio: Hair & Makeup

 

Once my client steps into my studio, it’s all about her. It’s about creating the experience she’s always imagined, and that means focusing on her without distractions from email or phone calls.

 

Even the most outgoing client can get nervous on the day of her session. As much as we’ve done to prepare, she’s still likely on unfamiliar ground, and I want to make sure she doesn’t feel that it’s her responsibility to make this session successful.

 

We start with hair and makeup on site. I offer her champagne, which can help ease nerves, and it’s also a fancy touch that adds to the “supermodel” experience.

 

I take photos and video of the hair and makeup process while we talk to diffuse any stress and warm her up. When we get to the post-session viewing, these are wonderful images to include in the slideshow along with those from the shoot itself.

 

Once hair and makeup is finished, I ask my client to look at her transformation in a full-length mirror. I’m fortunate to work with some talented hair and makeup artists, and clients are consistently blown away by what they see.

 

The confidence and joy this moment creates is one of the biggest discoveries I’ve made working with a wide range of women. The right hair and makeup artists have just as much impact on your clients’ experience as you do, but it’s critical that they’re working to create the same atmosphere of comfort and confidence that I am. (Ever since I had a makeup artist explain to a client the best way to ensure getting pregnant, I’ve had a conversation with every hair and makeup artist about my expectations of professionalism and appropriate conversation.)

 

In the Studio: Creating Images

 

Everything up to this point, from consultation to email to makeup, has been done to prepare my client to enjoy her hour and a half in front of the camera. I’m amazed by how many women arrive for their consultation unsure whether they can do this, only to end up loving the process from start to finish.

 

Walk them through the poses, keep the conversation going and maintain a positive atmosphere. If she’s having a hard time with a pose, move on to a new one or get into the pose yourself.

 

With every session, I appreciate the risk I’m asking my clients to take. It’s the risk that comes with doing something for the first time and having someone capture it on camera. I reward that bravery throughout the session, both with verbal encouragement and by showing them photos from the back of the camera. There’s no substitute for their seeing how wonderful they look with their own eyes.

 

The In-Person Viewing

 

It took me a couple of sessions to realize that an in-person viewing was a critical final piece of my boudoir product.

 

I spend weeks shaping a specific experience for my clients. If I sent them a link to an online gallery, I would lose the chance to create the best possible sales environment.

 

I love the connection I have with each client, and my enthusiasm about their images plays a big role in the way they see themselves. By the time we reach the viewing, I’ve sung the praises of an album at both the consultation and the photo session—“This white-sheet series will be amazing as a full-page spread in your album!”—so concluding their boudoir experience with an album seems only natural.

 

Since that first boudoir session, I’ve learned that I’m selling an experience—an experience that I continue to refine with every client.

 

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Portrait Meets Pageant: Breaking Into Pageant Photography

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

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Portrait Meets Pageant: Breaking Into Pageant Photography with Blair Phillips

 

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Love them or not, most pageants stand for a good purpose. They are intended to instill self-confidence, beauty, assertiveness. There are thousands of pageants held annually all over the world. The money that parents invest in pageants can be staggering. Statistics prove just how serious parents are about pageants, with 72 percent hiring a pageant coach. There are custom designers contestants rely on for the latest and greatest gowns. The amount of detail spent on hair and makeup is jaw-dropping. Some contestants sleep in uncomfortable hot rollers the night before a pageant. The great thing about pageants is that contestants can begin as early as just months of age. With the amount of money invested in how contestants look, photography is important. When they find a great photographer, everyone in the area will help make that photographer a household name. This was my thought several months back. It has proved to be a big moneymaker.

 

We surveyed a few pageant mothers and coaches in our area. We asked them to share some of their favorite images that stand out from the crowd. Most of the images were evenly lit and pretty boring. I realized then that this market was wide open for a good photographer. One of my favorite types of business is when you market for something only one time and it continues to create income for you. That is my idea of a successful marketing venture.

 

We reached out to a few pageant contestants we got to know during our research. We asked them to come into the studio for some test shooting that we would use for a campaign. We took that time to ask key questions to help create a great experience for future clients. We learned that we were right on the mark with our offerings.

 

Having a decent-sized area for them to get ready is important in setting the tone. They come with a lot of items and require a good amount of space. With hair and makeup, heat can overpower a dressing area. We have a small but powerful fan in the room that is a saving grace. Nothing makes a pageant girl more moody than sweating while she is getting ready.

 

Another important tip is to have everything set up and ready when they are camera ready. They feel fresh and at their best at this point, so do not make them stand around and wait for you to set up your equipment.

 

Lighting is what will ultimately make your work desirable in your pageant community. The eyes in the photograph have to be the main focus. I prefer large light sources. The larger and closer the light can get to my subject, the softer I can make it appear. I use three to four lights. Shooting into reflectors to create a bunch of light coming from different directions is key for me. I like to bring light from overhead and reflect that light back into my subject’s eyes. This creates a look that you do not see every day, striking and desirable.

