We previously talked in detail about taking some time to really sort out what each half of a married couple is going to do to help move the business forward.  This is a really important step because it will give each of you very specific roles in your business and will also prevent you from stepping all over each other when trying to accomplish the many tasks you have to do on any given day.

Patience and I sat down a couple of years ago and did this exact thing because we were doing things that were undermining each other and our business without us even knowing it.  It was painful at times to let go of certain tasks but in the end it was one of the most important steps we’ve ever taken as business owners.

Here are what we feel are the key elements to our business structure, who is responsible for each task and why we felt either me or Patience was best suited to accomplish each task.Bellingham Small Business and Photography Advice Email and client communication.  This is Patience all of the way.  She is the face of our business and the person that people always connect with from the moment they meet her.  She is able to communicate with brides and moms way better than I would be able to communicate with them because she has been a bride and is a mom.  Our entire business except for a small handful of instances revolves around future brides and moms so it makes complete sense for me to just get out of the way and let her run with it.

Scheduling.  It only makes sense that the person who is in charge of communicating with our clients would be responsible for scheduling as well.  We were concerned that things could be lost in translation if Patience was communicating directly with our clients and I was running the schedule.  The easiest approach is to not have a middle person.Bellingham Small Business and Photography Advice

Blogging.  This one belongs to me.  (Joe)  At one point Patience was blogging when we first started our business because I was working so many hours between my two other jobs but a few years ago I took over the blogging because I was able to do it more efficiently and I think it’s best to have only one person blogging.  We want to create a cohesive voice and writing style so it made sense that I stick with it while also keeping an open line of feedback about our content from Patience.

More recently with us writing about our experiences being full time we have been much more of a team with blogging.  I’m still writing 100% of the series but Patience is very involved in what we are writing about and how we are going from a rough draft to the final version that we are posting.

No matter who is blogging I think it’s very important for the other person to know what is going on with your content.  There are occasions when people will approach Patience about the things I’ve been writing and it’s in the business’ best interest for us both to be able to answer people’s questions.

Culling.  Patience has less of an attachment to images than I do and has a much easier time going through our work and eliminating photos that are either duplicates or just aren’t as flattering.  She truly has a gift in this area and if it weren’t for her we would probably be way over delivering.Bellingham Small Business and Photography Advice

Editing.  We outsource almost all of our editing but I will occasionally do smaller sessions or sessions that need a really fast turnaround.  We have been outsourcing our editing to www.weditoo.com since the end of 2013 and it’s been an amazing experience.  Here’s a post about outsourcing that covers much more than just editing.  http://joeandpatience.com/first-year-outsourcing/

The other editing I do is film scan editing.  This usually doesn’t take a lot of time because I can almost always apply the same settings to an entire roll and then make very small adjustments for photos that were in different light.

We decided that I would take care of the editing because I tend to be able to get more consistent colors from session to session.  One of the most important things you can achieve as a photographer is consistency with your work so definitely make this decision based on who is the most consistent.  

Along with consistency, another thing to consider is who is able to be happy with the session and doesn’t have the tendency to go back and edit more.  I know a lot of photographers, me being one of them early on in our business, who can adjust and tweak a single image for hours just to see how different presets and settings look.  It’s fun to be able to do that but it isn’t very good if you’re trying to run an efficient business.

Editing QC and touch ups.  No matter who is editing I think it’s incredibly important to have the person who isn’t editing do QC.  Patience does the touch up stuff like fly away hair and blemishes but even if the person editing is doing those as well, the other should be doing a QC.  Patience is great at noticing slight color and exposure variations and will either let me know which photos she is concerned about or will make the adjustment herself.  I think it’s a really good thing for both of you to see the product that is going out to your clients.  Big companies have multiple levels of quality control to prevent any kind of mistakes and I think that same approach is really valuable for small businesses as well.Bellingham Small Business and Photography Advice

Vendor relations.  This falls into the email and client communication category.  We want to build long term and mutually beneficial relationships with the amazing local vendors we get to work with and Patience is great at building these relationships.

