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Archive 2012 · First Year: What I Learned
  
 
canerino
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p.1 #1 · First Year: What I Learned


I just passed the one year anniversary of my first wedding as a primary wedding photographer and was thinking back on some of the things I've learned. Some of these things may seem obvious to many, but thought it might help others who are just starting out.

I second shot my first five weddings in 2010 and 2011 with some really talented photographers and good friends of mine. I was able to get these gigs based solely on my portfolio of personal work (which is of my family) and limited family sessions I've done in the past. I even booked my first wedding as a primary before I shot my first wedding. The bride booked a package with an album for $3600.

I then second shot a few weddings and had a very small, limited portfolio. I was able to book 5 more weddings based on this work for my old studio. At the time, my wife was unemployed (she's a project manager in construction) so she was helping me with the 'backend' of running a photography business while I maintained my full time job as a high school administrator. My wife was able to start her own consulting company and ultimately gained employment with one of her clients.

Life got really really busy, very very quickly. We contemplated on shutting our studio down due to our priorities in our lives (we have three young sons).

Around the same time, Tony Hoffer was looking at the idea of adding an associate photographer. I messaged Tony that I might be interested. He called, we chatted and were able to construct a situation that was favorable to both of us. This entailed adding a 'studio manager' for me who would replace the role of my wife. I ended up booking five weddings for the fall of 2012 under Hoffer Photography (I just finished my second one).

And here I am.

To say its been a whirlwind would be an understatement. During this process, I learned through successes and failures.

1) Your personal life comes first. I think I've been able to successfully maintain a balance between my full time job, my wedding photography, husband, father, friend, and coach. But it's been hectic. One of the things I've been able to do more often is meet with prospective clients via Skype. I think I come across better in person, but I've found my booking rate to be nearly the same when I do it through Skype. This has allowed me to spend more time at home with the people I love the most.

2) Being a wedding photographer is a lot of work. It's something I realized before I got into it the game, but I dont think I realized exactly how much. Perhaps this is a bit of my otherwise hectic schedule, but I find it a challenge to stay on top of my work. I have to carve out chunks of time to get work done. And most times, I underestimate how much time I actually need. This has lead to arguments at homes. But with most arguments with my wife, they result in solutions. I have opted on a few occasions to outsource some batch editing and a few album designs. This really helped the process. Unfortunately, I did not have that money budgeted, so I did not make as much as I had planned, but the money spent was worth the time I gained.

3) Have a computer/storage plan. This has been a fail for me. I never set out to shoot weddings. I just kind of happened. Before I shot weddings, I was shooting a limited number of family sessions. I was editing on a macbook pro (4gb ram, 2009 core duo, 500gb harddrive) that was given to my by my school. I didnt need anything bigger/faster. Well, fast forward. I'm still using the same machine and I've been struggling to manage harddrive space. I am planning on buying a new iMac with external solution when that is announced, but it hasnt been fun having to move stuff around just to be able to edit.

4) Make people feel good about themselves. This might seem like common sense, so let me explain. I've taught high school for 13 years in Philadelphia. I still really enjoy my job. Part of the reason why is that I'm pretty good at it. I think one of the biggest reasons I've been successful as a teacher is that I try to make kids feel really good about themselves. Even my smartest students dont remember the content of my day to day lessons (that I work really hard to develop). But they always remember how they felt in my classroom. I try to do this with my clients and their families. I spend the time with them throughout the day. Talk to them, listen to them, etc. I am convinced that when they view the photos, they are viewing them through rose colored glasses because they had a positive experience with me, as a person.

5) Be passionate. I find it really interesting that some in this field look at the word "passion" as a negative. Screw that. Embrace your passion. I truly love photographing the human dynamic. I found this out when I was photographing my family. I think that people can see that passion when viewing my family work. To be honest, I dont see it as anything special, yet I get a lot of PMs, emails, comments that tell me otherwise. I think the same thing gets translated in my wedding work. On top of that, from a human perspective, other people want to be around people who are happy/passionate about what they are doing. I think my clients are attracted to that vibe that I'm hopefully putting off. I love my life and I let people know it.

6) Be cool and make connections. Post your work here and on other forums. Comment on other people's work. Tell them what you like, what you dont like. Have a voice. You never know who your voice will strike a chord with. This has been crucial to any successes I've had thus far. I started on FM by showing my shitty family photography. It sucked. And people told me as much! My work got better and people noticed. It connected with some. Some wedding photographers looked at the content/form of the photography (not the subjects) and felt it would transfer to the wedding game. That was never my intention, but I just put the work out there and others connected to it. It also pays off to reach out to others. Again, you never know how you will be received.

7) Help others along the way. Being a dick for the sake of being a dick is never good. You will end up either surrounding yourself with other dicks (not good) or alone. If you think you can help someone, do it. Either do it publicly or use the PM feature. Be good and good things will happen.


This is just a short list of things that jumped out at me. I'm really looking forward to 2013 and hope I get better and learn more!

Chuck

Edited on Sep 21, 2012 at 04:57 PM · View previous versions



Sep 21, 2012 at 02:59 PM
yangy
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p.1 #2 · First Year: What I Learned


As a primary on her first year, many of the points you posted definitely resonates with me. Thanks for sharing this Chuck .


