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Aug 25, 2015

2015 Mentoring Sessions - TWO MORE!

Published in For Photogs
When a note like this comes in the mail, I feel bad for any of my neighbors who may be watching me read it as I walk back from our mailbox... I take three steps. Stop. Read some more. Five more steps. Smile. Read more. Stop. Try not to burst into tears. Read more. Say, "awww gosh!" out loud. Walk a little more and sit on our front stoop to finish reading with a lump in my throat as I read the sweet handwritten words filling the pages. Our neighbors must think I'm nuts but I don't care! When mail like this comes it stops me in my tracks, literally, and fills my heart with a thankfulness that Chris and I get to do what we do, which includes meeting and mentoring other photographers and helping them pursue their passion... To encourage them and let these photographers know that their dream IS possible. To take a hard look at their business and provide them with an actionable roadmap of how to proceed forward. 
We have been there. We know how overwhelming and frustrating growing a business can be. But we also know that anything is possible - that growth, success, and working with your ideal clients is achievable cause we have been there too. This is why we are passionate and love coaching photographers in their businesses! 
The timing of this note couldn't be any better as Chris and I are excited to announce we are offering TWO more mentoring sessions this year! To read more about our mentoring sessions, CLICK HERE. If you are interested in booking a session with us feel free to click here or email us at!  
Oh, and that sweet note that arrived in the mail? It was from Raleigh NC wedding and family photographer Lauryn Alisa! Thank you Lauryn - we just adore you and are so incredibly proud of you and where you have taken your business over these past few months! You have worked so hard and we knew you could do it! We can't wait to see all you are going to do next! 
"Ashley and Chris are simply put, wonderful! Mentoring with them was the best decision i made for my business. Before meeting with Ashley and Chris, I was feeling lost in y business. I knew where I wanted to be but had no clue how to get there. I felt like I had all these ideas and could not figure out how to bring it all together & accomplish something. Enter Ashley and Chris. They listened to me, took a look at where i was at, gave me advice on what needed to be improved, shared some of their own secrets and left me with a plan of action I could follow to help me achieve my goals. They didn't just sit there and tell me what works for them, but helped me figure out what will work for me and my business. 
Not only are Ashley and Chris smart business people, but they are also genuine and caring individuals. After meeting with them, I felt like I had just met with old friends who really cared about me and my success. They wanted to help me and take bride in teaching others. This is the best attribute you could ask for in a mentor, which is why working with them was an incredible experience. 
Since working with Ashley and Chris my business has improved dramatically. While I am still working through my action plan and towards my goals, I am finally starting to see my business evolve into what I want it to be. I still refer to my notes from the mentoring session daily. The biggest improvement is not just that I am booking more weddings, but I am attracting and booking more of my ideal clients.  
I cannot thank Ashley and Chris enough for all of their help with getting me heading down the right track. It was such a great experience mentoring with them and I would highly recommend them to anyone looking to head in the right directions with their business." 
Lauryn, Lauryn Alisa Photography
2015 Mentoring Sessions - TWO MORE!
For Photogs: Telling Couples About A First Look
Aug 20, 2015

For Photogs: Telling Couples About A First Look

Published in For Photogs
I do not currently suggest to my couples that they do a First Look, however I would like to start doing so. I noticed many of your couples decide to do a First Look. How do you convince them to do one? 
Thank you in advance, 
I am so glad you asked! So for me, it's important to just share with my wedding couples what a First Look is so they know it is an option. I don't push our couples to do a First Look or really try and convince them, but tell them about the benefits so they can make an informed decision to do one or not. Even if they have heard of a First Look before, I make sure to explain to them what it is from my perspective - a sacred and intimate moment between you two where you can see one another on your wedding day for the first time in privacy, etc... Because to be honest, when Chris and I were planning our wedding and were simply told it's when you "see one another before the ceremony" with no explanation or benefits, we both decided not to do one immediately. Knowing what we know now, it's something we both wish we had done!  
If a couple has no time between the ceremony and cocktail hour and want to take a lot of photos of two of them and have a lot of family photos for example, then I strongly recommend doing a First Look and explain why and what the benefits are from a timing perspective. Most couple's don't want to be rushed and often want to attend their cocktail hour. This may be something they had not thought about so discussing this with them during their consultation can be helpful! There have been a few couples we have met with over the years that had such little time for photos after the ceremony and didn't want to do a First Look, we told them we did not feel comfortable with the timeline. We respected their decision not to do a First Look, but based on our experience we knew what was/wasn't possible in the time allotted and knew we could not provide our best work and what they would be looking for for their family, bridal party, and bride/groom photos in the very small timeframe they had. Having a candid converstaion about this upfront was important and better for everyone involved so that adjustments could be made to the timeline or they could reach out to another photographer. 
For me, the key is to educate and share options with couples and not convince or force. After all, it is their wedding day and what they want to do needs to be respected. : )  
Hope this is helpful!
Apr 20, 2015

