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Everything you need to know: How to outsource wedding post production.


UPDATED: If you’d rather listen, here’s a podcast episode on this topic!

Hello from San Diego!

If this is your first time visiting with us, surely you have some questions about how to outsource your wedding post production. It’s not easy- we know, but we do hope you’ll at least send us some samples to understand how we can best serve you.

So let’s walk through the mindset and mechanics of getting started with Essential Edit!

///// 1) There’s only one YOU in the universe. 

The first thing you need to know: We’ve got your back! But this will be an exercise in letting go!

We will do our absolute best to establish a clean and consistent edit all within your preferences. However, there will always be a difference in how you edit and how we edit.

Our most successful clients trust us with the first pass on color, getting every image up to its best potential with global edits for Exposure, Contrast, White Balance, etc. Basically- everything in the Basic panel in Lightroom.

From there they take our catalog, find their favorites and spend some time creatively tweaking those images before sending to the client.

They often report that since we have carried the heaviest part of the workload, they feel more excited, more creative and eager to edit that smaller number of “hero shots.”

///// 2) There are two ways to get started:

  1. Send in a dozen sample images for us to process for free. Your feedback builds your personal style guide that will travel with future orders.
  2. Send in your first order. We’ll pull 20 images, process, and post for your review. Once we get the green light, we will move forward and complete the order.

///// 3) Decide: are you a Master Catalog or Single Catalog user?

You may choose to manage your Lightroom Catalog either way:

Each has their pros & cons and work just fine within the outsourcing ecosystem. But the advantage of using Lightroom 5 or Lightroom CC is the use of Smart Previews, which make sending & receiving files swift and tidy!

///// 4) We only bill you once we deliver your files. 

That’s right! Send us your first order, we deliver to your specs and then we send you a link to your invoice.

We want to earn your trust and this is one way our clients have appreciated the chance to review our work.

Once you’re ready, your invoice can be paid online with Visa, MC, Amex or PayPal. Most of our happy clients will leave a credit card on file with us just like you would with your print lab. That way it’s one less thing for you to worry about.

///// 5) Did we miss the mark?

Hey, we’re amazing, but we’re not perfect! 😉

UPDATE: Here’s a video on what to do if you don’t like your order!

You might get an order back and feel we could have done better.

First, you should know that we are always eager to redo your work if we have missed the mark.

Just shoot us an email with a couple of screenshots to let us know what you’re seeing! Your order will go to the front of the line and will be delivered in about 24hrs.

But the difference may be so slight that you can use the Quick Develop module to make the fix in a matter of seconds!

If you come across a section that is too Bright/Dark, Warm/Cool, Contrasty, etc. you can fix it in bulk, without messing up the settings we made to your files. 

Just go to the Library module, I like to hit “G: on the keyboard to go into “Grid” mode. 

Select the images you want to adjust. 

On the right-hand side, you’ll see all the controls you’d usually see in the Develop module. The only difference is these are buttons instead of sliders. 

outsource wedding post production

When you click the single arrow, it adjusts all settings *relative to their current settings.*

When you click the double arrow, it adjusts in greater increments.

Remember, even if they have different values, it just bumps them up or down, relative to their current settings. 

This makes it quick and easy to adjust all in a certain direction without having to go one by one or sending the job back to us and waiting another day. 

We hope this guide helps you understand the process of outsourcing your wedding post production a little better!

Photographer Workspaces

Photographer workspace

This is the first of a mini-series of conversations about photographer workspaces with photographer Sarah Parent. No matter how much shooting you’re doing as a photographer, there is always some desk work that needs to be done like blog posts, phone calls, emails, editing, and in person consultations.

Photographer workspaces vary in expense, comfort, and convenience. Some photographers tackle their desk work in the following places:

  • At home on the kitchen counter
  • In a small corner of a guest room
  • A dedicated room in their home

Others choose local coffee shops or co-working spaces which have become very popular in San Diego (and is a great upgrade to the coffee shop).

Finally, some photographers have a private or shared studio space reserved for shooting usually with a comfortable space for consultations and a spot for desk work.

Sarah has a studio space on her home property where clients get a full-service experience in a beautifully designed space and she has the convenience of no commute.

Sarah’s studio: exterior studio entry.

Give us an introduction. Where do you live and what do you do for work and fun? [00:03:16]

  • My name is Sarah Parent.
  • I live in the western part of Indiana.
  • I live with my husband, my 13 years and 10-year-old kids, my puppy and a new kitty I found in a tree.
  • For fun, we go on walks, go on road trips and play board games. When I am not doing photography, I spend a lot of time with my family.

Let’s talk about photographer workspaces. What is the situation of your workspace? [00:04:05]

  • I started in 2002 and I meet people in my house. When I had kids, I built a backyard office. As my family grew things changed.
  • I had an intuitive warning to have my studio space to meet client and is convenient and expand my business. So, I work in a space that is attached to my home but has a separate client entrance. There is a hair and makeup area for those who want to do portrait and there is a dressing room. I also have space where I edit and answer emails and do other desk work.
  • The advantage of this is that you aren’t scrambling to pick up the place before your client comes. And the separate space from home saves you from children messing up your workspace.

Studio entry

How have you decorated your workspace? [00:07:07]

  • I am able to display my work because I have enough wall space to display things.
  • There is a couch and a chair for consultations with a TV on the wall for photo reveal sessions.
  • Also in the entry, I’m able to display large pieces of my work.

You’ve had an evolution of your workspace over time. What was really important to you when it came to putting this particular workspace together? [00:07:47]

  • It was important to me to have a space close to my home. I wanted a very short commute.
  • I took time to do the design because it’s been a long-term dream.

Sarah’s workspace

When you have client consultations around summer time when the kids are around riding their bikes and doing the kid things, what are the rules of engagement here? What are the boundaries? [00:08:39]

  • I’ve been doing photography for their whole lives so I trained them up well so that they know that if I’m meeting with a client, then they should not disturb.
  • When they were little they did some disturbance but now that they are grown, they know they should be well behaved. My 13-year-old son cleans my studio for me now.
  • But my puppy and kitty are pretty more difficult to handle. Some of my clients are animal lovers while some have allergies for them so I know my clients and adjust to their needs.

Meeting area


Meeting area

Among the things that you need to do as a photographer, do you find yourself moving your laptop from one space to another within your studio space to do work or do you have a steady routine where you do all your task? [00:13:42]

  • I have a desktop and I stick it in one place and everything is set up the way I want. Within that space, I stay on my desk when I want to do digital office tasks. The studio space is very useful in trying out different lighting setups so that I could try out any creative idea that I have without going very far to secure a location.

When you outsource your photo editing to us to do the color corrections, what are some of the things you do instead of doing the edit yourself? [00:14:38]

  • I’m able to do more photo shoots and able to spend more time with my family.
  • It’s a real saver for me and my stress level is lower. I can meet more clients and do more things that I really like to do.
Photographer workspace

Studio with hair, makeup, and changing area.



How would you describe the task of color correcting a wedding picture by yourself? Is it something you dread or something you know you can do? Do you find pleasure doing other things than that? [00:16:43]

  • For me, I started shooting weddings when I was shooting films. I never really liked to handle the film processing. I just preferred using the negatives to create enlargements in the dark room.
  • I can perform color correcting on pictures but hiring a photo editing service has helped reduce my workload.

Is there anything that you wish that you could change about your workspace? [00:18:59]

There’s not a whole lot I would want to change but I feel if I may have done my wall a little differently to change my display of things but then if I had to do it over, it probably wouldn’t change much. I just feel I need to spend some little more time rearranging things on the wall.

Loft with hair, makeup, and changing room

Changing room

Staircase with puppy

Outdoor shooting space

How to outsource wedding post production:

Adobe introduced a game-changer in Lightroom 5 called “Smart Previews.”