Equipment maintenance and upgrades.  Let’s face it, I really like photography gear and Patience just wants to have a camera good enough to take photos of people.  I guess by default that puts me in charge of keeping track of what we need and what we don’t need.  Of course we have to make big decisions like this together since most camera related purchases aren’t cheap and Patience is really good at reminding of the difference between wants and needs.

I am also in charge of organizing all of our equipment before weddings and smaller sessions, cleaning all of our lenses, charging all of our batteries, downloading and formatting all of our memory cards, etc.  If we show up to a session or wedding without something it’s going to be on me.

That’s pretty much the bulk of it.  If you have any questions at all about how we have broken up these tasks please feel free to send us an email at info@joeandpatience.com.

Check out the previous posts in our First Year series here:

Personal Fear

Financial Fear

Marketing Part I

When Were We Ready?

Marketing Part II

Learning from Setbacks

Taking Risks

Outsourcing

The One Roll Project

Business as Husband and Wife Part I

The Journey

This week was supposed to be a continuation of what we started last week about working as a husband and wife and we are really sorry to keep you waiting if you were hoping to see how we break down the tasks in our business.  This last week something happened that really got me thinking about my life and the path we have been on to get where we are now.  I promise we’ll get back to our list of tasks next week.

So, what happened last week?

Something awesome is what happened.  I got to see one of my closest friends from my time in the Air Force for the first time in over 6 years.  Even though my schedule was pretty tight and we were only able to hang out for a little over an hour it gave us the opportunity to catch up on what has been happening in each other’s lives.  I got to hear about about the events that led him to Washington after being in Arizona for so long and I got to tell him about the exciting things that have been happening in our life with our kids and with our business.  The best part of it is that even though it didn’t feel like we had been very good about staying in touch during that time we were able to pick right back up where we left off.  Like I said, it was really, really awesome and I feel so blessed that someone I was such close friends with has come back into my life like this.

I’m sure everyone else has this happen in situations where you see someone from a time in your life that is much different from your current life.  You reminisce about things.  You remember the things you used to do, the places you used to go and how life felt back then.  Memories come flooding back like a tidal wave.  Things you haven’t thought of in years are suddenly in the forefront of your mind.  I can’t believe how many memories came back.  I remembered spending time in his office when we weren’t busy, going to concerts in our off time and our trip to San Diego from Phoenix.  Not only that but memories came flooding back from all different parts of my life in Phoenix when I was in the Air Force.  It was an incredibly exciting time in my life because there were so many possibilities, so many options for my future and it was also the beginning of my relationship and marriage to Patience.Monterey Family PhotographerNot long after I got home I sent another friend a message about seeing our mutual friend in Seattle and we both agreed that our time spent at Luke Air Force base was our favorite time of our careers in the military.  You wouldn’t think that such a simple realization would have had such a huge effect on me.  It really was my favorite time in the Air Force.  I was surrounded by people who were far more than temporary friends that I just so happened to be stationed with.  They felt like brothers and the relationships I built with them still mean the world to me.

What in the world does this have to do with our business and our life now?  

I spent my entire time in the Air Force waiting for the next part of my life to start.  Everything around me at that time felt like it was only temporary while I was planning what I thought I should be doing down the road.  My very favorite part of my time in the military flew by and I was only focused on what was ahead of me and never stopped to enjoy what was happening around me during those very short few years as a young adult.

Most people who know me know I am not a very emotional person but the simple idea that I would never be able to experience that part of my life again absolutely destroyed me.  It’s hard to grasp that one of the best parts of my life so far is long gone and I was so focused on my planning for the future that I didn’t see that I was being blessed and that my life was already pretty awesome.The beach in Monterey CaliforniaIt’s pretty obvious that there is no way to go back and relive that part of my life but it’s definitely possible to make sure I don’t live that way anymore.

No matter if you’re an established business owner, someone who is just getting started or maybe you are going through the stress of planning a wedding.  I hope you’re able to enjoy the time you’re in right now.  I hope you’re able to enjoy the huge breakthroughs you’re having, the hustle you didn’t know you were capable of and the struggles that are teaching you lessons that are necessary to succeed.  It might seem like you are just occupying this moment as you prepare for bigger things but really, you are exactly where you are supposed to be and you are experiencing an amazing part of life that you will never experience again.

