September 15, 2010

Stuff We Love: You

This morning we walked. A long, hard walk.

And we talked about….You. He asked me what I’m grateful for and I said: God, Him, Home, Dog….and You.

You who come here every day and share your lives with us. You who come here every day and don’t judge me and my typos or my obscenely excessive use of the word “awesome” or my utter and total lack of cool. You.

You who take the time out of work, life, kids, laundry and school to stop by every day and tell us that you were here. To sprinkle a little love when you didn’t have to. And to quite honestly, make our whole day in the process. You.

If I’m being totally honest, I pray for you guys every day. I hope that’s not weird. :) But I do. I pray that you will be safe in whatever you’re doing and that your lives will be blessed with the same kind of happiness & abundance that you bring to ours. I don’t normally talk about those sorts of things. But today it just seemed right.

Because today, I am especially grateful for You.

Grateful and acutely aware that we need to be doing more to hold up our end of the bargain. See, I’m so grateful for the community that You have built here. Not us. You. And in the process I am also so, so aware that we need to be doing more to encourage that. Because I want this to be a place where anyone, whether you’re brand new just starting out with no idea what you’re doing or a seasoned pro who’s been in the game for a while and is in real need of starting over, can come and get answers without anyone making you feel stupid or small. Because believe me, we got more than enough of that when we first getting started to go around. A place where it’s ok to not have it all figured out. Because we certainly don’t. And we certainly don’t have all the answers. But I bet we can figure it out a lot faster together than we ever could on our own.

So we want to try something a little different today. We want to set this post up as an open forum of sorts. Whatever questions you have, whatever you’re struggling with….just throw it out there. We’ll be hopping on to answer as much as we can. But like we said, we definitely don’t have all the answers. So my hope for this, is that we will all start to help one another. That you’ll feel free to answer each other’s questions. Because that’s what it’s all about. Because we’re better together, we’re stronger together. And none of us is as smart as all of us. :)

  1. Chelsea McGowan

    ‘Tis the season to be grateful. I’ve got mad love for my blog readers this week, too… the idea that people who are SO busy take the time every day just to come see what I’m doing… you’re right, it DOES mean the world.
    You should know, we wouldn’t care what you were doing if you were just good photographers. You are, though. Obviously. You’re incredibly talented. But at least for Mack and I, it’s worth coming back again because you’re kind and genuine and quirky and generous, and the love just pours out of you, and when we think about the way we want our business to feel, we know we want it to be a lot like that. So when people tell us that we are those things… well, we get excited. :)
    Plus, Jack likes it when you post pictures of Cooper.
    We love you, J&M!

  2. Kerry & Taylor

    Hi guys, thanks! Q: Do you have a definitive process for submitting to industry mags? If so, what? :)

  3. Christina Wolfe

    You guys are amazing. I thoroughly enjoy your blog everyday, you are an inspiration to all of us. I have one pressing question…I’m ready to buy a new lens (singular, unfortunately, not plural!). I shoot about a 50/50 mix of weddings and portrait work and right now I have the Canon Mark II 5D with the lens it came with 24-105 f/4L. I’m trying to decide between the 70-200 2.8L, the 85 1.2L and the 100 2.8 macro. The macro is definitely not the #1 choice, but something I madly want. So, really it’s between the first two. I dream of the zoom for the "10-minute rule", but also know the portrait lens is just plain amazing. Any input? Thanks so much and in the mean time, I’ll look forward to more inspiring blog posts from you!

  4. Morgan Trinker

    Thank you guys so much for this. I love your blog exactly because you guys are so real, so open, so positive. It’s a breath of fresh air!

    Kerry & Taylor: Have you heard of the fairly new website Two Bright Lights? I LOVE it! You can open an account and make storyboards from your images and then submit those in a super easy way to a whole bunch of different blogs and magazines. You can also share them with your vendors so you don’t have to burn a disc for each one. It’s fantastic marketing and it’s so, SO easy. http://www.twobrightlights.com

  5. Kerry & Taylor

    Hi Morgan, Yes, thanks, we have heard of Two Bright Lights…kind of waiting for some success stories from it tho’. :)

  6. MM

    @Morgan and @Kerry &Taylor: I totally agree! Two Bright Lights is awesome! And more and more magazines are signing on with them , which is making it a lot easier b/c it used to be (still is in some cases) that every magazine has a different method for submissions. For those we just had to contact them to get the guidelines and tailor our submission to them. Another thing that’s happening now is that editors are reading blogs and looking for weddings they want to publish. So the last few magazines we got were that way and that’s awesome!

  7. Emily

    And this is why I LOVE you guys!! <3<3<3 My question: what are everyone’s favorite actions from TRA & Kubota. Lookin to try some new ones.

