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Stephanie + David | The Barn at High Point Farms

We photographed Stephanie’s sister’s wedding about three years ago – so it was really great to be able to be there with their family again for another great day. And wow – what a beautiful wedding day it was over at The Barn at High Point Farms. I can’t believe it took me this long to finally book a wedding there. The grounds are amazing and they’re basically everything and more when you want your wedding in a barn on a farm in the North Georgia mountains.

Stephanie & David – You. Are. Awesome.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at High Point Farms

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Barn at HighPoint Farm

 

All photography by LeahAndMark & Co.

Venue: The Barn at High Point Farms

 

 

Jocelyn + Jon | Sugarboo Farms Wedding

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co.

We Make Amazing Wedding Photos for You

With over 50 weddings booked for this year alone – we have the good fortune to have seven of them taking place at Sugarboo Farms up in North Georgia. First – it’s always nice to get out of the summer heat and head up to the mountains. Second – Sugarboo Farms is a unique venue, hidden in the mountains where you can literally have all of your guests essentially camp out and party all weekend without anyone bothering you.

The truth is – we know that any couple that decides on Sugarboo Farms for their wedding venue is going to be ALL KINDS OF AWESOME.

It’s true.

We first discovered the venue when Sarah & Max had their wedding there last year – and now we know that it’s always going to not only be a party – but a different party every time we have a wedding there.

This is Jocelyn & Jon – and we really wanted to flex our storytelling muscles on this one. So I brought along Ellie & Kezia to help out, told them the super secret instructions for wedding photography magic – and we went to work.

Thank you very much Jocelyn & Jon – You. Are. Awesome.

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Venue: Sugarboo Farms | Blairsville, Ga.

Main Photography by LeahAndMark & Co.

Catering: In Sister’s Kitchen

Neckties: SoSheSews

Second Photographer: Ellie Morag

Additional Photography: Kezia Velista

 

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | Blairsville, Ga. | Sugarboo Farms | Mountain | Rustic

 

 

FIVE Reasons Why Your Wedding Will Be THE BEST EVER

We don’t really give compliments around here unless we mean it. There is a disease among wedding photographers that forces them to literally vomit these words in all of their wedding recap posts:

  • This wedding was amazing
  • This couple was amazing and so in love
  • How amazing is her dress, these flowers, this blah blah blah
  • This was the most beautiful blah blah blah
  • I can’t believe blah blah blah
  • This couple was so in Love blah blah blah

Since I have fulfilled my quota of using the words “vomit”, and “disease”, we can now talk about the 5 Reasons why your wedding will be the best f*cken amazing piece of awesome anyone has ever seen.

We will start at the top because your attention span is short and you’re probably reading this at work.

1. You and your partner decided to get married because YOU WANTED TO. Not because other people said, “Hey, it’s been 9 years, maybe you should get married.” Not because it made sense tax-wise. Not because one of you got knocked up. You sat down for a second and really asked each other – do I want to get married to this person? It’s a separate question from ‘Why do I want to marry this person’. And you decided YES motherf*cker I wanna marry YOU.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Foundry at Puritan Mill

2.  Sure you had a hard time picking and choosing things but in the end you at least figured out what you DO NOT WANT – and you said to the haters – “Shut up! This is OUR Wedding, Not Yours”… I’m kidding – of course I’m kidding… sure there are a lot of choices and you still have some to decide on – but you really worked hard to not include things in your wedding that wouldn’t make you happy. Because doing the opposite of that means that you are putting things in your wedding that will make you sad.

DON’T DO THINGS AT YOUR WEDDING THAT WILL MAKE YOU SAD.

3. You hired an amazingly talented wedding photographer that will make sure you look ridiculous awesome and epic in your photos. Nothing else needs to be said.

4. After months and months of planning – you’ve resigned yourself to that fact that what really matters is that the two of you get married, you’re surrounded by the people closest to you, and although it will be one of the best days of your life – there are so many more ahead for the both of you together.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Foundry at Puritan Mill

5. Cake. CAKE. CAKE. CAKE. CAKE. CAKE. CAKE.  CAKE. CAKE. CAKE. CAKE. CAKE. CAKE.  CAKE. CAKE. CAKE. CAKE. CAKE. CAKE.  CAKE. CAKE. CAKE. CAKE. CAKE. CAKE.  CAKE. CAKE. CAKE. CAKE. CAKE. CAKE.  CAKE. CAKE. CAKE. CAKE. CAKE. CAKE.  CAKE. CAKE. CAKE. CAKE. CAKE. CAKE.  CAKE. CAKE. CAKE. CAKE. CAKE. CAKE.  CAKE. CAKE. CAKE. CAKE. CAKE. CAKE.  CAKE. CAKE. CAKE. CAKE. CAKE. CAKE.  CAKE. CAKE. CAKE. CAKE. CAKE. CAKE.

 

All photos by LeahAndMark & Co.

 

 

Amanda + Nathan | Wedding Preview & Coffee

LeahAndMark & Co. | Atlanta Wedding Photographer

Me from last weekend’s wedding in North Georgia.

I’ve been a wedding photographer for nearly five years now and I’ve had a pretty awesome, fun, and adventurous time. Traveling more than I did during my years before photography and a good bit more traveling for the year ahead – I had a nagging feeling that things wouldn’t get much more interesting. How could they? Everything’s great and crazy and great. Like usual.

And then I met Zeke a few weeks ago.

If you follow me on Instagram then you may have seen a photo I posted a few weeks ago. A batch of the best coffee I’ve ever had. Hands down. No contest. (Considering the volume of coffee I drink, I like to think I have a fair amount of coffee experience/knowledge.) And I bought it from the trunk of a car in the old Cabbagetown neighborhood here in Atlanta. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to find him again and the small batch had run out pretty fast.

And then this past weekend while on the way to photograph a wedding – Zeke just shows up in front of me, sits down, grasping a coffee cup with dirt encrusted hands. For some reason it was unexpected but for some reason I wasn’t surprised – and in the end, I knew I was getting another batch of his coffee.

LeahAndMark & Co. | Zeke's Coffee

First batch of coffee Zeke sold to me from the trunk of his car. Paranoid and hands covered in dirt – he appeared out of nowhere and offered to sell me this jar of beans.

LeahAndMark & Co. | Atlanta Wedding Photographer

Road tripping through North Georgia to get to the wedding that day and the weather was not looking good.

Stopped by Swift & Finch, wherStopped by Swift & Finch, where Zeke randomly showed up with dirty hands.e Zeke randomly showed up with dirty hands.

Stopped by Swift & Finch, where Zeke randomly showed up and sat down in front of me. I noticed his hands were covered in dirt.

LeahAndMark & Co. | Zeke's Coffee

After the wedding, met up with Zeke again – and went digging in a field in the pitch black, probably trespassing, because Zeke said he had some coffee for me.

LeahAndMark & Co. | Zeke's Coffee

A single batch of coffee, freshly roasted and buried three feet in an unmarked field in North Georgia. While I held it in my hands, covered in dirt, I think about asking Zeke what the hell is going on, but decide that the hole is big enough for me to be buried in and no one knows we’re here. That night I was not asking any questions.

I also photographed a wedding that day.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co. 

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Rome, Ga. | The Farm | LeahAndMark & Co.

