Thursday, February 28, 2013

Scotty Perry - A Photographer's Life Interview Series

A Photographer's Life Interview Series features photographers who have been working as a professional photographer for five or more years.  We are so grateful that these photographers are willing to share an intimate and candid look at their life behind the camera. =========== 

Let me introduce:  Scotty Perry - www.scottyperry.com - Wedding & Family Photographer from Louisville, KY since 2007.

A sneak peek of Scotty's current website:
Scott Perry Website



Can you share 3 of your recent favorite images?
Thats not hard at all, is it?


Candid Wedding Photo by scottperry.com


Military Wedding Photo by scottperry.com


How did you learn the craft of photography?
I started back in highschool when my parents got me my first ‘real’ film camera. I kept with it through the years but didn't really delve in until I was old enough to buy my first DSLR. It was a lot of trial and error and research on the webz. I can't say for sure that I know what I'm doing now, I just know what I like to do, so I do that.

How did you learn the business of photography?
The wrong way, trial and error. To be honest I'm still not good at it.  I am a better photographer than I am a businessman. Theres a lot more stress when it comes to the books and the legal side of it all ::cough:: taxes ::cough::.

Do you work from home, a studio, or something else? 
I have a home office but I usually end up calling where I am sitting at the time my office.

Can you share photos of your workspace (or describe it for us)?
I keep it dimly lit or dark. I have a desk lamp behind me screen which makes it easier for me to stare at a screen for long periods of time.  I currently am rocking a stand-up desk that I pieced together and improvised with Ikea products. Its your basic home office, it stays messy and there are hard drives scattered throughout.

Do you have regular employees, associates, or other people who help you in your business?
I had an assistant for 2 years but he recently went out on his own which is awesome. He helped with the day of and was my 2nd shooter. Provided plenty of bathroom humor and beard jokes when necessary.  He also shot almost all the “formal” family photos the last year.

What do you outsource, and who do you outsource it to?
I probably should outsource everything. I outsource nothing. It makes it hard at times to fulfill requests, answer emails, edit photos, design albums, balance the books (which I suck at anyway), etc....

How many weekly hours would you say is spent working in your photography business?
During the wedding season I probably pull 20-30 hours by mid-season; that's including the time spent shooting, editing, albums, etc.

What percentage of your business working time is spent shooting vs. working behind the scenes?
20% ? If I had to make an educated guess

How did your last five clients find you and what did they hire you for?
My last five were mostly referrals from past clients/friends/other photographers. I'll be shooting their weddings or families.

What do you consider to be your most effective marketing efforts for your business?
I never really marketed formally. I tried it once and it was a waste of money. Word of mouth is HUGE.  I have a significant online presence as well via social media.

What other careers or jobs did you have before (or while) you started your photography business?
I've held a job for every season while doing photography as well.  I work on healthcare IT as a programmer and was also a consultant for a year.

How do you spend your time when you aren't working? 
Working.
With the kids.
Attempting to take my wife on a date.
I recently took a role at my church heading some of the creative things and production that goes on behind the scenes.

What hobbies or interests outside of photography are fulfilling for you?
Music. Eating. Pizza. On top of all that is helping and encouraging people.

Do you feel like you have a good balance between your personal and working life? 
At times
- If so, what do you do to make sure you achieve that balance regularly? 
 Late nights
- If not, how would you like to change it in the next few years?
I've thought about setting a schedule where I put in 3-4 hours twice a week in the office. Enough time for me to cull, edit or do any of the admin/clerical work I put off.

Who else is in your household with you?
Wife, 2 Boys, 1 Dog

What percentage of your household income is derived from your photography business?  If less than 100%, what else helps pay the household bills? Depends on the year :). Its been as much as 50% split with my other job(s) and as little as 25%.

What have been the most challenging personal aspects of being a creative small business owner?  Figuring out style, preferences, but this really was as easy as just being myself.  The most challenging has been the business side, clerical and admin tasks. the books. accounting. taxes.

What do you love about being a creative small business?
Freedom. Its has been a release for me from my daily musings of a ‘real’ job.

