3 Tools to Automate Your Wedding Photography Business

Tools for Wedding Photographers

Start your year off on the right foot by getting your systems dialed in so that once the busy season picks up, you can still maintain your momentum & feel/look super professional!

A CRM with customizable automated workflows: 17hats

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I use 17hats. It allows me to create a consistent workflow for each wedding and engagement client. Below is the workflow I used for all my 2017 weddings. I have email templates set with reminders to send them out at a designated amount of time prior to their wedding. For example, every one of my couples receives a series of planning tips emails 6 months, 3 months, 1 week and 3 days before their wedding. Providing this planning information helps set expectations for their wedding day and ensures we're both on the same page. 

Here's the template for the email I send out 3 months before their wedding day. 

"Dear [Brides Name],

3 more months to go! 

I just wanted to check in to see how things are going with the wedding? If you have questions about anything, please feel free to reach out to me. I'm here to help! Within the next few weeks, you will start getting additional helpful hints from me. They will help you to achieve the perfect timeline for your wedding, reduce the stress typically associated with family photos, and many other helpful tips. Please be on the look out for those emails! 

In the mean time -- check out this blog post about swanky newly wed discounts #freestuff #swag
https://www.bjonesphotos.com/blog/newlywed-discoun...


Again, please feel free to contact me if I can be of any help! 

xoxo,
Becca"

Easy Bookkeeping Tracking -- Quickbooks Small Business

Previously I was using the bookkeeping options available within 17hats but found their available reports to be lacking. Quickbooks small business has this neat feature that offers insights into what to expect to pay on your taxes based on your current income & expenses. I still hire a professional CPA to do our taxes because our finances/investments are pretty darn complicated and going DIY is too intimidating. What I love best about this bookkeeping system is that it is EASY. I sync my business credit card & checking account info and it automatically pulls all my transactions into the system daily. Every few days, I'll go in and categorize a few transactions and that's it! At the end of the year, I hand my accountant a few reports available through Quickbooks and I don't have to do anything else. SO GREAT. It also has the added benefit of offering a mobile app. As a mom, finding time to sit in front of the computer to work is a commodity! So being able to do bookkeeping from my phone in the playroom while the kids do their Legos is a huge win! 

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Pre-scheduled Instagram & Pinterest posting -- Tailwind

I use Tailwind to schedule all my pinterest & instagram posts. I feel like Pinterest is sort of an under the radar way to reach brides that isn't super saturated with a bajillion other photographers. I received 6 wedding inquiries from brides who found me on Pinterest last year and 3 of them ended up booking me. #WINNING I recently started using Tailwind and boosted my Pinterest reach from 75,000+ to 105,000 in a month. I also use it to schedule my Instagram posts. One of my favorite features about Tailwind for Instagram is that it suggests relevant hashtags and then ranks them to let you know whether they a Niche, Oversaturated, Ok, Good, or Great.

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Tips: Being a Nursing Mom & Wedding Photographer

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Many of my fellow momtogs have lamented about the difficulties of being a nursing mom and trying to shoot an ALL day wedding. During an 8-10 hr wedding, there is limited time to eat, drink, let alone pump. It's stressful because this can cause a mommy to lose her milk. 

So I want to share my experience and things I've learned that have helped maintain my milk supply. 

Tips:

1. Quick & Easy Snacks! I always carry tiny snacks in my camera bag & pump bag. I often scarf them down between locations while shooting or while the bride & groom are wrangling their people for family photos, I'll take a few steps away from the group, turn my back and stuff as much food in my mouth as I can manage.

Snack options that are easy and convenient:

  • Individually packed nut butter 
  • Granola Bars
  • Apple Slices
  • Fruit Leather
  • Trail Mix
  • Baby food squeeze packs. (I'm obsessed)
 This is really what I take with me! I just pulled these out of my camera bag. 

This is really what I take with me! I just pulled these out of my camera bag. 