 

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Filed under #Weddings, #TellingStories, #Coffee, #NorthGeorgia, #Zeke

Amanda + Nathan | Wedding Preview

Main Photography | LeahAndMark & Co.

Venue | The Farm

 

 

 

9 Ruthless Lessons from House of Cards for Your Photography Business

Oh television and movies – they teach us so much about the world and shape our thinking. That’s why educational documentaries like Breaking Bad, Dexter (only up through Season 4), and Hannibal are so important. With the second season of House of Cards premiering last Friday – I thought it was fitting that we look at what your photography business can learn from Francis Underwood’s masterful navigation of political awesome.

Note: I was going to make everything line up with some example or quote from the show but um, sh*t I’ve got a business to run, I don’t have time for that. Just know these are ideas you pick up from watching the show. Got it? Get to work.

House of Cards Lessons

Photo via Netflix

1. Dare to Dream So Big Your Head Explodes

It all starts here. Dreams. Aspiration. Ambition. You have to actually WANT SOMETHING.

More than that – you have to tell someone – YOU – that you want it. And it needs to be big. BIG.

BIG.

Maybe Unrealistic. Why? Because only something so enormous and ridiculously massive can take over you. It needs to be something that you obsess over. That you dream about when you’re asleep AND awake. Only something so big that you’re afraid of it – is worth the effort it takes to overcome that fear and work through the challenges that will be headed your way when you go after something like that.

You want to make a living off your photography business? Have you told that to yourself? How about you tell yourself that you want more than just making a living. You want to make a damn good living. You want to pay all your bills and also have a f*cken amazing time. You’re probably timid in real life – and if you’re timid in your dreams well then you’ll never get out of that death pit.

You know – the one that keeps you chained to your desk in your windowless office, spending your weekly checks automatically deposited like an IV drip of sedation.

2. Throw Jabs and Hard and Soft Punches

Get it in your head that you’re not going to coast to success. Get it through your head that not everyone is your friend. You can’t only surround yourself with friends either. SO understand that you’re going to have to throw some punches. Not only that but a variety of punches. Sometimes you’ll need to throw the first punch. Sometimes you’ll need to counter-punch.

But don’t be afraid to knock someone down when they need it. Hell. if you’ve ever met a good wedding planner then you know she’d definitely shank and cut a b*tch.

Photo via Netflix

Photo via Netflix

3. Accept that it’s a Game

People’s lives aren’t a game. Their lives are serious… things. That’s absolutely true.

You need to accept that business is a game. You can decide how you play, what strategies and tactics to use – but know that it. is. a. game. Sometimes it’s a game of war, sometimes it’s a game of monopoly – but always a game. In games, if you just exist then you lose. You’re either actively trying to win or you’re losing. Whether slow or fast – if you’re not playing the game then you’re losing.

It’s a game – and it’s serious, and it’s not one you want to lose.

4. Play the Game. Play to WIN.

Some people whine that they don’t want to ‘play the game’. That’s their choice. See above.

Decide that you are going to the play the game. Which means you are playing to win. Not just exist. Not ‘for the fun of it’. To f*cken WIN. 

5. Learn the rules and then don’t follow them, USE THEM.

Of all the things I place in high regard, rules are not one of them.

– Francis Underwood

Rules can either be used to guide you or they can be used to contain you. For most photographers – the rules they follow are the ‘best practices’ and advice they learn from all of the good to sh*tty to useless workshops that they attend/watch. I smile when someone posts on Facebook that they learned a lot from so&so’s boring workshop – because I know that they’re about to do the same thing 100’s of other photographers are going to do after the same workshop. Probably nothing – but also probably nothing different or useful. Photographers only ever learn business tactics and rarely actual strategy – and they never figure out how to break‘ someone’s strategy.

When you do that – the other person’s strategy becomes a limitation at best, a noose at worse – especially when change comes along like it ALWAYS DOES.

Some photographers purposefully weed out clients, selecting only picturesque perfect weddings that would be published in Perfect Wedding magazine. Nonchalantly explaining such a thing to clients, and how they can identify those snobby photographers is how you educate them against your competition, using your competition’s own strategy.

This can work even if the client you’re talking to IS having one of those perfect weddings. Unless your clients are snobs. But this is where rule # 7 below is important.

6. Use meaningful threats and use them wisely

Threats are merely a different form of incentive. Stop wasting everyone’s time with incentives that suck. Stop posting on Facebook that people will save a whole whopping 10%, or 15%, or 20% off of your regular $150 rate. Your rates suck and anyone looking for a discount at that price actually just wants a cheap craigslist photographer anyway. 

You need real incentives. Hire me right the F now because I’m going away. Because at the end of this quote period that rate on your contract will honestly and truly GO UP. Because right now, this close to your wedding – I’m all you’ve got.

Incentives (threats) can and should be used on ALL players of the game. Everyone working with, near, or around your business. Money is an incentive. Easy is an incentive. Avoidance of pain is an incentive. Or threat. Whatever. They’re the same. Know when to use them, who to use them on – and remember to use them.

You should act like you have a bag of threats (incentives) about to blow up and you’re trying to get rid of them before your head blows off (you’re so poor you have to sell your camera.)

7. Mastery of People

Humility is their form of pride. It is their strength. It is their weakness and if you can humble yourself before them they will do anything you ask.

– Francis Underwood

Not Master People. Mastery of People. Learn about people. Everyone you can. Because you have to deal with everyone - and that’s a good thing.

Unless your clients are robots then you deal with a lot of people in your photography business. Clients. Other Photographers. Vendors. They’re all people playing the game once they come into your world (see above about the game.)

You need to KNOW ABOUT ALL OF THEM. You need to understand their motivations, their fears, their triggers. How to direct them. How to guide them. How to lead them. Stop thinking that you can just keep perfecting your widget (or photos) and people will magically come around and just hire you.

There are too many other photographers you’re competing with – including ME.

Learn about people. Always be learning about people. Learn what threats (incentives) work on what people. Go out and FIND the incentives you need.

8. Be What Your Clients Need and Want

Are you unappealing? Do you not look right? Do you come off as weak, afraid, unsure?

Maybe you’re completely wrong about yourself – more importantly – maybe you’re completely wrong about how other people see you. You think you’re great. Your potential clients think you’re unprofessional, young, inexperienced. You need to know these things. You need to find them out. Somehow. How? Ask someone dammit.

Once you’ve learned how others truly perceive you – fix that. I’m not saying they’re all weaknesses or that you should always change perceived negatives. But you need to either make them work for you, or overcome them.

Pro Tip: It’s in the details and the accessories.

Glasses make everyone smarter. Sneakers are for teens. And being Asian means taking photos is in your blood. Seriously though – outward organization is key. Make sure they see you taking lots of notes – even if you throw them away afterwards (although you’ll discover that you actually end up using them. huh.) Have a nice camera bag that a normal person would want. Even a nice pen. Details = Serious about your business = You Are Better Than that damn Art Student & Soccer Mom.

(If you happen to be that suburban mom photographer reading this well, I’m not talking about you, I’m talking about the other soccer moms that aren’t cool. If you’re that art student well, I’m definitely talking about you. Get out of my way. I’m here to make living.)

9. Find Your Calm Center – then keep fighting.

When you have rebellions on all fronts (clients angry, intern mutiny, etc.) – don’t let them break you. Go to the calm center of you and say to yourself I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. 

And then get to work. And keep working.

