Running a wedding photography business means constantly being vigilant on every level to keep your business humming. From maintaining and updating your website to keeping up with social media and the challenges of post-production, there’s always so much to do! And according to ShootDotEdit customer Jerry Cantave of Infinite Loop Photography, managing your wedding photography business is easier, faster, and more successful if you put business processes in place from the start. He believes if you “map out the process first, then bring on the tools that let you reach the goals in the most effective manner,” you will thrive. Find out more about his secrets to success in this feature story.
Who is Jerry Cantave?
Jerry Cantave is a South Florida-based natural light wedding photographer who also offers videography as part of his brand. His success is largely because of his talent, but also because of his team and his mentality of business first, art second, which allows him to photograph 30-40 weddings per year. He first dabbled in photography in college and then decided to invest in a camera to take pictures of his newborn baby. He began photographing weddings and incorporated videography immediately, offering his clients fusion – a blend of photography and videography. “I saw this couple promoting fusion photography and videography. So with my can-do attitude, I thought I can certainly do it, not knowing what I was getting myself into. My first wedding was fusion. I realized that was too much work, more work than I wanted to do. We just did highlights for a few months, and then it evolved. It became an integral part of the business”. Jerry added John, a full-time videographer, to his team six years ago in order to have a designated person for video so he could focus on capturing stills.
Making Videography An Integral Part of the Brand
When we asked Jerry whether videography complicates managing a wedding photography business for wedding photographers, he replied, “I would definitely tell photographers to try it out. And it will be easier and more accessible for them because most cameras now are hybrid. They will do photo and video both. I would say that you should invest in good audio gear. The editing aspect for video is not very intimidating either. It doesn’t have to be a full film. It could be a trailer or a 1-2 minute highlight. You could have the assistant take photos during the ceremony while you take video clips, and assemble it and see what you get! Maybe even get a hybrid of slideshow video footage.”
He added “Photography is a must, and videography is very nice to have. The couples may not see the value of it immediately, but years down the road, when their kids go to college, or their kids are at an age where they want to get married, they certainly will see the value in watching those videos.”
One piece of advice for photographers looking to venture into videography? “Just do it. Just get comfortable with the camera, with your style, and the editing aspect. It’s not really intimidating.”
Suggested Read: How to Boost Your Photography Business With Video Marketing
The Best and Worst of Being in the Wedding Photography Industry
While managing your wedding photography business can be a handful, it does have some upsides too. “I love being in the moment with my clients. I enjoy being a part of this new experience in their lives. I still get excited about weddings, so I think that’s really what drives me. It’s not always easy, but I still wake up enjoying what I do. I enjoy being able to contribute and participate in people’s lives and document important moments. I don’t even mind the challenging brides! What I like the least are things like having to offload the files, all of the pre-sales administrative work, anything that’s not going to allow me to focus on doing what I love, and spending time with my family,” Jerry explained.
As Jerry shared more anecdotes about managing crises and turning them into success stories, he said, “There’s a difference between being an effective photographer and a successful one. I think you have to be a lot more than just a photographer. You have got to be a little bit of a planner. You have got to be a little bit of a psychiatrist. You have got to be a little bit of a seamstress. You have got to be able to do all of these things.” At this point, we are definitely getting a “jack of all trades” vibe from Jerry!
Jerry’s Tips for Beginners: Find a Mentor, Be Honest
Having made a shift from IT to wedding photography, Jerry knew he was making a big move. After all, managing a wedding photography business is not an easy task. But with his “just do it” attitude, Jerry made it happen. When we asked him for the advice he’d give to photographers, he said, “Whatever you plan on doing, do it. Don’t wait, don’t delay, try it now. Source out someone you admire in the industry – local or online – and reach out to people and see if you can help, observe. [Also, be willing to] share your knowledge and pass on what you know to someone else. I wish I had reached out rather than watching videos or paying heavy fees to shadow some photographers. Align yourself with someone you admire, be honest, find a mentor. If an aspiring photographer wanted to just stick around with me and learn, I’d absolutely welcome that idea. You should be able to share your knowledge. You should be able to pass on some of what drives you, what brought you as a wedding photographer to someone else.”
“You constantly have to evolve and adapt, but if it’s working, don’t change it,” he added.