I know for a fact that amazing things are happening in my life every single day.  This business Patience and I have started, our two kids and the amazing people who hire us to document some of the biggest moments of their lives are all things that will be gone in what will feel like the blink of an eye.  Sure we have goals and plans but we realize that we need to take the time to be thankful for everything God is blessing us with and that we need to allow ourselves to enjoy our journey.

Remember, like John Lennon said,  “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans”.  Make your plans and prepare for the future but don’t forget to love your journey.  When it all comes down to it, it’s the journey, not the destination, that will carry the most weight in your life.

Check out the previous posts in our First Year Series here…

Personal Fear

Financial Fear

Marketing Part I

When Were We Ready?

Marketing Part II

Learning from Setbacks

Taking Risks

Outsourcing

The One Roll Project

Working as Husband and Wife Part I

We hear it all the time…  “It must be so amazing to be able to work together!”  That or we hear, “I have no idea how you do it, I could never work with my husband/wife.  They would drive me crazy”.  It has become a super common thing that comes up during weddings or family sessions.

The truth of it is that it’s both of those.  It is amazing and there are days where we don’t know how we’re going to do it.  It’s also one of those things that needs constant work because things change.  Patience and I have gone through several different phases of our business where we did different things and sometimes it didn’t work out very well but we kept working at it.  We kept adjusting and learning because that’s what it takes to find success.Small business advice and photography mentoring from Bellingham photographer Joe and PatienceA few weeks ago we were asked this question by Cicely from Rusted Van Photography

“How do you balance your own creative and artistic vision while maintaining a brand and cohesive look? My husband and I are still trying to find a way to both play an active role in our business, but it’s a challenge! We both love to shoot, and we both enjoy editing – so, we are finding that we end up tripping all over one another and we aren’t sure who should be doing what. Sometimes I think this leads to one of us overstepping the other and one always feels artistically “slighted”.”Small business advice and photography mentoring from Bellingham photographer Joe and PatienceIt really got us thinking about how we got to where we are now and what we went through to figure this question out for ourselves.  A lot of it was trial and error and a lot of it was not giving up when we were discouraged about our place in the business.  Patience used to ask me after sessions, “What is my role in the business?  I don’t feel like I’m contributing anything to the shoots we are doing.”  That is a really tough thing to deal with because we both need to be involved for this whole thing to work and it took some pretty serious growing pains to get to a point where we are both pretty comfortable and confident in the part we play to make what everyone knows as “Joe and Patience”.

After several years of going around and around about the whole business role thing we finally sat down with a pad of paper and a pencil and went through every single part of our business we could think of.  Once we had all of the tasks and workflow steps listed we started assigning them to the person who we felt was the strongest at completing those tasks at the time.  This is going to be the point where you need to let go of your pride and be honest with yourself and your spouse.  These assignments are business related and are not meant to be taken personally.  If you have never done this I want you to say this to yourself out loud.  “These assignments are are for the good of our business and I will not take it personally.”  This is really, really important and like Patience and I, it may need to be saved for a time when you’re in the right mental state to take some criticism in the form of being taken off of doing certain tasks that you enjoy doing.Small business advice and photography mentoring from Bellingham photographer Joe and PatienceI completely understand that it may be pretty difficult to release some control but it will be a really good thing.  By doing this you’ll avoid the constant stepping on each other’s feet that we experienced in the first couple of years being in business together.  You’ll avoid sending nearly duplicate emails to the same client, paying your bills twice and ordering your client’s products twice as well.  Yep, we’ve done all of those and more.  This will literally save you money in the long run and it will help you to avoid embarrassing situations with your clients.  It’s 100% worth the time and potential of temporarily damaged pride to get it done sooner rather than later.

The most important thing to remember is that you and your spouse have a common goal with your business.  Maybe you’re trying to get to the point of leaving a 9-5 or you’re doing it on the side to be able to pay for vacations with your family.  Either way, it doesn’t matter, there is still a common goal and it’s worth taking the time to figure this out.Small business advice and photography mentoring from Bellingham photographer Joe and PatienceSo, grab some paper, a pencil because you’re probably going to want to erase some stuff and sit down together without any distractions.  Make sure you’re both emotionally ready to dig deep and start writing.  You’re going to want to make a list of every single thing that gets handled in your business.  Client communication, bills being paid, scheduling, who does what at every type of session you may shoot if you’re a photographer, etc.  Once you have all of those things listed you’ll need to go through each task and talk about it.  Some of them might be really easy while some of them might be a bit more difficult.  Just remember to be open, honest and that there is a common goal.  