For Photogs: Taking Family Photos with Paparazzi

Published in For Photogs
Sometimes during a wedding when I am trying to take the posed family photos, the family members end up looking at everyone else taking photos of them and not at my camera. It makes family photos take even longer and can be frustrating. Have you been in this kind of a situation? What do you do? 
Thanks, Frustrated
Yes, yes and YES! I have been in that situation more times then I can remember and get questions often from other photographers about this! For me, there are really two main challenges when other guests are taking photos of the family you are trying to pose and photograph. First, is the very challange you pointed out - the family members start looking around at other cameras, then back at my camera, then back quickly at all the other guests taking photos, and so on. It makes for an awkward family photo when only some of the family members are looking at my camera and then others in different directions. The second challenge is when the family is constantly blinking because of guests' camera flashes going off. We've all been there, right?! It can take so much longer to complete family photos when the photo has to be taken again and again to account for family members blinking from guests' camera flashes. 
That being said, there are some things that I do on a regular basis to avoid these two things from happening and help me efficiently and quickly complete family photos. 
One thing I might do if it's a key family photo (like one whole side of a family) and lots of guest are trying to photograph it, I will stand off to the side for about 15 seconds and direct the family to look at the guests taking photos. I will then step back in front of the group and direct the family to only look at my camera now. I have found this is much more effective then trying to have all the guests hold off on photographing the family. Not only do guests step away after taking a photo so that my camera is the only one taking photos, but the guests are so grateful they were able to get a quick photo on their device. If guests still continue to take photos of the group and it is effecting where the group is looking or blinking, I will stop taking photos and turn completely around to the guests and ask them to refrain from taking photos until I am done. If time is limited and there is no time for me to stand off to the side or LOTS of guests are photographing the family photos I will usually ask them to refrain right off the bat and explain that them taking photos is interfering with my photographing the family. Sometimes at this point my couple will echo what I have said to specific guests which can help as well!  
Your couples have hired you to photograph their entire day to the best of your ability, including the family photos. So remember to be assertive when you need to be! I hope this is helpful and please know that you are definitely not the only one that finds themself in this situation wedding after wedding!
For Photogs: Taking Family Photos with Paparazzi
Mentoring Sessions & Workshop
Apr 9, 2015

Mentoring Sessions & Workshop

Published in For Photogs
We hear from so many photographers who are frustrated with the growth, or lack there of, in their businesses. They are struggling to figure out how to brand, market, and price themselves. They aren't sure who their ideal client is or should be and what their client experience should look like. They don't have a clear direction for their photography business and aren't sure what to do next. And when asking them what they are going to do about it, typically they don't know. Or they are doing nothing for the time being. 
But change requires action. It requires doing things and doing things differently. It means taking a step in the right direction for their business, and for some photographers this means attending a workshop or signing up for an intensive mentoring session. If this is you, we have TWO mentoring sessions left for this spring! For more details regarding our mentoring sessions, CLICK HERE. We asked past mentee Anne for her feedback on her mentoring session and this is what she had to say:
Mar 5, 2015

For Photogs: Asking Why

Published in For Photogs
As business owners one of the most important questions we can ask ourselves is WHY? Cause lets be honest, we ask this question of our mentors and people we admire in the industry when trying to understand their businesses, but we often forget to ask ourselves this question.  
When preparing for a mentoring session with a photographer, Chris and I do a deep dive analysis of the photographer's business. Part of this usually includes writing down questions regarding why the photographer does things a certain way, operates their business using a specific process, and the thinking/reasoning behind an aspect of their business. While many times they have an answer that is a well informed intentional reason, a lot of the time if we are confused about why they do things a certain way, they may also be. Here are the top five answers we get when we ask WHY that raise a concerning flag: 
I don't know 
• I've always done it that way 
• Other people do it  
• I don't know how to do it any other way 
• I didn't know that's what I was doing
As business owners it is our responsibility to know why we make the decisions we make for our business and do things the way we do. "I don't know" is one of the scariest answers because if the photographer who owns the business doesn't know why they do x,y,z then who does?! Running a business from a place of blind emotion is like a sailboat at sea with no rutter. The boat will go wherever the tide takes it with no clear reasoning, direction or purpose. Surely this boat will eventually run into the ground. For example, the question "why do you charge what you do for your services?" shouldn't be answered with "I don't know." Strong business are built on a foundation of informed processes and decisions that work best for that business. 
If you are doing things simply and only because you have always done it that way, I can guarantee you are not growing as a business owner. Significant or forward movement never came from comfort zones, the worn path, or doing things the same way time and time again just because. 
Doing what everyone else is doing is very risky. Answering the question "why are you hosting a workshop?" or "why are you offering discounts?" with "Because everyone else is" is concerning. Making decisions for your business based on trends and what works for other people really isn't a smart place to run a business from. Because let's be honest, trends change and what works for them may not be best for you and your business.  
The heartbeat of WHY you do what you do within your business should come from a place of clearly knowing your own business, goals, intentions, and motivations.
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