  8. jessica

    reading your blog is like reading a letter from my best friend! I feel like I know and we haven’t even met! And I love that you are willing to open your hearts and your minds for anything us readers have on our minds. Does it have to be photography related or can I ask personal questions too? I can’t wait to meet you guys one day in real life!

  9. MM

    @Jessica: LOL! I guess it can be personal….bring it ON! :)

  10. Jessica Fike

    YAY! I love asking questions! Here’s one…Do you outsource any of your editing OR What do you think about outsourcing editing? I am a better photographer than I am photo editor and would rather schedule more weddings/sessions than turn down weddings/sessions because of my editing workload. Definitely still a fan of doing some editing, but not all 800 wedding images!

  11. MM

    @Emily: ooh I love this question! We use mostly Claire-ify, Oh Snap and Pro Retouch from TRA and KDP midbright and fuji snappit from Kubota. But that’s about it. Would love to hear what every one else uses!

  12. kim lowery

    Wow. I feel completely uplifted to think someone out there is saying a prayer every day for me (us)! Thank you! I can’t believe I can’t think of a question…. of all days…. =)

  13. MM

    @JessicaFike: We do outsource all of our bulk editing (but we do the favorites for the blog). Last year we had a full time in-house editor but she moved out of state. This year we had someone doing it for us part time and then we just tried sending it off to an editing company and had an AWESOME experience. So we may be doing that from now on.

  14. Christina Wolfe

    I *love* Lighten & Brighten and B&W vanilla from Florabella, but will definitely be trying the others you mentioned!

  15. Ed Congdon

    What can I say that hasn’t already been said below? I love reading your blog simply because it is about life! It’s not all about photography (and here I concur, you guys are amazing!), but about the simple things that make up each day. Whether pumpkin spice lattes, a shoe-shopping trip, or a lazy walk in the woods… Thank you for sharing your lives with us, your readers, your fans, your friends.

  16. Justin Marantz

    @CHRISTINA That’s a really good question. I would definitely make the 85 your next lens! I use the Nikon 85 1.4 about 70% of the wedding day. It’s also an amazing portrait lens. Having a 200mm can be handy, but I’d take the 85 first.

  17. Caitlin

    I do think about you guys everyday! And I appreciate everything you give back to us, but I do have a question. What lens do you use to shoot your details, like rings, jewelry, cuff links, etc. Thanks for the help in advance!!

  18. MM

    Ed you are the BOMB! You never fail to make me smile. Thank you for that.

  19. MM

    @Caitlin: ohhhh that’s Justin’s baby! the Carl Zeiss 25mm 2.8. He loves it! It’s technically a wide angle lens but the focusing distance is so short that you can use it as a macro of sorts and it is tack sharp! Here’s a post we did about it: http://www.justinmarantz.com/index.cfm?postID=108

  20. Jessica Green

    I don’t often creep out of the woodwork to make a comment but I’ve been reading your blog now for a few weeks. I love your work and your enthusiasm; it’s very refreshing. I just wanted to say thanks for being you!

  21. jessica

    @Christina, definitely go with the 85. I don’t own it yet but frequently use my friends and it is AMAZING!

    Ok Mary, you told me to bring on a personal question but I promise it’s not too personal! I’ve been thinking about trying match and know that’s how you two met! What was it like meeting people online and not thinking they were some kind of psycho? Just kind of want to know what your experience was like!

  22. MM

    @Jessica: Nope….thank YOU for stopping by. AND for coming out of the woodwork…I hope this means you’ll do it more often! :) xoxo

  23. Caitlin

    Thanks Mary – you guys are the best! I can’t thank you guys enough for what you do! Everyday I wake up and think "oooohhhh J&M what did they post today!" I know – totally a dork, but you are the best and I can’t express how much I love how you guys make me smile!

  24. MM

    @Jessica: LOL!!! Ohhh you went right for it! :) So here’s the thing, I had never in my life tried internet dating before and then my friends all left for the summer from law school so I thought "What the heck, I’ll give it a try." I signed up on a Tuesday and that same day Justin "winked" at me. On Thursday we met for coffee. Sunday we went on a hike. I think we’ve been apart all of two weeks total in the six years since then. So it was your basic whirlwind Match.com romance. Not really sure about how to ward off psychos (although I did have one guy message me to say "I’ll treat ya good baby. I won’t hit ya or nothin." Awesome) but I will say that I’m a firm believer that it works!

  25. MM

    @Caitlin: and THAT right there makes it all totally worth it. So thank you for that! xoxoxo

  26. oneshotbeyond

    I’d love to give it a question a whirl…what lens do you love for getting large group/family shots at weddings? I’m just starting to do a bit more weddings and have rented a couple, but haven’t found anything spectacular in any as of yet.

    THANKS!!!