“Rebellion on all fronts. Claire, Zoe, and Russo. I must not loose my resolve. I will march forward even if I have to do so alone.” – Francis Underwood

 

 

Questions? Need more information? Ask in the comments section below. Thanks.

 

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9 Business Lessons You Should Learn from House of Cards.

What Your Business Can Learn from NBC’s Coverage of the Winter Olympics

What Your Business Can Learn from The Olympics

I was watching the Opening Ceremonies to the Winter Olympics last Friday night and even before the ceremonies actually started – I knew quite a bit about the competitors in many of the events. I realized that until about 2 weeks ago, or even a few days ago – I didn’t know anything about ANY of the competitors. How did I learn so much information so quickly? I certainly didn’t sit down and do any studying. I definitely didn’t seek out the information.

NBC got me interested enough to watch the stories they told about each competitor. That’s how.

1. It’s about the stories. 

Sure NBC can report what happened. They can tell you who won, they can tell you who lost – but they also tell you how it all went down. They give you background information. They’ll tell you about the competitors and show you what that person has gone through to be here. And what it means for that person not only to possibly win – but what it means that they’re even there competing. The road isn’t easy for anyone getting to the Olympics. You don’t get to be one of the top 10 athletes in your sport just by carrying a big bag of easy. It takes work. A lot of work – too much work for most people AND THEN it also takes some luck. And a bigger bag of stubbornness. All of that.

But that’s what we want. Sure on some level we want to know who won. But even more so we want to know about the people who won. 

Who are they? What have they gone through? Are they special? Are they good people or are they f*cken assholes?

NBC (and really any network covering the Olympics) aren’t just telling you who won. They’re telling you as many stories as possible about the people competing because they know that’s how they’ll hook you.That’s how they’ll get you to follow and watch a competitor from the preliminary rounds all the way to the finals – and hopefully see all of the advertising they show along the way.

What Your Business Can Learn from The Olympics

How much story telling do you do in your business? Do you ‘just take photos’? Or do you tell your clients a story about how their experience with you will be? Not just giving them a chart with the Pros & Cons of hiring you. Telling them a story that makes them feel good about hiring you. Telling stories is the quickest way to get past intellectually selling to someone and finally emotionally selling to someone. Below is directly from our own ‘Wedding‘ page. We don’t talk about why you should hire us. We don’t tell people that we’re the best, or cheapest, or anything. We tell them a story – about them. And we ALL like stories about ourselves.

In a few years after your wedding has long passed, you and your spouse will sit down on a Sunday afternoon and pull out the box of photos from that day and remember everything. You’ll remember how you were calm and didn’t feel nervous until you finished getting dressed and saw yourself in the mirror. Or how your mother started to tear up, trying her best not to cry and ruin her makeup – because it finally hit her that you’re really getting married. You’ll see the photos of your closest friends all dressed up – because they clean up well – and that feeling of being surrounded by the people most important in your life – all there for your wedding day.

What does your investment/prices/weddings page say? Do you just present options and packages? Did you only talk about yourself? Are you selling yourself? Maybe try telling your clients a story they actually want to hear.

What about during your client meetings? When you sit down at the table with a wedding couple – after gathering all of the information you need – do you only tell them about how awesome you are? Do you only tell them how good your gear is, or how cheap you are, or what you will do for them? OR do you help them imagine and visualize how great their wedding will be…

Questions? Need more information? Ask in the comments section below. Thanks.

 

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The Sales Secret of Successful Photographer Websites & Your Big Mistake

Photographer Website Sales & Marketing Ideas

I know what you did. I see it all the time. The same, big, major mistake. Over and over, repeated by photographers everywhere – even photographers like you that have been at this for a while. You got yourself a great website from one of those companies that sells websites built specifically for photographers. It must be a good website right? Good for what? Good at what?

It sounds like common sense that the best website attracts the most and best clients. If your website has great photos and you sound friendly/likable/professional then clients will hire you. Your website is your ‘storefront’ and it’s what sells your ‘photography’. People see your website, decide they like your photos, and they’re sold. That’s the job of your website right?

Wrong. Completely, completely, COMPLETELY wrong. Incorrect.

Your photography website’s job isn’t to sell. Your goal isn’t for people to visit your website and be sold to. That’s like trying to sell a house over the internet and expecting people to buy it immediately. Chances are that it’s just NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. So if your website isn’t supposed to make the sale, then what is your website supposed to be doing? It’s simple. Very simple. Too simple.

Your website’s one and only job is to get people to contact you.

That’s it. That’s all.

All of your photos, all of your blogging, all of your writing – everything you do on your photography website should  work towards getting people to contact you – that’s it. Get them to fill out that contact form, or send you an email, or even call you.  

You’re not trying to get them to buy your product with your website. You just want them to start talking with you. Think about that for a moment. Think about what you’re actually asking people to do while they’re at your website.

Email me vs Buy from me

Contact me vs Let me sell this to you

Email me vs Hire me

This isn’t for all types of products. It’s for your photography services. It’s for you as a photographer. The truth is that your sales process is probably f*cked up. You’re trying to make the sale on the first meeting – the first time a potential client sees your website. You don’t even know these people – and more importantly they don’t know you. And if you come at them with BUYBUYBUY they will never contact you. Worse – you will never get the chance to start communicating with them. You’re trying to sell to them before they’ve given you any permission.

But don’t be timid about it either. Now that you know what your website is supposed do – don’t hold back. Do everything you can to convince them to contact you. Not because they want to buy your services, but because they have more questions. They need more information – in essence – because they need YOU. If you’re not making them curious enough to ask you for more information then you’re website isn’t doing it’s job. Plain and simple.

But don’t worry – there are several easy things you can do that’ll get clients contacting you after their first visit to your website… and of course we’ll cover that on another day.

 

Questions about this? Need help with anything else? Google it.

No just kidding – Post your question in the comments section and I’ll answer. Promise.

Oh – and we’d love it if you shared this post with your friends. Thank you.

 

76 Best Ways to Super Charge Your Photography Business Immediately

It’s a new year and here are 76 Ways to Super Charge your photography business. BOOM. We’ve booked more weddings than ever for 2014 already, and we’re getting ready to fire up our Internship Program again in the Spring. So yeah – we’re a little excited to start working again and we’re sure you are too. Our team spent some time coming up with 76 of our best tips for super charging your photography business this year. Immediately. NOW.

If you know anyone who could use any of these tips – please feel free to share it with them! (!)

Side note: If you’re frustrated with your photography business – maybe we can help!

  1. Meet new people IRL (In Real Life)

    A Facebook like or Twitter follow will ALWAYS be trumped by a real life interaction. Meeting people in real life has a greater impact as we all connect more often online and only through an electronic screen. Make it a point to meet more new people in real life this year. Photography marketing advice focuses so much on marketing online and almost no one focuses on marketing in real life. You also have to meet 10x more people than you think you do – but don’t worry, it all adds up.

  2. Realize that you can be very different and still succeed

    There are 8 or 9 different ways to succeed in this business and there are 9 workshops presented by 1,000 photographers willing to show you how. Please realize that you don’t have to do what they say. You can do the exact opposite if you want to – as long as you figure out how to make that work for you. That’s the key. Make it work for you. You can and should learn how everyone else is doing it – how they’re succeeding – but then you must take it further and figure out how to apply that to you, and your situation. You may not be rockstar outgoing, or sorority-like, or Christian, or LGBT, or that sickening cutesy photographer-couple, or lineup with any other worn out photography-marketing angles. Don’t worry. You can be very different and still succeed. Don’t give up. Keep working. Keep being yourself. MORE.

