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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.


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. | 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 – 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.


Thank you for reading. Join our mailing list (see the sign up form over in the sidebar) and we promise to only send you OUR BEST posts about photography, photography business, and photography marketing.

Business Investment Decisions

We are often asked the question – why is your Internship so successful? Of course – the real question that’s usually being asked is ‘how do you continue to attract so many interns that work for free, and that seemingly work so hard for you? | Photography Internship Atlanta Wedding Photographer

Although we can easily come up with a complicated answer involving how we manage personalities, projects that we assign, and our extensive interview process – the real answer is simply the amount of energy and resources that we spend on the Internship. Between workshops that we provide (photo 101, lighting, marketing, photobooths, styled shoots,  a two day wedding workshop) and critique nights, and group shoots, and of course the introduction/graduation nights – this current season requires a substantial amount of effort to keep things running smoothly. There’s the time it takes to schedule everything, and get ready for workshops – and then of course the actual duration of the workshops… and online communications, and other last minute projects that come up with each season.

It’s so much work now that we hired our Creative Director (Joy) specifically to make sure everything operates awesomely.

So how much time does it take to operate our Internship? As much as possible. We spend as much time as we possibly can on the Internship because we decided that it was worth it to our business. Not only that – but the effectiveness and success of each Season directly relates to my level of involvement and focus – and past seasons have proved that to be very true.

Deciding to share our knowledge and teach it to others for free was one of the best business decisions we ever made. At least in the top 3.


We don’t spend too much time thinking about our branding, or what gear to buy – more than anything else we spend our time figuring out how we can share what we know. We don’t earn any profit for our workshops and our Internship is free and unpaid. We work very hard at trying to give away what we’ve learned.

It’s odd but yes – giving away as much of our ‘knowledge’ or secrets as we can is part of our business strategy – and it’s worked very well for us.


Weddings | Portraits | Photobooths


Photography Competition

Think the photography market is over saturated? Try being a musician. Or a writer. Or a Chef.

The generic advice is to just be different.

It’s not about being completely different. It’s about being different enough AND finding your audience.

Different work, different personality, different people. You have to make, be, and find those things. We have a nearly infinite number of options – so much music to listen to, so much good stuff to read, so many amazing chefs making great food, but somehow there are people finding success admidst so much competition. Then there are photographers like you and me. The ones that never picked up a DSLR until about 3 years ago. We’re the ones who would have never learned photography if it hadn’t become so accessible to everyone. And now many of us complain there are too many photographers out there. The market is saturated. Everyone just wants a cheap $50 photographer off of Craigslist. Or a $500 shooter for their wedding.

Make different work. Find your audience. Make more work.



Weddings | Portraits | Photobooths

The Truth About Marketing to Wedding Clients

It feels like we’re marketing all the time, everywhere, to everyone. The truth is that our marketing is only geared toward 30 specific couples.

That’s 60 people total. All year.

Sixty people we probably haven’t met yet. But we know who they are. Long ago we identified who we want hiring us.

Thirty couples that get us. Thirty couples that want us to be their photographer more than anyone else.

Yes. The truth is that every year, all of our marketing is only for 30 couples.

There is a clear difference between a message that’s meant for 30 specifically amazing couples, and one that’s meant for hundreds of anyone out there.

There’s a difference between a photographer who will work for anyone, and one who is selective about who they choose to work with.

Every Year. Thirty (30) specifically amazing couples. That’s who we work with.



Weddings | Portraits | Photobooths

As Creative As You Claim To Be

Many photographers are not that creative. It’s true.

Consider painters – they apply paint to a blank canvas and make something.

Consider writers – they collect words and gather them up to literally make something out of nothing.

Consider photographers – they press buttons. Even the best and most creative ones… are pressing buttons. Whatever is in front of the camera at the time that they press the button ends up as the photo.

We have a saying around here – be as creative as you claim to be. We as photographers like to believe that we’re oh so creative people – when really we’re probably more guilty of lazy copying than any other art medium. And copying badly. Because it’s so easy for us to just copy. We only have to press a button.

What’s worse is that this lack of creativity among photographers spills into our businesses. Look at our blogging.

I photographed a wedding – look at 100 of the photos.
I photographed a family – look at 20 of the photos.
I photographed a baby – look at 15 of the photos.