Lighting and Posing Tips
Lighting: “98% of my photos are in natural light. I can use off-camera flash and strobes, but it’s not something that I prefer. I shoot extremely fast. So it becomes a little prohibitive for me to introduce equipment and tell my subjects not to move. And that’s not my style of photography. I engage with my clients a lot. There’s always a conversation. I don’t like to put them in a situation where they get conscious about getting their photos taken. I crack a lot of jokes, and they laugh. If it’s going to be awkward, I tell them, but I joke about it as well. I say, ‘It’s about to get real weird because I’m going to ask you to look at me.’ So we laugh about it, but I know that I’m going to get that reaction. I do everything and anything I can to get their minds off the photography.” Another tip: Don’t let equipment get in the way of photography. Jerry is super mindful about this when photographing weddings and engagement sessions.
Posing: “Every couple is different, and some couples will require a lot more work. The way I approach my couple is I’ll say, ‘Okay, guys, do your thing.’ And that’s it. That’s all I say. And depending on how they react within the first minute, I know how much work I will need to put in. But one of the things that I always try to do is tell them what not to do, as opposed to telling them what to do. The closer, the better is one of my key rules with my clients. I like for them to have that engagement, to be close with each other. And that usually brings out a sense of passion or emotion. I shoot wide, and I shoot tight as well. I typically shoot with two cameras [with a different lens on each], so it gives me different perspectives for the same position.”
Jerry Cantave’s Best Business Practices
Jerry is someone who strictly believes in setting up a process before doing anything else. Even for managing his own wedding photography business, his instinct (thanks to his IT background) was to set up a business process first. “My role as an IT consultant was to help organizations streamline and automate their processes. So when I applied those same principles inside of my own business, I understood that you need to have processes before you start anything. Draft and map out the process, figure out how you are going to do it, and then bring the tools that will let you reach your goals in the most effective manner. My business management software, Táve, which does everything – lead management, contracts, invoicing – scheduling, is the backbone of my business. It has helped tremendously with the onboarding of clients. I also get additional support that I need by outsourcing editing my images [to ShootDotEdit]. So that’s really been a staple of my business,” he said.
Jerry’s Outsourcing Journey with ShootDotEdit
Talking about how he finally decided to give outsourcing a try and found ShootDotEdit to be his perfect match, Jerry shared, “I used to do everything in-house – culling, straightening and cropping the images. And I shoot pretty natural. I don’t like to apply filters, and I like to get it right in camera. So even though my editing efforts are very small, in situations where the lighting is inconsistent or the color shifts, editing is still required.”
Despite needing minimal edits, editing was still “taking too much of my resources when I could have been focusing [on other things in my business] like social media or marketing. So, after partnering with another company for a number of years, I wanted to look for other options. And it was at that time that I got an email from ShootDotEdit that said, ‘Hey! Come and check out what we have.’ And I signed up for the first couple of months just to see how it was. And I had a very good conversation with the team, sharing where I came from and what my needs were. And I have been with ShootDotEdit ever since – it’s been just over a year now.”
Jerry’s Go-To Vendors
- Albums – Bay Photo, Album Epica, ZNO
- Image galleries – SmugMug
- Business management – Táve
- Photo editing – ShootDotEdit
- Scheduling – Calendly
Jerry’s Go-To Apps
- To Do – for task management
Things You Didn’t Know About Jerry
Jerry admits that he still gets nervous at every wedding, even after 10 years. He says that that’s what keeps him sharp. He loves knowing what’s going to happen, what drama the day will bring, and he certainly loves being challenged.
A thought leader who Jerry greatly admires and looks up to is his dad. His father has an unconventional way of thinking things through and never complaining or showing fear. Most importantly, Jerry says he gets his ‘can do’ attitude from him.
Jerry is a Canon shooter who used to only shoot with prime lenses. The 28-70 f2 is now his go-to lens. Since he shoots fast, Jerry has loved incorporating the mirrorless Canon R5 into his gear bag.
We are so grateful to Jerry for giving us his time and speaking to us about his wedding photography business. At ShootDotEdit, we are not just proud of the customers we bring on board, we are also honored and pleased to share their unique stories with the rest of the world. In Jerry’s case, his perspective on the importance of putting business processes in place for managing a successful wedding photography business is one we knew other wedding photographers could benefit from. Thank you, Jerry, for all the tips and suggestions! To learn more about Jerry and Infinite Loop Photography, check out his website and Instagram.