  3. Get rid of gear you haven’t used in a year

    That lens you thought would be magical but just never used, that tripod with the broken latch you’re keeping just in case, those 4gb sd cards you outgrew 3 years ago – purge it all. If you haven’t used them in over a year then you probably won’t use them this year and they’re just taking up space and cluttering your desk. Watch an episode of hoarders, look around your studio and purge.

  4. Decide what your brand really wants to say

    Does your brand say you are everything to everyone ? Or does it say you make these types of photos for a specific type of client that wants YOUR PHOTOS? Decide what your brand says or else it probably doesn’t say anything – or worse – it just confuses people. Take a stand on something and make everything you do, say, and write work in that direction. Pick a message and stay on-message. If you want to say that you’re the best photographers in the area, then f*cken say that you’re the best photographers in this area. You don’t have to be rude, or offensive (like me) but you do have to make it known that you’re saying that. Not we think, or we’d like to be. We ARE. (Read this book – Different by Youngme Moon)

  5. Experiment with your website

    For most of us, our website is our storefront that must be absolutely perfect ALL OF THE TIME. Any changes must be thoughtfully considered, and we must also consult 10 different people and multiple photographer forums on what they think before we actually change the color of a link on a page buried 5 levels deep. Why? Because you might make a mistake? Have you seen how often Facebook makes changes? All the time. They’re always testing different changes trying to see what works and what doesn’t. So does Amazon, so do most of the biggest websites in the world. Don’t be afraid – experiment and try something new with your website. Test it out. If it doesn’t work you can always change it back.

  6. Stop being shy about your photography

    You might be an amazing photographer. Heck you might be better than many out there but no one will ever know if you don’t share your work – and share it with more than your own circle of friends and family. You want new people to see your photos because they’re the ones that will be new clients. So stop being shy, stop being timid – and put your work out there where the most people will see it.

  7. Increase your rates – it’s 2014!

    Charge what you should be charging and stop discounting yourself. Finally.

  8. Write about what you like to write about

    Nine-six percent (96%) of all photographers blog only their finished work. Other than only showing finished photos, their writing is akin to a game of MadLibs. “This wedding couple is the _________ (insert adjective) I’ve ever worked with.” or “This baby is the _________ (insert adjective) ever.” Repeat. Repeat. Vomit. Repeat. Your blog doesn’t have to only show your finished photos. You can write about whatever it is the f*ck you want. Just make it interesting. You want to build your audience and your photography on its own (no matter how great) won’t cut it in the year 2014. SAY SOMETHING INTERESTING.

  9. Cut ties with petty photographers

    Photographers are insecure artists. It’s true pretty much across the board. Some of us can’t handle your success – at all. So we’ll tear you down every chance we get, while still pretending to be your friend. Let those people go. You don’t need them or their negative energy ruining your awesomeness.

  10. Create a promotional partnership

    Find complimentary business partners. Do you know a childrens fashion designer that you could work with on a project? (If you don’t – maybe GO FIND and MEET ONE.) What about the owner of a clothing boutique? Think you can come up with a project that would be beneficial for the both of you? And that’s just clothes. There are gazillion other businesses that you can work with – you just have to be creative – and willing to go out there and meet them. Of course, it’s up to you to come up with the brilliant project idea that will convince them to work with you. (Read these books – Outrageous Marketing; Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got.)

  11. Change up what you offer

    Have you been wanting to add albums to your packages? Or canvas prints? Maybe take out a few items from your standard packages. DO IT.

  12. Make friends with a new vendor

    We’re all in this together so to speak – so any vendor that’s been in the business for a while understands that we can always use new friends to help us out. Be that friend.

  13. Read a business biography

    You’re bonkers for starting and running your own business. Read about other people who were just as bonkers and succeeded! You know your job isn’t always full of fame and glory and it’s comforting to learn that even the most successful people had to get down to serious work to get where they are. You’ll probably gain a few insights on your own challenges as well. More importantly though, you will also see how business persons are always having to be different in order to succeed and it’ll help you embrace how you are different. (Jerry Weintraub. Steve Jobs. Richard Branson. Business Biographies.)

  14. Try a new technique

    You already know how to do many things. Go learn how to do more. Try the Brenizer Method, or Off-Camera flash, or Painting with light. You probably intellectually ‘know’ these things, now is the time to go actually try and DO them.

  15. Redirect 10% of your work time

    You’re a busy person, I get that. But how much time do you waste ‘working’. Sitting there and hanging out on Facebook, or Twitter, or Pinterest. What wasted time/effort can you cut out permanently so you can redirect that time to something else? Meditate. Deep dive into a subject so you can come up with brand new ideas. Revolutionary (to you) ideas. Or spend that time with your loved ones. Your dog. Whoever. Whatever. If you’re always working then you’re probably wasting time that you don’t need to be wasting.
    LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Wedding Photographers

  16. ReWrite all of your website ad-copy/text

    You wrote your about me, your ‘investment’ page, and everything else on your website with what you thought was good information. Basically you looked at another photographers website and rewrote what they wrote, for you. Which means that you probably rewrote ad-copy from someone that didn’t know what the heck they were doing. Try Psychology for Photographers. BOOM. Your mind will be blown. You’ve been doing it ALL WRONG.

  17. Rent some gear and PLAY

    Can’t afford to drop $3,000 on that new piece of gear? Go rent it! And don’t just rent it for a specific job. Rent it so you can PLAY with it and try out new ideas, new shots, new everything. New Toys! Time to PLAY. (We use Aperturent.com – use the code LeahAndMark10 and get 10% off your order (it’s the code that all of our Interns use when renting gear.)

  18. Update your portfolio

    You’ve been busy all year photographing clients, and marketing. Too busy to take a moment and update your portfolio? Do it now. Look through your best photos from the past year and compare them to your current portfolio. Has your style changed? Do you feel like showing a slightly different presentation? Do some photos in your portfolio not meet your current standards? Maybe they just don’t tell the same story you want to tell with your work. Now is the time to make those changes.

  19. Update your business card

    I know you still have 4,754 cards from the last batch you ordered. But maybe they don’t make the impression you wanted, or even the impression you NOW want to make. Don’t keep using them just because they still exist and you spent money on them. If they’re not effective then there’s no point to continue using them. Update your business card and instead of ordering 5,000 up front, order a smaller batch run of a couple 100. Then you will be forced to update them more often and even test out different designs.

  20. Send a letter/email to all of your booked clients

    It’s the start of the new year! If you photograph weddings like we do then you might not need to see your clients until their wedding in August. Why not drop them a line to say hello or wish them a happy new year to keep in contact. There’s a lot of time between now and their wedding and except for their planner, they probably won’t hear from any other vendors until closer to their wedding. Be a nice surprise and consider even sending them a snail mail letter.

  21. Drink more coffee

    Don’t be a quitter. Now is not the time to quit drinking coffee. DRINK MORE COFFEE. It’s like magic. It’s like cocaine. (Okay not really.) Technically speaking, coffee doesn’t give you anymore energy, it just blocks those receptors/sensors in your brain that tells you you’re tired. And if you’re not getting enough sleep (see above) THEN YOU’RE TIRED. Oh – and learn to drink the stuff black. It’ll save you some calories. Oh AND don’t drink those frozen ice-blended coffees, those will KILL YOU.

