When many of my small business owner friends ask me how I’m doing, I often respond with: “Busy”. And their general sentiment is that that’s a good thing or a good problem to have, right? Being busy usually means you’re making money. But what if you’re a perfectionist, like me. You want everything to be the best for your clients. Then, is busy a good thing? You can say yes, you’re ensuring the highest quality for your clients, right? But what if it’s quality but sacrificing speed and service? Then is it still a good thing? Maybe that’s a toss up? Generally, you want the best quality, the best service and the fastest speed all rolled into one package.
At first, I didn’t really think this was a problem. But when I realized that I’m staying up until 2am nearly every night and not getting enough sleep and slowly falling behind on my work. Especially this past summer! Between the weddings, the corporate gigs, the travel for work, trying to have at least a fews hours per week to myself, I realized that something has to change. This summer has been the busiest that I’ve had so far. It’s been tough for me to manage it all. I was finding that after you take away all the costs from a wedding and then break down the remaining dollar amount by the total hours worked on a wedding, my hourly rate was not very good.
And clearly, I wasn’t exactly having a good work-life balance. It’s been all work and no life. And I still don’t have a good balance, but I’m working on it.
As a one man business, like many photographers out there, here’s a few things that I’ve learned:
#1 Set Boundaries for Yourself
For example, tell yourself that you will only work until 8pm during the week and you will not look at email on Sundays. I’m very very bad at this. I’ll work on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights with out blinking an eye. I’ll answer emails whenever they come in, even at 2am on a Satruday and I’ll work 12+ hours a day, a lot. Our phones are great and all, but if you’re out with friends, you don’t need to be checking your work email!
#2 Create a Working Technique or Mindset and Stick to It
So one of my fellow small business owners and I used to talk about how there is not enough time in the day and we both have a million things pulling at us at the same time. Notifications keep popping up and distracting from making progress on a particular task. When I worked in the Aerospace Industry, I remember hearing statistics that every time a light or notification popped up on our screen, we were compelled to check it and it would take us 5-10 minutes to get back into the flow of the previous task.
So, my friend introduced to the Pomodoro Technique. The gist is basically to turn off or avoid all distractions for about 25 minutes or how ever long it takes for you to complete a task. And at the end of that 25 minutes or particular task, then you can do something that’s of a personal nature.
Basically, put your phone face down on your desk, turn off social media, and close your office door while you’re working to complete a particular task.
Try It! You’ll be amazed to see how much work you get done or you may realize how prone you are to ADD you are or how often you really check some sort of Social Media
#3 Set specific times of the Day for Social Media Marketing and Interaction
I know, Social Media is pretty much a necessity to getting your business out there and having people recognize your company and your brand. But if you do some research there are peak times of the day and week when you can get the maximum return or traffic. So why not just set your social media work hours around those times of day/week. You don’t need to be on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram all the time.
Or better yet, hire a social media intern/associate, to take of all of that for you. Many of the posts can be automated through applications, APIs or other tools. But unfortunately, Instagram, does not allow you to schedule posts.
And moreover, Social Media is more about the interaction and not just posting.
#4 Outsource or Hire People (Part Time)
Yes, this will cut into your bottom line, but time is not refundable and your health is definitely worth it. If your buddy or girlfriend is having a birthday party or BBQ on a Saturday, don’t miss it. There are no shortage of talented people out there looking for part time work or willing to help out. In the wedding industry, there are entire companies built around allowing vendors to outsource certain parts of their process.
So the other week, I met up with a young photographer friend who was just starting out in the wedding world. After shooting the breeze for a little bit, she brought up that she just landed a wedding, but wasn’t sure if she charged the client enough. And she asked me, straight up, “How much should I be charging?” I said that it all depends on your individual cost. And I think this is where many photographers fall short. So many are focused on the art and aesthetic of their work that they completely forget that they are trying to run a business and not just doing this for fun or for a hobby. Businesses need sufficient revenue to pay for all of their costs and pay their employees/contractors.
I think, all photographers need to start with their cost of doing business analysis. The form below will help photographers to get a better handle of how much they should be charging and not letting other local vendors dictate their price. This is not an all encompassing, know it all calculation, but rather just a starting point for young photographers to get a handle on how to manage the finances of their business.