If you could share any advice with a photographer getting ready to start their business today, what would it be?
Don't do it on your own. Don't be afraid to ask anyone for help or advice. Don't let others bring you down.  If no one local will give you the time of day, reach out to the webz, there are a ton of us out here who are willing and want to help. Be yourself most of all. This business for me has been one massive and long interview, don't be fake because people will read right through you. 

For those just starting out with nothing but a burning passion, don't accept money from your friends or family or their friends and their families; get some experience first, shoot for free, figure out w.t.f. that those letters and green box even mean on your camera dial. Gain some experience and once you're confident enough to think your images are money worthy, go for it, but don't half-ass it. Shoot with that passion that you have and don't be scared to do what you need to do for a shot. I've stepped in front of, crawled underneath, jumped on to, elbowed and ran to get a moment or a shot. For me photography is about anticipation, at least the kind that I do. I want my images to be earnest and (at least) appear unforced. Learning when to snap and to not spray and pray is a knack you have to work to acquire.

Figure out what you want to shoot, look at peoples work who you admire. Analyze (don't copy) what they're doing. Think about what their settings might have been. Drill it in your head. Experiment. Then.... cut off your blog reading, stop looking at those peoples work because in your mind those people will probably always appear cutting edge and better than you. Join a community of like minded people/"artists"/photographers and gain your inspiration from things other than the photography you're shooting. Check out videos, still art, music, conversations and most of all observe. - Scotty Perry
==========

If you have any additional questions for Scotty, or just want to leave a note of thanks - please leave a comment so he can continue to share his wisdom with you!  Want to keep up with Scotty?
Follow on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Scotty-Perry-Photography/137532106334256

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Launching A Photo Business - Zach Arias

Every once in a while, I run into something online that totally aligns with my beliefs about getting started in the photography industry (not often enough, ironically).  Even if I feel like I've written it all before or said it all before, it's always interesting to hear someone else say it in their own way.  So, I'm reposting this little interview/presentation in the hopes that you don't miss out on some of the gems of wisdom from Zach Arias' point of view:


Zack Arias: If I had to start my photo business today from PhotoShelter.com on Vimeo.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Photo Lovecat Website Critique 2013

Due to the overwhelming interest last year, we ended up hosting two website critiques and the reception was great so we decided to do it again this year!

What:  Website Critique
When:  March 5th, 2013

I will be hosting the live critique along with Anne and Jennifer helping me in the chat while we view and chat about what submitted sites are doing right and what they could do better.

What we need is some submissions so this is where you take a deep breath and send your URL to us at photolovecat@gmail.com

We also need some comments here to let us know what time would be best for you?  1PM EST or 3PM EST?

PS:  We're thinking about doing a Google Hangout during WPPI for those of us who aren't going.  If you are interested, comment and let us know!  This will be more of a relaxed environment where we chat about whatever crosses our minds, be it pity parties because we can't go or celebratory parties because we're too busy to go... or gossiping about what that crazy person said on Twitter about WPPI.  We won't be there to host a real party so come to the virtual one instead we're calling IPPW.  I may even have some videos to share from past WPPI's...

Corey Ann is a wedding & lifestyle photographer from North Canton, OH. She is a mix of everything - fashionista, travel nut, deal hound, photo theft evangelist (she runs Photo Stealers) and geek rolled into one. She's had a website online since 1997 and a blog since 1999. When not plotting world domination or her next trip, she can be found reading one of the 100+ books she reads a year. Follow her on Twitter.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Are you a sucker for technology upgrades?

There are generally two types of people- those who must have the latest piece of technology no matter what and those who upgrade when what they have no longer works.  Which person are you?

Assuming that both people bring in the same amount of revenue, one of these people spends an average of 3x more in expenses, resulting in 3x less profit/income.  They may have the latest equipment, but they're also more likely to be living on the financial edge.  Those who wait until their equipment dies often save themselves from the potential pitfalls of buying gear that hasn't been in the marketplace long enough to be tested by regular users and receive accurate reviews.