  27. Nicole Benitez

    I just wanted to say that I am thankful for you guys! {and Julia too!}
    I couldn’t imagine how much of yourselves is spent giving back. You take the opportunity to connect with your peers, those who aspire and people that just love love. You are amazing and I cannot thank you guys enough for setting me on course in my business because you were willing to give and take the time to invest in someone else!
    I **heart** j&m and j2!!

  28. MM

    @OneShot: We use our 50!! We just move our feet if we need to be closer or wider. We’ll shoot it at 2.8 or 3.5 and it looks pretty awesome with no distortion to deal with. But I’m curious….what’s everyone else using?

  29. dawn beirnes

    so many questions I would love to ask you guys (you know I ask everytime you post one of these!)…but i’ll stick with one. What is the best way to determine what area of photography that you would rock it out to? I’m just a beginner and I want to figure out what I am best suited for. Any suggestions would be awesome! Oh geez, just one more quick one….if you can’t get a super expensive lens right now, what would you suggest as a good one to purchase for someone just starting to build up her equipment (and maybe suggest anything else I should consider, even if not a lens for now)..Ok, that was about 3 or 4 questions, but you guys are just so awesome and I have to jump on the ‘ask us anything" post! OH, tell Cooper he’s gorgeous!

  30. MM

    @Nicole: Gurrrrrrrl, I ADORE you!!! You are so amazing and I feel so blessed just to know you! Love yoU!

  31. jessica

    oh that’s such a sweet little story! I guess someone just needs to make me do it! Although you’d think I would just go for it since I’m sick of being single! Thanks for answering a personal question!

  32. Melissa

    Hello!! Can I say you guys FLIPPIN ROCK?!? Thank you for being so inspirational and let’s be real, kinda uber dorky! In a totally in love-100% real-love what we do and it shows- fantastic-doggie drool lovin-kinda way. :P Let’s ask the ‘is the grass greener on the other side" question… Why Nikon?! Is the grass greener?? Ohhh AND, what city got the most votes for the new tour destination, have you all decided on a place yet? THANKS!!

  33. Christa

    You guys are awesome. Just last night I was thinking about you guys :) I have 3 fave photog blogs that I follow and I was thinking how different all 3 of you are and how you always say to be yourself, and run your own race. I always think of you when I’m feeling anxious about doing my branding that truly reflects me and that I have to stop worrying about everyone else. I have YOU to thank for that :)
    K…for my question, have you decided to come to Toronto for your Spread the Love tour yet? :)

  34. jessica

    @dawn-I would suggest finding someone who will let you 2nd shoot weddings with them. That’s how I found out I LOVE weddings and the crazy drama that goes with them! As far as a lens goes, the 50!!! All around awesome lens!

  35. MM

    @Dawn: oooh that is a good question. My short answer is that you really, really, REALLY have to love what you shoot in order to be any good at it. For example, I don’t have kids, I was an only child, kids kinda scare me….ergo, I don’t shoot kids. If you’re thinking about shooting weddings I think you should try second shooting a few and see if you really, really, REEEEEEALLLY love it. If not, don’t do it. Because there is so much stress and emotions running high and bridesmaids calling you the paparazzi :) that I think you have to love love and weddings deep in your soul to still walk away and want to do it again. So my question to you is: what do you love? As for a great, cheap lens I am a HUGE fan of the the "thrifty fifty" (the 50mm 1.4) and shoot with it 95% of the day. You can grab one for about $500. What does everyone else think would be a great first investment?

  36. Christa

    @Dawn: I agree with Mary on the "thrifty fifty" for sure :)

  37. MM

    @Melissa: did you just call me uber dorky?! :)

  38. MM

    @Christa: oooh that’s awesome!! I love it and can’t wait to see what all you come up with. If you don’t mind me asking, how are the three blogs different? Toronto is DEFINITELY up there as a front runner for STL!

  39. MM

    @Melissa: oh yea, and to answer your question! :) We shoot Nikon just because Justin always has. I think for a while there Canon was really taking the lead, but now it seems to have flipped back the other way with the D3s. I imagine it will keep doing that back and forth til the end of time :) Like Justin always says, just give me shoe box and a pinhole and I’ll take pictures

  40. Lori Quarles

    Hey guys, you were both super patient and very helpful with ALL of my questions at the Nashville Wedding Workshop..but..I have more…surprise! I know you guys shoot Auto white balance but for the in camera settings under "shooting menu" what do you have the "set picture control" at? Standard, Neutral or vivid? Thanks for being here for us all! I am totally a Blog stalker!

  41. Justin Marantz

    @LORI we have our "Set Picture control" set to standard.

  42. Spring

    I love how you guys make me feel like we are best friends -which by the way we really are ;) I love your style of writing because it feels like its just us sitting on your porch with a cup of hot coco chatting. So here is my question: file storage: I keep thinking about getting a small hard drive for each wedding so they are all individual and if one goes you don’t loose all the weddings- But I wonder if getting another large drive a better plan? thoughts?