And if you’re a bride reading this, try inputting your own personal costs and it may make you think twice about trying to haggle a photographer down. And please keep in mind that many of the expenses that we take for granted, such as health insurance, which is often paid for by many of the larger enterprises, is a real cost for small business owners.
And just a quick note on the first field. If you’re a bride, I can imagine you saying, “What? Only 30 weddings per year? Dude needs to work harder” You have to keep in mind that 1 wedding usually results in about 40+ hours of post production work. In addition to that, if you’re in a northern state within the US, the wedding season is very seasonal, so there many only be 30 working weekends in a year. The rest of the year, it’s too cold and most brides do not want to have a wedding with snow on the ground. And if you’re a parent and a photographer, you’re giving up your Saturdays to work, when you could be at a family BBQ, family Birthday Party, or your kid’s little league game. So the photographer, in many ways, is sacrificing their personal life to capture the most special moment for the bride, groom and their family.
Most photographers have to find some sort of work in the winter to help supplement the income.
I have taken the liberty of filling in what I think are pretty reasonable costs and numbers. Please notice that I have not even included any salary/pay for the lead photographer nor any sort of savings/retirement fund, two things that are pretty necessary to live or have some sort of future. Your individual pay is something only you can decide based upon your experience and skill level.
But play around and see what you should be charging! The results update automatically, when any of the above fields are changed.
So how do you go about to choose your wedding photographer? Personality? Location? Experience? Style? Number and Quality of Online Reviews? Referral? Price? Amount of time on the day of the wedding? Hopefully, it’s a combination of all these factors. But let’s go through what I feel are some of the more important, from a photography perspective.
Let’s get straight to it, we all work hard for our money and we want it to go a long way. But to be honest, price should be the least of your concerns. There’s a saying that “You get what you pay for.” Meaning, if you pay a budget price, you’re going to get a budget product. And if you pay a luxurious price, you should be getting a luxury product. And after all is said and done with your wedding, the only thing you will have left from your big day are your memories and your photos (and maybe a video). So if you’re going to spend all of that money on your wedding (flowers, dress, catering, lighting, design,etc), don’t you want to remember all of the amazing moments that made the day so special and serve as a reminder and great memory as to why you married your partner.
And as you’ll see from the items below, price should not matter. If your photographer hits these major points, you’ll be happy with your decision regardless of price.
This is a big one for me. When I’m on the phone or in a consultation with potential clients, I’m reviewing them, as much are they are reviewing me. At some basic level, we all need to get along and like each other, right? Not all photographers are as professional as you’d like them to be, either. Ideally, the couple and the photographer are people that I would invite to a weekend BBQ at my house or at least maybe grab a drink with during happy hour. The point is that the photographer is the only vendor that is with the couple the entire day and will be there for all the ebbs and flows of the day. We, photographers, wear many hats and have many responsibilities on the day of wedding, in addition to making beautiful photos. If you don’t have a day of coordinator or planner and something goes wrong, we have to be a stand in therapist and problem solver. If you’re running behind schedule, we have become the coordinator and become more efficient and get you back on schedule. During portraits, we become a stylist and maybe even an emergency hair and make up person. And depending upon the photographer’s personality, they can either be a pain or a great help on the wedding day.
For me, there are some clients that I really want to work with and others that I would not go near. After about 10 minutes of chatting with most clients, I can gauge what type of bride/couple they are going to be. Bride-zillas really do exist! But thankfully none of my previous clients have been one.
And bad personality (jerk / a–hole) photographers also exist. Some photographers can be real divas and care more about their portfolio than delivering a complete wedding day story, to you, in your album and web gallery.
Don’t select one that will make your special that much more stressful, either. It should be as if your photographer is just a cool guest at your wedding, that enhances your experience on your special day and makes it that much more fun.
Do you want more staged portraits? Do you want more candid? Do you want more photojournalism? Do you want a film look? Do you want more B&W? These days with digital photography, everyone is a photographer with a camera on their cell phones. And with Instagram everyone knows how to use filters. But not everyone has the right eye. And while each photographer may be pretty similar in look, their styles are always a little different. Some things that you may notice is that some photographers are more about the big scene and less about the intimate emotion. Can you spot the difference when looking a the different websites? Or are you just in awe at the pretty photos and getting really excited about your wedding?