According to Moore's Law, if you use your technology until it breaks, you will get exponentially better equipment at an exponentially lower price.  However, if you purchase new technology as soon as it's released, you may be keeping up with the latest trends but you end up spending more money and time learning new gear each year, instead of every few years, which means less time spent on functions essential to building revenue in your business.  Tech companies know that early adopters- who must have the latest technology, will buy whatever the latest release is, regardless of whether it's a significant improvement or not.  These small yearly upgrades just to have something new on the market is how tech companies make greater profits and how early adopters get suckered.

Now, if your business model is to always have the latest equipment and your clients pay a premium for you to keep up with equipment trends, than it is an essential part of your business strategy and you'll need to make sure that you're regularly capitalizing on your previous investments before they see a significant drop in value so that they aren't going to waste.  Another option (depending on how often you use certain pieces of equipment) is to rent the newest equipment instead of purchasing it, so that you aren't paying full price for something that will be useless to you in a year or lose its value at an exponential rate.  When you know how often you use your equipment, and you measure that against the cost of purchasing new equipment annually, you can make the smartest business decision for you.

My personal upgrade strategy is to budget in advance for upgrades- knowing that good cameras last about two years and good computers last about three years.  Even then, I still wait for things to break before replacing them, but at least I've budgeted this expense into my business needs.  What equipment replacement strategy works best for your business?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

Anne Ruthmann is a lifestyle & wedding photographer from Boston, MA. She spent 10 years practicing marketing & management in corporate and non-profit businesses before pursuing her passion for photography in 2004 as an independent small business.  She loves helping others find creative and smart solutions to business problems.  Follow her on Twitter to see her daily adventures and thoughts.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Guest Photographers

If you are with a group of wedding photographers and mention the term "Uncle Bob" you are almost certain to get at least a dozen stories about crazy guests with their cameras and what they did to get that great shot - and screw you out of it.  In the past 5 years I have seen everything and anything from these Uncle Bobs and I'm sure you have too.  What I hoped would be a dying fad much like spot coloring has actually gained more and more popularity as the years go by.  So what can you do to protect yourself from being Uncle Bob'd and from potential images they may ruin?

1.  The Contract.  Make sure that your contract not only states you are the only professional photographer hired for the day (personally I exclude photo booths from this clause as I do not offer them) but that you also cover yourself in case a guest ruins any photograph.

2.  The Wedding Day.  I've found the best way to nip Uncle Bobs in the bud is to approach them and be friendly.  Often they will approach you and assure you that they won't mess with you at all and promise to stay out of the way.  Once you are buds they tend to make sure to steer clear of you but it isn't always the case.  If they continue to be a problem, take the time - no matter what the excuse - to stop and educate them regarding your contract and about how they are compromising the couples photos.

3.  CYA.  During the wedding day if there are photographers that are being overly zealous with their cameras and nothing you do changes their behavior DOCUMENT IT!  Do not delete the images that they ruin but instead save them to a separate folder when editing.  Trust me.  I once had a bride get upset with coverage during her ceremony which I was limited with due to an abundance of guest photographers (10+).  Once I showed her the image my second shooter took of me surrounded and blocked in every direction by her guests, she apologized and understood why I was restricted during the ceremony.  Another time I had a particular moment a bride was looking for ruined by a guest photographer's flash, blowing the image completely out and was able to show her what happened and she understood why that moment was missing.  I can't stress this enough, don't delete images that they interfere with!

4.  Give a Little.   Sometimes there is just no way out of being Uncle Bob'd.  Last year I had a wedding where the brother of the groom was an up-and-coming photographer and I was informed by the Mother of the Groom to allow him to do whatever he wanted.  To maintain my creative freedom while trying to keep the MOG happy, I ultimately negotiated a deal to allow her son to photograph the couple/bridal party for 15 minutes the day of (he would put down the camera for the rest of the portrait session) and the reception at will so long as he didn't get between me and the couple.  I knew, from past experiences, that if he had his camera with him at the altar it would end badly so I fought for exclusive rights where it mattered most to me (the ceremony) and gave some leeway where I could work around him (portraits and reception).  In the end I think we were both content with the outcome and if I hadn't given them a little bit then I fear that he would have been everywhere and anywhere with his camera and I couldn't do much about it given his relationship and position in the wedding.