 My husband teases me that I still use my hospital water bottles. (Baby Jack is 3 months old.)

My husband teases me that I still use my hospital water bottles. (Baby Jack is 3 months old.)

2. Make sure you are drinking TONS of water. I always bring two full water bottles with me to a wedding. I drink half of one on my way there. I drink another full one when we are driving between locations and right before the ceremony. Then I drink another half on my way home. Another easy way to get water is to send your second photographer to fetch you some during family photos or when he/she is not busy. No need to feel like a diva, you're a nursing mom and need your fluids!

3. Find time to pump. I know, it's hard, it's inconvenient, and it's awkward doing it anywhere other than home. A few ways to over come this:

  • Pump in your car while driving between locations
  • Pump during your dinner break
  • Pump on your way home at the end of the night. 

Even if you're only at one location, that's still two pumping opportunities! 

 

 

 Mommy's Milk Smoothie

Mommy's Milk Smoothie

BONUS: Drink mommy's milk smoothies! 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup apple sauce
  • 2 bananas
  • 1/2 cup of oats
  • 1 lb of chia seeds
  • 2 tbls Brewers Yeast
  • 1/2 cup of peanut butter
  •  2 scoops of Barleans Chocolate Greens

Blend until smooth.

 

 Photo Credit: Sarah Sweetman Photography

Photo Credit: Sarah Sweetman Photography

Goals for 2016: Life of a Wedding Photographer

Limit my daily coffee intake to 2 cups. It's getting a little out of control. I'm averaging 3 cups a day and my body isn't responding well. Time for an intervention!

Re-read my copy of Jose Villa's Fine Art Wedding Photography . I adore his fine art style and haven been trying to emulate it all year. I even shot my first role of actual film this year! Fujii 400! Unfortunately, I am STILL too nervous to look at the film scans I got back. I should probably make it a 2016 goal to actually look at those.

Improve my "use of light" -- Natural & Flash. I attended the United Conference this past fall and was super inspired by the Justin & Mary Mini Lighting Intensive. I'm excited to study their lighting approach for weddings & engagement sessions. I created this shot the week after I attended the lighting intensive.  Just looking at it makes me feel proud. I've always been intimidated by situations that required manufactured light and this lighting intensive helped give me the nudge to jump in deeper.

Get a handle on impulse buying for the business. Amazon prime is my secret addiction. 2-day shipping makes it so easy to 'just buy it.' 

I could die happy if I were published by Style Me Pretty. I submitted 7 weddings & styled shoots this year to the infamous wedding blog and was turned down 7 times. However, I think this is going to be my year! I've got 3 top secret styled shoots that I'm hoping will entice SMP. If nothing else, at least they'll look on instagram? Shameless plug: Follow me, @bjonesphotos

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Optimize my social media time. Holy balls, facebook is such a time suck! I could kill an entire nap time (2.5-3 hrs) on facebook just creeping on other peoples profiles. I'm going to keep myself accountable by allowing myself 20 min per day for facebook and staying off the FB app on my phone. I should probably just delete the app, but let's be real. That'll last 24 hrs and then I'll download it again. Let's just start with good intentions and see where we get.

Blog more frequently. To be exact, I will be releasing a new blog post once a week. Ugh. That sounds like a big time commitment but from what I've heard, blogging leads to better google rankings. And a better google ranking leads to more page views. More page views means more inquiries...blah blah blah. You get it. Blogging is the next logical step to increasing my business. Maybe I can out source my blogging. Any takers? Email me! ;)

Lose weight/work out more/healthy lifestyle change. The basic new years resolution. But seriously, being in better shape would lead to better wedding day stamina & self confidence. This adds up to a more conducive mindset for creating art. And possibly the chance to shop for new "work clothes." Wooohooo, let's make a lifestyle change! Spam me with your favorite diets/lifestyles and workouts. I've heard good things about Whole30. Thoughts?

