Today is one of my favorite days ever because today we have some of our favorite PEOPLE ever on to guest blog for us! We first came to know Malika & Arjun as our clients when they hired us to do their Seattle engagement shoot/ DC wedding a couple years ago. Since then they have become amazing friends, fellow photographers and now Walk Through a Wedding alums. These guys came to us when they were first getting started, so we thought it would be awesome to hear how someone who was brand new on how they were able to put Walk Through to use. Enjoy!
We’re SO incredibly honored to be guest blogging for Justin and Mary today! When J&M first asked us to do a guest blog post for them, I sort of sat there in utter disbelief for a few minutes. Really? Us?? The newbies? What could we possibly have to say that any of the established photographers who read their blog would be interested in reading? And that’s when I realized that *we* regularly read their blog and we’re not at all established yet. And that maybe, just maybe, we can help some other newer photographers out there realize that Walk Through a Wedding is an invaluable experience that isn’t just for photographers who’ve been in the business for a few years!
Arjun and I attended WTAW last June and it’s helped us tremendously since! Initially, we were afraid that we didn’t have enough experience under our belts to attend. We started out the year before doing mostly lifestyle family portraits and wanted to get into shooting couples and weddings but had yet to shoot a single wedding. When a friend of ours took a leap of faith and hired us to shoot his wedding last summer, we knew it was a major opportunity. We had discussed attending WTAW before but thought we needed to be further along in our business to do so. Fortunately, we reached out to J&M to see if we would be a good fit and we’re both so glad we did! They reassured us that photographers at any stage of their business could benefit from the workshop and well, we definitely did to say the least! I strongly believe we avoided making some major mistakes while shooting that very first wedding (and everything thereafter!) thanks to everything we learned at the workshop!
Walk Through a Wedding provides such an amazing treasure trove of information, it’s impossible to highlight just a few main points. But attending as photographers who were relatively new to the world of wedding photography, there were three significant things they covered that really gave us the confidence to move forward over the last year towards building the brand and business we want.
Focusing on Past Clients: One of the toughest parts of starting a new business is developing a constant flow of clients that are excited about having you as their photographer. It doesn’t happen overnight and it’s easy to get lost in the frustrations of why there aren’t more people lining up, just waiting to hire you. While we were at the workshop, Mary said one sentence that was a huge game-changer for us: ” Ok, well what have you done for your past clients?” It was such a simple question with a major impact. If we didn’t have a steady stream of clients waiting to sign up, that was okay. She explained that instead, focus on the clients you already have and forge stronger relationships with them. Do something for them; Something to make them feel special, something to make them feel like they matter, something to make them feel like they simply HAVE to recommend you to anyone looking for a photographer. Channeling your energies on ensuring your clients feel like you really care will pay off in the long run and before you know it, that steady stream will start to flow all on it’s own.
Saying No: On that note, starting a new business makes it easy to think that you have to take on just about any client that comes your way. At the end of the day, it’s work, it’s something to keep the business moving and the thought of turning down clients probably sounds insane. And you’re right. However, is it moving your business in the direction you want? Are you getting the kind of work and clients you want? Are you excited about each and every client? These are the questions Mary posed during the workshop that really made us stop and think. Why weren’t we consistently getting the kind of work we wanted? We realized it was in large part due to the fact that we were taking almost any client that came our way, regardless of whether it was going to help boost us in the direction we wanted to go. And as a result, it was breeding more work just like it. If we didn’t want to shoot birthday parties and baby showers, we needed to stop agreeing to shoot birthday parties and baby showers. We needed to learn to start saying “no.” As a new photographer, or anyone with a new business, this is quite possibly one of the most difficult things to do. Turning down business when you’re just getting started sounds absolutely backwards. But, it’s also quite possibly one of the biggest things that will help your business and brand grow in the direction you want, giving you the clients you want and breeding more clients like them. In just one year, we’re already reaping the benefits of having learnt this early on.
Building a Timeline that Works: As I said earlier, when we attended WTAW last year, we had yet to shoot a single wedding. We ourselves had gotten married the year before but we knew very little of what to expect being on the opposite side as part of a wedding’s creative team for the very first time. One of the things that really helped us that J&M really honed in on was building a timeline for the wedding day that works. The average couple isn’t always aware of how much time is ideal for a photographer to tell the story of each part of their wedding day and working with them in advance to build a timeline that makes sense is one of the first steps to success. We were able to take this knowledge from the workshop and work with our couple on that very first wedding last summer to ensure that we had built in enough time throughout the day for bridal portraits, couple portraits and family portraits. Conversations were had a couple months before their big day to walk through the timeline and guarantee we were all on the same page. Of course, as Mary always says, there’s real time and then there’s wedding time. Things go wrong and that timeline often gets pushed back and squeezed down. But having the knowledge to educate your clients beforehand and set expectations to at least attempt to create an ideal wedding timeline, gives both you and your clients the confidence that you are a professional who will be able to handle their wedding day with the utmost polish and ease.
Of course, these are just a select, few things that we’ve highlighted from WTAW. It’s amazing just how much information J&M share over the course of two days and we are SO grateful to have had the opportunity to go when we did! Attending it while we were still in the wee early stages of developing our brand and business was a priceless experience that has helped us to avoid making some major mistakes and pushed us in the right direction from the very start. While we’re still newbies and haven’t quite been able to put everything we learned from them into practice, thanks to their generosity and willingness to open both their home and hearts to us, we know we’re equipped with the right tools to build a successful brand and business that we’ll be proud to call ours. And that? Well, that makes WTAW one of the most valuable assets in any photographer’s toolbox.