y sister, Alexandria, recounted a story for the third time and threw up her hands in exasperation when I said I didn't understand. Jasmine, she said in a voice calmed after a deep breath, not every dad is like our dad. And that's when it finally clicked. I couldn't understand because I often presume every father is like my own.
Kind, patient, giving, loving, forgiving...
Once in college I called my dad from the emergency room of a hospital at 2 a.m. and asked for a ride home. When he picked me up, there was a bottle of orange juice and a bag of Chex mix on the passenger seat.
Once in junior high my father sat me down with a plate of food in front of him and told me to stop being afraid of eating. That one day, someone would find me beautiful and love me just the way I was.
Once in law school my dad delivered homemade burritos because I was too busy to cook for myself. Wrapped in two layers of foil.
When I search the depths of my soul, I see nothing but my father's core and his desperate attempts to be the dad he never had. I'm a better person because of his love and devotion. I hope one day he'll look at me and see his efforts weren't in vain.
I'm a bit early, but Happy Father's Day, Papi!
FAQ : Bookkeeping + Taxes for Wedding Photography
received an email from a CFO from an energy company (Hi Andrew!) who also does accounting for small businesses. He asked how I did things in regard to my finances and I realized I haven't touched on the subject lately...or at all, for that matter. When I started photographing weddings, I had so much to learn (everything to learn if I'm being honest) and adding the management of my finances was a whole new layer I wasn't really to dig through.
Early on I decided to outsource the organization of my finances to free me to focus on photography. In light of this, I've shied away from talking about it because I fear I'm not in the position to, but Andrew asked direct questions I'll dive into to offer a little more insight into how I run my business.
Do you take a portion of you bill upfront? Yes, I require a 50% retainer fee to secure my services for a wedding. The remainder 50%, plus the state tax, is due 14 working days (about two and half weeks) prior to the wedding date.
Do you use an accounting system? Or do you track everything in Excel? The most commonly used accounting system for small business owners is Quickbooks. Because I preferred to focus solely on the photography aspect of my business, I hired a bookkeeper to handle the categorization of my expenses. In order to make this as seamless as possible, I use a credit card that's designated solely for my business expenses (camera gear, albums, the meal I eat before a wedding, etc), and at the end of the month I receive a balance sheet listing my profit and loss for the month, as well as a YTD update.
At any given point in time, I know my precise income, cost of goods sold, and a litany of business expenses. The best part of this type of organization is that I'm able to compare past yearly financials to determine how I'm trending for the year and when to thrust/throttle depending on my goals.
At the end of the year, because everything has been detailed and organized, I simply take the information from my bookkeeper and meet with my CPA. I pay quarterly taxes to avoid being reamed at the end of the year all at once, so the meeting with my CPA is simply to ensure everything is accurate.
Okay, so this is a totally random picture. JD keeps this photo I gave him when we were in high school in a change jar on his desk. Note to self: don't ever, ever get bangs again.
Do you outsource bill paying or do you handle that internally? Most my regular bills are set up to be paid automatically with my business credit card. For instance, when I place an album order for a client, my card is charged and I receive a receipt by mail. There are few business bills that must be paid on an a la carte basis, but when it happens, I create a profile for each recipient through my bank's online bill pay that's tied to my business checking account. For example, when my album designer invoices me for work, I simply log into my bank account, pull up her profile, enter the amount to be paid, and the bank sends a check to her by mail. The bookkeeper reconciles transactions from my business checking account and my business credit card and then provides the information for the month.
It's important to clarify the importance of meeting with a Certified Public Accountant when a person is starting or sustaining his business. How I wish I had done so earlier in my career! In fact, when I had to pay all my taxes in one lump sum my second year of business, I was overcome with a wave of nausea...especially because I didn't know I was supposed to collect state sales tax on my services. Thank goodness I had saved for incidentals, but it was one of those moments I learned a hard lesson I could've avoided had I just researched my options.
I hope this helps and if you have other questions I can answer, feel free to shout out in the comment box...and the ones I can't answer, I'll simply ignore! ;)
Shooting Star : How to Get Likes on Facebook
ometimes my patience wears so thin it's translucent. It's almost as if I expect people who are close to me to read my mind and when they don't, I want to chew on coconut rinds. I heard coconut was good for your teeth, but I think it'd be better used as a way to express how frustrated one might be. Gnawing on brown, hairy fruit might give juuuust the right impression of all my toughness. Or my healthy gums.
Note to self: Don't write blog posts after someone hasn't read your mind.
