Filmic Pro is on SALE.. for $1.99 down from $4.99 for till Midnight. OMG Love this groovy film APP finally you can focus and expose separately. It’s Mini film making for the iphone. Check out my little iphone showreel on creativeLIVE coming up next.
My Truth (You said I want the truth, well heres the truth)
I started my wedding planning business with no real clue or even vision, just a simple idea; to plan super small & simple romantic events. It was just me & a photographer named Danny. We charged a whopping $375 for a wedding or vow renewal ceremony on the beach where I would officiate the ceremony (as I am ordained by the state) and Danny would photography them for an hour giving them all images on CD. That $375 also included a bouquet and two leis. My cost of goods was $300 and I thought I was making $75. Boy was I an idiot.
However, we figured that since we are new and have little experience that we should be priced less than others doing similar services so that we could get business in the door. We looked at what others were doing. The average all-inclusive beach wedding package with minister, 1 hr photography, bouquet & two leis from experienced businesses were selling for about $1,000 – YES! Only a thousand and that number is nearly the same today. To this day as I write this the Disney resort – yes DISNEY – offers a nearly identical package for just $1,600 just miles from where I was.
Even worse than poor pricing, about a half year into our new venture Danny left leaving me with weddings on the books and a price point to low to find a replacement. So, knowing nothing about photography but needing to cover my ass, I bought a camera and sub-contracted out an officiant to perform the ceremony. And so began this unexpected life of me being a wedding planner, officiant & photographer.
Some people gasp at this. However, to me it was what I saw so many others doing. It never raised any red flags to me. Most of the cheap all-inclusive wedding businesses were mom & pop shops where the husband was the minister, the wife the photographer and often times, they would hand make their own bouquets. They almost never had any real credentials or training either. Still to this day, several businesses operate this way around the island. To many mainlanders this seems odd, but to me it was normal island business so at the time I saw nothing wrong with it.
Bravely, I raised my rates to a $575 – $875 where I stayed for nearly 3 years. I averaged about 150 weddings per year. It was during this time I went to school where I earned my wedding planning certification & wedding planning instructor certification. I sub-contracted out other photographers, ministers and planners to work at my events. Sometimes I was the officiant, sometimes I was the photographer, sometimes the coordinator and sometimes I would sub-contract out everything and wouldn’t be at the wedding at all.
Due to the way Danny left, I felt it would only be responsible to learn this thing they call “photography” just in case another photographer left me high and dry again. I never wanted to be a photographer but rather felt it was my responsibility to learn it as a wedding planner to protect my clients and myself. So, I began to apprentice under a local wedding photographer while working as a wedding planner. After a few years of education and experience I raised my rates again to a whopping $997 for my base package which at the time I didn’t think would sell. I was now one of the most expensive of all the cheapies. However, I still hadn’t turned a profit nor even saw anything wrong with what I was doing but for some reason always felt ashamed and embarrassed about my business.
Nearly four years into my business is when I finally stopped looking at what other local business were doing and started searching for answers. It was the first time I wanted more for myself and my business. I began to offer private venue packages for up to 50 people that sold for $2,997. My business began to plummet because now I was ‘expensive.” But slowly it built back up. However, I never increased my profit margins despite the fact that I had nearly tripled my cost of goods. Even though lots of money was coming in, I wasn’t profiting and I couldn’t understand why.
I was so frustrated because I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong? I’m doing things just like the other businesses around me and they seem to be successful. Why aren’t I? I’m no different than them but they seem to be making money and I’m not. I now have more education than they do as well as some experience, so what am I doing wrong? I felt like a failure and began to hate my business and myself.