  43. Gwendolyn Tundermann

    I’m grateful for Justin & Mary! You guys are so sweet! I remember your post on the Carl Zeiss lens. Do you use any other non-Nikkor lenses?

  44. Christa

    @Mary: Hmm…how are they different? Well there’s you guys that I consider the most down to earth, real, east coast with seasons (fall, winter) feel. You guys feel "at home" to me…I know cheesy…lol. The 2nd is all out quirky (which I can be) its super colorful, fun and though they’re wedding photographers they have a great portrait thing going on too, yet its still "them"
    Third is very fashion forward and Californian (which is just the stereotype in my head….lol)

  45. Melissa

    Haha!! Maybe! But only in the best of ways. Like wish we could be twinkies kinda way! ;) I love your realness and no fear of showing that. It’s part of what makes you, you.

  46. Gina Meola

    Question :: why are you so wonderful?

  47. Deb

    Okay, so this post could not have come at a better time. I am finding myself smack in the middle of a week with the husband gone, managing schedules for 4 kids (one of which started preK for the first time this week), an enormous homework load for myself not to mention homework help every night for the 4th and 7th graders, playing catch up with editing, and coaching and directing youth rec cheering. Oh, and on top of that we are waiting for a new fridge to arrive "sometime" this week, the 2 year old peed on the floor this morning, the 4yr old never even hesitates when the bus comes to take him away and the microwave just died. Sooo…when you are feeling absolutely stressed and it seems like you will never crawl out of the bottomless pit, what is your best advice to making it to the other side in one piece?

  48. dawn beirnes

    thanks Mary (and Christa!). OH, I have 3 grown kids (and 1 grandson) and they scare me! I’m not sure about wedding photography, but I do think that engagements would be fun, so I’m guessing that you can do one and not the other. I shoot alot at my grandson football games, but sports photography isn’t something I would want to do fulltime, I do love the whole natural light/lifestyle photography and because I love pets (dogs mostly) pet photographer is another area I’m looking into. Thanks SOOO much for the advice!

  49. Chelsea McGowan

    My question is something we’re struggling with right now… how do you protect your "together time"? People say all the time, "Oh, it must be so nice to work together!" And it is. But that doesn’t mean we don’t need a non-working date, or a vacation. Especially with two kids. We feel like there’s just not enough of us to go around, even after we cut back to only 25 weddings a year.
    Is this something you guys struggle with?

  50. MM

    @Gina: Because I have friends like you that make me look much better than I am! Period. :)

  51. MM

    @Chelsea: oh heck yea we struggle with this, BIG TIME! And the best answer we’ve come up with is that we just had to get good at saying no to everyone else (something neither of us is very good at!) Timothy Ferris talks about other people’s "false emergencies" where they will demand something of your time and it has to be done RIGHT then, but often that deadline is not really there. They just think they need it right away. We’ve had to get good at saying sure we can send it, but not tonight or not before we get back from this vacation. Setting those boundaries to protect our marriage has become crucial. Because if there’s no marriage, there’s no J&M. Period.

  52. MM

    @Deb: Ohhhh do I EVER hear you on this one! And I don’t even have 4 kids! But here is what I’ve found that works for me: accomplish one thing. Just one thing and then look at it and say "ok that is going right." Delegate one thing. Just one thing and then look at it and say "ok, that is getting done and I’m not even the one doing it." Be thankful for one thing. Just one thing and look at it and say "you know what, I didn’t have that just a year ago so I’m that much further ahead." I also find that the thinking part is best done while walking by yourself, sans kiddos and refrigerator problems

  53. Tira J

    There really aren’t any words any longer to express how much I just adore you guys! Seriously! I recently took a twitter/facebook/blog/RSS google reader detox break for a little over a week and it was the best thing I could have done for me and my business. I found that I truly don’t need all of the social media in my life to run my business, and neither do my clients. I guess my question for today is what do you suggest to someone who is STILL working full time and trying to run a business? I have all of these dreams and goals, but this darn job just gets in the way. I certainly don’t want to outsource anything, and can’t afford to hire anyone yet, so I have been limiting the amount of jobs I take on so I don’t get burned out, or divorced. LOL! Love you guys!

  54. Nicole

    I’m a relatively new photographer (on my second full year) and I also work a full time job in addition to that. I’m really struggling with finding balance in my life and being able to give my clients the customer service and turnaround they need and deserve. I’ve even cut back on weddings this year, but I’m finding that I am still having a difficult time finishing editing weddings as quickly as I would like.

    I guess I would love some suggestions on balancing my life with my full time job and my passion (photography) and how I can move closer to going full time with photography or *sigh* giving it up altogether.