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. | Atlanta Wedding Photographer

Look at our promotions.

Win a free portrait session! Discounted portrait session for [Insert Deserving Demographic]! etc., etc., etc.

Are we all talk? Am I all talk? How about this. No more wedding summary/reviews. Instead of the usual ‘I shot this wedding, look at all of the photos’ – how about I NOT do any of that for the rest of 2013? It’s been something I’d been thinking about anyway – and I stopped doing them last July. So why not the rest of this year? Yes. Definitely.

But it isn’t about not doing something. It’s about doing more. To be more creative. Because obviously – if we don’t have our go-to choice, the industry standard option – then we either create something new… or die… well, not die but you know what I mean.

Being a photographer is hard. Being a creative photographer is harder. Being a creative businessman-photographer is harder…er.


Weddings | Portraits | Photobooths

How to Be Different | Part VIII

If you’ve been following us for a while then you know about our three principles:

  • Be Different
  • Do Things That Matter
  • Show Everyone

That first one – Be Different – is always tricky. It’s so simple and obvious and… dumb. Yet it’s probably the most difficult of the three items to accomplish. Be Different.

Okay. Great. How?…

For a long time my main answer was “look at what everyone else isn’t doing – and if you can make that work for you, then you’ll be the only one doing it.” And that’s worked for us for these past three years. It was… honestly very easy. Sure  - there were many times when other photographers would let us know that we were… crazy (to put it nicely)… and that’s okay. That’s actually great. It’s one of those things we look for to tell us we’re on the right track.


A few months ago I came across this post by Seth Godin where he list several Reasons.

  • The reason they teach biology before they teach chemistry in high school is that biology was invented first. Even though you need chemistry to do biology, but not vice versa.
  • The reason that you have a water bubbler in your office is that it used to be difficult to filter water effectively.
  • The reason the typewriter keyboard is in a weird order is that original typewriters jammed, and they needed to rearrange the letters to keep common letters far apart.
  • The reason we don’t have school in the summer is so our kids can help with farmwork. Or because it’s too hot and there’s no air conditioning…

There are many things that we as photographers only do because we see other photographers doing it; without much question.

Off the top of my head…

  • Post blog entries showing 30-100 photos showcasing the last wedding we photographed
  • Post blog entries showing photos from the last family/newborn/children/headshot session we shot
  • (repeat those two until we all fall asleep)
  • Setup ‘Styled’ shoots so that hopefully some blog/magazine accepts it and post our photos
  • ‘Giveaway’ a free portrait session to the winners of some pointless contest


So now… along with looking at what others aren’t doing and figuring out how we can do those things – we’re looking at why we do  what we do, in the way that we do it – and can we stop? (and by ‘we’ I mean Me and everyone here at

  • Can we stop posting ‘…photos from Joe &  Jane’s Amazing Mountain/Beach/Farm Wedding!”?
  • Can we stop posting “…photos  from my latest portrait session of the cutest kids in the world!”?
  • Can we stop posting “…my latest styled shoot inspired by the latest movie/trend/pinterest board I saw!”?


Just like with photography – it’s not what we do but how we do it – and too many of us photographers only do the same things in the same way that we see everyone else doing it. It’s a difficult habit to break – but we’re just going to have to be as creative as we always claimed we were.


We Photograph Weddings and We’d Love to Be Your Photographer.


BOLD Interns Wanted | Marketing Internship

We’re - and we want four (4) interns for the next three (3) months.

We’re looking for some amazing people to be a part of our BOLD INTERNSHIP. Over the next three months we’re moving forward with a few key projects that we’re launching next year. We currently operate the largest  Photography Internship in the country but this is different from that. On the surface this is a Marketing Internship – except it’s so much more. In the same way that our Photography Internship is more than just carrying our heavy gear bags around on photoshoots – our BOLD INTERNSHIP is more than just any marketing internship.

For whatever talent we may have as photographers – the fact is that there are far too many talented photographers out there. Since the market is over saturated with people and their fancy cameras – we’ve had to compete on more than just quality of photos alone. One of the main reasons that our business has been able to thrive is because of our marketing. Many photographers and other small business owners hate marketing – with a passion. We know why they feel that way – because they’re doing it all wrong. We happen to love marketing – but only because when it comes to marketing we just do what we like to do. And what we like to do is BE AWESOME.