  22. Learn to CLOSE

    We literally booked half of 2014 in the last 3 months. How? Because I finally focused on my in-person meetings and CLOSING THE DEAL. Boom. Not only meekly showing my work, going over the wedding day and somehow suggesting they hire me. Or ‘leaving it up to them’ or asking them to ‘let me know’. Those are WEAK. Without freaking them out – I started knocking their F*cking socks off during the meeting, leading them through my sales process and basically WINNING THE DAY. So much so that on the off chance that they did meet with another photographer – that person had a hell of a time connecting better than me, being more of an expert than me, and basically if they got the contract then they really deserved it on a that-client-is-truly-meant-to-be-with-them level. Our booking ratio was something like 4/5 once we started focusing on the in-person meeting, our sales process, and CLOSING.

  23. Send a letter /email to all of your past clients

    You want to be the photographer people think of whenever they have a need for photography. You also want to be the photographer they think of whenever their friends need photography. Sometimes we need to remind people that we exist. It’s not that they mean to forget us! But it’s our job to be remembered. So do your job and drop them a simple note. Email works but regular mail makes an impression.

  24. Get new headshots

    We’re photographers for a reason- we like to be BEHIND the camera, not in front of it. So we’ll use the same headshot forever, since it’s the only one we like. Even if it’s four years old. Time to update your profile photo and show people how beautiful you are NOW.

  25. Write down what you want your business to be like in 2014

    If you haven’t taken a few moments to plan ahead for 2014, now is the time. You know all the reasons why you should do this and now you just need to DO IT. Make it fun though and see how far you can take it. Being realistic is a drag. Don’t only write down what you think your business can be like this year, write down what you REALLY WANT it to be like. Dream. Big. BIGGER.

  26. Put Vacation days on the calendar RIGHT NOW

    If you’re American then I can correctly assume that you don’t take enough time off. If you’re an entrepreneur then I KNOW you don’t take enough time off. The only way to make sure you take breaks away from work this year is to schedule them just like everything else. You schedule meetings and jobs – and you never miss those – so schedule vacation time. NOW. Don’t wait for a break in your schedule, MAKE the break in your schedule. Your family will appreciate it.

  27. Plan a middle of the year or quarterly planning session

    It’s too easy to get caught up in running or working in the business to actually do any work ON the business. Especially deep dive planning and mapping. But without making the time to step back and plan you’re always in a reactive mode, being directed by the latest email or problem that comes up. It doesn’t need to be a whole weekend, heck you can even make it a single focused day – just make it a real scheduled event that can’t be rescheduled, moved, put off. Include your team or most important partners. Oh – and do it somewhere you would consider ‘offsite’ for a change of space.

  28. Sign up for a workshop

    You’ve been doing this long enough to know a few things that you don’t know. Go find a workshop and learn a few new things. You’re running a photography business and no one’s making you get your continuing education credits. The industry is moving forward and you need to keep up.

  29. Identify what publications you want to be in and find out HOW to get published

    If your work hasn’t been published then this is the year that you decide to GET PUBLISHED. If your work has already been published then it’s time to find new publications. Don’t think there are any? Then you’re not looking hard enough. Or wide enough. Think in terms of over-lapping audiences. You think people interested in photography only look at photography blogs? Or people getting married only look at wedding blogs? Parenting blogs can always use posts with tips for parents on how to take better photos of their children. Heck, finance blogs can probably use a post about budgeting for wedding photography. You just have to think wider about where you want to be published. Sure you can use Two Bright Lights but these days it’s like the old ‘Writer’s Market‘ book for writer submissions. Half the ‘publications’ don’t ever respond and the other half aren’t worth submitting to. Go find publishers you can build a relationship with.

  30. STOP looking at your regular list of photographers for a month

    You follow your favorite photographer on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and you get updates to their blog the minute they’re posted. Turn it all off. Take a break from being a super-fan for at least a month. Don’t worry, they’ll go on without you and you’ll get a chance to create anew without their subconscious influence on you (or your own envy to stop you.)

  31. Create an editorial calendar for your blogging

    If you want to blog on a schedule – then create a schedule. Not just “I’m going to blog every Friday”. Turn pro and approach it like a publisher. Install an editorial calendar plugin and map out what blog entries you’ll post and on what dates. If your blog is a major piece of your marketing then you need to treat it like your job. Because it is.Atlanta-Wedding-Photographer-LeahAndMark-0024

  32. Stay off Pinterest for a while

    You already know what’s out there. Give it time to sink in. And cut off the flow of new ideas from outside sources all together so that you can process everything on your own. You don’t need a constant flow of inspiration. There’s TOO MUCH input these days and you can’t possibly process it all. Take a break. Give your subconscious a chance to make magic on its own that’ll float up to your conscious frontal lobe.

  33. Photography field trip

    You’ve been so busy WORKING that you haven’t had time to play. Don’t just turn an already planned trip into an excuse to practice your photography, take a trip specifically to practice your photography. Pick a location to take new photos. Interested in street photography? Go find the busiest corner in your city and spend a day taking photos. Interested in landscapes? Pick someplace half a day’s drive away and go. Make it an overnight trip if you want.

  34. Watch a movie

    Don’t just watch a movie. Watch it with photographer eyes. Watch it and pay attention to the composition, to the coloring, to every aspect of the image. Pick a movie to watch and study. A few suggestions? Blade Runner, Citizen Kane, Pina, Old Boy, Sukiyaki Western Django, Exiled.

  35. Get some sleep

    I’m not arguing that you can get a lot a done when you don’t sleep. I’m just saying that if you don’t really need to work, or if you’re not as productive as you should be at 1am, then just go to bed. The one hour of extra sleep will do you much more good than getting barely any work down at 1am because you’re dead tired. You maximize your efficiency when you’re not dead tired, not when you’re struggling to work while you’re dead tired. Get more sleep this year. Go to bed.

  36. Introduce yourself as a photographer

    When you meet a new person do you introduce yourself as a photographer or whatever it is you do for your day job? Introduce yourself as a photographer. Don’t say I’m a photographer but I still work at the bank, or as a programmer, or whatever. You’re a photographer, period. Of course if they ask further, don’t lie – but put your photographer job FIRST and up front.

  37. Clean Your Gear

    It’s hard to keep gear clean. What with all that lying down in the grass, and chasing children/dogs/brides that we do. And unless you ONLY change lenses in a clean room at the CDC, you probably have some spots on your camera sensor. Go get your camera bodies and lenses professionally cleaned. It’s like brushing your teeth. Sort of.

  38. Do your taxes early

    Power through it (or hand it all off to your accountant) and get your taxes done. And then you can leave 2013 fully behind you.

  39. Buy a new lens

    You’ve been eyeing that new lens for a new long time. Maybe a short time. Pull the trigger and get it. Promise yourself that it’s worth it. Because it is. It’ll be your new secret weapon to making new amazing photos. Do it. Feel good about it.

  40. Get a brand new bag

    I’m not talking about another one of those black gear bags that look like PHOTOGRAPHY bags. Get something modern, adult, fancy, and coooool. You don’t need to carry your entire studio to every job, and you don’t want to look like you’re going camping while you’re photographing a black tie gala. (Kelly Moore Bag; ONA Bags; Copper River Bags.)