  55. robin underdown

    Ok…I am a little emberassed to ask my question. First of all I have been in business many years but I learned my trade from being an apprentice to an established "traditional" Photographer. That means he used flash ALL the time. So I shoot with a flash the majority of the time and I am very scared to shoot in natural light because I really don’t know very much about it. Any tips or direction on learning to shoot with natural light?

  56. Kelly

    First off, I can’t thank you enough for what you do here – for beginners like me, it’s sooo awesome to find photographers who don’t act like "photographers" (I hope you know what I mean). The information you give freely, the inspiration you provide, and of course your beautiful images that you share – wow, just amazing. So to my question: We have but one wedding under our belts, and it was truly an exhilirating, addictive experience, and I think we did okay! But, the reception shots were not generally okay. We borrowed a speedlight, but we still had a tough time the low light, fast action of it all. How do you typically handle receptions, lighting-wise? Thanks again!! xo

  57. Emma P

    I’ve never actually commented on here but I thought I should today… great post!!! I love reading your blog and hope you go to Toronto for STL so I can come!! My question for you is how do you advertise?

  58. Marissa Rodriguez

    I love you guys! *hugs*

  59. Marissa Rodriguez

    I have questions but no time to type them up! On my way to work! Eeeek! Will definitely stop by and read everything when I get back! :)

  60. Alison

    Last night my family was given the most amazing gift. We are already working on ways to pay it forward and one of the ways is through photography. I know we usually keep paying it forward quiet, but my question is are others involved in charities or quiet giving? What ways do you pay it forward? and @Deb- you can call your friend and vent all you need to, then borrow her husband when said fridge shows up and needs to be moved and then for fun brush up on your glee soundtrack before our next wedding road trip so I don’t end up singing alone! @Robin- change is hard but it can be amazing! shoot for yourself, for fun using natural light first. Grab a teenager who might be willing to do some informal modeling and see what you can create. Try to talk to other photographers in your area to see if you might check out what they do or talk shop. After STL Maine, hubby and I set out to start a non competative group of photographers & Spouses/other half for fun, to learn and to challenge each other. I cannot tell you how much I value the people in our group and I know if I need something, I can bounce it there. If you don’t know anyone, email me, I can "chat" your ear off with ideas of boards an sites to check out! There are so many other questions I want to respond to but I wont! lol J&M &J2, thank you. I have learned a ton from you personally and professionally, but The biggest thing is you gave me permission to be my clumsy, mouthy, emotional, stubborn and creative self as a photographer. I am so very grateful to have met you!.

  61. Stacey Hemeyer

    I use the same camera and lenses that you do, but I would LOVE to hear more about your post processing. What do you do to make your people and skin tons so clear and radiant?

  62. MM

    @Tira: I know, it’s so hard! Can I ask why you are definitely opposed to outsourcing?

  63. MM

    @Nicole: would you be opposed to giving up the editing? That would free up a TON of time for you and is one of the best things we’ve ever done for our biz!

  64. Nicole

    I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to afford it. And I’ve heard some people extremely dissatisfied with some of the editing companies, so that also makes me nervous.

  65. MM

    @Robin: hey, there is nothing to be embarrassed about around here! And the good news is that I actually think learning to shoot with a flash is harder than learning to shoot natural light. So if you did that, learning natural light should come pretty easy to you. The same sort of principles apply: you want to use the light to not just properly expose the image, but to actually shape the image to create depth & dimension. So you want directional light (coming in from the side) to help do that. Of course you can also shoot backlight and facing the light as well. With natural light it’s about seeing where your light is fixed and deciding how you want to use it. With natural light it’s also all about the timing. for the most part you’ll either want to shoot really early or in "golden hour" (that hour leading up to sunset) or shoot in places where there is open/even shade with light bouncing in from the side that has been diffused. I agree with what others said that it just takes practice, practice, practice. you’ll get there, i have no doubt!

  66. jivyb

    Can I ask what editing company you use?

  67. MM

    @Kelly: Great question! We have a very basic set up for our reception lighting of a fixed head (you can also use your flash…we just use this set up because there are multiple cameras firing it) on a light stand shooting through a 45in white umbrella. And we use pocket wizards to sync. We put it off in the corner so it’s not seen in any of the pictures (a pet peeve of mine) and so that we can create directional light. That’s it!

  68. MM

    @EmmaP: Word o’ mouth baby, word o’ mouth. Word! :) We take pictures, we blog pictures, we tag on facebook, friends & family come to the blog to see more. Rinse & repeat. We also try to take good care of our vendors so that they’ll want to work with us again. And then we get published on blogs and they send people our way. That’s pretty much it!