 

People like what they do not see every day. They want to look glamorous. When I work with these clients, I talk through the lighting as I am changing it. I want them to feel like I am putting a lot of thought into what they are paying for. Doing this helps add a huge amount of value to what I am creating for them. I explain that anyone can take a picture, but it takes true talent and experience to produce spectacular lighting.

 

We explain that what they are paying for is for someone to take their beauty to a higher level. People undervalue their work and price themselves too low because they are uncomfortable talking about pricing. What makes this easier is to educate your clients on all it takes to create their images. Without doing so, clients think all you do is turn on a light and push a button. The more comfortable and educational you make their experience, the more they will spend and share their experience with others. That’s the ultimate payoff.

 

The pageant community can be very “click-ish.” Your goal is to appeal and be inviting to the masses of people. You need not get caught up in that world by showing any favoritism toward anyone at all. Do not post only the most beautiful and photogenic clients on social media. Make everyone feel just as important and appreciated. If you hear a conversation that knocks someone else in the pageant community, make it known that you appreciate everyone the same.

 

You will learn that hair and makeup are an integral part of the pageant world. Contestants often bring someone to do their hair and makeup before the session. It is a great idea to partner with a stylist in your area who can come to your studio should clients not have a person of their own. This person should have some experience with pageant hair and makeup. I never ask anyone for a price break on the services they provide here at the studio. Some people ask for volume discounts. That is basically asking your stylist to take money out of his pocket.

 

Once you get your feet wet in this market, word can spread like wildfire. We’ve learned that people from our area were traveling from up to four hours away for these types of images. No one else was doing them.

 

We now have stylists, coaches and pageant organizers sending clients our way. They often want to set up marathon days where we book and shoot clients all day. They bring a ton of qualified clients to the front of my camera. This is advantageous for the stylists as well, since they are making money also. They become a referral powerhouse.

 

We even think there could be a market to travel to other areas and set up for a day or two. Listen to and trust the input of the stylists. They know exactly what people are accustomed to receiving.

 

You can have some creative freedom, but you can’t treat these types of sessions like a high school senior session. You need to stay within the parameters of what they are used to receiving. During each session, though, I step outside the boundaries just a little.

 

This way, I begin to break down the boundaries of conformity. This has opened up a whole new avenue that I can count on for a great income for me and my family.

 

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How to Book and Handle Destination Weddings with Michael Anthony

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

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How to Book and Handle Destination Weddings with Michael Anthony

 

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Destination weddings can be confusing and mysterious for photographers. When I started photographing weddings, I thought it would be amazing to travel the world to document our clients’ incredible wedding day. The truth is, while photographing destination weddings can be an incredible opportunity for your portfolio, if you don’t know how to do it correctly, you may end up losing money and clients.

 

In 2016, our studio photographed over 100 weddings. Our studio is split into two brands, Michael Anthony Photography and Studio 23 Photography. Of the 50 weddings that Michael Anthony Photography photographed, 10 of them required us to travel far. We added portfolio shoots along the way during our travels, which gives our portfolio diversity and a uniqueness not found among our competitors.

 

The most important thing to understand about destination weddings is that profitability is not the same as for local weddings. When taking on a destination wedding, the intrinsic value of the job for your portfolio must outweigh the money you will lose by not being in the studio for a number of days, along with any other miscellaneous expenses you incur. If you love travel, this may seem like a worthwhile endeavor, but constant travel may wear on you over time.

 

Booking Destination Weddings

 

To book a destination wedding, a couple of things have to happen. You need to show destination work in your portfolio, and you need to make it easy for your clients to book you for destination work.

 

We booked our first destination wedding by accident. That accident turned out to be one of the best experiences ever. Our clients had come to us for a consultation about shooting their wedding reception in our hometown of Valencia, California. When I asked where the clients were getting married, they said Lake Como, Italy. Now, I had wanted to go to Italy for many years, so I immediately asked if they had found their wedding photographer yet. The answer was no, and I said I would be interested in shooting it.

 

Their efforts in finding a wedding photographer in a foreign country proved to be problematic. First, there was the language barrier. It’s also hard for clients to coordinate their wishes with a photographer who lives on the other side of the globe. Booking with us was an easy decision because we offered to solve their problems, and we made it easy for them to book us financially (more on that later).

 

Shooting this wedding allowed us to showcase these images in our portfolio, and immediately our destination inquiries skyrocketed. So what do you do if you don’t have destination images to show? My mentor, Mr. Sal Cincotta, sums it up in a simple hashtag: #buildyourdamnportfolio.

 

We actually did our first destination shoot while vacationing in Hawaii. I live in California, where the beaches are plenty and our clients are used to gorgeous sunsets. So for our first destination shoot, I wanted to do something completely different than what our clients had seen before. We headed to Byodo-In Temple on Oahu. From that shoot, we began to diversify our portfolio and create epic images that could not be achieved locally. We bought a wedding dress, hired a local florist and got the required permits to shoot at the location we wanted.