Before & After | Editing with Mastin Labs & Brushes in Lightroom

B. Jones Photography

True story-- The bride was running about 20 minutes late because her car got towed during her hair/makeup appt. We were losing light quickly and I knew I could adjust the shot in post and get the same effect.

B. Jones Photography
Lightroom edit.

I started by applying the Mastin Labs Fuji 400 preset upon import. From there, I adjusted the white balance and made a few other tweaks. After that, I used the brush tool to increase the exposure, shadows & sharpening on the couple and the surrounding beach.

I also used the brush tool to give the sky more definition and adjust the look of the balloons. 

DIY Project: Infinity Scarf Camera Strap

This what happens you you ACCIDENTALLY wake up at the crack of awn (4:45) and the baby wont be up for another 3 hours. You do a DIY project! 

I was on the bloom theory camera strap website swooning over $100+ scarf camera straps and thinking about making an impulse buy when I thought, "I COULD TOTALLY MAKE THAT!" 

I tip toed into the master closet (while my handsome hubby was snoozing) and grabbed an infinity scarf that I loved and had only worn a few times. (I got it for $12 on zoolily!) and this is what I did

  1. Cut the scarf in half. Roughly 32 inches long
  2. Scrunched the end into a ball and put two stitched to secure the scrunches.
  3. I cut two pieces of seersucker fabric with pinking sheers (4x2inches) and looped them through my clasps and sewed them into the scrunched ends of the scarf. I would double stitch this portion to ensure it's secure!
  4. cut two more pieces of seersucker fabric (4X2 inches) with pinking sheers. Fold each one in half along the short edge and put a stitch in it so you've got two loops
  5. Put each loop over the place where the scarf the and seersucker clasps attach. Then hand stitch a to secure your loop. SUPER EASY! and you're done!
DIY Scarf Camera Strap

Behind the Scenes: Creating Movement

Here's a little behind the scenes sneak peek of our styled shoot on Whidbey Island at Ebey's Landing.

I'm all about creating authentic looking movement.

Ebey's Landing Beach Wedding. Whidbey Island Wedding Photographe

For these shots, the bride was wearing a GORGEOUS YSA Makino gown from MeaMarie Bridal. For this shot, I had the bride grad a generous handful of the detachable skirt and told her to look down and "swish the dress." This created effortless movement that looks authentic & beautiful. 

 Toss the dress! Rachelle from MeaMarie Bridal helping out.

Toss the dress! Rachelle from MeaMarie Bridal helping out.

For this shot, I setup the pose and then had Rachelle from MeaMarie toss the train into the air & then jump out of the shot. With a little bit of cropping and light photoshopping, we were able to create a seamless looking shot. 

Credits:

Photography: B. Jones Photography

Gown: Mea Marie Bridal

Hair: Brooklyn Matthysse

Makeup: Elizabeth Marie Makeup

Suit: The Formal House

Bouquet: Flirty Fleurs

EARRINGS: Heid Hull Designs


My Favorite Products & Software to Run a Photography Business

If you've been in the business for more than 5 minutes, you're aware that it's more than just "taking pretty pictures." You probably spend more time managing the backend of your business than actually shooting. When I was first starting out, I did a lot of research and program jumping searching for just the right assortment of products that would make my business function the way I wanted. Here's a quick lineup of the products & software that I use that make my life easier. :)

1. Two Bright Lights - I've been published countless times already this year and it's due partly to Two Bright Lights. With two bright lights, I have easy access to many wedding blogs and can upload & submit my shoots without having to track down emails and submission guidelines. 

As seen on feature badge- wedding chicks. the knot. seattle wedding photographer, published, award winning

2. 17Hats - Business management software! In a nut shell, this online software manages my contacts, contracts, invoicing, bookkeeping, scheduling and workflow. It helps me stay organized and ensures that no small detail slips through the cracks! Check out my full blog here.

17hats seattle wedding photographer

 

3. PASS - I love being able to deliver my clients their photos quickly using a method that makes me look fancy. PASS has a grid flow layout similar to pinterest that is fully integrated with social media. Clients can share their photos directly from the gallery or order prints. 