  69. MM

    @Alison: First of all, I adore you. J’adore. Secondly, as far as giving we tend to do a lot of quiet giving and also things for Make a Wish and other charities like donated shoots.

  70. MM

    @Stacey Hemeyer: hmmm I think a lot of what you’re seeing is how we’re using the light because we do very little post processing. The biggest thing in the pp, would be using claire-ify to boost midtones and a little pro-retouch to smooth. But I think it’s mostly the light, and also shooting wide open because that makes it tack sharp on the eye and the fall off smoothes out the rest of the skin.

  71. MM

    @Nicole I do hear where you’re coming from, but just think of it this way: how much more could you be shooting (read: making) while you’re sitting at home editing. If that amount is any more than what you’re paying to have someone else edit it, then it still makes sense. You could either be doing what you love and getting paid for it or doing what you hate and not making a dime. Think of it that way!

  72. MM

    @JivyB: We just tried Photographer’s Edit and LOVED them! Nathan is a master of customer service. AND we got jelly bellies when they sent our drive back. There are a few other companies out there (like Shoot Dot Edit who are also awesome!) but Photographer’s Edit made the most sense for us with the number of images we deliver to our clients (1500 plus)

  73. rachel darley

    J&M, I haven’t met you in person, but I look forward to the day!! You just simply oooze sweetness. I love reading your posts! =)
    so, I have too many questions. i think my main one is, where do I go from here? haha. I’m registering myself for tax purposes, trying to market by word-of-mouth, building my website, i dont have enough $ to puchase a 2nd lens or a 2nd body (the d700) (did you guys have to take out a loan??) did you have to hire someone in the starting out process of your business to take care of registration/licensing/tax stuff/banking accts??? I am scared and panicky, yet excited and eager in building my business. =) thank you guys for sharing soooo much!!

  74. Jensey

    So, pretty much all of my questions have been answered already, so… If Nate and I find ourselves in your neck of the woods, can we have a Starbucks date? Our treat? :D

  75. Michelle

    Hey J&M! I attended your Dallas workshop in January and came back so inspired (I was the mom of 6 in the front row!). My photography business has definitely sprouted some wings since then and I find myself with a steady stream of business. Whoohoo! My question is on the business end of things and frankly, I’m a little embarrassed to even ask. I see that most photographers offer prints, albums, canvases, etc.. Currently I give the client a disc of images because I seriously don’t even know where to begin in this area. Y’all inspired me SO much in January and I was wondering if you could inspire me again by helping me to know where to start with this process of offering these products. I’m clueless as who to use for albums and how much to charge, etc… Any advice? You guys absolutely rock, btw. One of my favorite blogs to read!

  76. Denise G.

    Thanks for this post you guys–it’s so valuable and encouraging that others have the same questions that I do. Blessings!

  77. Sindy

    Okayyyy, this might seem ridiculously silly but I keep receiving different answers every time I ask this. I’m a student with pretty much no money but I’m desperate to start somewhere. So what camera and one lens would you suggest that is reasonably professional yet sort of affordable?
    You guys are amaaaazing for doing this for so many people!

  78. Kristen

    Hi! My biggest concern at the moment is how to find clients. We’re just starting to build up our business through referrals, friends and family, but where do we go from there to find new clients and get them to find US? Many thanks!

  79. Kristine Neeley

    I love this. I don’t have a question or a struggle… just an overwhelming need to thank you guys for being who you are.

    Love from your favorite southern city…

  80. Sindy

    Okay, I couldn’t say everything I wanted to before as I was running late for school and was busy with last minute assignmenting. You don’t even know me so what I’m saying might come off as a tiny bit weird but I don’t care. I LOVE YOU GUYS. Your genuine want to help hundreds of people and give them never ending advice is just wonderful and insprirational. I love all your quirky stories about life, cooper (who is adoooorable btw) and pretty much everything else. I’ve been following you guys for almost a year now and no matter how busy I am, the first thing I do after school is check out your blog. My friend here at school is actually shaking her head at my obsession (we’re in class right now). Anyway to end my rant, thank you so much for being you and only you. I can’t wait till you guys visit the southern hemisphere! Oh btw, your photographs = PURE MAGICAL. That’s it.