Marketing Rule Number One: It must entertain us (Us being me and Leah – because if it’s not entertaining then we’re moving on.)

If you’ve never heard of – here are a few facts about us:

  • We make our own reality
  • We prefer to learn from all of our successes and avoid failures
  • Everything we do is in agreement with our plans to live life on our terms
A few more facts about us:
  • We Run the Largest Photography Internship in the United States
  • We began our photography business roughly three (3) years ago when we picked up our cameras.
  • We never went to photography/art school
  • We photograph weddings all over the country
  • Our team works with more charitable/non-profit organizations than any other photography company in Atlanta

Let’s get right to it. 

We’re looking for people to work with us – to be a part of what is literally a marketing internship like no other. This isn’t just a marketing internship – it’s the BOLD INTERNSHIP.

First - it has a better title. We named it the BOLD INTERNSHIP because we’re not F*cking around here.

Second - our BOLD INTERNSHIP isn’t for everyone - and it might not be for you.

Third - You will be our Intern. You will do our marketing the way we do our marketing (and learn everything).

Fourth – Everything we do is applicable to the marketing of other small businesses (including yours).

Fifth – We like to think big. As in Ridiculous. As in Impossible is Nothing.

Sixth We move fast. We don’t hesitate. And we execute ideas.

What can you learn by working with us and being a part of our marketing internship? Maybe nothing. Maybe a great deal.

What we do know is that we have a successful and exciting photography business that grew largely because of our social media presence (along with being kind of awesome in real life.) Whether you’re a photographer, or any other type of small business owner – if you’ve struggled to find a way to market yourself/company and you have no idea what to do next – then we think you should work with us.

We try to teach our Photography Interns everything we know about photography. All of our Internships are Free & Unpaid.  Nothing we do is secret but no one knows everything we do. Be a part of our BOLD INTERNSHIP and we’ll show you our marketing. What we do. Why we do it – and why we don’t do what everyone is does (partly because we don’t want to be like them but also because we’re just flat out too stubborn.)

Our three main principles are:

  1. Be different
  2. Do things that matter
  3. Show Everyone
That has been our marketing plan from the very beginning and it just plain flat-out works. Of course – it all depends on the execution.

Our BOLD INTERNSHIP last three (3) months during November, December, and January.

If you would like to work with us, please fill out the form below. The deadline for this first application is this coming Sunday, October 21st at 3 a.m.

Thank you very much.

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The Internship | Season [NINE]

– Posted by Mark

We’ve come a long way since we started our photography business and really – we’ve gone even further since we began our photography internship. There are other photography internships out there, but we’re pretty sure there are none that are like ours. We’ve taken on as many as 15 interns and as few as 8. For Season [NINE] we’re starting with 10.

Over the past two years we’ve slowly learned a few things about selecting Interns and putting a better and better group together. We’ve implemented a few new hurdles and requirements during the application process that tends to weed out bad candidates for this program. Because honestly – our internship isn’t for everyone. Of course – how much can you really know from two applications? Quite a bit apparently. Mostly because along with providing us with the basic information that we need – when done well, our application process forces the applicant to do a good bit of self evaluation – more than they’ve probably ever done about themselves and their photography.

Not only are there lengthy essay questions – but there is a time component to the 2nd application. It’s due less than 48 hours after the first application deadline – and the deadline for the 2nd application is 3am on Sunday. That alone usually trips a few people up who think they’ve got until 3am on the evening of Sunday night (that’s actually 3am Monday) or they just mis-read it and think 3pm. Both are wrong and we don’t make exceptions for late applications. We simply receive way too many strong applications.

You also have to be able to attend our first event – a mashup of graduation and introduction rolled into one. On the 2nd application you’re asked if you can attend, and if you say no, we say no. We’ve received feedback in the past from applicants about how if they had known it was required then they would’ve answered yes. Well you should’ve f*cken answered yes anyway.

We still don’t know exactly what this Internship is – or where exactly it’s going. It’s changed quite a bit since Season 1 and it keeps changing from one season to the next. This group, Season [NINE] is the best yet – and not only because I’m at my best ever – but because we really have the best team we’ve ever had working with us.