  41. Find new meeting spaces

    Are you still meeting at the same four Starbucks locations around the city? If you don’t have your own studio then find some new places to meet clients. Not that Starbucks is bad, but for your own sanity find some new spaces for a change of scenery. You can always fall back on your four Starbucks anyways.

  42. Redefine your perfect client

    Did you get some clients that just weren’t exactly what you were looking for? Did you discover that you take on everybody and ANYBODY? It’s time to narrow down your clientele and start being a little more selective. You want the clients that want you for YOU and at your rates. Not just everyone and anyone. So you need to decide and write down who exactly IS your perfect client. At least so that you can identify the people that aren’t the type of client that you want (thus avoiding many problems down the line.)

  43. Clean your desk

    A messy desk can mean you’re creative, sure. Cluttered is fine, dirty is just gross. Clean up your desk.

  44. Update your contracts

    Maybe you ran into some instances where a tighter contract would have helped you in the past year. A longer delivery deadline, or a change-fee for rescheduling sessions. Maybe you just have no idea what is in your contracts anymore. Review your contracts, see what you have in there, and update as needed.

  45. Find new client sources

    Did all of your clients come from only a few sources last year? Maybe half of them were referred to you through one wedding planner. That’s a lot of your business dependent upon a single person other than you. That wedding planner basically turned into your biggest client by-proxy. What if that relationship turns sour, or that wedding planner’s business turns sour? There goes half of your income. Identify where all of your business came from this past year and find new additional sources. New wedding blogs, new publications, new referral sources.

  46. Order test prints from new printers

    Printers are vendors too and you should regularly be trying out different vendors. Don’t be so quick to jump ship from your current printer, but learn what new vendors have to offer and try them out. Maybe they’ll supplement your current printer or you’ll have a new backup printer on deck.

  47. Find NEW PHOTOGRAPHERS to follow

    You usual list of photographers are still making their usual photos. Go find new photographers. Find strange ones. Even photographers that make photos you would never want to make. Seek out new influences and new influencers.

  48. Consider outsourcing editing

    You may think that your editing is special. That it’s uniquely you and no one could ever possibly edit anywhere nearly as good. You’re wrong. There’s a whole industry that does just that. You think wedding photographers that shoot 30+ weddings a year edit all of their own photos and still have time for marketing, operations, sleep, and having any kind of a life? Chances are that they’re outsourcing their editing. Don’t worry – we were all scared at first, but after not spending 10+ hours editing every wedding, we decided that we LOVE outsourcing our editing.

  49. Help another photographer

    You’ve learned a lot over the past year(s). You probably received some help from other photographers, and they probably offered it without asking for anything in return. Do the same for someone else. You’ll always gain something when you help someone else. It’s a universal truth. Just like drinking coffee makes you super human.

  50. Support a cause

    It’s easy to think that all of your energy and focus needs to be on your business. You’re wrong. You can always carve out a little time and effort to give to a needy cause. You don’t need to devote money, or commit for a year – but sign up to help out/volunteer/participate. There are an endless number of organizations you can work with so pick one you’re interested in.0018_LeahAndMark_Ojai_Wedding_1

  51. Identify your core business

    You don’t need to photography EVERYTHING. Do you like to photograph weddings but not newborns? STOP photographing newborns. Or family portraits. Or Weddings. If you’ve been doing this long enough to know what you don’t like, then stop doing what you don’t like. Announce it, make it official – free yourself.

  52. Cut out the things you don’t like to do

    Outsource everything you can (editing, print fulfillment, etc.) or cut it out altogether. Do you not like to make albums? Stop selling albums. Do you not like meeting clients at all hours whenever it’s convenient for only them? Set specific hours when you can meet clients – and schedule meetings during only those hours. Maybe you don’t like mailing DVDs of digital files – switch to a download-only delivery business.

  53. Join a gym

    You know exercise is good for you. Think you’re too busy? If the President can find time to workout regularly then YOU can find time to workout regularly. Ten hour wedding days should not be your only ‘workout’.

  54. Turn off the internets

    You don’t need to watch Facebook. Or Twitter. It’ll be there whenever you want it to be there. And it’s taking away all of your focus. Turn off the internet for a little while and get to work. Or read a book. Or watch a movie. Or do ANYTHING without the interruption of the internet.

  55. Only watch TV on your schedule

    If you can’t stop watching TV altogether then don’t watch tv whenever tv wants you to watch it. Don’t spend 30 minutes looking for something to watch. Make your own tv watching schedule – and do anything you can to skip commercials (or miss them altogether.)

  56. Find a team of photographers

    Like many art forms, photography can be a lonely job. You don’t need to be so alone. You can find other photographers to work with. You can find other photographers that think like you do. You can find other photographers that will support you and your crazy ideas. Go find them.

  57. Be curious

    Remember that you don’t know everything. And you definitely don’t know everything about everything. Be curious. Be interested in something and let yourself follow it down the rabbit hole. And I’m not just talking about being lost watching an endless series of youtube videos. Remember when you were interested in dinosaurs? Or WWII battles, or sharks, or volcanoes? I’m talking about that type of curiosity. Let yourself go. And learn the hell out of a subject. Like seahorses.

  58. Make some bad photos. Really bad

    The problem with always trying to make good photos is that you already know how to do that. You know what mistakes not to make, and in fact you’re doing everything you can to not make ANY mistakes. Which also means you’re not doing things you’re not sure about. In short, you’re playing way too far on the safe side of the tracks. Remember that scene in Fight Club where they show how hard it is to get people to FIGHT YOU? Because we’ve been told all our lives to not get into fights. Same thing with bad photos. I’m just trying to break you out of some the same old photography routines you’ve been using for the past 3 years. Of course – some of you don’t need any help making bad photos 😉

  59. Scout a strange and new location

    The busier you get the more you go into auto pilot mode. Meetings held at the same four Starbucks locations, same poses for every wedding, every family, every baby – and you’re always photographing in the same 2 parks. Find some new locations! They don’t even have to be super-secret brand new locations, they just have to be new locations TO YOU.

  60. Find a networking meet up group

    The thing about networking events is that too many people still attend them with the mindset of ‘power-networking-meet-as-many-people-as-possible’. They hand their cards out like candy and often times don’t even ask for yours. Don’t worry – there are many people just like you that aren’t interested in these power-networking events either. Take some time to dig a little deeper and you’ll find some. One thing to remember – networking with other photographers will only take you so far. You need to meet other business owners who are more like going to need photography services at some point.

  61. Sponsor an event

    You’d be surprised how little money or effort it takes to be listed as a sponsor for charitable events. Pick a cause you like – and get your name on the signage/t-shirts/marketing materials. Sure the promotional worth takes a dive once the event is over but you get the benefit of being a big time sponsor – something many small business photographers don’t ever think about doing. AND you don’t only have to donate/provide photography of the event. Get creative. Maybe trade for company headshots on another day so you can be listed as an overall sponsor. Don’t limit yourself.

  62. Enter a competition

    There’s something exciting about the possibility of winning – ANYTHING. I know you’re constantly telling yourself that your photography is for YOU, but we all know that’s bull honky donky. Your photography is for your clients, or at the very least for the viewer (whoever that maybe). Enter a contest and see how you do. For more excitement, pick one that actually exhibits your work in a gallery setting. If it’s local you can bring your family and friends and feel like you did back in the day during your 5th grade art show. Let your friends and family gush over your work and bad mouth everyone else’s sloppy, 45 degree tilted ‘artsy’ photos.