Next week we’re going to go through our list of tasks and explain why we have assigned specific things to each of us.

Thanks for taking the time to read and like always, we’re more than happy to answer questions you might have.  Just send us an email at info@joeandpatience.com

Whoa!  It looks like this thing is becoming a whole series!  Check out the previous posts here.

Personal Fear

Financial Fear

Marketing Part I

When Were We Ready?

Marketing Part II

Learning from Setbacks

Taking Risks

Outsourcing

The One Roll Project

Photos of our 10 year vow renewal by the amazing Jonathan Canlas!

Photography and Business Advice from Bellingham Wedding and Family Photographer Joe and PatienceI’m sure a lot of you know what it feels like to plateau with your work.  I know that I go through the same thing and it’s incredibly frustrating because as a creative I always want to be getting better.  The best mindset to have in dealing with this is something that Jonathan Canlas says. He approaches each and every shoot with the goal that it’s going to be the best work he has ever produced.  I can’t imagine a better way to approach a creative field than that and I try to apply that to everything I do as a photographer.

It just isn’t that easy all of the time though is it?  Sometimes you hit points in the creative journey where you want to give up or just put whatever you’re doing down for a while in hopes that you will refocus and have a better vision of what you want to create.  What in the world do you do then?  Obviously giving up isn’t an option but sometimes standing back and getting some perspective is a great option but what if you don’t want to put what you’re doing down?Photography and Business Advice from Bellingham Wedding and Family Photographer Joe and PatienceYou have to challenge yourself.  You have to find the borders of your comfort zone and push beyond them.  The thing that’s awesome about pushing yourself past your comfort zone is that in a lot of cases that’s where you will make the best work you’ve ever made.

The following exercise is something that I do to push past my creative boundaries.  It’s simple, doesn’t take a lot of time and has also helped improve our time as a family because it forces me to put the camera down and be present with Abbee, Noah and Patience in whatever we are doing.  We believe in this so much that our entire About Us Video is based on this exact idea.  If you have a family and have trouble with being behind the camera too much this is the perfect exercise because it will force you to put your camera away.Photography and Business Advice from Bellingham Wedding and Family Photographer Joe and PatienceI call it the one roll project and it is exactly what it sounds like.  I take one roll of film and an old 35mm camera with us during family outings.  Once I shoot that one roll of film my time behind the camera is done.  The challenge with it is to create something that is worth displaying as a story.  It’s easy to pull that off when you have nearly unlimited frames to use but when you have a maximum of 36 photos you have to be very conscious and calculated with the photos you decide to take.

Here’s my challenge to you in those times of artistic frustration.  Simplify what you do and find a way to limit yourself while also challenging yourself to create something cohesive and complete.  It definitely isn’t easy but it is incredibly rewarding when you do it right.  If you don’t shoot film?  Challenge yourself with your digital camera.  Limit yourself to the exact same number of photos and don’t delete anything.  When you get to that limit put the camera away and remember that if it doesn’t turn out exactly how you hoped that your next session will always be your best work.Photography and Business Advice from Bellingham Wedding and Family Photographer Joe and PatienceAll of the photos in this post are from one roll of film during a day when my son Noah and I walked around downtown Bellingham.  They’re all really simple and I wanted to capture him being himself, crazy faces and all.  More than that though, I wanted to spend time with him exploring the city we live and work in.  By only using one roll of film I wasn’t attached to the back of my camera the entire time.  I was spending time asking him questions, watching him be silly and enjoying his company.  The fact that I was able to use this time challenge myself artistically was just a bonus.