Smart Previews are mini versions (or “screen-sized” versions) of your Raw files. This makes sending & receiving thousands of images swift and easy when you outsource wedding post production.

If you’re still on Lightroom 4 or older, go grab the newest version: Adobe Lightroom (CC).

Below is the process with detailed steps:


Start with a new Lightroom Catalog for each session. This is the best way to send and receive orders.

(If you would prefer to have one Master Catalog for everything you shoot, go see this support doc for an alternate workflow.)

create new lightroom catalog


Name the Lightroom catalog with a good reference name. (Example: Gracie Wedding)


In the Import window, be sure to check the “Build Smart Previews” checkbox.

outsource wedding post production smart previews


Patience, grasshopper. Allow Lightroom to create all the Smart Previews.


Once Lightroom has created your Smart Previews, close Lightroom.

Zip *ONLY* the Smart Previews and the Lightroom Catalog. (Standard Previews are not necessary.)lightroom smart previews to outsource wedding post production

Be sure to name your zip file with the following naming convention:

  • First letter of your first name
  • Last name
  • Underscore
  • Order reference name

outsource wedding post production

When it comes to references names, we suggest making it the name or names of your client, or date of the event.

The goal is that it’s something *unique* that we can refer to. Keep them short and always make sure it matches the reference name you put on your order form.

Once your zip file is ready, fill out an Order Form. After submitting your order form you will be directed to a page to upload your zip file.

The best part of using Adobe Lightroom Smart Previews is that there is NO LOSS IN QUALITY!

All of our edits travel with your Lightroom Catalog and update the original Raw files on your hard drive.

Now you are free to add any creative effects like BW conversions or cropping before you output to proof for your client!

When we deliver your edited Lightroom Catalog, here’s what to expect:

You will receive an email with a link to download a zip file with your new Lightroom Catalog.

Just double-click this zip file to open and reveal a folder that contains your new Catalog and Smart Previews.

Double-click the new Lightroom Catalog and watch the thumbnails update!


Shooting City Hall Weddings probably sounds kind of ideal to most wedding photographers.

You’re in, you’re out in just a few short hours without the drama and stress potential of a big traditional wedding.

emily gutmanThis show is a conversation between me and my long-term client Emily who talks all about shooting city hall weddings. Emily shares her story on accidentally discovering this market by making a simple blog post on what a typical day at work looks like for her.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher or anywhere good podcasts are found: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/p… 

What you do for work, play and where do you live? [00:00:28]

  • I live in Oakland California and have a company called Emily Takes Photos.
  • I’m a photographer and specialize in shooting City Hall weddings in San Francisco building for myself.
  • I love selling, quilting, cooking and hanging out with my dog Oppenheimer.

Where can people find you and see some of your work on social media handles? [00:01:38]

Shooting City Hall Weddings

How did you find this little niche of shooting City Hall weddings? [00:02:18]

  • I got into the niche by having an advice column on my blog that addressed how to schedule your wedding day timeline, when vendors should eat and then how to get married at San Francisco city wall. This advice walks you through the paper work you had to do, the office you need to go to, the website where you can book everything and an album of pretty pictures shot at the City Hall.
  • This advice was created so that clients won’t need to ask the same questions over and over again. But when people were to get married and googled how to get married in San Francisco City Hall, my blog came up.
  • Before long, my calendar got filled up. But then, I realized I could make the same amount of money doing small weddings than doing these big weddings that ate up my weekends.
  • Now, my longest work day is four hours and that’s if clients book extra time.

What does the booking process look like for you? [00:05:51]

  • San Francisco City Hall has a 90 days book window for all their ceremonies, so I follow that booking window.

Why are these couples marrying at City Hall and what is your typical client like? [00:07:58]

  • Some of the couples wed here want to wed here because they love San Francisco and want to do a destination wedding.
  • Others, it’s the second marriage thus they are just not making it as big as their first wedding. A lot of the couples are young, it’s their first-time wedding and they want something low key.
  • San Francisco City Hall is beautiful and it has great restaurants where they have fancy meals.

What are some of the challenges of shooting city hall weddings? [00:11:21]

  • One, tourists.
  • Two, tourists with iPads taking a thousand photos and won’t get out of your way.
  • The biggest challenge is there are so many weddings happening. They have half hour time slots with three couples for every half hour which means there will also be three photographers. So we have to figure out how to share the space. For some of us, it’s super quick because we know our way.
  • Sometimes, when I get there, people in the way would help clear people out of one shot. One instance, there is this grand staircase on the main level and it’s a perfect spot for photos and there were three of us with our couples. We ended up setting up the couples so that all three photographers could shoot at the same time.
  • Another challenge was people would bring in their photographer friends who aren’t professionals and so we had to give them a little space to figure out what they’re doing.

What are the joys of shooting city hall weddings? [00:15:33]

  • First of all, the building itself the exciting moments because of couples walking down the hallway, the beauty of the bride.
  • Everyone is so happy and excited.

Do you sometimes have to challenge yourself artistically and how do you have to deal with that? [00:17:27]

  • I was concerned about taking the same photos over and over. I take comfort in knowing that that’s what my client wants. They see the photos on my site and they request for the same photo.
  • It can be challenging because there are areas that are roped off because they are setting up for another event or there are tourist or group of school kids for a dance performance and these events put me on my toes.
  • A lot of times the couples break me out of the routine because they have their own ideas. At the end of the day, my clients are happy.

Walk us through your typical day of shooting city hall weddings.  [00:19:54]

  • I have three packages that I offer the couples and the main one is about an hour and a half. I meet the couples at the clerk’s office where they fill up their license paper work and I actually go through the paper work to make sure it’s correct.
  • Then, we’ll go to the top of the building and spiral our way down back to the clerk’s office and that takes about 45 mins and we just get all the portraits out of the way then we get them checked in for the ceremony.
  • Lots of time I stand as their witness and sign their paper work. As soon as the couple is married, we descend to the underground staircase and then take some photos outside the city hall gate and then we part ways.

When people book you especially if they are from out of town, do you have a video chat with them or a photo of them? How do they identify you at the city hall? [00:21:56]

  • I have a photo of myself on my website and I have curly hair thus I’m very easy to spot.
  • Sometimes, some clients talk on the phone, on Skype call especially for clients who are from outside the country.

Do you shoot weekend weddings anymore or it’s exclusively city hall? [00:22:58]

  • No, I’m only exclusively shooting city hall weddings.
  • Once in a while, I get a request for a small backyard wedding that would require few hours of coverage.
  • If I’m not doing anything that weekend I’m happy to do that but any coverage more than 3 hours I send them off to someone’s equipped for that.

How do your clients find you if they’re not the groom’s men and bridesmaid at the wedding that you shot? Is it through your blog post? [00:23:32]

  • I have updated the post a couple of times to keep things up to date but it was re-posted on a couple of different wedding blogs and that helps the SEO.
  • Most of the clients say when they google San Francisco City Hall wedding, my name is the first that pops up.
  • I get a hand full of referrals but mostly it’s fresh couples.

Do you have any allies through City Hall that refer you out? [00:24:30]

  • The event office was trying to put together a list of vendors that they could refer but they had a list of 200 photographers so they decided not to.

What kind of advice would you give to a photographer that is thinking about shooting city hall weddings? How do they get started? [00:24:58]

  • I got started by trying to be helpful.
  • Keep your clients in mind. Go to city hall, find out what the process is, take some photos why you’re there.
  • If you don’t have any one getting married there, ask some friends to dress up and take some few photos. People like to see what the city hall looks like.
  • Talk about the license and ceremony process, how the time line works, where you can go afterward if your city hall is not that amazing.
  • There may be a great park nearby where you could take portraits at. If there are restaurants that would make for a great post wedding lunch or dinners, post those photos.
  • Place yourself in the shoes of the couples trying to get married there, what are all the things you want to know then write those down. Title it “How to get married in whatever city you’re in city hall.”

