The facebooking, the tweeting, the trying to get a blog post up every. single. day., the finding something witty to say, and don't forget to add in a picture for that extra personal touch and the Instagram factor. Because ya gotta BE the brand, baby. Beeeeee it. Which, y'know, means I will have actually had to shower that day. And have changed out of something other than my usual uniform of my six year old yoga pants...the ones that have that hole in a very unfortunate location.
I swear to you, sometimes I look at other people and I think they must be some sort of breed of super human from a planet far, far away. Just give them a cape and a red pair of tights already. And a vaguely familiar metropolis to watch over. Because, game over. They win. Somehow, they just seem to be able to do it all with time to spare. All without batting an eye or a hair out of place.
And...it exhausts me.
I beat myself up over it.
And way too many times, I've let it ruin a perfectly good day.
Justin & I sat together the other day in Nantucket over a plate of hummus and these cheese stuffed sweet pepper things that I swear were gilded straight from heaven.....and, I melted down. I confessed to him every perceived failure, every missed opportunity, and vowed right then & there to just give up forever. (In case you haven't noticed, I tend to get a little dramatic when hummus is involved.) He listened quietly as he does, and added two more olives to his plate. Then he chewed thoughtfully and said, "Maybe it's not easy for them at all-maybe you're just seeing the finished parts. And for all you know, people might be thinking it comes just as easy for you."
People of the Internet, just in case there is any confusion at all, let me go ahead and tell you:
* I spent three hours this morning writing this blog post, most of which was spent rhythmically banging my head on my desk just willing the words to come.
* Sometimes I have to tag out of social media completely, because the flurry of noise of what other people are doing and who is getting to do what and with whom, and who is flying off to where gives me heart palpitations and a pit in the bottom of my stomach. And let's just be real, makes me, yes, maybe just a teensy weensy wee bit jealous.
* Going along with that, I sometimes (completely irrationally) get all angsty that we weren't part of a lunch or dinner that I see on social media....the one that, y'know, took place THREE THOUSAND MILES away. Seriously, what is wrong with me??
* Sometimes I just stare at my Twitter app. Hoping that it will write something witty for me. It never does.
* When we were in Nantucket working, I got up three and a half hours early before we had to go shoot to write that Pancake Session with the couples graph. But when only a few people responded, I spent the rest of the day feeling like maybe it just didn't count.
* In real life, I look put together about 10% percent of the time....that just happens to be the same 10% that I normally show you. The rest of the time, it's straight buns and yoga pants for real.
* I have made my husband mad at me trying to get a self-portrait of the two of us for Instagram.
* I save my good outfits for days when I know there will be pictures taken.
* Contrary to what Instagram might tell you, we don't actually eat only really, really pretty food all of the time. :)
* I feel like I need a PhD in Zuckernomics just to keep up with the facebook changes every day. Can't they just leave it alone already?
* I spent another fifteen minutes staring at my cursor trying to figure out how to end this list.
** And speaking of getting showered & out of the yoga pants, here are some scenes from our time in Nantucket. But just so we're keeping it all honest, five minutes later... my hair went back in a bun.
Mary wrote an awesome post yesterday on getting your name out there. In the post she mentioned us creating vendor cards, so I thought I would hop on today with a lil' short stack on just how we go about making those cards! And at the end, you'll find a free downloadable template we put together for you guys so you can get started right away on making yours!
Here are our steps:
1. Make sure you have all of the names of the vendors right from the get go! We do this by asking for them in our info sheet and that's a great way to go so you can get started right after the wedding is over.The cards are impressive no matter when you send them, but the faster you can get them out, the more impressive they are! :)
2. When you're shooting, be sure to focus on taking shots that really highlight each of the vendors' work. Take an extra bit of time to style the invitation set, take a shot of the table with table number in it for the paperie, but then grab a shot without it too of just the centerpiece for the florist making sure to take distracting elements like the salt and pepper shakers, butter, etc out of your shots, make sure to get a shot of the passed hors d'oeuvre tray before the guests eat anything off of it, etc. Here's a list of the vendors we send cards to (we don't send cards to this many vendors for every single wedding, but it's good to have a checklist to go through): planner, paperie, baker, location, makeup artist, rentals/vintage rentals, tent company, florist, bridal salon, caterer, DJ/Band.
3. Once the wedding has been blogged, choose a picture for each vendor. We then go right to their website and steal their logo....no one has ever complained! :) We don't email them to ask for it because we want to keep the cards a surprise! Since these cards are for them, choose a border color for your card that is part of their branding or compliments their branding. In a pinch, we've found that grey can work with almost any logo... and it looks great on the pearl paper! If a vendor doesn't have a distinct logo or the file you pull is low res and won't print well- we just make a simple logo for them. We choose a nice font and create a rectangle with their company name in it.