  81. feuza

    well you guys make it worth coming back here, I really only keep up with 3 blogs and yours will always be one of them because I have watched how much you guys have grown and I will be eternally grateful for being one of the first people to comment on my blog, question right now is cash flow, booked only one wedding this year, lots of greta things happening, feel I am planting but not reaping fast enough and I know it might be what Seth Godin calls a Dip but the lack of cash flow when you have kids really blurs my vision and makes me doubt if I should be doing this
    thanks guys

  82. Amy Clifton

    Seriously, what’s not to love about you guys?? Love your talent, love your openness, love your sense of style, love your realness, and love your love. I have had a million thoughts rolling around in my head since STL in ATL…that experience definitely is making me a better photographer and a better person. Thank you. I love the match.com question/answer on here…love is hard and you guys are such a great reminder that it can be found. Thank you! OK, so I guess my question is this: how can I keep my momentum going? In addition to my photography business, I also work a full-time job (which is about to drop to part-time, thanks to STL and finally getting some cajones!) and I also try to live "the life I love," but my photography work really comes in spurts. I feel inconsistent in my turn-around time, my blogging, and my marketing, so I’m sure this impacts my momentum. Any thoughts on balancing all of this so I can GROW my business instead of constantly ebbing and flowing? Thanks! (PS–how many times could I possibly say "love" in one post???)

  83. Karen (Mikols) Bonar

    MORE HOUSE REMODEL!!!! Yes, I’m a geek.

  84. MM

    @Rachel: So we actually used Legal Zoom to incorporate as an LLC (there’s a big debate out there over whether we should be S Corps or LLC’s, but in my humble opinion the loop hole that makes an S Corp worth it is really being cracked down on by the IRS so the hoops you have to jump through (keeping minutes, holding meetings, payroll tax, etc) aren’t worth it anymore). It cost about $300 and it was easy and then once we had our incorporation forms, we just took those to our bank to start our business accts.

  85. MM

    @Jensey: heck YEA!! :)

  86. MM

    @Michelle: Such a great question! My best advice would be to attend a trade show so you can actually hold all of the albums in your hands. Then ask yourself if you would use that album for your own wedding. That’s how we picked our three companies, and we always feel really proud to deliver any of them. That’s an awesome feeling!

  87. MM

    @Sindy: I’m a big fan of the D700 and the 50mm 1.4. I could shoot the whole day with just that set up (keep in mind there are two more of us working different lenses/angles). But I would say that would be a great start!

  88. MM

    @Kristen: I think that’s definitely a great start! From there I would work what we call our "triangle offense" of marketing. Do a shoot. Blog it. Tag a few on facebook. Then do a "blog comment contest" for your clients where they send the link out to friends & fam and if they get a certain number of comments they get a 5×7, 8×10 or gallery wrap. That’s prong one: your clients. Also send images to any vendors that were involved and take them out to coffee to deliver them. That’s prong two. Prong three is just getting involved with a photographer’s group so that you can refer to each other when you’re booked. It sounds really simple, but the trick is doing all of it consistently. If you’ll keep doing that, you’ll see your business grow really quickly

  89. MM

    @Kristine Neeley: Love you!!!

  90. MM

    @Feuza: oooh that’s a hard one. Let me ask you this: is there anything else you could ever see yourself doing?

  91. MM

    @Amy: Oh I hear ya! I think that’s something we all struggle with especially in the super busy season when we’re out shooting more than we’re home. Justin & I figured out that in May & June we were shooting an average of every day and a half. That’s a LOT. Especially because for weddings we do a two part post and each post takes a full day to do. So when you do that math, there literally weren’t enough days in the month for us to stay caught up. But I think the key is just getting done what you can when you can. If there a free 2-3 hours, doing the first cull. Getting the raw adjustments done before that meeting. Etc. To keep cranking em out as fast as you can. As long as you have the systems and keep working them, I think you’ll see the consistency improve and the momentum will really start growing then.

  92. feuza

    yes, I Do love marketing and doing social media stuff, and have had one key person interested, if I could get 3 accounts a month and do that for them, I would love to have that part of maybe Fusion Studios so its like PR. marketing and photography, if that makes sense, then there is a day job which sucks but I will do if I have to, with kids the game changes

  93. Sandra Costello

    Almost three months ago I was on your blog checking out your short stack (ooh, that doesn’t sound right;) and what you were saying about doing what you love, even if it’s really hard sometimes, and it hit me hard. So hard that I resigned from my day job the following day. No worries, you didn’t push me over the edge, I pushed myself. Life is short (and so am I:) and I didn’t want to wonder anymore about it I can do this thing I love. I have two weeks left of my day job and I can’t believe it. I am petrified but busting at the seams with excitement. My challenge is how to prioritize what is most important, and necessary for my business and as an artist. And, how do I stay away from the bad tapes that play in my head. You know the ones I’m talking about. Thank you for this lovely journal of emotions and for putting it out there. xoxo, Sandra

  94. Debbie

    I’ve been lurking on your blog for a while so I’d thought I’m peek out and say HI!! You guys are on the top of a verrry long blog list of inspiring photographers! I’m just starting out and learning the ropes by second shooting and I’m loving it. Now the fiance wants in! I was checking your blog the other night and he yells "holy crap" from the couch followed by a "wow" (as he makes his way over to the computer) and a "those are the best pictures I have ever seen". So yeah, he’s into you guys too :-) No questions, just want to show my appreciation and say thanks for helping out all of us aspiring to follow in your footsteps.

