There is so much that goes into running a successful wedding photography business and it can be a great experience to get to share that load with someone who has the same passion as you – and more importantly – is someone you love. Different husband and wife wedding photography teams have different ways to succeed, but what’s common in all of them is the love they share with their partner. Joe and Darryl Ann of Salt and Pine Photo are no exception! This husband and wife team not only knows how to successfully operate as a photography duo but also how to successfully operate as introverts in the wedding industry.
Who are Joe and Darryl Ann?
Joe and Darryl Ann are Seattle wedding photographers operating under their brand Salt and Pine Photo. They are a husband and wife team that has a heart for creativity, adventure, and 90s shows. This photography duo from Seattle has photographed weddings across 17 states and specializes in creating moment-driven wedding stories. They have also been awarded Wedding Wire’s Couple’s Choice Award (2020) and have been featured in HuffPost Weddings, Fearless Photographers, and Seattle Bride.
Getting Started as Wedding Photographers
When we asked Joe and Darryl Ann how they got started as wedding photographers, they both had interesting stories to tell. Joe shared that he started with photographing landscapes in national parks and fell in love with photography from there. His first wedding gig was when one of his friends – who was photographing weddings – asked him to second shoot for $100. He added “it turned into second shooting 10 weddings that year and then booking a couple of my own the next year. It was something that I did to pay the bills for a little while or pay for the hobby. And then I got in a little bit over my head and started looking for a second shooter that I could reliably have with me.” And that is where Darryl Ann came into the picture.
Darryl Ann and Joe were both a part of a Facebook group where they met when Joe was looking for a second shooter at the beginning of 2013. They started dating before they ever photographed their first wedding together! Darryl Ann shared, “Joe wasn’t a full-time [photographer] when we first met and neither was I. I was in school for a Master’s program for public health.” Joe shared, “I don’t think either of us would have said that we absolutely loved wedding photography prior to meeting each other but [because we’re photographing] together and building on each other’s strengths, I think that both of us can unequivocally say that we love it now.”
Rebuilding the Brand as a Husband and Wife Team
Initially, Joe was the sole proprietor of the business, and the brand was named Joe Geske Photography. However, after they started dating and started shooting together they decided to build the brand around them both as a couple – a future husband and wife team – and transitioned to Salt and Pine Photo in 2015. From then until now, we asked them what changed in between, and here’s what they had to say – “Everything has changed. We’re a different brand. We’re a different name. We are in a different market. We were in Kansas in 2013 before we rebranded, so we had different ideal clients.” Moving to Seattle allowed them to shift the brand to a more outdoorsy/adventure-based clientele and become more client-experience focused, something they have executed successfully!
Best Business Practices For a Husband and Wife Team
1. Divide and Conquer
To have a clear workflow transition, Joe and Darryl Ann indicated that it is important to have a very clear dividing line. Joe shared, “we try to divide and conquer so that both of us can be the alpha at our own particular thing.” Not only does it help them do what they do best but also balances each other for a better overall result. He added, Darryl Ann “understood posing and the more feminine aspect of photography – something she brought to the table which was maybe missing. And I brought a very technical aspect – like flash, composition, light. I really liked that kind of thing. So, I feel like we really brought each other up in that regard.”
2. Good Client Communication
Both Joe and Darryl Ann believe “communication is trust” and it is something that has helped them be successful. Darryl Ann shared, “We put a lot of time and weight on client communications, client experience, and avoiding miscommunication, as well as communicating expectations back and forth really clearly with our clients.” Joe added, “So when we go into a wedding day, we’ve already had a meeting with a couple where we tell them we really want them to trust us because of our expertise in photography. And we tell them that what makes us special isn’t just how we operate our camera, it’s putting them in the right places at the right moments to make the best photos.”
3. Create Communication Templates
To level up their client communication, Darryl Ann has created template emails she uses to respond to clients for most initial communications and for general follow-ups. The reason behind this is, simply, time. Wedding photographers get a lot of the same inquiries over time – asking about pricing, asking about what to wear, asking about location suggestions. And many of the responses to those kinds of questions don’t change. So Joe shared “We love having one-on-one conversations with every client [when warranted and that goes along with our] very tailored approach [but when the information we are sending is generic] we use the templates to save time and we make them as personal as we can. Darryl Ann added that it also helps them in streamlining the experience for every client so every client is receiving the same information.
4. Learn & Grow Together
Growing together and learning consistently just helps your business become better. So Darryl Ann shared, “we taught ourselves branding, we taught ourselves web design, we taught ourselves SEO. We’ve grown exponentially as far as our posing and how we interact with clients.” They also shared that, throughout the journey, they have also transitioned from more flash-centric photography to strictly natural light and then back to a blend of off-camera light and natural light again.
5. Carefully Filter With Branding
Joe emphasized the importance of how branding acts as a filter for your business. He shared, “Your brand is a filter. It’s a filter that you’re putting out there that’s making sure that you’re just polarizing enough that you’re getting your ideal clients while gently nudging your not ideal clients in another direction.”
The Journey of Transitioning From COVID
Joe and Darryl Ann shared that COVID was tough, both professionally and personally. COVID in March 2020 hit them with “a wave of reschedulings and cancellations and pairing weddings down to more intimate groups.” Darryl Ann shared, “they had 3 March weddings postpone/inevitably cancel.” Joe added that “9 out of 12 months last year we were only allowed to have 5 people at a wedding. So our entire season got shifted to this year and our entire income got shifted too. For the people who didn’t fully shift, we let them split their coverage.”
