FEATURING SARA FRANCE
“Each time a woman stands for herself, she stands for all women.” This quote by writer and activist Maya Angelou holds true in every sense. Be it helping each other with small household chores, understanding each other’s motherhood challenges or even encouraging each other in entrepreneurial ventures, ladies have done it all with confidence.
Here, we are bringing you this special story of Sara France, an international award-winning photographer who started 20 years back and stands not one, not two, but three brands tall today with her amazing all-female team. Sara is a part of a small select group of pro wedding photographers, from all over the world, selected to be among the Sony Artisans of Imagery. She is currently a mentor in Sony’s revolutionary Sony Alpha Female Program. Out of Sara’s many achievements, she was also an exclusive photographer for Apple, sent all over the country shooting many of their iconic images. Additionally, Sara has been an inspiration to photographers as an instructor at the annual Wedding and Portrait Photographers International Trade Show (WPPI).
SARA’S BRANDS AND TEAM
Sara France Photography was established in 2001 and is a stand-out brand today. Sara’s other two ventures the Copper Collective and Shay Studios are also a testament to her success. Interestingly, all of Sara’s brands have an all-female boutique team of talented photographers.
When asked about her choice of female team members, Sara jokingly says, “Sorry boys!” She told us it was not intentional in the beginning but after she included a couple of women to make a team for her business, they realized not only were they having fun, but it was easier to understand and adjust to each other because they were experiencing the same life challenges.
Today, Sara feels proud of her team of women at Sara France Photography and the Copper Collective, working and supporting each other in locations like San Diego, Austin, and Hawaii. Shay studios, which creates a wide range of visual content for businesses, from small brands to large companies, just opened a branch in DC and Denver. Sara’s team is doing amazing things, with excitement and energy.
Sara is not only an entrepreneur with multiple brands, a savvy business sense and strategies for success that are on-point, but she does all that AND she does it while being a mom, too. Sara tells us how parenting is sometimes challenging, especially with the things that need her attention in her business competing with the needs of her family. Sara’s significant other is a helicopter pilot who works out of the city and is home only one week a month. “I’m a single parent mostly here, raising an energetic 5-year-old girl.” But, Sara says, “Those minutes are precious.”
So we asked Sara — how does she run her HUGE business and market her brands so efficiently along with being a super mom? Here are a few secrets to success that she shared with us!
BEST BUSINESS PRACTICES
1. Market and Network Everywhere!
Sara shared with us that the key to branding is client communications and marketing, but she made a strong point for validation through social media, which for her looks like making sure her brands are everywhere — Websites, Blogs, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, or Facebook.
Being everywhere keeps your brand top-of-mind, in front of clients and vendors. Sara shared that whenever a prospective client comes across your brand on one of the platforms and then finds it on other platforms too, they tend to believe you are genuine and trust you.
Sara also advised that you have to keep your website and blog current because it’s good for SEO. Also, you need to regularly update your business Instagram page, your team’s Instagram page (if you have one) and maybe even a personal Instagram page so that clients can follow your family / personal story and get to know you on a different level.
2. Outsource To Succeed
How does she do it all — the marketing, the branding, networking, shooting, editing, book-keeping, the taxes and everything else? She definitely has a wealth of wisdom and a lot of experience but Sara has always been a firm believer in ‘Anti-DIY’. “When you’re a one-woman show and you’re doing everything yourself, you can choose to outsource and find people who have chosen those professions because they’re gifted at that, and lean on them.” Sara says, “Really the thing you should be focusing on is the thing that is your unique piece that you bring to the business.”
One way Sara chooses to be Anti-DIY is by outsourcing her editing to ShootDotEdit. “I’ve had a relationship with ShootDotEdit since the very beginning.” Sara says she knew early on that editing her own images was the wrong place to spend her time. And even though outsourcing can take time to get right, she believes that the best way to succeed is to be clear about expectations, on both sides. For her relationship with ShootDotEdit, that means when she rebranded and needed to change her stylesheet, she knew that a little extra time investment in the beginning to set those expectations meant better results in the end.
3. Work On The Business Rather Than In The Business
Sara tells us that she is the most inspired when she is shooting, so instead of doing things she doesn’t like or isn’t good at, she decides to hand it over to someone else. With this she can touch upon everything in the business doing what she likes the most and still turn a profit.
“The majority I try to keep off of my plate and try to educate others and train others and get them to be able to do those things because I am the most useful to our business when I am inspired but also when I’m working on the business and not in the business.”
4. Make It Easy For Coordinators and Vendors
Sara believes in making it easy for coordinators and vendors to share her images. Afterall, they are the ones that bring in a lot of business for her. Her ‘magic sauce’ in her recipe for success with vendors and coordinators is that she provides the images to them and makes posts ready to be put on their social media as well. This helps them save time, keeps them happy, and ensures that her images are being posted the way she would want them for her brand.
5. Organize With The Use Of Spreadsheets
Sara told us that her team members brought her a shirt which says, A lady in the streets and a freak in the spreadsheets. “I feel like every decision for me needs to be an informed one and it usually involves numbers. So it has some sort of spreadsheet,” She said.
Sara pays attention to how much money she needs, how much money she’s spending, and makes sure there’s more left after all of her bills are paid. She uses a spreadsheet to keep a track of her business needs. She says anyone with the knowledge of basic math can work it out.
6. Find The Work-Life Balance
To keep work-life balance for herself and her team, Sara has started ‘Weekend Wednesdays’. Her studios stay shut on Wednesdays and she enjoys the day with her daughter. Also, by choosing to be Anti-DIY and outsource, she has more time that she can spend with her daughter and family.
IN THE END IT’S ALL ABOUT SMILES
During our interview, Sara spoke about her business, but she constantly pointed out how she loves to see her clients smiling and satisfied with her work. She feels it’s the greatest profit from her business.
We’d like to thank Sara for all the time that she took to be a part of this interview, and for sharing her tips to success. We at ShootDotEdit are honored to have you as our valued customer!
To see more of Sara France Photography, check out her websites mentioned above or follow her on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. The Copper Collective can be followed on Instagram and Pinterest while her other brand Shay studios can be found on Instagram.
SARA’S KEY VENDOR RELATIONSHIPS
Having relationships with vendors she knows and trusts are a HUGE key to Sara’s success. In addition to ShootDotEdit, Sara uses:
- Sony Artisans of Imagery
- Sony Alpha Female Program
- Planoly to set up her social media posts
- Tave, a studio management software to manage work and numbers in her business.
- Gusto to manage pay-rolls.
- Bench for book-keeping
- Google Suite to manage her spreadsheets and Documents
- Strengths Finder
At ShootDotEdit, our goal is to take the “heavy lifting” of photo editing off your plate — giving you more time to run your business, spend time with your family, or even just have a weekend again!
Click here to learn more about what ShootDotEdit can do for you!