When I met Sanjay Jogia of Eye Jogia Photography on the bustling exhibit hall floor at WPPI, he said he was actually relieved to be back in the crowd on the floor. Gesturing toward his “Judge” badge, the Luxury Wedding Photographer said he had just finished judging the WPPI print competition.
“We were stuck in a dark room for 11 hours a day looking at images. We had hundreds and hundreds of images to go through.” Sanjay has been a Print Competition Judge at WPPI for the last 3 years, so I asked him for some advice on how to stand out.
When Katie Van Buren of Van Buren Photography started her career as a wedding photographer 20 years ago, she was younger than most of the brides she photographed.
“I connected with them at the time because of where I was in my own life and my business reflected that.”
For years, Katie says her business was made up of 85% weddings and 15% portraits, but things changed as Katie’s clients started their own families. “Eventually, I was getting more portrait work than wedding shoots.” I was in the middle of asking Katie how she so seamlessly turned her wedding clients into portrait clients when she started laughing. She blurted out, “Oh how funny!” Then went on to explain that while we were talking she got an email from a recent wedding client. “It says, ‘Hope you’re doing well! We just had a baby and wanted to get some pictures done.’” The answer to my question was all too clear.
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.”
When 90% of your business comes from referrals, vendor relationships can make or break a wedding season for even the most established photographer. That’s why getting herself on as many preferred vendor lists as possible is not something Michelle Walker leaves to chance.
“I hustle for work every day. I hustle as hard today as I did when I was just starting out.”
The Bay Area photographer recently moved to Napa, and even though it’s only an hour away, she’s back to pounding the pavement to get noticed. “My goal is to be on everyone’s preferred vendor list, and have relationships with all of the popular area wedding planners.”
Justin Haugen is no stranger to photography workshops and expos, but his taste in curriculum has evolved over the last decade. When the Tucson Wedding and Portrait Photographer used to attend conferences like WPPI, he would purposely avoid classes about running or growing a photography business.
“I find that we tend to focus on skills-based learning very early in our careers.”
Justin says his class choices were largely based on his concern about the competition. “That’s the focus for a long time in the beginning: how we can be more talented, more skilled, and more artistic.”
Canceling her Wedding Wire account and choosing not to do any bridal fairs was a drastic and risky move for Montana-based wedding photographer, Tiffany Williams. She called it a tenuous time as she shifted her entire marketing plan and budget toward self-promotion on social media.
“I was hitting social media really hard and I was starting to connect with more people on Instagram.” Tiffany says the web-based client subscription sites served her well for many years, but it was time to lean into attracting clients based on who she is as a person. “I really wanted to connect with people at a heart level.”
When Destination Wedding and Portrait Photographer, Jen Huang sat across from me for her interview at the ShootDotEdit booth during WPPI, we were both pretty exhausted. It was 4pm on the 3rd day of the largest wedding and portrait photography conference and tradeshow in the world. As I was setting up the recording equipment, she asked how many interviews I’d done so far. I told her she was my 13th in two days. She raised her eyebrows slightly and nodded in understanding. It had been a very busy few days for her, too.
“I’m a photographer who shoots weddings?” Rebecca Yale answered my question with a laugh and a rising intonation in her voice that I wasn’t used to hearing. Her answer, which presented more like a question, made me think she wasn’t sure what to say when I asked her what type of photographer she is. The uncertainty in her voice had me abandoning my planned questions to find out why a 20-year photography veteran with a degree in photography and aesthetic philosophy from NYU would answer in such a peculiar way.
Starting a business is hard. Growing it can seem nothing short of unattainable. That’s why at ShootDotEdit, we want to empower Pro Wedding Photographers to not only maintain their workflow and streamline their time management; we also want to provide our customers with the tools to grow their businesses and meet their professional goals.
In order to deliver on that promise, we’ve partnered with leaders in the industry to offer valuable content that we believe will help encourage and motivate other Pro Wedding Photographers. During our customer outreach, we learned that social media is something many of you struggle with. So we reached out to Photo Mentor and Social Media extraordinaire Heather J. Keys to shed some light on the importance of consistent content.