Is there anybody at city hall who would have a conversation with a potential photographer who wants to shoot there? [00:26:17]

  • In California, licenses and ceremonies are attended to by the county clerk’s office.
  • Talk to someone there. It’s really busy but if you call and say “This is what I’m doing can I set up a time?” They should be able to accommodate you. And you could walk in there and ask, be nice.



brendan hufford seo for photographersSEO for photographers has its own set of challenges. Hear from SEO professional Brendan Hufford how you can best optimize your site for traffic and leads.

Brendan is a man of great talent, humble disposition, and great wisdom. In this episode, we set out to talk about SEO for photographers, if photographers should do work for free or would photographers die from exposure and many other topics related to the business of photography.

Brendan spends an enormous time helping photographers through his website, Photo MBA. When it comes to SEO for photographers, Brendan uses a simple approach and sets out to demystify the practice altogether.

How did you find yourself here as a specialist in SEO for photographers? Give the people a snapshot of who are you, what do you do for work and what do you like to do for fun? [00:01:20]

  • After college, I became a teacher and was a little frustrated with the politics. Teaching was fun but the first few years were hard.
  • I built a couple of websites and one of them was for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. One day some guys sent me a product and said, “if you write about this on your website, you can keep these products.” That was how I began reviewing website. People were sending me tons of stuff, and then I realized how creative I was so I started my own Jiu Jitsu company.
  • Then, a year ago, it wasn’t fun anymore to me and I felt it’s not going to make a lot of money to quit teaching. So I sold my Jiu Jitsu company and my website. I began to help friends and to figure out what was going on. I had some friends who were photographers who I had assisted in marketing. One thing I noticed is that if you are a full-time photographer, you don’t have time for marketing.
  • I advise them to serve clients well, do an outstanding job for free, build that portfolio and market it for free. I did that and marketed my case studies and now I do client SEO for photographers.
  • About a month ago, I decided not to return next year. I took a decision to be an SEO specialist at a very good design agency in Chicago. I serve big clients and I have my own clients as well.

How do you draw a line between selective and finding a strategic job that you can do for free without being taken advantage of? [00:05:16]

  • I believe in being who you want to be and step into that role. Right from day one, I treated myself as a successful SEO agency. Some company wanted to hire my services but wanted 20% off but I showed the company the reduction in services I offer. But they wanted my service but wanted it less than I offer and I refused to work for them.
  • I have never worked for free for a person who has asked me to work for free. If you’re a photographer, being intentional about who you do free work for really matters. Let’s say you do round of cooperate head shots for a huge consulting firm like KPMG. When the friend of the CEO sees the headshot and is interested, you would be recommended for a $10,000 cooperate head shot gig because of a free job you did.
  • Sometimes doing free jobs for big companies of thriving companies could build a long lasting relationship and provide numerous referrals for your business.
  • The key take way is to make sure it’s the exposure you want. Taking a hard-line either way is so ignorant and being open to relationship via doing free work that would provide value back is a good thing.

died from exposure

How would you define SEO to someone who’s brand new to the concept of SEO? [00:13:54]

  • One of the things I hate is how mystical SEO seems to be and there are more confusing things than SEO. Everyone thinks they understand Facebook because they use it a lot but when it comes to SEO, they feel it’s mystical. It is very basic and simple.
  • I would define SEO as authority. It is telling Google the number one search engine (it has a stat of 80% to 90% from other search engines) I’m an authority on this topic and there are three ways we do that.
  • I use the analogy of building a house to sell it.
  • In order to build a house to sell it, I need a great foundation, a great frame for the home, and then I need everything else that goes on it like the paints and the interiors. The way that works in SEO in terms of authority is my foundation is my website performance, how fast it is, how well people can use it. There is on-page SEO. That’s like the frame of my house. It’s a little confusing to a lot of people, but if you know what all three of those words mean in isolation, then you know what on-page SEO means. It’s literally the information on your website that tells Google what my website is about and how I am an authority in this field.
  • What sells a home is not the great foundation. What sells the house is the windows, the roof and that’s the off-page SEO. This is what gets you ranking in traffic from Google. In off-page SEO, it’s just everything from the rest of the internet that tells Google that you are an authority. That primarily comes in form of links.
  • In summary, my website performance, the information on my website that tells Google what it’s about and how authoritative I am and the information around the internet that tell Google that this is a really good website for this.

Are there unique challenges for a photographers in regards to SEO? [00:18:00]

  • Yes, definitely. Photography is about images. Right now, Google doesn’t read images, it doesn’t automatically just tell what an image is. Within four or five years, I believe that Google is going to read a website and know that it is a website about wedding photography because it has machine learning and it can read the images. But right now, it isn’t so, so I have to use words to tell Google what that’s about.
  • Photographers love to put a billion pictures on their website which is a terrible idea. It’s not the 31st picture that gets somebody hired because clients can tell in five pictures that you’re in the person. You don’t need 30. When clients try to load your website, it becomes difficult because some clients are in areas of low network coverage which makes your website difficult to open on their phone. They just skip your website to another and that becomes a huge mistake. Most photographers don’t use enough words to describe what they do.

SEO for photographers: Where do photographers start? Let’s say there’s a brand-new photographer listening and they just got their first WordPress site set up, and they’ve not really given thought to SEO for photographers, what would be their first step? [00:19:42]

  • I would argue they have given thought to SEO because they are using WordPress. I think a lot of people use Squarespace and Wix and Zenfolio and all of these things as their website. Building your website on someone’s platform is the same as trying to use Facebook for your website. It’s their playground and they make the rules. When they change things, you don’t get a say in it.
  • However, with WordPress, you do. Additionally, there is a reason why a large amount of leading websites on Google is WordPress website and the reason is it’s very good not just for content, but also good for search. It sends the smartest signals to Google. I’m working on a good blog post about Zenfolio versus Smugmug versus WordPress.
  • People use all these platforms because they think it’s pretty and easy. If you have seven people come to your website every month, I don’t care if it’s the prettiest thing in the world, it’s not doing anything. I would rather have an ugly website where 2000 people come every month, where they can see some photos but the navigation doesn’t look great and doesn’t have that parallax that Squarespace always has. Those things don’t matter. What matters is getting eyeballs on your photos so you can book more clients.
  • Photographers notoriously give each other terrible advice about the use of website platforms because it’s easy. It’s easy because it’s got built in short cuts and when Google gets to look at that page and sees those short cuts and missing or wrong information, it decides that this isn’t a great website for this topic. When you go to Google’s top search for wedding photography, all of those websites are WordPress.
  • Starting with WordPress is a huge hurdle but it’s an absolute must for your business. You’re going to switch to WordPress later in your business so why don’t you start now?
  • I’ve always felt like using Squarespace or Wix but the hesitation with that is that at any moment, they could pull the rug from underneath, they could have a massive failure and they could go out of business and that ruins your business. At any moment, they could change the rules of SEO and the whole format that could make your website unusable. For sure they are nice to use but they are a lot of trade-offs in the process.
  • If you don’t know better, it could be hard but if you know better, it’s not hard. If you go to Bluehost or Host Gator, set up your hosting. Most of them have a one-click WordPress installation. My friend set up his website in two minutes and it’s got a video on YouTube on how to set it up. Time is not the problem. You just feel it’s hard to do and it isn’t.
  • Brendan shares the misfortune he had creating a website for his mom on Squarespace. [00:25:37]
  • From my experience, a lot of photographers are caught up making websites for other photographers not for their clients. So, it’s or they are making it for the approval of their peers, not for the people paying them. So, the big concern is who is this website actually for?
  • This also translates to the social media. Lots of photographers have many followers on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and these followers are photographers too instead of potential clients. But photographers shouldn’t care about peers but decide what they want to do irrespective of what other photographers are doing in other to lead in the industry.
  • We usually go to our peers instead of authorities in subject matters when we run into problems. If you want to learn to use social media better, ask social media experts instead of my photographer friends. Join groups where social media experts hang out otherwise you would get caught up in this echo chambers where you think you could increase your reach by likes of your photographer friends whereas from experience of photographers doing it this way, it takes time and effort and headspace to do it and they haven’t got clients from this method. Photographers should make sure that they participate in profit making activities. [00:29:41]