I was photographing a wedding and a bride said to me “I can’t wait to see the pictures. I love photography. I’m excited to see your art.” – I was completely and utterly dumbfounded by this statement. Me, an artist? Photographer’s aren’t artists. Photographer’s are the pain in butt as far as my wedding planner mind was concerned. I could write an entire book on the thousand and one ways wedding photographer’s drive wedding planners crazy. From a wedding planners point of view, wedding photographers are the most self-absorbed, uncooperative and socially dysfunctional of all the wedding vendors I have ever worked with. I was nearly offended she called me a wedding photographer despite the fact I had just photographed her wedding. And then it hit like a ton of bricks, I was a fraud. I was a wedding planner posing a photographer. Even worse, I had completely and utterly failed this bride.
It was in this single moment that a huge shift had occurred inside me. Like it or not, I was a photographer. I had fought my camera since the moment I got it. I had never tried to understand it much less enjoy it. From that moment on, I committed to perfecting my photography so that I would never fail another bride again.
In 2009 I enrolled at UH for photography and began to rework my business as a photography-based wedding planning company. The bulk of the wedding planning choices were now made around optimizing the images. From where people stood to the venues we used to time of day the weddings took place, photography was now the motivator. Imagine how different weddings would be if the photographer got to plan them? Also, imagine how much differently the wedding would feel if the wedding coordinator and photographer where perfectly synced? Well, that is what I did and it worked brilliantly.
In 2010, 2011 & 2012 we began to receive multiple awards for our photography-driven wedding planning. Our online reviews skyrocketed. Even better, I began to enjoy photography and get a little better every shoot. To my surprise, in 2012 I won Weddingwire’s bride’s choice award for both wedding planning and photography! While my sales numbers where down to about 80 weddings per year, my client satisfaction was at an all time high. I began to be featured on TV, in blogs and magazines. I gained some notoriety. However, I still never raised my prices and never profited.
In 2012 everything would be come undone. My husband got orders to San Diego, CA forcing us to move from Hawaii. Uncertain of the future of my Hawaii based business, I slowed all bookings for HI weddings as I was unsure if I could fulfill them. I knew I would have to raise my rates yet again. I also wasn’t sure if I could still continue to operate things remotely from San Diego. My photography has always been linked with my wedding planning and I didn’t know how to separate things. For nearly a year I was in limbo.
During this time I prepared to move and expand to San Diego. I redid my website with a gold “blingy” theme and a super flashy website that would be more universal to both Hawaii and San Diego. However, the Business slowly crawled to a dead halt. The website was an epic failure and clearly displays how unclear, uncertain & desperate I was feeling at the time. It is a reflection of all that I was doing wrong and the chaos I was experiencing internally.
I moved to San Diego and effectively worked the remaining HI weddings remotely. However, I didn’t enjoy it. I missed photography and being a part of everything. My ego suffered as all I had worked for was now being taken from me at the peak of my success. I went from somebody to nobody in the blink of an eye. Even more so, in San Diego some of the world’s best photographers are just miles from my home reconfirming my fear that I’m not good enough. After this long struggle, all this education and all this hard work and I have nothing to show for it. My heart is broken.
In San Diego I have a small studio where I do boudoir and portraits which I love. However, I only get about 1-4 bookings per month with an average sale of $600 so I am barely making rent much less profiting. I have been told by others to give up on Boudoir in San Diego because the BoudoirDivas pretty much own it. It’s like setting up a glamour studio next door to Sue Bryce’s studio. I have yet to book a single San Diego wedding since I arrived nearly a year ago.
In March of 2013, I decided to close as I only have 6 HI weddings on the books with zero San Diego weddings. I use my husband’s income to cover my business costs burdening the family greatly. Not wanting to alarm any remaining clients by announcing my close, I raised my rates by nearly $15,000 to repel customers ensuring nobody would book me. The plan was to do the final remaining weddings on the books and then slowly let the business fade away unnoticed. I went to Hawaii to let the vendors know and by an off chance, met with one of my on-site coordinators, Kathy, who wants to try and breathe new life into the Romance Specialists. With nothing to lose I agreed.