4. The front of the card looks like this. We use an image of the vendors work, a color border, and the company logo. We add a keyline around the image and border using the stroke tool. But the template we made for you guys has everything ready to drag & drop.
5. The back of the card looks like this. We include their website, their logo and if the wedding was featured on a wedding blog (or is slated to be) we include that information right under the website (Bride Name & Groom Name, featured on Blog Name). At the very bottom, we include a line that says photo by Justin & Mary. We don't include our website or our logo anywhere on the cards because the way we see it is, these cards are gifts to our partners and we don't want to make it about us- it's all about showcasing their work! This way it really is just a gift for gift's sake with no strings attached.
6. Now it's time to order them up! :) We order the 5x7 cards printed on pearl paper from WHCC who we ADORE. While House has some of the craziest fast turnaround out there and their products are always amazing. For the pearl paper post cards, they come in stacks of 25 at a cost of about $1 a card ($25 per pack)
7. Now that you've designed some really nice cards, make sure to package them up & brand them nicely! We put ours in the chocolate brown imprinted with our J&M logo boxes that we ship prints in (1" from DNL Photo) tie them up with a teal ribbon and include a personalized thank you note with them! We also include the disc of images from the wedding- which includes our faves, plus a few more of their work! I usually aim to give each vendor an extra 30-40 images!
I hope this helps! If you have any questions at all, just pop them in the comment box and I'll be sure to check back and answer them!
And to grab your own free templates so you can start making cards for your own vendors right away, just head HERE (vertical & horizontal templates are included....note that we use the same back either way).
Today we're going to try another approach on a question that we get over and over again. Because the hands down, far and away number one question we get from up and coming photographers is: How do you even get your name out there when you're first getting started?
Ohhhh and every time we get that question, I get a little pit in the bottom of my stomach. Because the fact is, it's such a hard question to answer. That's because so MUCH of it is just good old fashioned hard work & time. There's this quote from Thomas Edison that I go back to over and over again when I'm wishing for something to happen faster in our business or lives. It says, "Opportunity is missed by most people because it comes dressed in overalls and looks like work." Ahh, isn't that so true?
The first part is the hard work: it's working on your craft to try to get better, even just a little bit, every single day, it's building a brand, getting the images to those vendors, creating a workflow, making time to send boxes with ribbons and bows, it's blogging and tweeting and facebooking daily, it's reaching out to the locations, the vendors, and the other photographers in your area. And...it's a lot. And if that's the first part...the second part is just giving all of that time to have an effect. Which, like we've talked about before, is just not something I'm good at. I always joke that I would be an absolutely terrible farmer, because I would be really good at doing the hard work to plant the seeds...but I would go out of my mind waiting the six months before I could see the harvest. We want it & we want it now, right?
So even though I know from experience that so much of it is just hard work & time, I also knew I needed to come up with something a little more concrete-something with some specific, actionable steps- if we were going to help anybody. So we decided to sit down and think, really think, about how we got our start with those first few bookings....and how that has built into the business we have today. Not to go all Pit Bull about the situation on you, but in other words: to understand the future baby, we gotta go back in time!
At our WPPI Platform this year, we talked about the difference between "seedless watermelons" (bookings that might be really sweet & juicy when you get them, but once they're gone they don't turn into any new watermelons) and instead investing in your time & energy into fruit that is, well, fruitful. For today, we thought we'd take a look back at some of the most fruitful branches of our client tree (yes, I know watermelons grow on vines....go with me here, I'm trying to make something happen!!) and see how that came to be. We're going to focus in on three original couples: Irena & Danny who stumbled upon our blog, Tiffany & David who were a couple we knew from church, and Alana & Dan who were referred to us from another photographer. All of these couples are from three or more years ago (2009, 2006 and 2007 respectively), and all of them have a direct path leading from them to one of our current 2012/2013 couples. Let's take a look!
Irena & Danny Irena stumbled upon us when she was doing an internet search for photographers. She had just moved from California to Massachusetts, and was trying to plan her Miami wedding remotely. In one of her searches, our page came up. We did a phone meeting with her while we were out in Vegas for our second WPPI & she hired us to come to Florida with her. It was when we were down there, that we were first introduced to event planner Tamara Cohen of TC Event Design. But because it was sort of a fly in, fly out trip we didn't really get to spend a lot of time with her. And to be completely honest, I'm not even sure that we followed up and got her images after the fact. It could have been a totally wasted opportunity for us, but as luck would have it two of our branches were about to overlap (more on that to come) and we got the chance to work with her a second time on Sonia & Pankit's wedding at the Eden Roc Hotel back in Miami the following year. That was the wedding where we really clicked with Tamara & her team, and because they had done so many of the flowers & details we were sure to get them images and a set of our "vendor cards" (pearl paper post cards from WHCC that we had made up with their color & logo and an image from the wedding that best represents their work). From that relationship and referrals from the TC Event Design team (Tamara, Robyn & Michelle), we have since booked Lauren & Mathias, Jill & Russ, Beryl & Michael, and the forthcoming 2012 weddings: Tessa & Mathias & the Gomez wedding. As the final piece of this branch (so far!), Nicole was a bridesmaid at Jill & Russ's wedding and got to see us work. And she & her fiancÚ Scott have now hired us to shoot their 2013 wedding in Key West.