Why should a photographer hire an SEO specialist and not tackle it themselves? [00:31:31]

  • Based on experience with my client, they don’t have time to work on SEO. A lot of photographers are thinking if they create a content that teaches people how to take their pictures better, they won’t hire them. If that’s the case, then they weren’t really your clients.
  • The issue is time and SEO and every marketing takes time. I have built out a system to make me do it at scale and it takes me less time to serve you than it would take you to learn it. And even if you have same expertise level as me, it would take me less time to do it than you because you are also trying to run a photography business.
  • Most photographers don’t see the need to hire an SEO specialist because they don’t understand its value and how it works.
  • Hire an expert and monitor the ROI to see if it’s worth. We hire professionals in every area without a second thought. But in our business, we are nervous, we bootstrap by doing everything ourselves but allow experts to handle stuff for you.

How much patience should people have when it comes to their SEO if they hire someone like you to make some changes? How swiftly are they going to see the result and what issues could arise if somebody is doing it by themselves? [00:38:39]

  • SEO takes time. I don’t sell SEO, I sell leads, clients, and traffic.
  • My goal is to build up the organic Google traffic and that takes time. It depends on your competition. If every photographer in your locality does terrible websites and no backlinks then you don’t have to do much work. However, if you are a hired wedding photographer in New York or Atlanta, then it’s going to be a lot harder and a lot of work. It starts there.
  • In terms of time, one way I mitigate that is that I run ads using paper click on Instagram, Facebook, and Google. It might take 6 months to see SEO work really well and pay dividends. In SEO, we track everything. if someone is determined to do it on their own, there is a lot of information out there to do it on your own. Information can be gathered from SEO website. The best person I have found for SEO is Ryan Stewart. He runs an SEO agency in Miami Florida. In my opinion, he’s the best. He’s funny and passionate. He’s got some great YouTube videos.
  • If you’re determined to learn it, learn it from somebody smart who’s willing to let you see behind the curtain and not tell you vague things. The other thing is changing direction doesn’t really matter as far as you’re doing the right things.
  • Please see Brendan’s incredibly thorough blog post on SEO for photographers: 7 Need to Know Photography “SEO” Tips

7 Need to Know Photography “SEO” Tips

Does trying too many different keywords produce negative outcome on your business? [00:43:54]

  • Changing the focus of your business doesn’t matter much.
  • Here is an issue called bloat. Maybe I have 700 blog posts that are short, thin, they are garbage and don’t really address anything in particular but just me talking. If you get vanity traffics that don’t improve your leads and then your sales, then you are just playing SEO, you aren’t really doing anything.
  • Every time you take photos, you should blog about it. The blog shows the kind of photography you do, the location where you shot, etc. The article should address the relationship with your clients, the work done and all the things that went wrong in the shoot. Tell them what’s wrong because they would be confident that when you’re hired, you would handle every shortcoming or issues that arise.
  • But if you write for your peers or about your gears, it adds no values to your blog because it is for photographers and wouldn’t benefit your clients. Everything on your site should address your work and topics that would help your clients. If you are doing newborn photography, you should have high-quality content of 80-90% perfect range. Everything you do should help people who book you, for example, in this case, moms.

What do you think about long form content for photographers and do you subscribe to this method? [00:48:58]

  • If I want to write about a wedding at Navy Pier, I want it to be the best possible piece of content on the internet about having a wedding on Navy Pier. If you don’t have the time to write it, then hire someone to do it for you. I think long form content matters a lot. It’s telling stories with words.
  • Long form is the way to go right now until we get to a point where Google can tell a story based on images.
  • One example is Emily who wrote a blog post on “how to get married at San Francisco City Hall.” This online content created an enough clientele that she now focuses solely on city hall weddings.

Let’s say Emily has a new information about getting married at city hall and wanted to update that blog post, is it better for her update that one blog post or is it better for her to create another blog post and link also to the previous one? What would be the best strategy? [00:54:38]

  • I would say update your content always. If you write two books on the same topic, people would wonder which one they should take and Google would also be confused on which one of these would you want me to put out because they both are on the same topic.
  • I would say update that content and build that authority even more.

Why do photographers burn out so quickly? What can they do to prevent that from happening? [00:56:23]

  • I don’t think it happens to only photographers. It happens in every sphere. You’ve got to understand what the work entails.
  • Always protect your passion. It’s a terrible idea to make your passion your business all the time.
  • If you’re not passionate about business, you shouldn’t run a business in any facet. One of the ways to get around that is hiring people, learning it yourself, or finding ways to become passionate about the business side of things, it’s okay to quit and pave it into something else. Find your balance.



using instagram for business

Raise your hand if you’ve ever struggled with using Instagram for business! What are some of the best practices? How do I get the most engagement? Are these hashtags actually working?

This show is a conversation between Leon Sandoval and the Instagram Queen herself, Taylor Loren. Taylor studies social media like nobody’s business. She is the content marketing manager at a company called Later which is a service for scheduling and managing your Instagram accounts. Taylor has a passion for traveling and naturally started a travel blog called Local Wanderer with an Instagram following that is going to hit 65,000 at any second. We will cover nearly every aspect of using Instagram for business including hashtags, stories, the dreaded algorithm and even some awesome tips for using Instagram live.


Give the people a snapshot of who you are, what you do for work, and what you do for fun? [00:01:07]

  • I am the Content Marketing Manager for Later, a leading Instagram marketing platform that helps you schedule Instagram posts, plan your feed etc.
  • I also run the Instagram account and travel blog called Local Wanderer. We started that a few years ago with my best friend and it’s grown to success on Instagram. I feel like my life is very Instagram oriented.
  • For fun, when I’m not on Instagram, I’m pretty obsessed with the reality TV. It’s a really easy way for me to turn my brain off at the end of the day.
  • I’m currently practicing my YouTube skills in my spare time.

What are you doing on Snapchat these days? Have you abandoned it or do you still use Snapchat? [00:03:09]

  • I still use Snapchat.
  • I am a huge Snapchat fan and I don’t think it will die.
  • But I will agree, I use Instagram stories a lot more. Instagram stories are definitely my first place now. It’s now the first place that I not only consume content but also post it.
  • I think that I really enjoy Snapchat though because it’s like a closed loop. On Instagram, I have hundreds of views and I have no idea who is really watching them versus on Snapchat, it’s smaller now.

