Before the workshop with Abbey, I was searching for more specific advice from someone who understood my local market and demographic.
I was in my second year of shooting weddings and I had invested a lot of money into my photography education already. But truth be told, most of the larger workshops I had attended didn’t understand the unique quirks of the Utah Wedding Industry (ex.: LDS wedding days don’t require as many hours of coverage, meaning smaller packages and prices need to be offered. Also, formal sessions are a needed item, LDS brides are engaged for a short amount of time, etc, etc). These are all things I understood, but other photographers outside of Utah, and outside of the culture of the LDS Church, couldn’t relate to. Some of their advice was not quite on point for how to grow MY business where I am located.
I believe that educating yourself in photography is just as valuable as having good equipment.
And because of that, I have invested a lot in my photography and business education. I wanted to learn from someone that could relate and understand the unique photography challenges and benefits I would face in Utah. Abbey was the person for me. The fact that she could related to EXACTLY where I was located, dealing with the same kind of brides I had, and was successfully booking consistently, drew me in and helped me to decide that her workshop would be exactly what I was looking for.
My biggest lessons and takeaways from the workshop have been:
- Preparation! I learned how important it is to prepare my Brides for the photography experience. Preparation has been the key to problem solving, managing expectations and delivering a “wow” experience that is worth talking about.
- I learned about building systems to ensure that each Bride was receiving the same quality experience. The investment into my systems enables me time to GROW my business, not just maintain my business.
- I also walked away understanding that delivering quality images is just half of a successful photography business. I know now that being professional, friendly, and responsive is a part of the overall experience.
Abbey gave me perspective, and inspired me to figure out my “Why” behind my business.
Abbey told us a story of a bride that wanted to book Abbey for a wedding that overlapped with Abbey’s family vacation. The bride was willing to pay her double the collection price if she could arrange her family trip to accommodate shooting the wedding.
I thought the fact that a bride was willing to pay double was impressive, and speaks a lot to Abbey’s quality experience that she’s known for, and this bride felt like she couldn’t live without. But I also was equally impressed and inspired that Abbey turned down the bride. Abbey understood that she wasn’t in business to just shoot weddings. She was in business to empower her life and give to her family. That perspective and priority made it easy for her to turn down the wedding.
This story made me re-evaluate what parts of my life I was giving my time to, and what I wanted my mission behind running a photography business to be. Everything now has a focus and a reason. Understanding the “why” makes it easier to know what to invest in, how to market, and empowers me to stop comparing myself to other photographers so that I can make better decisions that will benefit my personal life goals.
Understanding what the real service I provide changed how I do business.
I have learned that in a service industry like ours, quality images are not all that we provide; I am responsible for making my clients feel beautiful and good about themselves during their sessions, and excited about the life events they are documenting. This has fundamentally changed every interaction that I have with my brides, and really improved their experience! It changes how, when, and what I email them, it changes how I interact with their families on the wedding day, and how I deliver images post wedding. Because of this understanding, my relationships with my clients have strengthened.
Preparation is key.
Since the workshop and seeing how Abbey prepares her brides for their experience, I have been very conscious of how I prep my own brides for their engagements and wedding sessions. I never want a client to wonder “what happens next?” I have learned that I need to be involved and responsible in every step of the way, and to be looking for ways of how to strengthen my process with better systems, or outsourcing items/services.
My generic goals have become more specific and focused.
My goals for my photography business have changed dramatically since my time at Abbey’s workshop. I remember standing up and introducing myself and saying that I wanted to work towards becoming a full time wedding photographer. Well, now I am a full time wedding photographer, but I want to build my business to be more robust and draw in a very specific style of bride. I want to shoot higher end weddings at a price point that is consistent with my brand and worth. I also want to find a way to become more involved in the wedding industry,and create a platform for photographers and wedding professionals to grow with each other.
Abbey is a very honest and profitable source to have in your corner.
She offers a lot of information and resources that have worked for her business, but also gives you enough room to explore what will work for you individually. At first, I almost wanted to do and say all of the same things as she does, but Abbey knew how important it was to discover and learn my own processes so that I could share genuinely with my clients. She has a great respect for allowing you to be your own brand and find your own voice while she is there to support and help you in any way along that path. That empowerment is far more beneficial than just selling you a template of how to run a photography business where you insert your name. It takes more time, mentoring and care, but the value of this experience is worth so much more!!