Alumni Interns Elaine, Krista & Mishaun are on board with us, shooting weddings, running events, and basically doing everything that we’ve never been able to do in the past. It’s honestly because of these three that I am more excited about working with Season [NINE] than any other season so far. So here we go.

Introducing Season [NINE]

(Click on each photo to go to their Intern Blog.)

Atlanta Photography Internship | | Photography | Apprenticeship | Education | Interns | Program | Training


Atlanta. Wedding. Photographers. Photography. Internship. Interns. Apprenticeship. Business. Marketing. Workshops.

4 Tips | 2012 Photography Marketing Business

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | 2012 Tips | Business | Marketing | Photography

– Posted by Mark

Hi. My name is Mark. My wife is Leah. We’re Atlanta based wedding photographers and we run the best photography internship in the country (arguably). Our photography business also requires that we travel the country rather often to photograph weddings in whatever location they’d like to us to be. California, New York, Maine, Michigan, Florida, Wisconsin, Arizona, Alabama, Tennessee, The Carolinas, New Jersey – and even a few weddings here in Georgia.

We started this business in August of 2009, I went full-time-photo in August of 2010, and Leah went full-time-photo in August of 2011. This upcoming year of 2012 will be our first year of living completely off of our photography earnings. Now – if you think that’s a little scary – well… yeah, it’s kind of F*CKEN Terrifying – well, it can be or it would be if we hadn’t spent the last 2.5 years working towards this coming year. Of course – The BabyRoX was born about a month ago because we didn’t think that we had enough pressure to succeed (paying bills, eating food, generally not failing at life), so we added a newborn baby to the list of reasons why our photography needs to not only enable us to survive – but to thrive and generally rock.

If you know anything about us – then you know that one of the highlights of our photography internship is the business/marketing workshop that we hold for every ‘Season’ of Interns. We believe in the importance of good, meaningful and effective marketing and less on the reliance of expensive gear to make our business a successful one.

Because Marketing = Friends = Sales = Money = I get to hangout with the BabyRoX A LOT.

These tips are for US – specifically ME – but you might also find them useful.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | 2012 Tips | Business | Marketing | Photography

1. Make More Appearances.

I have this saying when talking about some of the qualities I look for in our photography Interns. I need carny’s – as in carnival midway workers. You know – the ones that yell at you while you’re walking by, get you to play a game you know you can’t win – AND convince you give them $5. Of course – you also need a place to put your booth.

From the very beginning we’ve always understood the value of ‘working events’. Whether it was a party, a ceremony, or a tradeshow of some sort. You gotta GET OUT THERE – and you have to do it IN PERSON. It’s that that thing called Real-Life Marketing, or Real-Life Networking, or simply REAL LIFE. It’s also much more effective than waiting for people to visit your website because you posted your latest boring family portrait session on your blog. Sorry. Latest boring wedding that you photographed.

Pro Tip for Me: If you want your business to succeed, you are going to need to meet exponentially many more people. Not a few more people, not a couple, not even a lot or many. EXPONENTIALLY MORE PEOPLE – and you’re going to need to meet them in person. While it would be nice to think that we can all be that successful photographer who exploded with business just from their blog/website – that’s probably NOT going to be you. So you’re going to have to do the hard work – and actually get out there and meet new people.

You know how we found our pediatrician? She was working her booth at a local birth/maternity/children’s fair event. We also saw our chiropractor at the same event. You know what that means? It means that these people who spent a quarter of a million dollars on their education are acting like carnies, manning their tables, trying to MEET PEOPLE IN REAL LIFE just so they can get more business (oh and I assure you, they’re badass doctors). Sure – at some people they won’t need to do that – but the fact that they’re essentially hustling for work – AND they’re looking for a specific type of client should clue you in as to how important it is to do more than just work on your social media and internet presence.

And you’re just depending on getting work through the internets? Good luck.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | 2012 Tips | Business | Marketing | Photography

2. More Partnerships with Different businesses.

Here’s the thing – it makes too much sense to partner with businesses in the same industry. It’s a safe bet. It’s obvious. Everyone does it. Great. If you look at the wedding industry – blogs, magazines, invitations, photographers, dresses, etc – it all ends up being like a big circle of friends where eventually, everyone has dated everyone. They’ve all made out with each other (or more! ha!) and all of their promotions just feel like yet another free wedding/invitation/dress/shoe/jewelry giveaway on yet another wedding blog full of pictures of stuff. (tangent anyone?)