Tiffany & David Tiffany & David were a new couple at our church when we first really getting started. Our first conversation went a little something like this "you're getting married & need a wedding photographer? WE are wedding photographers. What a coincidence!" These guys didn't have a huge budget for photography, but that's ok because we were just getting started and weren't charging very much. But what they did have going for them was an absolutely beautiful location (The Branford House, where Justin & I would have our wedding the following year after seeing it at their wedding), a friend who was an event designer and was doing a lot of stuff for them at cost, and the fact that they were just a happy, beautifully in love couple. After their wedding, we took a big leap of faith and spent the money to have a sample album made that we could leave at the Branford House. It was such a big leap of faith because a) that was a lot of money for us to be spending and b) we weren't even sure if the Branford House people would show it since we weren't on any of their lists. But we made the leap, dropped it off and kept our fingers crossed. It turns out that they did put out the book, and that one act of faith turned into: Abby & Ryan, Katie & Joseph, Suzanne & Justin, Sarah & Mike, and our 2012 wedding this coming Friday: Jaime & Dan.
That book also got us Tiffany & Dan who saw the book at The Branford House, but brought us down for their wedding at Cairnwood Estate outside of Philadelphia. From their wedding, we got four more branches. The first two are that from their referrals, we were able to get Kim & Steve Slaton's wedding and our upcoming 2012 wedding Jen & Eian near Cape Cod. The third is that we sent images & another set of our "vendor cards" to Cairnwood directly. From that & from labeling our blog posts "Cairnwood Weddings: Tiffany & Dan" to get SEO we were able to get Jennifer & Eddy and Janki & Amit (who we just shot this past weekend). And at Jennifer & Eddy's wedding we were able to meet & work with the fabulous event planner Erin Proud , who got us Kelly & Paul (the gorgeous pink Cairnwood wedding we just blogged). The final branch from Tiffany & Dan is that one of Dan's cousins who was at the wedding, saw the pictures and started referring us to her friends. She got us Tiffany & Frank last year, who just got us Francie & Chris (June 16th) and Nathalie & Tim (October 6th) of this year. When we were at Francie & Chris's wedding, we grabbed a quick picture of me and the J&M brides in that branch.
Alana & Dan Alana & Dan found us when the advertising photographer Justin worked for back in 2006 told them he didn't do weddings, but that they should really check out Justin. We absolutely adore these guys and are still friends with them today. At their wedding, the best man was Kartik and he had his girlfriend (soon to be fiancÚ) Tina with him. When it came time for their wedding, these guys really went to bat for us and had to fight to hire us because a) we had never done an Indian wedding before and b) we, in case you haven't noticed, are not in fact Indian :) so we weren't familiar with any of the cultures or traditions. But like I said, they really fought for us, and as a result we got our very first Indian wedding as a four day jaw-dropping event, concluding at the Boston Intercontinental Hotel Boston Intercontinental Hotel. From Tina & Kartik, their friends Jaclyn & Dan also found & hired us and it also opened up a whole new Indian wedding market for us. One of the groomsmen from T&K's wedding posted some pictures on his Facebook feed, and from that Malika & Vinay found us and brought us to California. Sonia (of Sonia & Pankit) was a friend of a friend of Tina's, saw the pictures and hired us for their Miami wedding (that fateful wedding where we got to work with TC Events again). And similarly from friends of friends seeing pictures, from Sonia & Pankit's wedding we were able to book Malika & Arjun, Kavi & David, and Janki & Amit (who also had the connection with us that we had shot at Cairnwood before).
That was a LOT of information. And I think a lot of different points could be drawn from all of that. But here are a few of the main things I think you should take away:
*Start with whatever opportunities & jobs you are given. Don't be too proud to get a wedding because you know the couple from church or another photographer didn't want the job . And then make the ABSOLUTE most out of them you can.
*Follow up with your creative team & get them images and prints/cards!!
*Invest in sample albums for your favorite weddings/locations
*SEO your posts "Wedding Location: Couple's Names" so that people searching for photographers at their location can stumble upon you.
*Be nice to the wedding party & guests. They can easily become your future clients or even your biggest cheerleaders without you even knowing it.
*Do the hard work & give it time. Some of the seeds that were planted as far back as 2006 are still reaping a harvest for us in 2012.