So as the plan is now, Kathy will be taking over all the Hawaii wedding planning starting in June 2013. I will be focused solely on photography. We have created a new website with new logo and branding that is currently being launched as I type this although not yet live. Our rates have dramatically increased to ensure profit margins for both Kathy and myself. However, I am unsure if any of them will sell much less work. I have never been able to separate my photography, never partnered in this way and have a pattern of making poor choices.
I ask myself all the time if I should get a job? If I should just admit that I’m never going to be good enough? That I’m never going to earn a profit? That I’m causing all this struggle for no good reason? My own mother has told me several times to close & get a job. My family & friends tell me they would never spend $300 on portraits so I have little faith in the future of my photography outside of weddings. My husband, who loves me dearly, says he doesn’t understand why woman do boudoir and it’s a waiste of money. My faith and confidence is all but gone. There is nothing left.
Emotionally I have surrendered. I admit my defeat and failures. I have nobody to blame for any of them but myself. Today I feel like a wounded dog with her tail between her legs licking her wounds. While I am hopeful that things will turn around with the new website, branding and Kathy, I am not going to try and control how things play out. While I still have some hope, I have largely let go. I feel like a mother who blindfully gave birth to this hopeful child and has caused her to struggle & slowly die over the course of several years and now I am at the end saying our final good-byes. The guilt and sadness I feel is overwhelming. One way or another I know this is the end which I cannot stop. The only question remains, is what will begin next? Where do I go from here? Love Dawn
To many people are crying out that it’s not working – my business isn’t making money! Have you considered the problem might be YOU? Have you considered the problem might be your WORK?
What IS the level you have to reach for sustainability & what are the standards of a professional?
I’m writing Wednesday’s creativeLIVE this weekend have been working with the brilliant Craig Swanson (creator of creativeLIVE) to make a comprehensive business/marketing/self tick list for all levels from sustainability to mastery.
I’m going to share a new discovery for me on educating and helping with your shoot mapping and composition (a great little practice tip for you) and we will show you a great way to rate and critique your work publically e.g by the public not by other photographers.
I’ve pulled together some marketing templates and guides for you and a way to break down even more ideas that you can ACTION and more slideshow ideas and video’s. Maybe we should have called this exposed its going to be so interesting to see people realize exactly what level they are at.
See you Wednesday 9am PST
Hair & Makeup by Sue Bryce Photography by Susan Roderick
If you are already in a studio and running a business, this is still the part of business that is sooooo easy to avoid. Putting yourself and your work out there. I’ve put up a Marketing Survey so you can tell me what your challenges are. Im going to make marketing material for you with your images not mine. Lets create a tick list / must do marketing list and apply it every week to our businesses. No more excuses no more avoiding this.
Here’s the Survey: http://cr8.lv/sue_marketing
I just went to a seminar with John Demartini he said “Business is an equal amount of pleasure and pain (but we judge it by our pain) You will become as successful as the amount of pain you are prepared to endure” I was fascinated by this. My business over the last 10 years has been both an unbelievable challenge and great joy, in fact you could say a perfect balance of both funny thing is I WAS leaning more towards HUGE CHALLENGE but the truth is I do measure it by challenge not achievement. If you expect anything in life to be easy, to be only joy and to be all support and no challenge then you are living in a fantasy world.
I am challenged every day by my career. I believe there are significant personal factors in building a business, making money and becoming successful these I will address. I know for a fact that your business is run in direct proportion to your personal self/state and belief system, I’ve seen it time and time again (myself included). I know that the hardest thing to do is believe you and your product is worth making money. I know how hard it is to word letters and vouchers, come up with cool ideas and hold to a social media recipe, but all of these skills I can give you.