  63. Teach someone

    You’ve learned a lot over the past few years. Teaching someone will help you breakdown exactly why you do certain things that you don’t think about anymore. AND you just might realize that what you’re doing is completely wrong or at the very least, can be done better. Chances are that you learn 99% from someone else and not just ‘on your own’. A book, an online video, a few tips from another friend. Share what others have shared with you. You’ll get much more in return.

  64. Write down a list of things you DON’T know

    One of the biggest problems with some of my past Interns was that they never knew what they DIDN’T know. So they didn’t know what gaps in their knowledge they had to fill. Find the gaps in your knowledge, and training – and write them down. Find out what the best out there knows that you don’t.

  65. Create a Google+ page, or a Pinterest, or a Twitter account

    Basically – finally get on that social media platform that you haven’t tried yet. And see if you like it. See if it sticks. If it doesn’t – you’ve at least reserved your name address for later (and before someone else takes it!)

  66. Review your successes

    Hey! You’re not so bad. You’re probably pretty great. And if you’re still doing this photography business thing then you’ve definitely experienced some WINS. Great job! How about you not forget that okay? Remember those families that loved their photos. Or that wedding client that realized how much you made their wedding day a fun and stress free event. So take a moment and write them down. Read them aloud. Take a picture, it’ll last longer 😉

  67. Join PPA or another professional organization

    You’re a PRO now. Join a PRO organization. There are professional benefits – like insurance and training, and a huge knowledge bank to pull from.

  68. Make room on your computer

    You’ve been so busy shooting and editing all last year and now your hard drive is 95% full. MOVE those files. Get rid of the non-selects, make sure you have at least .jpg copies of everything and then MOVE THOSE FILES. Buy a new hard drive, upload to the cloud, whatever – just make room on your computer for all of the work you’re going to be getting this year.

  69. Work harder

    I know that several items on this list seem like they’re saying WORK LESS. But really it’s all about working as efficient as possible. So when you’re working – GET TO F*CKEN WORK. And WORK HARD. You think you know what hard work is when it comes to your photography business? YOU DON’T. You have it in you to work HARDER. You know what’s hard? Doing more work in the same amount of time. Doing more work, smarter. Doing more work, that is MORE effective. THAT’S WORKING HARD.

  70. Identify core problems – and solve them

    Stop putting out small fires. Stop being reactive all the time. If you have a problem that keeps coming up – fix the real cause. Clients keep complaining about your late deliveries? It’s not that you can’t get the photos edited, it’s that you’re at the point where you HATE EDITING for 10 hours. Stop trying to make your workflow ‘better’ or more ‘efficient’ – just outsource the bulk of your editing. Take the hit on the expense and take the benefit of HAPPY CLIENTS. Your photos suck not because of your gear, but because you HAVE NO IDEA WHAT MAKES A GREAT PHOTO. Go fix the actual, core problem.

  71. Study film composition

    Essentially the same subject as ‘photography’ composition – except taught through the medium of movies. And we ALWAYS learn better with movies right? Ha. RIGHT. You’ve been watching movies your entire life and you subconciously know the difference between a ‘beautifully filmed’ movie and one that’s just there. You also know that the way a movie is shot can affect your whole experience. Sound familiar? YES. Just like single-shot-photography. The way an image is captured makes all the difference which is why you and a guest at a wedding can take a photo of the same thing and yours ROCKS! Studying film composition will help you learn and look at composition in general with new eyes. (Read – The Filmmaker’s Eye.)

  72. Get geeky about something

    – Be a fan of something (again) or get into a new fandom – and don’t be embarrassed about it. You’re allowed to be nerdy and proud of it. It’s your thing. SO get back into it. Stop thinking you have to find the ‘middle’ of your personality and be bland so you can attract EVERYONE into being your client. There are enough bland people out there disguised as photographers.

  73. Learn a DIY skill (get crafty)

    Learn to sew, or weld, or solder, or knit, or just how to duct tape anything and everything together or into existence. Don’t just be that person that doesn’t know how to Macguyver anything together. Learning a basic repair skill will only serve you well and probably come in handy sooner than later. Strap on your leather camera bag tears? Sew it together instead of dropping another $200. Need a piece of gear/structure for a shoot? MAKE IT instead of buying something someone else just rigged together.

  74. Create a mailing list

    It’s the new thing (well, old now but still probably new to you.) RSS feeds are dead and people don’t read all of your blog posts the second you get them up. Plus you want to build an audience so create a mailing list, promising only to use it for good and only to send out YOUR BEST blog posts. You’ve probably seen it everywhere else already – now you just need to get off your ass and make one for your own blog.

  75. Make your clients laugh

    This is a real PRO TIP. You think your clients will remember all of your credentials? All of your amazing photos? Sure they will on some intellectual level that they’ll easily forget about. What will they remember on a deep down subconscious won’t forget level? If you make them laugh. If when they meet with you, they leave feeling good. Not only will they remember you, but they’ll connect with you and laughing together is one of the easiest ways to make that awesome connection with someone you just met.

  76. Stop beating yourself up over last year’s mistakes

    It’s a new year. Learn from your mistakes, work towards not making them again and move on. You’re free. Let’s GO.

 

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Four (4) Questions You Should Ask Your Wedding Photographer

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There are many lists of questions out there on what you should ask potential wedding photographers. Many of those questions on many of those list – suck. bad. They’re either outdated, useless – or outdated AND useless. That question about what gear does your photographer use? Doesn’t matter. (If you’ve actually seen their work and their photos – you know they make amazing stuff. You don’t ask your caterer if they only cook with cast-iron pans or whatever so why ask your photographer if they’re shooting with a medium format blah blah blah.)

SO. Here are four questions you should ask your wedding photographer (during your sit down meeting with them.)

1. Do you have insurance.

I know – insurance talk is never excited and it’s probably not at the top of your list when you’re trying to find your wedding photographer. But whether or not they have insurance is a clear indicator of whether or not they’re a Professional Photographer. Again – this is really boring and not sexy at all, but it’s TRUE. They’re asking you to give them $4,000 to photograph your wedding. Would you give that much money to ANY other business that didn’t have their paperwork in order? Then WHY would you give $4,000 to someone who isn’t professional enough to have something as simple and basic as business insurance?

Your venue has insurance. Your caterer has insurance. Your wedding planner has insurance. So your wedding photographer should definitely have insurance. Your wedding is not the day for amateurs and beginners.

2. Do you have back up gear.

I’m not talking about an extra memory card, or extra batteries. I’m talking about a full back up KIT. That’s the whole thing. Camera, lenses, batteries, flashes – a full backup set. Of course this is a just-in-case scenario where your photographer would need to pull out the backup gear, but it’s YOUR WEDDING. You hired a professional photographer because they can handle anything and EVERYTHING – but most importantly – they have invested in their business, and they have professional gear and backups for their backups. The only answer you ever should accept to this question is “YES. I have a lot of backup gear.”

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3. When will the photos be delivered.