Give the people a quick understanding of what Later is and how they can use it in their business. [00:05:29]

  • Later is a leading Instagram marketing platform.
  • Basically, we like to use marketing platform instead of the app because our product is really strong on the web.
  • There’s a lot of Instagram schedulers out there that can help you do the basic tasks but we are always coming up with more and more features to help you manage all aspects of your Instagram.
  • Obviously, scheduling an Instagram post is a huge component of what Later is but we also have an awesome tool called search and re-post which lets you manage UGC on any of your hashtags and you can add it to your media library. It’s a really good way to store, organize all your photos and it also makes it easy to manage multiple Instagram accounts in one place.
  • Lots of photographers, for example, make up a big part of your audience obviously and I know that it is a struggle for lots of photographers to commit to getting organized in Instagram. People feel like it’s such a big overwhelming task that they just don’t even want to start but I think we make it really easy. Once you log in, you’re comfortable with the product.
  • I like the visual feedback you get when you put some proposed posts up in Later. Then, you can visually see what your feed is going to look like and you can sequence them and make sure that everything is going to look beautiful when somebody goes to your profile
  • Lots of people recognizing that the aesthetic of your feed is more important so people are now looking to tools to help them do that compared to a year ago or more where people were not aware of their feeds.
  • If you want to be successful on Instagram, you have to be organized, you have to treat it like a job and a business.
  • Later gives me a better opportunity of creating very captivating captions for a set of photos at the same time using my laptop.
  • An Idea of how Later works: when you load it on the website or on the web in your dashboard, you get a notification on your phone to go to the Later app and it tells you you have a post that’s ready and of course it’s scheduled whenever you want it to be scheduled. Then you go to the app, it copies the caption to your clipboard and then you just go to Instagram, it already has the image ready for you. Paste the caption and you’re ready to go. Hit post and it’s done. [00:10:45]

Was there ever a moment where the lightbulb went off and realized you could make a living off of helping people do social media well? [00:11:41]

  • Honestly, it’s been almost my entire career.
  • I remember sitting in my senior year of high school which was almost 10 years ago and using Facebook in class. I remember thinking about getting a job on Facebook one day. Social media wasn’t even a word then, it was just Facebook.
  • When I went to college, I actually started a blog with one of my friends and it actually grew to be the biggest blog on campus and was getting more traffic than the school newspaper was. was the lightbulb moment for me when I realized that this could make me money one day, being good at this could be a job. I ended up working in social media education while I was in college and dropped out to keep doing that.
  • I just love making other people feel empowered to succeed. Social media is something that if you are successful at it, it really can change your life and your business. There are so many businesses that are just built around just Instagram.

Can you think of a story of a business owner who was struggling with Instagram, couldn’t quite figure it out but you saw them turn the corner and found some success with their business in Instagram? [00:14:43]

  • One example that comes to mind is my friend Jamie. She runs a handful of businesses down in Palm Springs and has Airbnb boutique hotels that are gorgeous. Her first Airbnb property wasn’t really having success and she had envisioned she’d put all this work into making this stunningly beautiful property. She invited her friend with and their friends who were Instagram influencers to have a free stay for the weekend. Everyone was posting about it and all of a sudden, her Instagram and her bookings blew up. As her businesses grew, she realized that she had to really invest in Instagram and so, they have a great girl working with them now and managing all the Instagram of their properties.
  • Another example would be my friend who already had a really awesome lifestyle blog. A few years ago, they just naturally did well on Instagram because it was lifestyle content and they take really pretty photos but they weren’t taking the execution of it seriously. For the last little while, they’ve been using Later and they’re seeing a huge increase in their followers and engagement and their feed looks amazing.
  • Spending 30 minutes to an hour a week to sit down and get it all done can make such a difference with your bottom line.
  • One of the greatest things about being conscious about managing the socials is that it relieves your mind a little bit and makes you less worried about it. [00:18:52]
  • When you aren’t feeling inspired to edit your photos for Instagram or you plan out all your posts and schedule them but you haven’t written in the captions yet, you can come back in Later in the afternoon or the next day when you’re feeling more in the writing mode. [00:19:57]

What are some of the things that stick out to you that are the worst misuses or misunderstandings of the platform? How do businesses fail when they use Instagram? [00:21:11]

  • The first one which is very obvious to the photographer community is stealing content or not giving proper credit. You could do a reverse google image search and get an original photo for your brand.
  • The second one is posting anything that is off-brand. if you’re using Instagram for business, you need to have a little bit of restraint and make sure that you use photos that are connected to your brand.

What would you advise to a photographer who’s struggling with this concept of “Should I use my Instagram for business or should I integrate some of my personality here? Does that work to my advantage?” How would you advise a photographer on this topic? [00:23:51]

  • For a wedding photographer, I think it’s important that you have high-quality photos depicting your skill because you never know who’s looking at your work at any time. it doesn’t have to be if someone at a wedding. You could supplement them with stories.
  • I post way less Instagram now but I’m more active on a platform because I’m posting on stories.
  • That’s a super awesome way of engaging people and a nice way to get to know the person behind the lens totally.
  • In my opinion, photographers shouldn’t use Instagram purely to showcase their best work. They should also integrate their personality into it. People who are shopping for a photographer should see some of the personality of the person that they’re going to work with.

Give us a quick intro on hashtags for those who might not really be that familiar with them. How would you suggest that somebody uses hashtags effectively? [00:28:45]

  • First of all, the hashtag is a controversial topic on Instagram right now.
  • Basically, Instagram has said that spammy behavior includes using repetitive hashtags. Repetitive hashtag means if you’re using the same group of hashtags or the same one hashtag multiple times. This can actually be harming your account more than helping it.
  • I suggest people should use hashtags that are very targeted and very specific and avoid using hashtags that are generic like hashtag “#sunshine.”
  • Instagram also has a list of bad hashtags for example hashtag with the camera emoji is a ban.
  • We stopped using hashtags like on Local Wanderer for a few weeks because we were seeing a crazy decrease in the engagement. I’m pretty sure we were shadow banned so we stopped using hashtags altogether and within about two weeks, we’ve seen our engagement get back up again. Now, we’re using them a lot more selectively.
  • I recognize that hashtags are also really important for getting your posts out there but I’m now into location tagging. If you do a general location tag like a city, that can really help you.

What are your thoughts on the algorithm in Instagram? How would you advise someone to think about the algorithm? [00:41:12]  

  • The algorithm has definitely extended the life of your post so you don’t have to feel the need to post as often.
  • But while your posts may have a longer life, it’s getting less reach because of the mechanism of the Instagram’s algorithm.
  • At Later, we are trying out doubling our post frequency for the next couple to see the effects on the algorithm.
  • The algorithm is always changing but there are three key factors that you should know about the algorithm. The first one is engagement which is likes and comments. The sooner that you’re able to amass a lot of likes and comments on your post, it gives Instagram a signal boost that this is an important content that should be served to more people. That’s why posting at specific times per day is still really important because you want to post when the most people are online and even though your posts will be shown to people for longer than an hour, you still want to garner as much engagement in the shortest possible time.
  • The second factor for the algorithm is a relationship. It’s trying to tailor your post to people that you regularly interact with on Instagram.
  • The third one is the time spent on that post. This implies creating awesome captions, creating engaging captions that would make people stand your post a little bit longer. This gives a positive signal boost to Instagram that your post is worth showing more people.
  • A comment pod is where you sign up to be a part of a group direct message on Instagram where you and other like-minded people are in the same DM and when somebody posts on Instagram they share it with that group. This increases the number of likes and comments on Instagram. [00:47:24]
  • Having Instagram live videos stay for 24 hours has improved engagements because people can go back to watch the video within that time frame. [00:51:20]

How can a business use Instagram live or specifically, a photographer? How can they use Instagram live to help grow engagement or find clients or use it to their advantage? [00:52:39]

  • If you’re going to do an Instagram live, be prepared, have a game plan and have an idea of what you’re going to talk about. Make it as engaging as possible. I always try to call out the people who are joining the room because they tend to stick around a little bit longer.
  • If you are making an Instagram live for a photo shoot you are to do for a client, you can describe your location to your clients, tell them your game plan and thereafter, give a report of how excited the client was and how the photo shoot was. This is a great way of using live to show your audience the behind scene of how it would be like to be on a photo shoot with your photographer.

