Featuring Laura Murray
Written by Sabrina Sabbagh
Most people who have chosen a career in a creative field, like photography, wouldn’t likely put math and metrics at the top of any favorites lists. Denver, Colorado-based photographer, Laura Murray, relates to her right brain creative colleagues, despite having a degree in mathematics and crunching numbers professionally for several years right out of college.
“Even though it’s what I did before I came to photography, it took me five years to really get serious about numbers.” Laura continued, “I’m just like everybody else, I wanted to focus on the more exciting things, like marketing and social media.”
Metrics for The Reluctant Data Lover
I sat down with Laura at WPPI, where she gave a class about metrics, geared toward what she calls “The Reluctant Data Lover.” She said, “I was speaking about how the creative business owner can take metrics in their business and use it in a simple but powerful way.”
The fine art, film, and digital wedding photographer has always been passionate about metrics. It just took her a little while to come back to her first love. “For three years after college, I crunched numbers all day, every day. I didn’t use any words. It was just numbers.” Needless to say, Laura was burnt out. “When I finally found my passion in photography, I practically ignored numbers altogether.”
Laura says she knew how much money she made at the end of the day, but that was really the only number she was looking at and that had to change if she wanted to thrive. “Three years ago I started tracking things called KPI’s, Key Performance Indicators, and they are specific metrics that tie back to your goals.” And since everyone has their own unique set of goals, Laura encourages photographers to find what matters most to them by creating what she calls a “Manifesto.” She went on to explain, “A manifesto is your overarching mission statement. It is your values and the things that are important to you.”
Create Your Own Personal “Manifesto”
Along with metrics and numbers, Laura is passionate about education and helping to lift up her fellow creative business owners. “I have a four-day, free challenge on my website about how to create your own personal manifesto.” From there, Laura explains how you’ll be able to draw in the right people by having a clear vision. “Ask yourself, If I made a change today in one area, would I see huge results? What are the numbers around that? That’s what you should be tracking.”
For Laura, it always comes back to the numbers. “One thing that is important for me, number-wise, is understanding where my inquiries are coming from.” Laura uses an automated metric system to track her data around client inquiries, something she thinks other photographers aren’t paying enough attention to. “So many photographers have no idea how many inquiries they got last year or how many inquiries they are getting per month.”
Without getting buried in too much math and metric jargon, Laura sums it up in what she calls “Leading and Lagging Indicators.”
“If it’s February and a photographer wanted to book 10 to 15 weddings for this year but they only have three, that’s a Lagging Indicator.” Laura explains that as work that has already been done. “It’s too late for those numbers to change because the bookings didn’t happen when they should have, so you need to focus on the next year and work on some Leading Indicators.” She says that means figuring out what is driving your inquiries and what you can do to influence people to say yes to you. “That could be something like Google Analytics or building relationships. Whatever it is, you need to think of that as a specific number, because if you don’t associate these things with numbers, you may not get the work done.”
Wedding Photography Metrics | Laura Murray Photography
Because Laura comes from a film background, she loves the analog version of most things, especially when it comes to keeping things simple. Pen and paper simple. “I love film because there’s just something so classic about it. So tactile about it. And that’s what I want it to bring to my education tools.”
Along with her “Manifesto” challenge, Laura has recently launched a product called Spark and Bound, which is a pen-and-paper-based productivity tool for creatives to help them go after their goals. In the future, the math major turned fine art photographer plans to roll out workbooks, videos and an e-course around the more tricky metrics portion.
Laura is an absolute treasure to the wedding photography community and brings a truly inspiring approach to her craft. To check out more of Laura’s amazing work, visit her website and check out her Instagram. You’ll be glad you did.