This is an easy question to forget to ask. For everyone’s sanity (yours and the photographer’s) – you should find out when to expect delivery of your photos. That way whenever your mom/grandparents/aunts nag you about the photos, you can simple say “It’ll be another 3 weeks. So stop asking please.” And at the same time it holds your photographer to making that delivery deadline. It’s a simple question and your photographer will probably include it in their contract anyway. You just want to make sure you know what to expect so that you’re not thinking it’ll be 2 weeks when your photographer’s normal delivery time is 6-8 weeks (especially if they’re a busy rockstar photographer.)

4. How many weddings do you photograph a year?

You want to ask this question partly to find out how experienced your photographer is, and what kind of workload they have. Just like the rest of us – being busy with work is great – to a point. A general rule of thumb is 30 weddings per year is about right for a very busy wedding photographer handling everything on their own (sales, shooting, editing, delivery). If they’re photographing more than 30+ weddings a year then they should definitely have a good workflow and process setup to keep things organized and running smoothly.

Also – there is a big difference in experience between a photographer that’s been doing this for 5 years but only does 5-10 weddings a year vs. a photographer that’s been shooting 30+ weddings a year for the same 5 year time period. A BIG DIFFERENCE. The photographer that does 30 weddings a year will have run across many more problems to solve, and will honestly just know how to handle many more surprise situations, deal with different people – and make the most AMAZING photos out of EVERY situation and location. You can’t beat experience most of the time.

 

All photos by LeahAndMark & Co.

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Atlanta. Wedding. Photographer. LeahAndMark & Co. Questions You Should Ask Your Wedding Photographer.

How to Find or Choose a Wedding Photographer

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Right after everyone gets engaged they’re only thinking about one thing – how am I going to find a great wedding photographer? Okay maybe not RIGHT AFTER – but eventually, at some point – everyone has to find a great wedding photographer. Well – we all set out to find great wedding photographers but then for some reason, some people end up with just okay wedding photographers… Anyway – here are a few tips on selecting a great wedding photographer.

1. Identify what style or type of wedding photos you like.

There are many articles out there that describe the different styles of wedding photography. From photojournalistic to modern to traditional to fine art to… modern-traditional-fine-art-photo-journalism. (Seriously – I’ve seen that mashup on a few photographers’ websites.) The easiest and most simple way to determine what style of wedding photos you like – is to look at several wedding photographers, and take note of the ones that blow you away. And WHY.

Some things to look for are how comfortable the couples look in their wedding portraits. How creative (or simple/basic) are the poses and compositions? Some photographers get REALLY Artsy. Others are basically making yearbook photos. That’s not bad – you just have to decide which one is for you. Some photographers focus largely on the ‘STUFF’ and products of the weddings they attend (you can see this in their blog posts and how 50 of 100 images are shots of flowers, table decor, and shoes.) Other photographers focus on people, your friends, your family – the heartfelt genuine moments of love. Some photographers are amazing and can capture both equally well.

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2. Ask friends if they recommend anyone.

If you don’t already know a few wedding photographers off the top of your head – you want to start by asking around. Ask your friends if they know anyone you should check out. And if they give a glowing review then DEFINITELY check out that wedding photographer. You can’t beat good word of mouth referrals.

Now if none of your friends have any good suggestions – then you can do a basic google search for Atlanta Wedding Photographers and check out all of the photographers listed on the 1st page (Especially LeahAndMark & Co.) ha!

3. Look at the blog of the wedding photographer and read what they write.

Do they write boringly? Are they able to express themselves? Are they offensive to you? Do they make jokes? Really bad jokes? Do you think they’re funny? Or interesting? An easy way to find out more about the personality of a wedding photographer is to read what they write. Read what they say online. You want someone that you think you’ll work well with – and even ‘click’ with. Because if you do hire them, you’ll be hanging out with them for 8 hours on your wedding day. There are too many boring people disguised as wedding photographers and you DO NOT WANT THEM.

 

All photos by LeahAndMark & Co.

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How to Ask for Money for Your Wedding

How to ask for Money instead of Wedding Gifts

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How do you ask your guests to give you money instead of wedding gifts? It’s a very simple question with many complicated answers. It’s complicated first by the fact that depending on your cultural background – asking for money is basically one of the seven sins. And then depending on your cultural background – it’s expected and/or THE RULE.

SO. How do you ask for money when you’re not supposed to ask for money?

You don’t ask for money. You spend it. Or rather – you ask for what you are going do with the money. Just like everything else – it’s important how you ask.

You can either say: Please gives us money instead of gifts.

Or you can say:

Please donate to our honeymoon-in-Fiji-fund.

Please donate to our adventure in the jungles of Brazil fund.

Please donate to our kitchen remodeling fund.

(Use a website like HoneyFund to be the collecting middle-man)

You get the idea. When you ask people to help you purchase an experience or needed item – you’re not directly asking for money, you’re asking for help, in the form of money. Get it? Yeah! Here’s the thing though – people want to give you gifts that you’ll enjoy. So if you ask for money to just pay the gas bill – that’s not going to inspire anyone to give. That’s just going to make us feel sad for you. And your wedding shouldn’t make us feel like Sarah McLachlan singing about those dogs.

How to ask for Money instead of Wedding Gifts

So ask for happy things. Ask for experiences. An extra night’s stay on your honeymoon. A special meal at an exclusive restaurant. Stuff like that! Not a month’s supply of kitty litter.

And THAT is how you ask for money in lieu of gifts for your wedding.

 

All photos by LeahAndMark & Co.

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Atlanta. Wedding. Photographer. LeahAndMark & Co. Asking for Money. Instead of Gifts. Politely.

 

 

 

Creating Your Wedding Guests List (part 1 of 8)

Atlanta Wedding Photographer LeahAndMark & Co. | Creating Your Wedding Guests List

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Whether you have 10 guests or 300 guests – you’re going to have to feed them – something. Even if you’re having a mid-afternoon wedding so that you can avoid buying everyone dinner – you’re still going to have to give them at least a few animal crackers and some boxes of Hi-C fruit juice. Of course, that might be looking at things a little harshly.

These are your wedding guests and not just hungry warm bodies that want you to pay $50-$100 per person just so they can party and drink as much alcohol as you’re willing to pay for. They’re your closest friends and family – all of the people that you care about and that most want the two of you to be together. I know – there are going to be people you think you are obligated to invite, and that’s true – you will think that – and that’s okay. Just know that obligated doesn’t mean must.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer LeahAndMark & Co. | Creating Your Wedding Guests List

I want you to approach your guests list as if you are making a list of people that you want witnessing your professing of love for each other. You’re making a list of the people you want to witness your marriage ceremony. Not a list of people who will bring strangers (their +1) that will meet you for the first time ever at your wedding. Not a list of relatives you don’t like. I know – that one’s a tough one to accept – but it’s true. Whether strangers or guests – you don’t have to invite people you don’t like. F*ck that. It’s your wedding. Be surrounded by the people that love you both. 

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Surround yourself with people that don’t care about the flowers, or the open bar, or anything other than the fact that they get to be there for the two of you. Those are the people you want. They’re the ones on your guest list. Not the folks that want anything from you. Not the ones that want you to make them feel special on your wedding day. It’s your wedding not theirs. 

Fill your guest list with people that will celebrate your wedding and your love above everything else that day.

 

 

All photos by LeahAndMark & Co.

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Atlanta. Wedding. Photographer. LeahAndMark & Co. How to Create Your Wedding Guest List. Pick. Select. People. Tips. Choose.