If you could call Instagram today and mandate one new feature what would it be? [01:01:35]

Clickable links in captions!

Here is a conversation between Leon Sandoval and two photographers about their before and after shoot routines. Photographers are creative and it’s fun to hear what comforts them and helps them feel prepared and comfortable. Some come from a systematic logistical place while others come from a spiritual mindful place. With me today is the fashion and commercial photographer, Nikki Smith and the wedding photographer Lanie Lucas.

Can I share with you both my before and after shoot routines? [00:02:03]

  • Nothing much at all.
  • I’ve got two scenarios. Either I’m going to shoot athletes at a gym where I create content for their social media. There are always world class athletes coming through and teaching seminars and in that case what I do is make sure I have a card in the camera and grab my bag.
  • The second scenario would be once a month, where I do a commercial shoot to create video content for an athlete or a brand. In this case, I’m more deliberate about checking my gear or making sure that my lenses are clean or cards are cleared off.
  • I rely on a system of keeping all my gear exactly in the same place. The gear never leaves my bag unless I’m shooting with it. My pre-game and post-game is pretty minimal. It’s not exciting.
  • Maybe afterward I can grab a cold coconut water.
  • Pregame, occasionally I have an energy drink.

Lanie, let’s tell us who you are, where you live, what you do for fun, family situation and whatever else you would like to share. [00:04:07]

  • I am a wedding and family photographer based in DFW here with my husband and two girls, one-year-old and five-year-old. I also have a dog. I’m probably the most paranoid photographer because I tend to work with families with small children that move quickly.
  • I do a little bit of fashion which is a little relaxing sometimes for me because it’s possible to interact, slow down and take a shot with everybody in a lot of ways.
  • I tend to focus on making sure that I have everything I need when I need it.

How long have you been in photography? [00:05:20]

  • I started my business in 2013.
  • I have been an obsessive student of photography for nearly 20 years. I started to major in photography in college and got cold feet because I felt I didn’t have the courage to do something like that.
  • I came back to it after my husband had a couple of layoffs and I felt “Oh, I could do this.”

Talk to us about your before and after shoot routines before the shoot? [00:06:06]

  • I start several days before.
  • With weddings, about a week up, I start my routine prep and that is communicating with the bride and her planners and we’ll go through our game plan and we would get a list and generate a timeline and would go over the list and find what’s realistic so that we can fit in the artistic fine art shoots that we’ve planned out and made sure we have time for them.
  • As the week progresses, I never reshoot SD cards. I always buy new SD cards and label them for the shoot and the time and get those ready.
  • A few days out, I start charging things, making sure I have at least three sets of batteries for everything. I have a case of batteries I would bring with me just in case of anything.

Do you actually bring a charger with you to the shoot? Do you ever find yourself recharging batteries or you really just don’t want to be distracted with that? [00:07:30]

  • I do also bring a charger. I’ve only had to do that once.

You said you don’t reuse SD cards. Talk to me about the size of cards that you buy. [00:08:04]

  • Since I know that I can’t get back the time that I’ve shot, for me it’s important in the case of a failure to save as much as humanly possible.
  • I buy 16 GB cards and I use SanDisk Extreme Pro 95mb/sec. the whole point of doing that is so that as I’m going through a wedding, I will use probably four of those max, throughout a wedding day.
  • If one goes down or a set of cards get destroyed and I can’t get something back, I still have most of the images and hopefully I’m only having to recover one portion of the wedding and so far in the cases where I’ve had SD cards fail, I’ve been to recover at least of 75% of the images. So, theoretically, that cuts down the risk of failure.

What happens after the shoot, after you go home or if there is anything you do on your way home or once you get home to reward yourself and unwind? [00:10:51]

  • I always relief myself by drinking a jug of water in my car and I just guzzle water all the way home.
  • As soon as I get home I hit the heating pad and the Tiger Balm. It’s boring but that’s the same thing that I do every single time.

Nikki, I want to hear about the type of shoots that you go on and what are your before and after shoot routines? [00:11:38]

  • I help modeling agencies develop books for their models whether it’s kids and men or women and then I also do catalogs, commercial shots.
  • I have a quite a variety of things that I do and it’s based on fashion but few for product brands.
  • The length of my shoots can vary from 1 or 2 hours or 10 to 12 hours a day.
  • What I do before I shoot, if it’s in the studio or outdoors, I would grab objects from my house and would bring them into the studio and test any possible lighting scenario that I might have my client request for the next day.
  • Sometimes, I spend an hour if I get it nailed down and other times I spend 4 to 6 hours testing and making sure that’s everything is fine.
  • With every client, I make sure there’s consultation and there are tons of emails going back and forth because they would send me their story boards or the kind of the things that they are looking for.

When you’re walking with various lighting situations, do you take any notes on that or do you just have a good memory that you remember? [00:15:30]

  • It’s a mix. I always have my phone with me.
  • If I finish a setup and I’m really happy with it, I take a picture of it. Since I practice every time before I shoot, I’m getting muscle memory. My brain is having to think and I’m getting to dig down and create a database of lighting techniques that I can use.
  • Giving myself a difficult situation to work with helps me to remember my lighting and how to position things as well, how to make the shots look attractive at different angles with your camera.

Let’s say you have an 8-hour shoot, it’s going well but you get to the end and you’re exhausted. What’s your after shoot routine? [00:16:43]

  • What I do is, I have my team and we pack everything out which could take an hour or less depending on how much gear brought and then we go out to eat.
  • What that does is that it gives us all a moment to sit down and evaluate what happened that day. This makes me a photographer and makes me deal with difficult situations better.
  • I also reach out to my team and having an open table communication on what could have been done better is really nice. We also talk about the positives like letting my team know where they did better.

Is there anything else that you guys do that we haven’t covered yet or alternatively, do you have any friend out there that you know of that we can keep name list that has any some really quirky before and after shoot routines? [00:19:37]

  • I don’t have any. I’m the weirdest ones of my friends.
  • I’ve seen people having really weird routines after shooting like people having the same meal afterward or beforehand and it’s something I would never think to do.

david manning misconceptions of being a photographer


Let’s talk about the misconceptions of being a photographer. Ever have someone say something like,

“Wow, what’s it like to work only one day a week???”

Or how about:

“What a nice camera! It must take great photos!”

This following is a conversion with a San Diego photographer, David Manning. Our topic of the day is misconceptions of being a photographer. In this episode, we talk about the backhanded compliments and snide remarks that people make about our profession as photographers. We also dive into the business of photography.

David Manning Instagram

david manning instagram

David Manning Vlog

david manning vlog


Tell us about yourself, what you do for work, for fun, where you live, all the good stuff. [00:00:36]

  • San Diego based, born in Ohio.
  • Moved to San Diego when I was 12 years old.
  • Started photography about 10 years ago. March 15 of 2017 was 10 years since I first second shot a wedding.
  • Before then, I had a coffee shop then I dabbled in photography.
  • I met Sara France who was a Pictage User Group (PUG) leader and she invited me to second shoot a wedding.

How did you make that jump from coffee shop to whatever was going on in between to shooting in weddings and be part of this community? [00:03:15]

  • I was working in the church as the media guy and my buddy Ryan Ross was the middle school pastor. One day he said, “You’ve got to check out this guy, David Jay.”
  • My dad had been pushing to love what I do.
  • Ryan got the bug in my ear about shooting weddings which got me to sign up for Pictage before I heard of the Pictage User Groups

Let’s talk about two types of misconceptions about being a photographer:

  1. Are there things that people say to you (clients or friends) that indicate that they have no idea what it’s like to be a photographer?
  2. What are some observations that you’ve discovered after being in business for a while? What were the things that you thought wedding photographers did and then realized was different later on?  [00:05:32]
  • Most of my friends are not photographers. They felt that I didn’t have much of a job. Some of them would ask me,

“How many weddings do you really shoot? 25 weddings a year? So, you work like 25 days in a year?”