I can teach you how to launch a Glamour brand into your photography business, I can also teach you to shoot just like me thats what 28 days was all about. I learned from scratch, but what I cannot give you is the drive and determination I felt every day to master my craft. That will require patience, tears and laughter (50/50 in fact) practise more practise, more practise and some more practise. I am educating on multiple levels from the newbie to the seasoned pro that wants to put a bit of contemporary glam in their brand. I keep hearing what if I’m not good enough SO LETS ADDRESS THAT what if you’re NOT good enough? Lets look at what a professional standard is and what the public are willing to accept as good work. You’ve heard the saying you can’t buff a turd. Lets put that to the test. I’m going to be a bit of a hard arse.
So whatever your challenge talk to me (fill in the survey) and lets work towards being better Photographers, strong business people/service providers and most of all making money doing what we love, even when some days we don’t love it at all.
See you May 22nd for free to watch creativeLIVE enroll: http://www.creativelive.com/courses/marketing-and-promotion-sue-bryce
This woman is beautiful for many reasons. Because she is, because she’s a beautiful person because she has an amazing husband that booked her session. But mostly because I know her story and it blew me away. That is my purpose, my WHY knowing sharing seeing capturing stories and beauty. Find out your purpose and your WHY trust me your career will be a lot fuller and your promotion a lot easier because connection to what you do is above all paramount.
Are you prepared to put your website up for a public critique? Not by photographers. By the public. They are the ones that are booking you right? Do you want to hear what they say? Are you brave enough to do that.
Email me of you are: email@example.com
creativeLIVE May 22nd Marketing & Promotion “Are you good enough?” lets find out
Up till the end of 28 days I have been staying in a great apartment downtown in Seattle while I have been working there. It’s so wonderful to have a home base. So during 28 days my gorgeous friend Aimee Graham came over and to do hair and makeup and she stayed with me. She went to make a cup of tea and she asked “Where’s your kettle” I don’t have one I replied I just boil water in a pot. “What? You can’t afford a kettle” we stopped looked at eachother and then we just fell on the floor laughing. You see I am Make do Suzy.
What do you just ‘Make Do’ with. When you don’t need too. Now I’m okay with being a Make do kinda girl. You see I’m resourceful. BUT as Aimee and I started talking about it we discussed the feeling around those make do decisions and sometimes we just weren’t putting ourselves first. This week in New York I went to B&H and I purchased a second 5D mark iii body. I really needed one and I was making do I wondered why I hadn’t done this before, this is my career after all.
My goal is to be mindful of saving and planning for what I need being resourceful and balancing that make do with you can have. My point is its always okay to be resourceful but just be mindful always check the energy/feeling when you pay people, paying with gratitude makes a huge difference if you give from a place of no expectation and thanks it changes everything, then you attract it back 10 fold. Always check the energy/feeling around doing or buying something for yourself I didn’t realise it but I have lots of guilt about doing for my self and I’m addressing that.
I posted this quote a few months back its from J De Martini the original quote says your Relationship funny isn’t it how you change a word but the meaning is still there everything you have is what you attract.
“Your work reflects your self image.
Unless you’re sure of your value.
You will find it challenging selling it to others”
I learned this in the first year of business back when I finally learned how to make money. STOP COMPARING and START SERVING It’s far easier to lift your service to others than to try to lift your superficial value of your work (eg How does it compare to others) your clients aren’t interested in how good YOU are, just how good the service is that they’re getting. Trust me you not only get paid you start feeling really good about yourself.
The only time in my business now that I dip down in income or bookings is when my service slips. So I’m off to tie up some little loose ends.
PS After telling this story to Jen Nelson from creativeLIVE who had also been at my apartment shooting 28days and making tea in a pot. She went back to the studio and at the wrap of 28days creativeLIVE bought me a beautiful shiney silver kettle. I love it. Have a great day.
How you going with your email/marketing/advertising PDFs? Mapuana Reed offered her self designed PDF up for review and critique. Watch it here. She will make the changes and come back with her finished result. 28 Days It’s time to do the work
Make it Visual
Try for full bleed design it looks more professional
Simplicity is the key
Before and Afters are great
Behind the Scenes shows stories
What are you selling?
What are you communicating?
Who are you speaking too?