And, if you want to learn more about how we grew our business and how we filter out the seedless watermelons from couples we love who keep getting us more couples just like them, we would LOVE to have you join us for the Joy of Marketing Sales Summit: Selling Secrets of the Photography Masters on Wednesday, July 11th. We are beyond thrilled & honored to be included as part of this line up. The event is absolutely FREE for anyone to watch while it's live and there will be presentations from seven other speakers that I know I can't wait to listen to! Or if you can't tune in that day/would just like to have a copy to reference later, you can buy the whole broadcast for only $49 as long as you grab it at some point before the event. You can sign up & find out more by going HERE.
Happy Pancake Day y'all!
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Lately there's been this common theme, that when people see us they ask us how we're doing. No, no like really. HOW are you doing??
They furrow their brows and genuine concern fills their eyes. They offer us a drink or a chair to sit down in. And for one split hair of a second, I could swear I see them seriously consider the idea of wrapping an afghan around our shoulders. And putting us down for our 2pm nap.
Yea, we've been busy.
On Sunday, after shooting a two-day Indian wedding in Philly, we woke back up at 4am and hit the road for Nantucket where we are shooting a private event with the ever-amazing Dawn Kelly of Soiree Events over the next few days. On the trip up, we stopped in at home for exactly 34 minutes, where we swapped those suitcases for two more pre-packed ones (containing less all-black and more seersucker) and we were on our way again by 8am.
Yea, like I said....busy.
On the drive up, I started doing some calculating. And I realized that things are about to kick into super warp speed overdrive for us. B-A-N-A-N-A-S style. I started listing our trips out one by one to Justin, and we realized that over the next six weeks this is what our travel schedule will look like: Philly, Nantucket, Catalina, LA, Miami, Charlotte, Richmond, Cape Cod, Boston, both Portlands (Maine AND Oregon), NY, Miami, Tampa, and finally Atlanta. Where we will buy a piece of land... and a cow. And start a new life. Because I'm sure at that point we will never want to travel again.
Yea....BUSY. So I guess all the furrowed brows and afghan knitting make sense. :)
But here's the thing. Right now, in this season of our lives....I wouldn't have it any other way. Because the fact is, we are out there getting to do the very things we only ever dreamed of doing but never thought possible. And I don't want to spend a second of that wishing it away. I want to soak in every crazy second of it. And hold on as tight as I can. So on our first day here as Justin & I walked along cobblestone streets, sidestepping bicycles and taking in our surroundings, I asked him to do me a favor. I said, if at any point over the next few weeks I forget it....
Will you just remind me that I'm living the dream?
***And in other living the dream & crazy schedule news, a couple weeks back we squeezed in a project with the incredible ladies of Style Me Pretty, right between Sandra & Sam's wedding in Boston and leaving for Jayme & Brandon's wedding in WV. After shooting twelve hours the day before, we were pretty beat. But Abby & the girls plied us with copious amounts of coffee and thai food. So all was right in the world again. And yesterday, we got to see that project and hard work come to fruition as we were included among the contributors in SMP's first ever Fashion & Beauty Issue. You can see some of our spreads below, but to check out the full magazine (which we fully recommend you do....it's BEAUTIFUL), just click HERE.
Kelly sat upstairs in the bridal suite, and tried on the perfect pink shade of lip gloss. She joked with her bridesmaids and held on extra tight to her mom when they hugged. And when she smiled, she smiled with her whole heart. Meanwhile, a team of people buzzed downstairs one floor below them. Hard at work, assembling the perfect, and yes pink, day. The sun at Cairnwood filtered in, warm and inviting. And when a soft breeze came in through an upstairs window and meandered down the staircase, it was clear perfect was the only way to describe it.
Kelly crossed the lawn and kissed her brand new husband, leaving just a trace of the perfect shade of pink lip gloss behind. She joked with him as she wiped it away, and he held on extra tight when they hugged. Like he had no plan of ever letting her go. And when they smiled, they smiled with their whole hearts. Meanwhile, a crowd of people buzzed around on the veranda above them. They assembled at their tables and took in the perfect, pink day. The warm Cairnwood sun fell on each of their faces, inviting them to stay a while. And when a newly minted Mr. & Mrs. made their way down the staircase and took to the the dance floor, it was clear...
Perfect was the only way to describe it.
Married: Kelly & Paul
Kelly & Paul were married on an absolutely gorgeous summer Sunday on the grounds of the Cairnwood Estate. They held close to their friends & family, and even closer to one another. And when they made their big exit at the end of the night, there wasn't a heart there that didn't know what it is to feel happy. The whole day was orchestrated with flawless precision by one of my absolute favorite people on the PLANET, Ms. Erin Proud and her team. I cannot tell you how good Erin is at what she does. We're talking prodigy, get that girl tested for genius level status, get MENSA on the phone good. And it makes all the difference. Kelly & Paul, we are SO happy for you guys! Remember what this day felt like. And love like this always.