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Last fall we were able to go on the most awesome trip I’ve ever been on. We travelled from the most northern point in Washington State through Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona and finally into Mexico before coming back home. A few months ago we had the incredible honor of having photos taken during this trip published in Wildling Magazine which regularly publishes photographers who we follow and have great respect for. We’ll be doing a full post of the trip in the future but here is a sneak peak of what was published in the magazine.
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.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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com.
Check out the previous posts in our First Year series here:
I’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?You 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.I 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.All 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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. All photos were taken with a Nikon F3 on Agfa Vista Plus 400 and scanned by PhotoVision.