If you were the client – Are your seeing what YOU are getting?
Entice me . . Make me want you.
Show me the value
Sell me the experience
My client today is Daphne Fernberger a Julliard Student of Dance. I tried a few fun things with this shoot. I shot thru fine black mesh at f/2.8 focus wasn’t my main concern for movement shots but I always refocus on the eye every shot. In order to shoot wide open in a bright studio the mesh brought me down several stops so I pumped up my ISO between 3200 – 12400 then the grain came in which I love. I bracketed the ISO intermittently through the shoot some more grainy than others this is the closest result to old school film I can get I love it.
This is my friends studio in NYC there is lovely natural light south facing and I didn’t need reflectors. I shot this from 12 noon till 3pm I didn’t want to stop. I shot a pink rehearsal outfit through white mesh and did video too which I will edit in the next three weeks.
I am not a celebrity (Rockstar or otherwise) I am a Portrait Photographer.
I have chosen to turn down all talks and workshops for the next year as I am a Portrait Photographer and I love my job and I love my business. Of course creativeLIVE has become my dearest friends and family and for as long as they want me on their platform I will say yes to them. I will continue to provide the worldwide community of Glamour and Contemporary Portrait Photographers with my teaching and knowledge but I do not need to be on a stage to do that. Just from my computer and from my studio doing the work. I am creating an umbrella to help knit, nurture and grow this community as best I can because I really believe in this journey and this service.
I have built an incredibly successful and fulfilling business on seeing and capturing beauty – connection and a desire to give this as a service. I am grateful and blessed beyond measure. The more I provide this service and apply this gratitude the more successful I seem to become (another obvious and insightful lesson) You see I used to be a fear mongering critical egotistical competitive person and Photographer. I haven’t stopped being these things, I am now just more aware of when I am in this place and I turn it back to gratitude and get on with it.
After I delivered that talk on fear (further down on my Blog if you haven’t seen it already) I started to question how much am I talking the talk and walking the walk. I want to wake up every day and only work from a place of joy. If I were not enjoying it why would I do it? You see I talk the talk and walk the walk in my business. Everything I teach you about my business is tried and true. But there are aspects of my personal self that have taken a back seat to my business. These are now going to get 100% of my attention. Putting myself first is the biggest one of them all. I am for all intent and purpose an over supporter I give people advice even when they don’t ask for it. I have done this in the past to be liked and feel important and valued. I do not need to do this anymore. I need to take my own advice.
I needed to become successful, I wanted to be the best businessperson I could be HELL or high water. I needed to do this to prove that I was a valuable human being, that I was GOOD ENOUGH. I needed to earn money to prove that I was good enough but the irony is the more I stopped needing to be validated and the more I give with my heart and with enjoyment the more that comes back to me. It’s nice to build an audience and be acknowledged but I am uncomfortable with applause. Every beautiful email I receive about your business/life improving I read with tears in my eyes and this audience also comes with expectation and sometimes harsh (anonymous) criticism too. But that’s all part of embracing all the parts of YOU even the unowned parts that are hard to look at. The truth is every single person that I photograph that see’s themselves is the greatest gift I can give, every time I give business advice and share with you my experience, you get an opportunity to try it and grow too.
So join me in the next year building your self, building your folio and your brand, building your connection to service and business and watch how they are all tied up together. Your value of your self and product will increase when you believe it and the more you put into that the greater the return. It is not an easy path but then if you wanted easy you wouldn’t be trying to be more. You would just do the same and get the same. If you need a reminder or a kick in the A@$ come back here. Know doubt your need to be reminded will be my need too.
Thank you to Andy Bryce and Viv my Big brother and Sister in law for watching my Fear talk when you told me you cried I couldn’t stop.
Thank you Hailey Bartholomew for showing me I’m in ‘The Arena’ I am brave and I am proud to be there.
Thank you Brene Brown for reminding me of this great quote and your beautiful Ted Talk on vulnerability
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.