On a personal note, they shared that ever since meeting they have been wedding photographers together. So “this last year was really hard for us from a relationship standpoint because we didn’t necessarily have a business to run as much. We had a business, but it was all just the negative aspects of it. It was just answering endless emails about [cancellations and reschedules] and the only other thing that we got to do [other than that] was just be in a relationship and do normal husband and wife things. [We realized that having] that occupy 100% of our time in this little space at home and not be able to go anywhere [was challenging]. It was like, okay, I really need a distraction.”
Darryl Ann shared that photography has always been like a combined project they both worked on. And, during the pandemic, they didn’t have it to work on as much so they had to find solace in their own individual projects and hobbies. She shared, “we tried to find other projects to do together, but ultimately we took the opportunity to actually take some time for ourselves.” She started horseback riding as a hobby and invested time in that during the break from all the photographing and editing. Joe shared, “we figured out we had to find time to be away from each other so that we can make life a little bit more exciting and have those stories to tell each other. So that was an interesting challenge we didn’t see coming from this last year.”
Suggested Read: Modifying Price Plans For Weddings During COVID
Gaining Control With Outsourcing
When we asked Joe and Darryl Ann about how outsourcing worked for them, they both shared that initially “it was quite a learning curve. We both like to be in control of everything. And so giving up a little bit of that control to ShootDotEdit at first was a real struggle.” But ultimately they appreciated that they still had that control because now they were getting a consistent outcome. Joe shared, “I think we’ve been ShootDotEdit customers since [nearly] 2014 – seven years of using ShooDotEdit! What changed things for us is when we realized that the big benefit of ShootDotEdit was just giving us a [consistent] starting point where we could do the creative stuff on our own and not have to spend 8 to 10 hours editing.”
Joe added, “I think a huge thing is that, as a husband and wife team Darryl Ann and I are very different [when we shoot]. We’ve got 4 cameras that all have slightly different opinions on white balance and have different lenses and every lens has a slightly different color profile.” And once we realized that ShootDotEdit could “just consistently wrap all that up” into one edited and delivered product, “we realized that was huge. It was a game-changer.” Darryl Ann further emphasized, as wedding photographers, “it’s huge to have the tones be perfect across the board because, on a wedding day, things can vary so much between when you get there at 10:00 AM and when you’re leaving at 10:00 PM.” Long story short, ShootDotEdit turns images shot in different places, in different light, and by different people into a consistent product and the time we spent color correcting we can now spend “final” editing without being exhausted.
Darryl Ann also shared that outsourcing helped them get “so much time back that” they can now invest in just being with each other. She added, “It has freed up so much time and gives it back to our relationship because what we’ve found is that we don’t choose to spend that extra time in the office.”
Suggested Read: Fast 5: Save Your Sanity With Outsourcing
Joe and Darryl Ann’s Favorite Vendors
- ShootDotEdit – Editing
- SmartSlides – Photo slideshows
- SmartAlbums – Album building
- 17hats – Contracts and client management
- Pic-Time – Photo delivery
- Millers – Printing/Albums
- Hold Fast Money Maker – Camera straps
- Godox – Off-camera lighting
- Camera – Sony
- Lighting – Light Stick
Elopements & Adventure Engagement Sessions
The couple shared that even though they photograph traditional weddings, they also have a heart for elopements and adventure-based shoots. Joe shared, “We’ve been booking about 25% elopements to 75% traditional weddings. But we love elopements. And we have a lot of couples that do book us exclusively for them. We would like to transition to doing more of them. So the last year has been really nice to do a lot more of that.”
Darryl Ann added, “but one of our specialties is our adventure engagement sessions! It’s a little bit of the best of both worlds in a sense because we get to do and go to some of the places that people love for elopements because they’re grand and beautiful, and we get to do that with a couple who might be having a big wedding in downtown Seattle. So it works for people who like the best of both worlds – the big city life and being that close to the outdoors. And so you do a great grand outdoorsy adventure engagement session, and then you have your awesome and cool urban downtown Seattle wedding.”
Elopements Speak to Them as Introverts in the Wedding Industry
“We’re both introverts. And so one of our favorite parts about this job is actually making a genuine connection with the couple.” And when photographing elopements, that works as an added plus. Darryl Ann shared her experience by saying, “there’s something about that smaller day [that we love because] we can actually make that connection as well with the few people that they’ve invited to be there. That’s really special to us and really helps us do our jobs even better because we’re building that connection with the whole group at a wedding.”
Joe added, “being an introvert in Seattle is okay. And branding yourself as an introvert in Seattle means that maybe you’re connecting with a lot of other introverts. And we’ve done that fairly well. So being introverts has actually helped us connect with brides and grooms that we can perform really well for.”
Further Read: Being A Successful Introvert In The Photography Industry
Here at ShootDotEdit, we love telling stories that inspire. So, we would like to extend a big thank you to Joe and Darryl Ann of Salt and Pine Photo for taking out time to share their journey as a husband and wife team with us. We are proud to have them as ShootDotEdit’s customers since 2014. To learn more about Salt and Pine Photo, check out their website, Facebook page, or Instagram.