PASS Seattle Wedding Photographer

 

4. Squarespace- Website design made easy! I love the squarespace interface because it's all drag & drop. You can create a lovely website quickly without paying to hire a designer or know any coding. Plus, with a variety of included templates, it's easy to create a website that is unique to your brand.

 www.bjonesphotos.com

www.bjonesphotos.com

5. Blogstomp- Organizing beautiful blog post collages can be time consuming when using photoshop. With blogstomp, you can instantly create lovely collages by custom selecting photos and your layout. 

Blogstomp

6. IFTT.com & Buffer.com-- The BEST social media marketing hack ever. I use this as a means of pushing all my instagram & facebook posts to my google+ page. 

MILEIQ App

7. MileIq - Tracking business travel is a GREAT tax writeoff. And let's be real, the more tax writeoffs the better. MileIQ makes it so easy. It's an app you can download on your phone that will run in the background. At your leisure, you sort through your drives by swiping left for personal and right for business. At the end of the year, you can go on their website and create a report of all the business travel for your cpa. Stupid easy right?!

8. Bears Graphic Design -My go to business card printing company. I got through business cards like reeces pieces. I thought about upgrading to some fancy letterpress linen card, but I give too many away to justify the price. Vanessa at bear graphic designs has a great product, speedy turn around time and fast communication. Plus her printing services are SO AFFORDABLE!

Finding Balance with a detailed Workflow | Seattle Wedding Photographer

During the off season, I've been really focusing on setting myself up for success this coming wedding season. In the past, I've struggled with maintaining good work/life balance while still ensuring each wedding gets processed & delivered in a timely fashion. I had a baby shortly before wedding season started, so on top of being disorganized I was REALLY sleep deprived.  It's hard for me to admit, but things did slip through the cracks last year. I had multiple ineffective systems for managing my workflow. It was a combination of unused excel spreadsheets, mental lists & lost scraps of paper. It was a nightmare and I was constantly trying to run a mental tally of what needed to be done. I was terrified I would forget something, so I was constantly running to my office or pulling out my phone whenever I remembered something I needed to do. It was bad for my stress level and even worse for my family. Quality time was basically non-existent because my mind was always somewhere else.

 Sarah Sweetman Photography

Sarah Sweetman Photography

After I delivered my last wedding of the season, I vowed to find a better way. I tried a few systems that fell flat (white boards, better excel spread sheets, etc) but the thing that really made me feel confident was the Workflow feature in 17hats.

 17hats Wedding Workflow Manager

17hats Wedding Workflow Manager

With my new system, I have a custom workflow for each wedding. I have two wedding workflow templates. One template is for wedding couples who have purchased albums and the other is for wedding couples without albums. 

Each workflow is broken down into segments: Pre-Wedding, After Wedding, Album. I like having the visual confirmation that each portion is complete before or after the wedding.

The workflow tool is especially handy when it comes to staying on track with each weddings to-do checklist timeline. I have the templates scheduled around the dates for the wedding. For example, I have it set to remind me to blog each wedding 12 days after the wedding date. This is super helpful because by day 13 after this wedding, I may have already shot another wedding and be mentally preparing for another one. Having a reminder to stay on track is invaluable and lets my mind dwell on other things. 