We tell our Interns that our 3 main guiding principles are:

1. Be different
2. Do things that matter.
3. Show everyone

In that same vein – we prefer to study ANY OTHER business instead of photography businesses because that’s the best way to get fresh ideas. There are already too many relatively successful photographers selling their workshops with essentially the same advice as the other workshops. The ‘Industry’ often times just recycles old ideas – and that’s fine for everyone else – we’re just not really interested.

I know – this is a lot of big hypothetical talk – so here’s a simple example. We wanted to do a full wedding giveaway. Sure there are the normal channels – wedding blogs, wedding magazines, wedding television even – but we wanted something different. We didn’t want to just enter the ‘wedding industry’. So we found a mainstream media partner (a local network affiliate tv station) and then mainstream magazine publications – and along with some excellent help from one of our Alumni Interns (who is also a PR/Marketing SuperStar) – we F*cken set up a FULL WEDDING GIVEAWAY that’ll be happening this year. (Well – fingers crossed ya know – since just like Weddings, it’s not 100% absolutely happening until it’s DONE happening 😉

Sometimes it might take much more work to make certain partnerships make sense, or work out – you know what that means? It means you just have to suck it up and be smarter. Figure it out. Ask for help. Hire someone to help you. Hire someone with the right connections. Get it done.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | 2012 Tips | Business | Marketing | Photography

3. Do the Social Media things you Know you should be doing.

This one is for you and me and everyone. It’s easy. Just do the things you know you should be doing. F*ck! You’ve already told yourself that you need to do them. You’ve nodded your head in agreement whenever you read/heard someone saying that you should be doing those things. Blog regularly? Connect with people on twitter? Use Facebook? Use Google+? PINTEREST? Tumblr?

Of course – you don’t have to use/do all of them – but damn. You have to pick 1 or 2 of them, focus and then do the work. I Facebook like it’s my job – because IT IS MY JOB. We try to blog like it’s our job BECAUSE IT IS OUR JOB. We try to twitter like it’s our job BECAUSE IT IS OUR JOB.

Specifically for us – even though we’re photographers we need to approach blogging the same way that Professional Bloggers do – as in pre-writing posts and scheduling them. You know – using an editorial calendar. Getting post written/finished BEFORE the morning that they’re going up. You know – LIKE IT’S OUR JOB.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | 2012 Tips | Business | Marketing | Photography

4. Examine Your Entire Customer Experience

Honestly – this is a big one for us this coming year. Most photographers think of only a few things when considering their customer experience. The email/phone communication, during the session, and the product delivery. If you know anything about sales – process then you’re aware of certain advantages you get by having a showroom, a retail space, and even ‘product’. You can physically lead the client through the sales process, and sprinkle up-sell points along the way, or reinforce the perceived value. Most photographers still rely on the strength of their photographs to do all of the heavy lifting and selling.

The problem is that there are far too many F*cken amazing photographers out there – and once you reach that level (whatever that means) you need to compete with something else. I’ll bet you that hardly any of them focus on their overall customer experience beyond the email/phone communication, during the session, and the product delivery. What else is left? The extras. The surprises you can bring. Everything that makes it all easier for the clients. Do you make it easier and easier for them to SHOW OFF the photos you made for them? Do you make it easier for them to share those photos? Do you make it easier for them to BUY prints? Even if you work on a digital sales model like we do – DO you even try to sell prints at all? Not from a place of ‘we need to sell more stuff’ – but a place of – REAL PRINTS ARE BEAUTIFUL and everyone should do more than just look at photos on their computer screens.

Working on your packaging is obvious. You should work on the (good) surprises you provide for your clients and how you make everything easier for them.

Your photography is a commodity now. Just like shoes. Just like computers. The superstar companies constantly work on their entire customer experience.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | 2012 Tips | Business | Marketing | Photography

Hey. See you tomorrow.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | 2012 Tips | Business | Marketing | Photography

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | 2012 Tips | Business | Marketing | Photography

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | 2012 Tips | Business | Marketing | Photography

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | 2012 Tips | Business | Marketing | Photography

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | 2012 Tips | Business | Marketing | Photography