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

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

Life is busy no matter who we talk to.  In creative fields there are countless people working their normal 9-5 jobs while they try to build their businesses and it’s hard to find any time for themselves.  Even the people who are full time with their businesses run into time being an issue.  There are just too many things to do to run a business and there is rarely enough time in the day.

A little over a week ago we had the honor of speaking about our first year being full time to group of around 40 photographers at a photography conference called Photo Lush in Bellingham.  During our speech one of the talking points was about outsourcing and how it was really important for our business as we started to get more busy and we were trying to balance our business with my full time job, the Air National Guard and having a family.  During our talk we had a lot of ground to cover so we didn’t get to go as deep into our outsourcing process as we would have liked and I figured it would be a great thing to write a blog about.Small Business advice and photography mentoring by Bellingham wedding photographer joe and patience

We already outsource a lot of things that used to be done at home only 50 years ago.  As our technology has progressed the education level required to maintain the items we use in our daily lives has hit a point where we are no longer capable of maintaining them.  Cars are a great example!  How many people still take the time to change their own oil?  How many of us are even capable of repairing small problems with our cars?  I’m guessing not very many of us.  House projects are another big one.  Last winter we were having issues with our furnace turning on when the thermostat was triggering it to turn on.  We had to call someone out because the thermostat was too complicated for me to fix.  Even if I knew how to fix it I probably couldn’t have though because it was something completely separate and I never would have known it was an issue.  In all of these situations we are outsourcing a task to someone because we don’t know how to do it, know someone who can do it better or realize our time is more valuable doing other things than spending hours trying to take care of tasks that take a professional very little time.

A huge turning point in our business came in the thick of us working way too many hours and being spread as thin as we could possibly be spread.  We hit a point where there was almost no choice but to outsource some of our business tasks.  It doesn’t have to get to this point though.  If you can take a little bit of time to see where your time is best spent and then find the right people to outsource the things you are either not excited to do or aren’t good at doing in the first place you will free yourself up to do the tasks that you are best at.  For us that meant we needed to get rid of a few big things so we could give ourselves the time to do the things that would bring us the most business while also giving ourselves more time with our family.Small Business advice and photography mentoring by Bellingham wedding photographer joe and patience

We didn’t outsource our taxes first but it’s first on the list.  Hire an accountant!  We tried to do our own taxes for several years and it was like banging our heads against the wall.  As a small business owner it is a nightmare to try to navigate tax code and it’s easy to spend way too much time figuring it out.  It will also minimize the number of mistakes you will make.  The people who do this for a living know exactly how everything needs to be filed.  Even more importantly, if you don’t have an accountant doing your taxes you are more than likely throwing money away because they will know the small details in tax code that can save you money.  Seriously, hire an accountant!  I wish we would have done it the moment we started our business and it will literally pay for itself.

Outsource your editing.  I know that there are a lot of people out there that really enjoy editing and if you’re one of them I think you should stick with it.  I’m not one of those people.  Editing is exhausting and I realized that there were a lot of other things I could be doing that would help us bring in more business.

There is a bit of a rule to this though.  Well, it’s my rule but I think it’s a good one.  If you’re going to outsource your editing please make sure you’re sending your work to someone who is more skilled than you are.  I see a lot of people sending out there editing to some of the big names in editing only to get it back once the editing is done and still have to make changes to every photo.  There are a so many companies offering editing services now that it just doesn’t make any sense to me that people are sending their work out, paying for it and then still have to work on it.  Find an option that fits the style you are known for.

The other part of this is that you need to feel comfortable communicating with the person you are sending your photos to.  If you want a style that’s light and airy but you get back photos that aren’t done this way you need to communicate that.  We have been sending our work out to Weditoo for almost three years and I am in constant communication with them.  That’s the reason we are able to get our photos back and not need to make any changes to them.  We have built a working relationship with them where I can tell them the look I want or how I want my profile to change and they can tell me why I may not be getting it based on how I’m shooting and give me recommendations on how to adjust how I’m doing things.  It’s been a great working relationship!Small Business advice and photography mentoring by Bellingham wedding photographer joe and patience

Outsource your graphic design!  When we first started we typed our business name, Patience Ivory Photography at the time, into a Word file and went through all of the fonts on our computer until we found a cool one.  It wasn’t exactly a well thought out process.  Sure it worked for a while but it wasn’t the best fit for what our business was.

We also spent hours and hours for months trying to figure out building a website.  It was a huge waste of time and is probably one of the reasons our business growth in the first few years was so slow.

Just like we are passionate about photography, graphic designers are passionate about graphic design.  They love figuring out the design of a logo and brand based on what that business stands for.  When we finally decided to move our business in a different direction and go with Joe and Patience as a business name that was accurate for what we do we also decided to hire Caava Design to design our logo and build a custom website.  The process was awesome!  It dug deep into the style of brands that we liked and ultimately resulted in the logo we are using now.  Of all of the money we have spent for our business, the money spent on building our brand has had the biggest return.  We have to give credit to not only the Caava Design process but also to the fact that they love what they do.  Seriously, it’s worth every single penny!Small Business advice and photography mentoring by Bellingham wedding photographer joe and patience

If you aren’t sure where to start with outsourcing, take a little bit to sit down and figure out what tasks you don’t like doing.  There are always going to be things that suck away time at a rate that gets out of control quickly.  Those are the things you should consider.  Taxes, editing, graphic design, culling, etc.  We know people who have hired someone to do office work like emailing for an hour or two per day because they know that they are either not very good at that side of the business or because they have to much other work.  You might have to dig deep and it might not be an easy decision to let go of a little bit of control but if it means your business can operate more efficiently or that you get more time with your family it’s worth giving it a serious thought.

Thank you so much for reading!  We hope you have a great day!

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