Wedding Workflow Template- With an Album

Pre-Wedding

  1. Send Welcome to the Family Email & Downpayment Invoice (When: Immediately after activating this workflow)
  2. Send Wedding Agreement (When: Immediately after the previous item is complete)
  3. Order Cutting Board (When: Immediately after activating this workflow)
  4. Mail Cutting Board (When: 10 days after the previous item is complete)
  5. Send Final Payment Due Email (When: 40 days before the project date)
  6. Send Timeline to Second Shooter (When: 10 days before the project date(

After The Wedding

  1. Upload Photos to Computer (When: Immediately on the project date)
  2. Cull (When: Immediately after the previous item is complete)
  3. Send Lightroom Catalog To Lanye for editing (When: Immediately after the previous item is complete)
  4. Schedule Facebook Previews for the Week (When: 1 days after the project date)
  5. Instagram Previews (When: 1 days after the project date)
  6. Organize Wedding Into Folders: Ceremony, Reception, Formals, Getting Ready, Favorites, Social Media (When: 2 days after the project date)
  7. Prep Blog Post (When: 2 days after the project date)
  8. Review Edits & Create Black/White duplicates (When: 13 days after the project date)
  9. Blog The Wedding (When: Immediately after the previous item is complete)
  10. Export Photos from Lightroom (When: Immediately after the previous item is complete)
  11. Upload Photos to PASS (When: Immediately after the previous item is complete)
  12. Deliver Wedding Photos (When: Immediately after the previous item is complete)
  13. When Done: Send email 'Wedding Photos Ready (album)' (approve)

Album

  1. Send email to bride requesting album photo choices
  2. Download album choices from pass
  3. Upload Photos to Kiss
  4. Send Photos to Designer
  5. Review Album Design
  6. Send Album Proof to Bride
  7. When Done: Send email 'Album Proof Ready!' (approve)
  8. Update Album Design from Notes
  9. Send Updated Album Proof to Bride
  10. Order Album
  11. Send Tracking Information to Bride
  12. When Done: Send email 'Your Album is On Its Way!' (approve)

Wedding Workflow Template - without album

Pre-Wedding

  1. Send Welcome to the Family Email & Downpayment Invoice (When: Immediately after activating this workflow)
  2. Send Wedding Agreement (When: Immediately after the previous item is complete)
  3. Order Cutting Board (When: Immediately after activating this workflow)
  4. Mail Cutting Board (When: 10 days after the previous item is complete)
  5. Send Final Payment Due Email (When: 40 days before the project date)
  6. Send Timeline to Second Shooter (When: 10 days before the project date)

After The Wedding

  1. Upload Photos to Computer (When: Immediately on the project date)
  2. Cull (When: Immediately after the previous item is complete)
  3. Send Lightroom Catalog To Lanye for editing (When: Immediately after the previous item is complete)
  4. Schedule Facebook Previews for the Week (When: 1 days after the project date)
  5. Instagram Previews (When: 1 days after the project date)
  6. Organize Wedding Into Folders: Ceremony, Reception, Formals, Getting Ready, Favorites, Social Media (When: 2 days after the project date)
  7. Prep Blog Post (When: 2 days after the project date)
  8. Review Edits & Create Black/White duplicates (When: 13 days after the project date)
  9. Blog The Wedding (When: Immediately after the previous item is complete)
  10. Export Photos from Lightroom (When: Immediately after the previous item is complete)
  11. Upload Photos to PASS (When: Immediately after the previous item is complete)
  12. Deliver Wedding Photos (When: Immediately after the previous item is complete)
  13. When Done: Send email 'Wedding Photos Ready (album)' (approve)

Free Lightroom Preset & Workflow | Seattle Wedding Photographer

Free Lightroom Preset & Workflow | Seattle Wedding Photographer

In the spirit of giving back and spreading the love amongst my community of wedding photographers, I wanted to share my Black & White preset with all of you. FO FREE! aaaand-- my workflow for delivering Black & White images.

Wedding Photographers Wardrobe 2015

I'm finished shopping! Here's just a little peak at my favorite pieces of my work wardrobe for the 2015 wedding season!

Wedding Photographer: What's in My Camera Bag

Behind The Scenes: What to Wear While Shooting a Wedding

As a wedding photographer, from the minute you walk in the door 'til you give the bride & groom the last hug goodbye, you're surrounded by potential future clients. This means that not only do you need act professional and confident, but you also need to look the part. For me, this means looking fabulous. This can be tricky because I am potentially standing on chairs, bending over and laying on the ground to get just the right shot. However, I'm not willing to sacrifice my first impressions for the sake of practicality. Yes, I could wear black pants and a black top and look just fine. But I want to make a lasting impression! 