 

Your first step if you are serious about shooting destination weddings is not so hard. Take a vacation, and wherever you go, plan photoshoots to build your portfolio.

 

The power of a destination portfolio is incredible. Just this past weekend, our studio participated in a bridal show with 12 photographers. On our booth display, we featured wedding images taken in France, Portugal, London, Italy, Hawaii and around the United States. While it was a gamble to not bring along local wedding images, it paid off tremendously: We booked three weddings at the show, and collected over 100 leads, including two for brides getting married in Greece and Thailand next year. Our booth was packed the entire time because our portfolio stood out from the rest.

 

Once you have a destination portfolio built, you have to market yourself to clients getting married abroad. Destination weddings are becoming more popular because they are kept small, and actually cost the same or less than a traditional wedding. I recommend tools such as Two Bright Lights to submit your destination weddings to publications to reach more potential clients.

 

Another idea is to contact local planners at popular destinations around the world, and ask for referrals for couples coming from the area you live in.

 

Charging for Destination Weddings

 

This area can be convoluted for many photographers. You have to make it easy for your clients to book you. However, destination weddings do have many expenses that are not easily seen when putting together a quote. This is why I recommend putting your travel costs into the quote up front, rather than booking the wedding and invoicing them later.

 

You may incur costs for a babysitter, rental car, parking, Uber rides, meals, valet fees, checked-bag fees, etc. In addition, you have to account for your time out of the studio and away from your business.

 

Those expenses start to add up quickly. If put a list in front of your client, it will become a barrier to them booking you. If you allow your client to book your travel for you, you will end up on a flight with three connections and a seven-hour layover. This is why when booking destination weddings, it is important to give the client a single fee that covers all your expenses. As your portfolio gets better, your travel fee can increase.

 

We have developed all-inclusive fees for Europe, Hawaii and the continental U.S. We include a cost for three nights at the client’s hotel (or an Airbnb close by) to allow us to use day one as a travel day, and the day after the wedding as a bridal session day. If we stay longer, we do not bill the client for the extra days.

 

Having set fees dissuades clients from haggling with you. You’ll avoid the following arguments we used to hear all the time: “We want to help you enjoy your vacation.” “If we book your travel, can we just get your regular wedding rates?” And my favorite: “Our wedding will be great for your portfolio! So can we get a discount?”

 

Trust me: When I tell you not to make any exceptions to this policy, we have done so in the past and been burned, so learn from our mistakes so you don’t repeat them.

 

Let’s start with booking your travel. In the past, it was incredibly hard to predict what prices would be for a chosen destination. Now, thanks to modern technology, we are able to more accurately predict flight prices using Google Flights or an app called Hopper. Both services tell you the optimal time to book flights. Whenever we book a destination wedding, we add the flights to Hopper and get instant notifications when it is time to book. For the hotel, find out if your client has reserved a room block, and if so, ask if you can reserve a room at the client’s rate. Airnnb is always our go-to when looking for places to stay if the client does not have a hotel block.

 

If you’re traveling internationally, bring all the necessary adapters. It would be terrible to get all the way to Europe to find you don’t have any outlets to charge your camera batteries.

 

Planning Destination Shoots

 

Destination shoots pose many challenges logistically. You can’t scout locations as you normally would. It’s tough to determine if a chosen location requires special permits. How will the light look when you are there? This is why organization and planning are so important. And the planning needs to happen months before the wedding day.

 

I build a Pinterest Board with exciting and accessible locations we can get to. Do a bridal session with your clients the day before or after the wedding so you can create amazing images for them in beautiful places.

 

There is an app called The Photographer’s Ephemeris that allows you to plan lighting in your locations. Put together a document with all the information for the shoots you will be doing so you are prepared when you get there. It’s also extremely important to check the tide charts if you are shooting at a beach. I can’t tell you how many times we have planned a shoot at an unfamiliar beach only to get there and not be able to access the beach due to high tide.

 

When planning shoots at popular landmarks, be prepared to arrive with your clients or models at sunrise to avoid the crowds.

 

Lastly but most importantly, be prepared to pivot. As a wedding photographer, you are used to having to improvise. Shooting destination weddings adds a new level of uncertainty. We have to pivot on more than half of our shoots. Our truck has been stuck in the snow, we have gotten clearance to shoot at places only to be kicked out later, we have had locations closed for renovations, parades came through our shooting location and much more. You will have to be ready with a plan B in all situations, but even more so when you are working with clients who paid to have you travel with them.

 

Shooting destination weddings can be an incredible opportunity to constantly build your portfolio, and allow you to open up new opportunities. I love that my career has allowed me to travel the world, but it can add stress, uncertainty and unanticipated expenses.

 

If you plan ahead, you can create incredible memories for your clients and an experience that you and they will never forget.

 

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the December issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

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