**Happy Thursday you guys!! This week & next, Justin & I are off on some fun adventures (wine tasting in the Finger Lakes & the Lilac Festival this week & then something EXTRA fun next week for my birthday!) so we thought it would be fun to have some of our past Walk Through a Wedding attendees guest blog for us so we could check in & see where they are now. First up, we have the amazing & super sweet Alicia White! Alicia came to our April Walk Through last year, and at the end of the night on the second day we sat talking in the corner about where her business could be. A year later, I am SO blown away to see that Alicia has accomplished everything we talked about and MORE! She just launched her new brand last week that fits her to a T!! And she’s here today to share how she got there!
Oh, Hello There Everyone! Let me start off by saying that it’s such an honor & treat to be guest blogging today! I have learned so incredibly much from Justin & Mary and am extremely grateful for their openness to share and strong passion to help others succeed & grow in their businesses. I cannot believe it has already been a YEAR since I attended Justin & Mary’s Walk Through a Wedding Workshop. It’s hard to imagine that two days can make much of a difference in the direction of your business, right? But it was exactly a year ago that I started to take my business to the next level and I am grateful to Justin & Mary for empowering me with the tools and courage to get where I am today.
I’m not saying it will happen overnight or that there is a simple solution, but it IS comforting to know there are resources and workshops like Walk Through a Wedding that aim at ALL parts of who we are as photographers; both as artists and business people. Having had the opportunity to attend the workshop, I can whole heartedly say I know myself better as a photographer and have a solid understanding of my brand & how I want it to be illuminated throughout my business. Bringing my brand to life was a key focus of the last year and now I can officially say I’ve launched my new website and brand (YaY!). Now that I have a strong brand and professional website, I feel that much more confident to charge what I’m worth. The truth of the matter is, without the knowledge I gained from Justin & Mary, the result would be nowhere near where it is today.
A few months before attending the workshop, my husband and I had just moved to Charlotte, North Carolina and I was looking to really start building my business now that we were settling down in an area. Overwhelmed doesn’t even begin to describe how it felt. At the time I had a logo, website, & blog that I created myself that helped to display my work. But let’s face it, I was missing a brand to help highlight my personality and the experience of working with me. As for the BUSINESS side of things? (Insert theme song to Jaws). Phew. I came into this profession as an artist and emotional storyteller and have learned we must also tap into our business/marketing minds as well. It’s unfortunate that the business side of our profession is often overlooked because it is what enables us to pursue and grow our artistic selves that we all love so much!!
Even though I could write a short novel on all the information I learned within the two days of the workshop, I wanted to share highlights of THREE topics we explored in depth that really impacted me and gave me the confidence to really grow and expand my business this year:
Brand Power: The information that I learned about branding & business from Mary is absolutely priceless. At the time of the workshop, the in-depth discussion about the power of branding was exactly what I needed for my business and where I focused most of my attention this year into creating. Having a strong brand that represents YOU (and the experience of working with you) not only sets you apart from others in your area, but also creates an emotional connection in which the right clients will want to hire you for their wedding. A brand is not just about how organized or “pretty” a website looks, but more importantly how does the website make the couple feel. Everything from the initial email and onward should be reflected in the brand. Creating that emotional connection by demonstrating who you are throughout the brand is one of the most valuable things you can do for your business. Don’t be afraid to show off what makes you unique! A strong & consistent brand should highlight and attract clients that are a good fit for your personality and experience. Think of your website as a store front. When someone enters your store, what do you want him or her to see, feel, and experience? The branding process WILL take some time and should be done correctly and reflect professionalism. I’m extremely thankful to Mary for sending me toRavyn at Three Fifteen Design who helped create the logo & website that I envisioned and felt in my heart for my brand.
Creating Love Marks: Looking through their website, you might notice particular trends in the fashion and “feel” of the Justin & Mary couples and weddings they photograph. They have an impressive portfolio filled with couples that look almost hand selected by them. As described above, having a strong and consistent brand will help to showcase the type of weddings & couples that you will attract. When we create an emotional attachment (often due to feeling a familiar “like” connection), couples will feel that they HAVE to work with you. We must create those “love mark” relationships and experiences within our business that make an impression on our couples so that whenever the word photographer gets brought up, they will shout your name from the rooftops! Just as when someone says the word coffee, my mind automatically thinks of Starbucks, the right “fit” clients for your brand should do the same about your business! We talked about the importance of going above & beyond in maintaining positive relationships and creating cheerleaders for our businesses. What’s the first thing you do when you get upgraded to first class on a plane or get moved to a bigger hotel room that you reserved when you show up at the door? If your anything like me, you post it to your Facebook wall for the world to see what an amazing experience your having! That’s the same experience we want to create for our clients as photographers. Justin & Mary completely blew me away with how much time and effort they put into pampering their clients with gifts & treats that reflect their brand throughout the year (and I mean, who doesn’t love a fun branded surprise?) Instead of pouring their money into online/print advertising, Justin & Mary have found that putting more money towards catering to their couples has set them apart and creates a luxury brand.
Lighting: I knew coming to the workshop we were going to be discussing lighting, in particular off camera flash. What I wasn’t expecting was how in depth Justin & Mary went into ALL the different sources and dimensions of light and how this creates different results within the look and feel of the images. Not only was this presented throughout a powerpoint & real life demonstration, but we were also given the opportunity to practice shooting as if it were a real wedding day. Before the workshop I had no prior knowledge about anything off camera flash (seriously, none). To be honest, it was something that I didn’t think “was my style” and seemed so “out there” for me to learn when there are so many other things in the business I could be spending my time doing. But you know what? There might be situations in which having the knowledge to be able to do OCF is worth its weight in gold. For example, lets say you arrive at a wedding and the reception is underneath JUST the sky/stars with nothing to bounce your on-camera flash. Now what? (Scary, huh?) How about a reception in which the entire room and ceiling is all red oak – ever tried bouncing light off that? (Hint, it turns the entire room and people bright red). Having the knowledge of using OCF sets you apart as a professional in that you are able to work in various settings without worry for both you and the couple. Sure, I still consider my style as a “natural light” photographer (and will use natural light whenever I can), but having the knowledge of HOW to use my off camera light gives me the added confidence and professionalism that I am taking care of my couples no matter what the situation might present.
There is no doubt about it, I am incredibly grateful to have attended the workshop. I would have never known exactly what was necessary to propel my business the way it has this past year if I hadn’t experienced such an in-depth and open workshop. The hearts of both Justin & Mary are so genuine and they continue to encourage and challenge me to face my fears and become the confident business owner that I know exists within. Which in turn, allows me to enjoy my career as a photographer (and artist!) that much more. Thank you SO much J&M! I feel more ready & confident than ever for the future of my business.
***Our next Walk Through a Wedding Workshop will be taking place June 11-12th at our place in CT!! The theme is “To Have & To BHLDN” and we are already working on some KILLER Anthropologie inspired details that I can’t wait to show you! We would LOVE for you to join us! If you want to grab your spot, just head over HERE and be sure to use the code “blogreader” for $250 off your seat!