My go to moves when getting dressed for a wedding.

-Pick a cotton dress that is an A-line style in a pattern or dark colors. The A-line fit means that I can move easier. The dark colors or patterns are wonderful because they don't show dirt and dust when I get up off the ground from "getting the shot." I also like to choose something with a conservative neckline so when I'm bending over, I'm not giving anyone a free show. 

-Bring a cardigan. It's great for throwing on during a church ceremony or a chilly outdoor reception.

-Ballet flats! So comfortable yet stylish.

-Spandex shorts. Just in case. ;)

-Wear a statement necklace. It immediately dresses up any look and takes it to the next level. 

-As Katelyn James says, "When in doubt, dress like a nice guest"

Are you on Instagram?

So I've been hearing that instagram is the where the cool kids are at... So I'm making an effort to post more updates to instagram instead of just going crazy on facebook. 

Comment below with your instagram profile so I can follow you back!

Wedding Day Timeline

 DIY Paper Flower Bouquet

As part of each wedding package, I create a custom tailored wedding day timeline. About 2-3 weeks prior to your wedding, we'll get together over coffee, wine or delicious food and nail down the details of your day. 

There are so many things to consider when planning your timeline. It's important that all the pieces come together the way you imagined them. Part of ensuring this happens is having a detailed timeline. Checkout the sample below of what to expect:

Sample Timeline for a 9 hour wedding day:

1:00PM: Start photos. Getting ready shots. Flowers should be ready. Bridesmaids should have hair/makeup done and but not be dressed. Detail shots of dresses, shoes, jewelry, flowers. 
1:20PM: Bridesmaids get dressed
1:30PM: Bride gets dressed. 
2:00PM: First look for bride and groom. Private. No looky-loos :) Bride and Groom portraits. (Bridal party break)
3:00PM: Bridal Party Photos
4:00PM: Family Photos
4:45PM:  Break (retouch hair/makeup, champagne, etc)- photographers will take detail shots of ceremony and reception
5:45PM:  Ceremony
6:15 PM: Bride & Groom Sign Marriage License
6:30 PM: Bride & Groom private moment- Photographers capture the happy couple from afar (Paparazzi style)
7:00PM:  Grand Entrance
7:15PM: Bride and groom enjoy the remainder of cocktail hour with guests
7:30PM: Dinner-photographers take break
8:10 PM: Speeches
8:30PM: First Dance
10:00: Photographers leave
11:00PM: Reception Ends

 

Of course no two weddings are the same and the order of the events may be adjusted a little. But this gives you an idea of what to expect!

A Photographers Editing Style

A beautiful photo is made up of more than just a gorgeous subject, great lighting and "getting it right in camera." It's also about the editing. The editing is another way the photographer truly shows off their style. 

The editing process is where a photographer gets to put their final stamp on an image. 

I do almost all of my editing in lightroom. After a LOT of trial and error, I have finally developed a preset that has my signature edit. This helps ensure that my style stays consistent. 

A Little Gift for My Bride & Groom

A Keepsake Box: One of many surprises from me to you!

Boutique Wedding Packaging

Your wedding photos are a big deal and should be celebrated with style. I put together this little keepsake box for all my brides. It includes the following:

-Custom USB stick of all your wedding photos

-A Handwritten Thank You Note (A DIY creation by yours truly using a white ink stamp, craft paper cards and glitter washi tape)

-My Business Card

-Extra Gift: 25 Gift Sized 4×6 prints to get you started

Boutique Wedding Packaging
B-Jones-Photography-Seattle-Wedding-Photographer_0104.jpg

These keepsake boxes have been a labor of love. I purchased the boxes plain and then hand stamped, glued and glittered each box until it became the perfect confection of wedding bliss.