Today, you like a certain look to your photos, meaning a kind of filter, style, or process on your photos; but how will they look in 20 years? Will the filter/look feel dated and super old-fashioned in the future. This to me is the very important. Much like fashion, imaging trends come and go, but certain things will always be classic. The heavy photoshop and/or Instagram look is cool now, but I can bet your $5 that it will feel dated pretty quickly.
Whether you choose us or another photographer, I always advocate for a more classic look that will stand up better over time. That way, the only thing you will criticize in the photos is the poor fashion choices you made for the bridesmaids dresses. 😛
I think this kind of goes without saying, you want your photographer to have photographed at least a few weddings. Yes, they might know how to use a camera or read a book on how to operate one. But that does not mean they are able to handle all of the little things that come up in a wedding day. Will they be able to think on the fly and become an active problem solver? An experienced photographer means that they will not contribute to the stress on your wedding day and actually help to make things run smoother.
Now, what about experience at a particular venue? This is not a big deal to me b/c photographers, at least in a local area, can always scout a location ahead of time and do their homework, so that they are prepared. On another note, if a photographer has worked a venue before, they may not be as creative, they may just snap back to what they have done previously and not look for that amazing photo. Whereas, a photographer that is new to a venue may try new angles and perspectives that no one else has seen before. it can go either way, really. It all depends on how your photographer sees the world through their camera.
Obviously, the more positive reviews, the better. But be wary of the photo studios that have 1000s of reviews. Those are more usually just the cookie cutter studios that don’t provide personal attention and in some cases they just outsource the photography. You should be looking for photographers who have anywhere from 10-200 reviews. Those are the individual photographers or studios that are doing well and running a reputable business.
Generally you want a photographer in your general geographic area, but it’s not a deal breaker. If you love a photographer from another state or even another country, that should not prevent you from booking them. You may love their style or their personality. Chances are they will arrive a day early, scout the locations and deliver amazing photos and go that extra mile for you, just b/c they are traveling. Photographers like to travel just like everyone else. And when I get a wedding outside of NY, it’s great! And just like any business trip, they employer should be prepared to cover the travel expenses.
In case you haven’t noticed, we at Esvy have now added video to our services! We have partnered with really great to guys so that we can offer a more complete package and experience for our clients! Our video only packages will start at $2500, which in the NYC area is quite a steal!!!
We are honored to have been selected for The Knot Best of Weddings 2015!!!! We could not have done without our fabulous clients! Check out The Knot for our profile page.
We are so happy to announce that Esvy Photography has been selected for the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Award for 2015. Thank you, so much to our fabulous clients!
Please allow us to introduce Quinn, our newest Senior Photographer. Quinn’s passion for photography was ignited in a dark room with a roll negatives and a film SLR. She has since gone on to work with several incredible photographers, allowing her to fuel a creative instinct and learn a vast number of techniques. Moving to Long Island and joining the Esvy team has only further incited that fire for fine art photography and capturing the beautiful, raw emotions of a wedding.
We are proud to announce that we have been chosen for the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards 2014!
We are truly lucky and blessed to have such great clients! Thank you so much for your support and being so awesome!
Selected based on feedback from past couples, the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards™ recognizes the top five percent of local wedding professionals from the WeddingWire Network who demonstrate excellence in quality, service, responsiveness and professionalism. Winners of the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards™ are determined by recent reviews and extensive surveys from over a million WeddingWire newlyweds.
Have you met Camden, yet? He’s our new senior photographer. Camden joined the Esvy team within the past year and brings his 7+ years of photography experience with him. With a background in Documentary Filmmaking, Studio Portrait photography, and his quick problem solving skills, Camden has made a seamless transition into the Wedding Photography world. So help to officially welcome Camden to the Esvy Team!
Welcome to the new EsvyPhoto.com. We have completely redesigned our entire website to showcase our photos in a much more engaging manner. The site is much more dynamic and offers an improved browsing and viewing experience. It’s also mobile and tablet friendly, meaning you can swipe with your finger when viewing the galleries! And the new swiping feature is available both in our portfolio as well on the recent work section (aka the blog).
And we definitely have to give a big thanks and shout out to our friends at Webodew, for inspiring us to build a better web experience.
So what do you think of the new site? Do you like the new layout and design?
Please leave a comment below and let us know what you think.