That’s the most common one I hear from the outside looking in. This is what I tell people coming into- that photography is maybe 10% of my job.

  • I tell kids who want to be photographers and want to go to photography school to go to business school. If you want to get a degree in something, get your degree in business.
  • Photography is something that if you have an eye for it, you’ve got a wealth of free resources out there.
  • LEON: I advise photographers who like the artistic side of photography and don’t like the business side of it to educate themselves and find their strengths. Then build their business around their strengths and hire people to help them in those areas that they are not so strong.

What are some of the things that you do throughout the week that has nothing to do with putting your camera in your hand? [00:08:55]

  • Being an entrepreneur is one thing and that’s the business side; the accounting, emails, follow ups, websites, social media, tracking your projects during the year.
  • If you’re passionate about photography, reach out to someone who’s already a photographer and apply to be their associate.
  • On a good day, you’ll have a ton of emails. Sometimes it takes 15-20 mins to respond. That takes a lot of time.

What are some other comments that indicate someone really just doesn’t get it? [00:11:19]

  • Some people look at the picture and they just say, “Dude, that’s a sweet camera.” They don’t know that a nice camera doesn’t make a photographer.
  • In the past, if you wanted to be a wedding photographer, you would be blowing about $20,000 to buy your kit and it was insanely expensive and was a huge barrier to wedding photographers. Now, you can walk to any shop and get a pretty decent DSLR for a few hundred bucks and take great photos with it.
  • That barrier has come down but has created this misperception of being a photographer that all you need is a good camera to win.
  • Some people are of the opinion that if I get that good camera, then I can be a good photographer. But it takes a lot more than the camera. There is the business side of things, which is crucial.
  • You can take great photographs but if your business is not on point, then you’re not going to last.

Have you had a client say something during a shoot or after a shoot like “We can just fix that in Photoshop, right?” How did you feel about that? [00:15:50]

  • You can fix a lot in Photoshop. People think there is an easy button for Photoshop. We charge $25-$50 per hour for photoshop work to be done. But it still takes real work, you can spend an hour on a photo to make it perfect.
  • One of the best ways to fill that suggestions from clients is a price. Just being honest and providing a value to the client is a great service to them.
  • Even being an editor or Photoshop retoucher, there is this mentality that we have adopted over the years and it is, “Just because we can do it in Photoshop doesn’t mean we should do it in Photoshop.” In my opinion,  if it doesn’t look realistic, it’s a fail.

What other things have people said to you either friends, clients or family that’s on your mind about misconceptions of being a photographer? [00:19:10]

  • The big one is why do we charge so much.
  • Also, “Why does it take two or three weeks for me to get my images?”
  • They must have this misconception that because it’s digital, there’s no effort involved. You’re just putting the camera in position and pressing the button. They don’t put into consideration the years of training that you’ve put into this, the experimentation, the cost of the gear.

Are there observations that you’ve discovered after being in the business for a while? Think back to the early days of your photography career. What were some of the things that you thought about wedding photographers that changed later on? [00:21:41]

  • I had lots of weird perceptions mainly because my initial perception was David Jay.

Using David Jay as a case study: he’s driving fast cars, has a big house on the hill in Santa Barbara. A lot of people probably look at that and see that it’s possible as a wedding photographer. But I don’t think most wedding photographers roll like that. Would you agree? [00:22:28]

  • Yes. The big thing about that is that lots of us get into it thinking we can make easy money.
  • When you look at David Jay, you realize he was smart in business and that got him there.
  • As a new photographer, I thought this is easy money.
  • Lots of people who do regular jobs earn hourly or a salary and that means a steady income thus you can calculate your finances but as a photographer, you have no idea how many weddings you’re going to book next year.

Sometimes you’ve got a couple of months of bookings and things feel really good. Then you have the slow season where it just feels depressing. That’s one of the things a lot of people aren’t prepared for when they become a wedding photographer. Would you agree? [00:25:00]

  • Yes. A lot of that is about financial awareness and knowing that you need to prepare for it and run proper budgets.
  • Knowing your numbers is so important. Why are you charging what you’re charging?
  • Know how much you would spend on gear and when it would start depreciating. You need to know those numbers.
  • You need to know how many hours it takes for each job.
  • The reason why people come and go out of wedding photography is they don’t know their numbers and they don’t realize how little they’re making.
  • [00:30:16] If you want to figure out how to negotiate, the most successful people I’ve seen in photography don’t negotiate to get a lower price, they start creating more value to the client. They actually find a way to make them spend more money by finding ways to provide more value to the client and it’s not unethical.
  • [00:31:04] There are a lot of ways to add value. For me, I negotiate price. There should be room for a discount. Sometimes I give my clients gifts.
  • [00:33:54] Photographers shouldn’t run their business with emotions. Make business decisions on whether it’s a good idea or not. Have a plan and set your business in a way that if a client asks for a discount, you’ll be prepared for it and know how to navigate that conversation than being emotional about it.

One of the toughest things for a new photographer is the debate about buying camera gear. Should you go into debt to build your kit? Should you rent or borrow gear? Or just make do with whatever you’ve got?

sage justice buying camera gear

In this episode, I talk with Sage Justice, a wedding photographer from San Diego. Sage admits that he has a problem with buying too much camera gear and I thought he’d be a great person to talk to on the topic of building your kit. Perhaps he’s made enough mistakes in buying camera gear he can save you some trouble! 

(Sage Justice Instagram)



Why don’t you tell everybody about yourself? What is your thing? What do you do for work and fun? [00:00:43]

  • My name is Sage Justice, I’m a wedding photographer, also shooting couples portraits and lifestyle. 
  • I like live music and love to hang out on weekends when I don’t have work.
  • Working out and out and going on hikes is my jam.

Talk to me about when you started shooting weddings, how many years ago was that? [00:02:59]

  • In 2009 I got my start.
  • I had Nikon D5000 with a kit lens 18-55. I progressed to second shooting where I moved to Canon 5d-II with 24mm and some lenses here and there.
  • A few years later in 2012 I started first shooting full time.

How was it that you landed on wedding photography of all the different things that you could choose to shoot? How was it wedding photography that drew you in? [00:03:40]

  • When I started in 2009, I was shooting night life but it wasn’t lucrative at all.  I got paid about $15/hour.
  • I talked to a friend and he was shooting weddings full time and he said: “If you want to be a full-time photographer, wedding photography is the only way you can make it.” That stuck with me. It translated to me doing most of my work shooting weddings.

Today we are talking about buying camera gear. When you started out as a photographer, what was in your gear bag? What was your first kit? [00:05:21]

  • For starters, I didn’t do it the right way!
  • In the beginning, I had a Nikon D5000 and an 18-55mm and I had this bird watcher of 55-300mm or something crazy. I was doing research and buying more lenses and trying to figure out whether to invest more in the glass or upgrade my film camera.
  • When I realized I wasted a lot of money in doing that, I sold everything off.
  • I went to get a Canon 5D Mark II and I got a 24-70mm. when you start out, getting a 24-70 and a 70-200 is very essential.

How was it that you went about buying your camera gear? Where were you on the scale? Slow, fast, or in between? [00:07:53]

  • It was really slow in buying camera gear.
  • I got a 24-70mm and then I realized I wanted to do more portrait photography so I ended up getting another film camera.
  • Once I started accepting money for shoots, I felt it was necessary to buy one thing at a time.
  • LEON: when I first started out in wedding photography, I rented a lot of gear. I wasn’t in a position to be buying camera gear at that time. I decided to invest in a nice Canon 70-200 2.8L. That was my first pro lens I bought.