Sep 21, 2012 at 03:08 PM
GCasey
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p.1 #3 · First Year: What I Learned


There's a lot of solid progress in one year, and it's specific. Fast forward one year what will you write? Your base is solid, and I suspect there will be at least as much progress in your next year.

I'm glad you're putting first things first -- your family and personal life!

George



Sep 21, 2012 at 03:19 PM
TTLKurtis
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p.1 #4 · First Year: What I Learned


Being nice and good and stuff is overrated.


Sep 21, 2012 at 03:28 PM
hardlyboring
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p.1 #5 · First Year: What I Learned


Good stuff for newbs


Sep 21, 2012 at 03:58 PM
RichardLavigne
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p.1 #6 · First Year: What I Learned


Well said Chuck.... especially when it comes to speaking up and taking part here.. way to many lurkers think that they can simply respond to a "I need a second shooter" post and get the job. It doesn't work that way. No one is going to hire you without being able to see something in your work... whether that means your potential clients or photographers here.


Sep 21, 2012 at 04:29 PM
Ziffl3
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p.1 #7 · First Year: What I Learned


nice read Chuck.

How are you looking into the 2nd year? Are there area that are more important or that have changed from year one?



Sep 21, 2012 at 04:39 PM
rema86
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p.1 #8 · First Year: What I Learned


thanks for sharing man, it was a nice read


Sep 21, 2012 at 04:43 PM
dmacmillan
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p.1 #9 · First Year: What I Learned


Happy Anniversary! Great points. You are a good example of helping others with positive, encouraging comments.

Here's to your continued success.



Sep 21, 2012 at 04:59 PM
katiedis
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p.1 #10 · First Year: What I Learned


Good job Chuck.

I'm on year 6 or 7 now and still learning. This week I found some really good opportunities to make my paperwork (contracts & client communications) so much more efficient that I'm excited to put them into place for next season. So, the efficient work-flow aspects are a never-ending progress. Keep with those pursuits, as they have paid the biggest dividends for me...happier clients, less time invested in biz=more time with family.




Sep 21, 2012 at 05:17 PM
 

Search in Used Dept. 



maxwell1295
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p.1 #11 · First Year: What I Learned


hardlyboring wrote:
Good stuff for newbs


Good stuff for anybody.

I'm in year #4 and much of what was written still applies...



Sep 21, 2012 at 06:06 PM
Jon-Mark
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p.1 #12 · First Year: What I Learned


All kinds of yes.


Sep 21, 2012 at 07:54 PM
ricardovaste
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p.1 #13 · First Year: What I Learned


Excellent stuff, and all very relatable given that I've just passed my 1st years couple of weeks ago (although quite a different situation to yourself). Can others share their "first year" thoughts?

I think 1) is particularly important. The amount of time you have to put in, things can fall out of balance sometimes, so you do need to keep things in check.



Sep 21, 2012 at 10:22 PM
Cincy Bruce
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p.1 #14 · First Year: What I Learned


Fantastic reading Chuck. You inspire me with just this thread. My subjects are mostly birds but my passion has me wondering outside of the normal, and actually having fun with it.

Thanks for sharing.

Bruce



Sep 22, 2012 at 12:00 AM
Ghost
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p.1 #15 · First Year: What I Learned


I still remember visiting the old Google blogspot website - anerino originals.


Sep 22, 2012 at 03:59 AM
Evan JF Roth
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p.1 #16 · First Year: What I Learned


As a photographer in my second year I've been experiencing a lot of this crazy hectic schedule that you're talking about. I try and make time for completing one task, but it usually ends up in distractions from emails, blogging, social media, and other tasks and often times at the end of the day I feel like I haven't accomplished anything substantial. Wouldn't it be nice if running a photography business was as simple as shoot, edit, and deliver?
I suppose commuting two hours to the closest large city for most client meetings and shoots doesn't seem to help...



Sep 22, 2012 at 04:52 AM
Brian Virts
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p.1 #17 · First Year: What I Learned


"I truly love photographing the human dynamic."

Well said Chuck, I've always appreciated your comments here, and your work is ok too. :-) The stuff you and Merkle did this year was pretty outrageous. Looking forward to more here from you and maybe an east coast meetup one day. Thanks for sharing...



Sep 22, 2012 at 11:19 AM
canerino
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p.1 #18 · First Year: What I Learned


glad this was of use for some of you! and i appreciate the kind words!


Sep 24, 2012 at 05:03 PM
JR Magat
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p.1 #19 · First Year: What I Learned


great read! I definitely relate to you in points 1 & 2, but it's amazing what you accomplished in 1 year (which obviously it involved years of improving/building relationships, etc.) but congrats to your success thus far & i'm looking forward to seeing your continued success!


Sep 24, 2012 at 05:18 PM
canerino
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p.1 #20 · First Year: What I Learned


Ziffl3 wrote:
nice read Chuck.

How are you looking into the 2nd year? Are there area that are more important or that have changed from year one?



thanks mark!

pretty good. I have 10 (two contracts being signed today) for 2013. I have to make a decision here on how many i actually want to book real soon. i'm thinking somewhere near 15? maybe 20? my new arrangement with my studio manager is really nice so i can probably shoot a few more without sacrificing too much.

family time remains super important to me. moments in my boys lives are so fleeting it really scares me man. and when its all over...its over. we have nothing left except the impressions we left on our children (and others). so that will continue to be my focus.




Sep 24, 2012 at 05:26 PM
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