How do you store your photos? Do you use hard drives, cloud services, both? Do you keep all your RAW files?
I have several ways that I store my photos so that in case one fails, they are backed up in a few other places as well. First, as soon as I get home from a shoot I back up my photos from the session onto my main working hard drive and that main hard drive gets backed up onto another backup drive. After the photos are on the hard drive, I have a cloud back up that runs and all new files added to my hard drive get backed up to the cloud. After I am done editing the photos, the edited copies get backed up to the hard drive and the backups. The finished photos also get uploaded to my Zenfolio account which is also how clients get to view their completed gallery. Zenfolio is a great photo hosting site because they offer unlimited jpeg files to be uploaded and you do not have to limit the amount of time a gallery is available to your client.
Do you ever turn clients away and if so why?
Yes. I am at the point now where I have no desire to shoot weddings or families outside of those that I already have a good relationship with so I will typically turn those away with a referrals to other photographers. I also like to get to know my clients a bit before working with them and if for any reason I don’t feel like we would be a good fit together or I don’t really match the style they are seeking, I may suggest other photographers to them but let them know that it isn’t because I don’t want to work with them but feel another photographer may be able to better suit their needs/wants.
How do you plan travel and clients? Do you just wait till a certain amount of people are interested in one spot to travel there or do you plan the trip then try to book sessions?
Good question! So it’s a little bit of both – when I get a inquiry for an area that is a ways away, I always quote them with what the total travel cost will be for me to come to them however, I do let them know that if other sessions are able to be booked in the area, travel costs will be split between everyone that is booked during the trip. A lot of times, the client that originally contacted me will refer and recruit their friends at their barn or in the general area and will get more people to book sessions too so they all get a lowered travel fee. Once that client is booked, I will advertise for that area too myself to see if anyone else wants to join in on the fun! I have also done it the second way you mentioned where I plan a trip and then try to book sessions. I do this more when I know that I am going to an area on a vacation or visiting friends and don’t really need to pick up work in the area but if there are people interested, I won’t turn down the chance to work with someone new if I have the time to do it.
How many sessions per month do you do?
So I actually have target number of sessions that I set for the year instead of monthly. I do this because I am in Iowa and winters can be unpredictable and there are some really ugly months where bookings are slower thanks to mother nature. My goal is 108 sessions a year which averages 9 sessions a month or 2 a week. Last year I surpassed that and did 159 sessions and as of right now I am sitting at 140 sessions for this year.
Do you ever take interns?
Yes! I have taken interns in the past and am open to having more in the future!
How do you keep the horse(s) interested throughout the photoshoot?
Every horse is different but for most, I have found that switching things up and keeping the session moving helps the most. When you find the horse is losing interest in what we are doing to get ears, I have my assistant move onto something new, but I make sure that we are only really doing one thing at a time and not over stimulating the horse either with too much going on around them because that can just make things worse. If I find the horse is getting irritated or antsy standing in the same spot for too long I will suggest going into some movement shots or switching locations to refocus their mind.
I have been having a lot of clients flake out on me lately after they book. How can I stop clients from frequently asking to reschedule for non-important reasons and even canceling last minute with no real reason?
A SOLID CONTRACT & RETAINER!! Seriously see so many photographers in different online groups that are in the same boat because their contracts aren’t protecting them like they should. My contract is very clear that sessions required a paid retainer that is non-refundable or transferrable if a client cancels for any reason. My rescheduling policy does allow for weather rescheduling if the weather is unfavorable and/or unsafe and I do allow for rescheduling for sickness other unforeseen circumstances however I do let them know that make-up times are limited reschedules should not be done lightly.
Hey! I was just curious how you share your photos with customers? Do you have a blog or some other type of website that you upload photos to? Or do you just send them to the customer in a flash drive?
I use Zenfolio to provide private online galleries for my clients. These online galleries can be accessed from anywhere and allow unlimited downloading of all their favorite images and ordering all the prints they desire. Their online gallery can also be downloaded to an app on their mobile devices so their photos can be enjoyed even when they don’t have wifi access. A custom flash drive also gets delivered to most clients after their session with their included prints for another way for them to enjoy their portraits.
How do you get more customers?
That is a loaded question with no real one-size-fits-all answer. Every business is different and works well for one person may not be what is best for you and your business. For me, happy customers spreading my name organically to all their friends and family has been the greatest way to get more clients however I know when you are starting out, that can be hard. For me starting out, doing horse shows, being involved in the equine community, volunteering within saddle clubs, and doing very specific model calls for my target client helped me more than any social media platform. If you would like to talk more one-on-one, please contact me and we can chat more about how you can find your customers.
What is your turn around time for the average session?
Oh man! This can vary greatly with the time of year. I am notorious for filling my schedule fuller than I can actually handle because I seriously suck at saying “no”! It can range anywhere from 24hour to 3 weeks. Currently…it’s at that 3-week mark.
Do you work another job outside of photography? Do you have any tips for those trying to build a photography business while still working full-time “day job”?
I no longer work another job outside of photography; I have been a full-time photographer since 2014 however I did work a full-time, then part-time job until I was able to take my photography business full time. My advice for you would be to stick to a schedule to help manage your time. If you know that it takes you an average of 2-3 hours to edit a session – block out time each day or over a period of days to get your editing done. Also have a set day and time block that you dedicate to your bookwork and managing all the behind the scenes parts of the business. I would also highly suggest using a client management system to help keep your schedule, clients, and even records in check. I use Pixifi to help me with almost all the behind-the-scenes business duties. I love it because I can manage my schedule from it, it will automatically send out emails, contracts, and invoices for me, and I can keep track of progress with each client with the workflow visualizer. There are many other management programs like Pixifi though so find one that works best for you and your budget.
Do you have another workshop coming soon? I would love to attend one!
I don’t currently have anything in the works at this time however I would love to host another one in the future. I am still offering one-on-one mentoring both in person and over skype if that is something you may also be interested in. Check out the details for that here.