If you don’t shoot film but want to give it a try feel free to send us an email at info@joeandpatience.com and mention the film guide.  We have a free guide to shooting film that we would love to share with you.  Film has had a huge effect on the way we now approach photography and we love to help people get started with it. Photography and Business Advice from Bellingham Wedding and Family Photographer Joe and Patience Photography and Business Advice from Bellingham Wedding and Family Photographer Joe and Patience Photography and Business Advice from Bellingham Wedding and Family Photographer Joe and Patience Photography and Business Advice from Bellingham Wedding and Family Photographer Joe and Patience Photography and Business Advice from Bellingham Wedding and Family Photographer Joe and Patience Photography and Business Advice from Bellingham Wedding and Family Photographer Joe and Patience Photography and Business Advice from Bellingham Wedding and Family Photographer Joe and Patience Photography and Business Advice from Bellingham Wedding and Family Photographer Joe and Patience Photography and Business Advice from Bellingham Wedding and Family Photographer Joe and Patience Photography and Business Advice from Bellingham Wedding and Family Photographer Joe and Patience Photography and Business Advice from Bellingham Wedding and Family Photographer Joe and Patience Photography and Business Advice from Bellingham Wedding and Family Photographer Joe and Patience Photography and Business Advice from Bellingham Wedding and Family Photographer Joe and Patience Photography and Business Advice from Bellingham Wedding and Family Photographer Joe and Patience Photography and Business Advice from Bellingham Wedding and Family Photographer Joe and Patience Photography and Business Advice from Bellingham Wedding and Family Photographer Joe and PatienceAll photos were taken with a Nikon F3 on Agfa Vista Plus 400 and scanned by PhotoVision.

A few nights ago before we went off to bed we got trapped.  We got sucked into something that we needed to be sucked into.  Don’t you just love those moments when you should be doing something else but what you end up doing is much more valuable than the alternative?

About a month ago we decided that it was time to go back to our iPhones.  I know, I know, we had a blog post specifically about how we were able to save money by switching to dumb phones.  It was all fine and dandy except for the fact that we had a few things happen that having our iPhones would have completely solved.  Anyway, before we activated our iPhones we made sure to back all of the photos we had taken with them up to Dropbox and last night we finally found the time to look through all of them.  There was stuff in there from when Abbee was about 3 and Noah was only 1.  They’re 7 and almost 5 right now.  These are photos that we haven’t looked at in a long time!

The amazing thing about seeing these photos is that we realized that we have all of these times that are amazing and not only are they photographed with our iPhones but a lot of these moments were also photographed on film too!  Having a phone to photograph everything is great but it just doesn’t compare to what using a “real” camera with good lenses can do.

So, here’s my challenge to you as photographers.  Photograph your life and photograph it in a way that means something to you.  I love shooting film.  I love shooting film so much that I shoot almost all of my personal work with it.  I take a film camera with me almost everywhere we go with the purpose of documenting our family as it is in that very moment.  Sometimes I go through a whole roll and sometimes I don’t.  The honest truth of it is that you don’t need to shoot countless photos of your kids running around.  Sometimes it only takes one image to remind you of every detail surrounding the moments that you photograph.  This image is a perfect example of that.

Mentoring Business Advice Joe and Patience Snow at Mount Baker

This photo reminds me of the drive up to the mountain to find a sledding spot, it reminds me of Abbee laughing hysterically, it reminds me of Noah overcoming his fear of being on the sled by himself and it reminds me of how much I was sweating pulling Abbee and Noah through the snow.  I feel that it perfectly represents just how fast and blurry our life felt as we tried to balance family, full time jobs and our growing business at that specific time in our life.  It’s also  a perfect example of what we talk about in our “About us” video when we say that it only takes one image to relive a lifetime.  Is it a perfect image from a technical stand point?  Absolutely not but that isn’t what matters.  What really matters is that it brings us back to that exact moment and reminds us what our life felt like.  Isn’t that the whole point of photography?

Next week I’m going to be posting about using personal work to grow as a photographer and how my “One Roll” project not only changed how I photograph my family but also forced me to put the camera down and be present in those moments.

Thanks for reading!

If you want to check out the other posts in this series you can get to them with these links…

Personal Fear

Financial Fear

Marketing Part I

When Were We Ready?

Marketing Part II

Learning from Setbacks

Taking Risks

Outsourcing