  95. Tammie

    Hey guys! I don’t have a question (between the STL workshop and WPPI I think I’m covered!), but just wanted to drop by and say thank you for all your great advice! You guys (and gals :) are pretty awesome! :)

  96. Linda Kuo

    Hi Mary,

    I am really looking forward to meeting you both. I feel as if I already know you. I have a question if the forum isn’t closed! In those circumstances where you cannot set up your umbrella on a stand, and your 50mm1.4 is wide open but your environment is dim and your shutter speed is 1/30 or lower, what do you do? Do you EVER use a dedicated flash (TABOO) I know I know!! But I have to ask! And if so, if you dare cross over to this dark side, I’m also a Nikon girl (D3) do you shoot TTL? This is a dilemma for me because I shoot pretty much 100% portrait and not landscape. The 50 mm 1.4 is my lens of choice as well but NIkon just came out with a 35mm 1.4 which was my first love… thanks! So hope to get to the next PUG. You guys are far from me. I’m in westchester! Also, hope I can fit in, not a wedding shooter!!!

  97. Sophia Harcourt

    Well my question is about marketing. I’m trying to get my name out there on a budget and by budget I mean like I don’t really have one. I’m trying to make it happen though. So in the meantime I have tried to get myself online with every local free possibility and some inexpensive wedding advertisement sites. Secondly I also try to volunteer my time as a photographer for local fund raising events that have needed a photographer. Oh and finally I have my wordpress blog. Its just me, no husband so I am still holding a job that pays the bills. It has very flexible hours though so it doesn’t keep me from photo work when I do get it. Help!

  98. Karen (Mikols) Bonar

    Also, I’m a product junkie …. I’d love to see some finished albums, etc. ! :)

  99. MM

    @Feuza: oh that could be really cool! So if you haven’t read The Dip (I know you mentioned, but not sure if you’ve read it yet) it’s definitely worth the read. It forces you to ask the hard questions and then you know if you either want to chase something else or push through with this. It’s all about doing what you’re really meant to/best at

  100. MM

    @Sandra: Oh that’s AWESOME!! Congratulations! I would say the most important thing is to create systems, schedule and work habits right from the start so you don’t waste six months sitting around in your pajamas! It’s amazing how easy that can happen for small business owners. But you want to treat it like a real job right from the start and have working hours and blocks of time scheduled for blogging/editing etc. Have a lunch hour, figure out when you want to do meetings, etc. When I was in law school they recommended getting dressed up even for a phone interview so we would treat it like the real thing. Same idea!

  101. MM

    @Debbie; that comment has me smiling from EAR TO EAR!!! Thank you for that!

  102. MM

    @Linda: yep, if for some reason we can’t set up an umbrella but can use an on camera flash we will, and we will "bounce it at a 45 degree angle from us off to the side. That provides directional lighting without it being too harsh.

  103. MM

    @Sophia: honestly I think blogging & FB are where it’s at. Because those both fuel word of mouth. That’s really all we do, plus submitting to wedding blogs and we get all of our business that way. And it’s FREE, FREE, FREE!! :)

  104. Trent

    My question is this: how are you guys so so amazingly awesome? Yeah you guys can shoot amazing stunning images like it’s no ones business, but to top it off you take time to give back. So truly inspiring j&m!

  105. Trent

    My question is this: how are you guys so so amazingly awesome? Yeah you guys can shoot amazing stunning images like it’s no ones business, but to top it off you take time to give back. So truly inspiring j&m!

  106. Catie Ronquillo

    Hi J&M and J2! Like many of the others have said, you guys keep me coming back for more. I can’t wait to see more of your house reno! :) I’m an HGTV geek.
    I’m still new to my market (in the big D, aka Dallas) and I just booked my very first Texas client (AMEN! Whoo!) and I’m working the experience that you guys talked about STL. However, since I don’t have a ton of other clients, what do you suggest doing to keep the creative juices flowing while still building some portfolio pieces? Have you been in that place where you didn’t have clients yet, but still trying to keep the biz moving forward? Thanks guys! You rock. :)

  107. Karen (Mikols) Bonar

    this is for &J2. i didn’t realize you traveled so much with J&M. How do you make time to spend with your hubby when you’re globetrotting???? That must be rough!

  108. Rebecca

    You guys are amazing! Thank you for sharing your talent with us.
    My question is more about the artistry. How do you see the dynamic? Is it something you’ve learned and honed over the years or is it just plan talent?

  109. karen (Mikols) Bonar

    another question … some of your engagements sessions are really stylized …. do you do that/much prep, or is that all your couples?

  110. Karen (Mikols) Bonar

    Also, I’d luuuurve to see more house work! Demo, remodel :)

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