5.  Facebook.  Here's a new slant on the guest photographers.  They are so excited that they tag the couple in images and everyone's sharing these and changing their profile pictures over and when your images finally make their debut people aren't as excited and the reception is a bit lackluster.  Sadly there isn't a LOT you can do about this but make sure that you get your images out there first.  Even if you just edit one image from the wedding and pop it on Facebook the day after the wedding, it's a plus for you.  I don't typically address the problem if the guest photographer sticks to posting it to their personal page but I have sent kind emails to guests who post it on their business page.  Here's what that email looks like:

Dear Photographer:

It was really great to meet you at Bride & Groom's wedding!  It was such a fun day and I'm still smiling thinking of it.  Thank you for allowing me to do my job without getting in the way.

I noticed that you had tagged Bride & Groom in your photos and I'll admit I'm a bit nosy so I went to have a look.  The images are lovely and they are so lucky that you were there to capture extra moments for them, I'm sure they will be elated with them!  However, I would really appreciate it if you would put these images up on your personal page rather than your business page with your logo removed from them.  I know you are just getting your start in weddings and are super excited to have such a gorgeous wedding to show but it's actually a bit of a problem on my end.  So often brides will Google "such and such venue" or "such and such wedding colors" and will happen upon BOTH of our pages, resulting in confusion as to whom was the hired photographer.  This can - and in my case HAS - resulted in a Google-r inferring this means that one photographer stole from the other and makes her case known everywhere. Trust me when I say you never want to go through with this and I am not eager to repeat this.  I also request that these images remain off of your website.  This is to protect not only myself but you as well.   You are welcome to show them in a private setting to any potential client however. 

I hope that you understand my position on this!  

Thank you,
Photographer

 Have you been Uncle Bob'd?  What did you do that you think worked out to your advantage?  What do you think you could do better next time?  Have any advice?
Corey Ann is a wedding & lifestyle photographer from North Canton, OH. She is a mix of everything - fashionista, travel nut, deal hound, photo theft evangelist (she runs Photo Stealers) and geek rolled into one. She's had a website online since 1997 and a blog since 1999. When not plotting world domination or her next trip, she can be found reading one of the 100+ books she reads a year. Follow her on Twitter.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Will You Put My Proof Gallery Back Online?

Most clients are able to make decisions in a timely manner, but there will always be a client who does't make a decision before their proof gallery expires and ends up asking for extra time.  If you find yourself in this situation, here are a few different ways you can approach it:

1.  Set Ordering Deadline Expectations
If your photography agreement or contract did not state up front how long a gallery would be available, or a cost for extending gallery viewing and ordering beyond the contracted availability, you'll probably need to be gracious for the first extension or reopening of a gallery after it has expired.  This is when, in writing or over email, you will need to communicate exactly how long the gallery will be available to make their decision, and the cost to extend that timeframe if they cannot place their order or make their decision in a timely manner.

2.  Invite The Client To An Ordering Meeting
If the client is having a hard time making a decision, communicate that in order to view the images again, you will be happy to set up an in-person appointment, at which time you will be able to provide your expert opinion to make their ordering decision easier.  If the client is unavailable to meet in person, you could also schedule this arrangement over Skype and use Screen Sharing.  While the quality will not be as great for the client via screen sharing, you will be able to discern the better options and help make it less confusing for an indecisive client.

3.  Request An Ordering Deposit
If you clearly outlined that a gallery would only be available until a specified date and a client has chosen not to make a decision during that time, an alternative form of an extension fee is a deposit toward their order, which can be collected before making the images available again and applied once an order is placed, to cover any costs you might be incurring for hosting their images in an online ordering cart.

Obviously, the goal is to have clients who are happy with your service and product, while still setting appropriate expectations so that you aren't draining your resources and ability to serve clients in a timely fashion.  Do you have other ideas?  What works for you?  Share your thoughts in the comments!
Anne Ruthmann is a lifestyle & wedding photographer from Boston, MA. She spent 10 years practicing marketing & management in corporate and non-profit businesses before pursuing her passion for photography in 2004 as an independent small business. She loves helping others find creative and smart solutions to business problems. Follow her on Twitter to see her daily adventures and thoughts.


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