In other news, I received a question from a reader (Hi, Ashley!) who asked how to get more Likes and interaction on Facebook. I'll be the first to say I'm not an expert on the matter, but I'd be honored to give my opinion. Facebook has been a game-changer for my wedding photography and I'd be happy to share how I approach it. This video will focus on...
*Why I don't sync Twitter and Facebook updates.
*The importance of sharing more personal updates than business updates.
*Why the more you talk about your business from your page, the less people will listen.
*How I get clients to Like my business page...without even asking!
I hope this video helps a few people, but if I missed the mark, feel free to chew on coconut rinds and I'll know I need to try again.
Lions, Tigers, and Lundin...Oh My!
fter being on a wait list for almost three months, I gave up hope. There was no way I'd be able to surprise JD with the gift he didn't even know he wanted, even after my desperate attempts of making it happen. You see, I've openly admitted JD and I have the most opposite TV preferences (as in, he watches educational shows and I watch shows that makes a person dumber), but it's one of the things I love about him. I adore his constant hunger for knowledge.
Most nights I fall asleep to the hushed sounds of JD watching his favorite Discovery channel adventure guru, Cody Lundin, walk barefoot through snow, jungles, and mountains subsisting on what he can make or find from his surroundings. Have a Brillo pad, garden hose, and fish tank? Boom, Cody can make a generator. Have moss, a palm leaf, and rocks? Boom, Cody can make a water purifier.
Basically, Cody is living every burly man's dream.
In December I registered JD for one of Cody's sold out classes and emailed Cody's assistant every three weeks begging for an update. I wanted to surprise JD for his birthday in March, but it didn't seem like it'd work out...until 11:58pm on the night of JD's birthday. I squealed and tried to backflip (with no luck) and told JD his application was accepted and he'd be going to Arizona to live off nothing but the desert dirt. He stared blankly at me until I shouted, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SILLY!!!
JD, Cody, and ten students spent the weekend walking through the desert and weren't allowed to take anything except the clothes on their backs. JD made a fire from sticks, harvested edible berries, and collected leaves to make a blanket when the night settled around 40-degrees...he was basically living out his TV dream...and my made-for-the-Hallmark-movie-channel nightmare.
When JD texted me on Monday morning with this picture, I couldn't have been prouder of him. He made it through the desert, created an adventure, and didn't get eaten by a mountain lion. Now when I fall asleep to the sound of Cody's voice at night, I'll silently thank him for keeping my husband alive...and assuring me hotel room service is adventurous as I ever want to be.
Engage!12 Conference : Las Vegas
ast week I had the pleasure of presenting at the Engage!12 Conference in Las Vegas. I attend this luxury summit once or twice a year because it's a great way for me to calibrate what I'm doing as a wedding photographer in relation to what's happening in the wedding industry. It caters primarily to coordinators and designers, but I find that I take a few tidbits from each year and apply them to my evolving business. Not only have I met some incredible people, they've become friends over the years.
More than anything, going to Engage! forces me to outline my goals...and to think a little bigger.
I had the pleasure of speaking on the opening night at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, where every detail was impeccably addressed...
Many thanks to my friend Harmony Walton of The Bridal Bar for grabbing my camera and snapping a few photos...she also happened to be my roommate in Vegas and a wonderful person to kickstart my social flutterings in Sin City.
One of my favorite things about Engage! is the attention to detail...as a girl who loves all things branding, each perfectly placed logo gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling...
The conference room was packed in part to Rebecca Grinnals and Kathryn Arce's hard work and dedication to the conference...they're the masterminds of Engage!! and all around amazing people!
One of the highlights to the trip was meeting Anne Fulenwider, Brides Magazine's new editor. She was funny, articulate, and inspiring...I can't wait to see how the magazine morphs over the next year...
One of our daily breaks was sponsored by Jimmy Choo...and they provided very choo-ey treats as well as eye candy...
As part of a fantastic lineup of speakers, Abby Larson of Style Me Pretty and her husband, Tait, gave a great presentation about personalizing your business and connecting with readers.
One of the main components of Engage! is connecting with new people, so I was assigned to host a lunch with eight amazing people...the Mandarin Oriental Hotel provided an amazing vegetarian bento box for me and I couldn't have been happier...
Every year is different, but at lunch I made it a point to maximize our time together and asked pointed questions...at the end of the meal, we spoke of our goals and pledged to keep each other accountable to achieving them by year's end...sure, it might sound lofty, but I have no doubt we'll be sharing in each others' successes soon...
More than anything, I attend a myriad of conferences each year because when I'm away--away from my computer, my fears, my restrictions--it forces to me rethink my approach and connect with others who might offer amazing insight. I'm thankful for the opportunity to have spoken, but, moreso, to have attended and created new allies in the wedding industry.