FAQ : Reader Questions
Hello friends...I've been working on designing a new website (details coming soon!), but I thought I'd post a few questions I've been emailed lately. As I've stated many times before, these FAQ Posts are intended to help just one person. If they help more than one person, then Hey, Hey! that's all good with me! I totally wish I could give a personal responses to every email, but I hope these posts help a little along the way!
I'd like to get everything "official". With that comes buying... and upgrading everything, so I'm wondering if I should take out a business loan? I know money is always a personal decision but I'm wondering what someone like you would do if you were in my shoes.
How did you have the money to purchase all of your equipment in one fell swoop? Did you have money saved? Was J.D. making enough for the two of you when you begun to do Photography full time? I know they probably seem like strange (perhaps too personal ) questions, but I need to know these things in order to know if what I'm doing is going to lead me anywhere.
I get asked this question ALL THE TIME. I'm pretty much an open book, so I don't mind talking about how I started and how I funded my wild adventure. The funding came from a lil sugar daddy named JD. And, boy oh boy, does he charge some crazy interest! We actually had money saved for purchasing our first home, but I was dead set against touching it. I swore nothing would get in between me and my white picket fence, so I slept with a bag of money tucked under my mattress.
At the time I booked my first wedding, I merely owned a Canon 20D, CF cards, and a 24-70, 2.8. That's it. JD suggested buying more gear, but remember that bag of money? I hid it. I was terrified this whole photography wouldn't work out, so I was protecting my head (and my heart) from financial damage.
We rented a ton of gear for our first wedding and continued doing so until we bought all our own gear. With every wedding I booked, I immediately put that money away and bought gear. I booked my second wedding and bought a Canon 550EX Flash. I booked my third wedding and bought a 70-200, 2.8. I booked my fourth wedding and bought a 16-35, 2.8. And so on. In less than four months, I bought enough gear without going into debt.
I'm not suggesting this is the best way to go about pursuing your business, but this was how I did it. I never went into debt for my business. I grew up very poor and remember the pain of my parents losing our home when they couldn't pay the mortgage...my childhood experiences taught me to be financially prudent and try to make the most informed decisions.
Did you go to school and get your BA? What tips or advice would you have for someone who wants to eventually be a wedding photographer?
Yes, I graduated from Whittier College with a BA in Business Administration, and tinkered for a bit at UCLA Law School. I've always maintained that the harder the journey, the sweeter the destination! I try to encourage people to keep their heads up and focus on what will drive their business in the right direction. I'm constantly blogging (which has totally accelerated my business growth!), meeting with other photographers in my area, and finding photography that inspires me. My best advice is to Get Uncomfortable! Step out from what makes you feel good because in doing so, you'll grow.
What is your workflow process (blogging)? Even if I outsource my pictures I don’t get it back in 5 business day, how can I fasten this process? Do you shoot with your White Balance set to manual?
In it's most basic form, here's what I do after a wedding:
*Download images from wedding day.
*Burn and backup images.
*Select final client images/Select favorites for blog and slideshow (this happens simultaneously).
*Edit blog and slideshow images.
*Raw edit begins.
And, yes, I shoot with Auto White Balance mode all the time.
Recently Megan, my assistant, started to notice that all your images whether it be a bride or a portrait had something in common. The smiling eyes I call it! All your eyes pop and seem to smile!
Well, I wish this were some secret to what I do, but--really--I simply tell my clients to SMILE WITH THEIR EYES. I know...I know...sounds lame, but it works. And I think it works only because I show them what I want them to do; show them how to smile with their eyes. If you can't show your clients what you want them to do, then don't ask them to do it. That'd be like someone asking me to wash dishes. If they won't show me how, then I won't do them. Or at least this is how it works in my house. I simply tell JD I don't know how to wash dishes and he SHOWS me every night. What can I say? I'm a slow learner.
And because every post is better with a picture, I'm trying to find one on my laptop. Let me see what I come up with...
Allllllrighty...I found this little gem from the Free To Succeed Tour. We stopped in Phoenix and ate at PF Chang's, which had this funky mirrored art piece, so I took this fancy, schmancy picture. If you look hard enough, I'm sure you can see remnants of the famous lettuce wraps stuck in my teeth.