July 10, 2022
One of the biggest things I hear when I mentor photographers is that they’re absolutely exhausted, burnt out, and feeling like all they do is work. When wedding season hits, it can also feel like total chaos.
My mentees have told me that it’s hard to remember why they got into this business in the first place when things get this chaotic.
You love capturing those moments with your camera, but when you’re running your own photography business, it can feel like the shooting is just 1% of what you do, while you spend the other 99% doing admin work!
I want to help you get back to enjoying your work. It’s never going to be 100% perfect because you WILL need to take care of administrative tasks, but I believe you can find a healthy balance between the photography and business sides.
There are a few things you can do to stay organized during the busy wedding season — and really any season in your business.
Have you found yourself sliding into bad business habits? It’s easy to do so when you’re barely keeping your head above water. However, I can promise you that bad habits are a big deal, and your clients will notice. Part of creating a luxury client experience is setting reasonable expectations that you can actually stick to.
As far as I’m concerned, it’s so much better to under-promise and over-deliver than it is to over-promise and under-deliver. While you may want to promise you’ll reply to an email in a day or that you’ll get someone their gallery in just a few days, you have to be realistic — and I’d argue that you have to give yourself a bigger buffer than you’d expect.
You also have to clearly state expectations. I learned very early on to speak up when I don’t believe I can meet a client’s expectations. I’d much rather communicate to a client that I don’t think I can meet their expectation, give them a reason, and set a new expectation rather than leave them disappointed.
One of the most important parts of your business is payments, whether you’re getting paid by a client or you are paying someone.
I use a client management system (Dubsado!) to keep track of the back end of my business. It’s incredible because it allows me to manage workflows and client information, and gives my clients a separate login so that they can manage this information as well.
But most importantly, I can create a payment schedule with a clear outline that shows the clients when payments are due. Then, if they miss a payment, Dubsado will automatically send them a gentle reminder email. If you’re interested in acquiring my email templates, I have this email and my other canned emails outlined and templatized in my shop! You can find them here. ← Keep in mind that I am always tweaking these for clients to fit their exact needs, as should you!
From the moment you first meet with a client to the first set of images and final delivery, you want to WOW your clients with the entire experience. Having Type-A level organization is one of the best ways to pull this off — and a few simple habits will make this so much easier.
When I photograph a client, I have two card slots. This way, if I lose one, I automatically have a backup. Then, I label each card slot with my name, phone number, and email. Each memory card (the SD and the QX) has the same number. When I’m photographing, I don’t have to buy more memory cards in the set.
During the session or wedding, ensure you’re always keeping your cards on hand. Back them up the moment you can. Once edits are finished, upload them to cloud drive that you can access from anywhere (I am always thinking about the what ifs and you should, too!)
Always be thinking about your images and make sure you have a backup plan so they’re never lost. Essentially, plan for any and all worst-case scenarios. Trust me, the one time you don’t is the one time something WILL happen!
During a busy season, it’s common for photographers to do anything and everything they can to avoid communication and limit it as much as possible. Please…don’t do this.
Instead, I encourage you to over-communicate. Have a meeting with clients beforehand where you can get to know them deeply. Make sure they feel listened to as they express any wishes or concerns. Cater to who they are as people so that you can give them the best experience possible on their wedding day.
Then, once the photography is over, deliver beyond their expectations! If you promise to edit 50 photos, give them 60 edited photos instead.
Secondly, stay in touch! Their wedding and or session might be over, but they can still refer you to others. Keep up with their social media and regularly send emails out to your list of past clients.
What do I mean by this? I mean that when you’re a luxury wedding photographer, the gear you carry around is your representation. Ensure it’s clean at all times. When we’re photographing, we wipe down our gear often periodically. We also use a UV filter to cover the lens. If we drop the camera, the filter will crack and NOT the actual lens! This can be the difference between a $30 fee and a $1,000 fee.
Keep your gear handy and organized at home, so it’s ready for you to just pick up and go. This way, if you get a last-minute session or a photographer friend calls with an emergency, you’re already prepared and can show up quickly!
I hope these key steps help you maintain high-level organization during your busy season. Trust me when I say that implementing these new systems and organizational habits will change your business. With all of the access that we have to tech, systems, and organizations, I want to encourage all photographers out there to put the right tools to use as much as possible.
Of course, the busy season doesn’t last forever — but your luxury client experience should.