Did you ever rent gear? [00:11:24]

  • Honestly, I think that’s the best route to go when you’re first starting out. But I never personally did. I felt that if I was going to waste the money renting something, then I might just as well put it towards the lens.
  • The down side of renting is that it can get pricey.

Did you borrow gear from friends in the beginning? [00:13:10]

  • Yes, and that also held me back from renting gear. My mindset was “Why should I spend $100 to rent a lens when I could just bug my buddy and get it for free?”

Looking back, how would you have built your kit differently? [00:14:24]

  • I would have done a little bit more research on which camera brand I wanted and why I wanted to get that route. Let’s say Canon for skin tones or for better-looking portraits and Nikon for autofocus or ISO or whatever.
  • So, it would be better to take a few months, rent a body and see what you like rather than wasting money on one brand and reselling everything off to buy another.
  • Some of this depends on what genre photographer you are. Do research and buy camera gear you won’t have to change in a year. 
  • Better to spend the money to buy good gear than to buy the cheap stuff and later dump it in the closet. It will save you the hassle of dealing with the cheap, lesser gear.

Now, that you like having a ton of gear if you were to shoot a wedding with only one lens for the entire day, which one would it be and why? [00:18:47]

  • Shooting a wedding with a lens, I would use my 35mm 1.4 glued to one of my bodies almost the entire wedding.
  • LEON: I have stopped shooting weddings for many years when I did shoot weddings I shot weddings with one lens because I had a second shooter with me and the purpose was to capture overall the vibe and look and feel of the event. I switched lenses but the majority I shot was with my 70-200mm 2.8L.

What are your thoughts on prime lenses versus zoom lenses? [00:20:46]

  • I am against using zoom lenses for weddings because with primes you’re always using your feet to actually zoom. Just moving around finding different angles puts you in your zone and lets you be more creative than you’d normally be. It also makes me feel less lazy. I’ve always felt that with the zoom lenses I’m cheating.

There is a famous video of a photographer who was walking backward and falls into the lake off the walkway. If you’re the photographer, do you have a backup kit in the trunk that is ready to go? [00:23:55]

  • Yes. Exactly. It’s important when you’re doing paid work always have a clean backup.

What is your philosophy on memory cards? Some like to have the largest memory cards possible and there are other people who think it’s risky so they want to have only small memory cards. Where do you land? [00:24:28]

  • I have approached it from both mindsets.
  • With the cost coming way down, I don’t really see the point of doing of small cards these days. We can have up to 256 GB cards.
  • Personally, I like to shoot on 64 GB card but I typically shoot most of the wedding on 164 GB card.
  • When you’re shooting weddings with smaller cards, the risk of having a corrupt card or lost card is amplified.

Everybody is loving the Fuji or the Sony mirrorless cameras, have you tinkered with them? Do you think you will ever add one to your kit anytime soon? [00:28:23] 

  • Yes obviously, mirrorless is the future. It’s just a matter of time before DSLRs are out.
  • They are fantastic cameras with great color but for certain instances in you can’t use them. Thus, I would still be rocking the DSLR till all limitations are figured.

What’s the one item that you’re excited to acquire if there is something? [00:34:10]

  • Now, I’m in the process of selling my strobes. I’m looking to buy the Flashpoint XPLOR 600. I’ve seen reviews both have similar features but XPLOR has a built-in transceiver and has high-speed sync.
  • They are great and affordable for what they offer.

flashpoint-xplore buying camera gear

using instagram to travel the worldRaise your hand if you’ve ever dreamed of using Instagram to travel the world?

Yep! Pretty much all of us!

This episode covers exactly that in a conversation with David Pomfret, a globe-trotting Instagrammer with impeccable taste in design, originally from England. David had a successful design agency and then dropped it for traveling the world. Which is funded by his work on Instagram. We talk about his best practices on Instagram and much more! Enjoy!



Using Instagram to Travel the World


Where are you from and where are you now? [00:02:27]

    • I’m originally from England and right now I’m chilling in Thailand

What are you doing in Thailand? [00:02:41]

    • I’m just exploring on a daily basis and try to see as much as humanly possible before I leave in about a week.

Give us a little bit of background about your career. Where did you come from and how did that evolve to where you are today? [00:02:58]

    • Throughout school, I was a designer. After school, I continued on that path as a graphic designer.
    • I got a little bored and I started my own company which transitioned into web development, then transitioned into mobile and I just built this design agency where we designed and built products for digital tech companies.

You were able to go from a one-man operation to a bigger operation, working for bigger companies. How did you walk away from it all and decide to go travel the world? [00:04:18]

    • After working for the design agency for about 3 years, I realized that the travel motivates me more than the design.
    • I’ve been designing as a career for 10 years so I felt it was a time to step away and follow my passion which was to travel.

How did you get the courage to do it? [00:05:05]

    • I never have a good answer for this.
    • I’m a “yes man,” and I feel you should say yes to things and try them and if you fail you fail and you should just move to the next thing.

How did you transition into doing travel photography? Was it a hobby? [00:05:40]

    • At the beginning, it was a hobby. I did a lot of travel photography when I started traveling full time around about four to five years ago.
    • The family requested that I should take pictures so they can see what I’m up to.
    • Over time it progressed into something that I realized that I can capitalize on in order to fund travel. It’s also a huge passion of mine.

Did you feel like photography came easy to you? [00:07:15]

    • Because I studied photography and design at the same time, I see a lot of similarities between them.
    • I have always seen photography as relatively easy as well as design and illustration and anything else that’s remotely creative because I think that’s part of my DNA and I’m just aware of the details. When I see them, I pick up the camera and start shooting. If I don’t see them, the camera stays in my bag.

There are two types of photographers: the pure artist who imagines something magical that they want to capture and then there is the technical photographer. Where would you fall in those categories or would you say you were in between? [00:08:15]

    • I would say I’m in the middle and a lot of it comes down what I had to learn in college for photography. We were given two sets of rules.
      1. First, our camera had to be film and completely manual.
      2. Second, we had to develop our film and prints in the darkroom.
    • Amongst the two, I liked picking the manual settings and getting it right but developing of the film wasn’t my strong suit.
    • It’s the same with design, I didn’t love drawing with pen and paper but I loved doing it with the computer.

How did you get started on Instagram? Talk about the inspiration for embracing Instagram and how you’ve been able to use Instagram to travel the world. [00:10:05]

    • It goes back down to working in the tech industry. I am a hacker and I test everything and see what works.
    • My love of photography and the medium of Instagram stuck and I was able to enjoy taking pictures and posting them on Instagram and hacking and testing everything to see what would work.
    • All of sudden, people just started getting in touch. So, it just was obvious that this can fund travel and soon it would be able to fund life and travel. I’ve literally been able to use Instagram to travel the world.

Was it mostly people approaching you or did you reach out to some people to generate some interest? [00:11:37]

    • It started with people approaching me which gave me the realization that my account is good enough.

What are some things that work well for you on Instagram? There are a lot of white hat and black hat techniques that people use. What are some of the things that have worked well for you? [00:12:24]

    • For me, the thing that has surprised me the most and got me the most engagement are locations. For example, it’s not about going to somebody’s beach club and taking lots of pictures and tagging it as somebody’s beach club. I would go take pictures somewhere in Bali and I would tag every picture I take in Bali as “Bali” because those who are planning a vacation, they don’t know where they want to go in Bali yet.
    • They’re just going to search for Bali and see where they like and try to find out where that is in relation to their hotel or wherever they are staying in Bali. Because the location is Bali, they don’t know where it is. They just know they want to go there, and that forces the engagement.
    • So, they would post on the picture saying, “Hey where is this in Bali?” You’ve got your engagement, they’ve found your content and it’s a win-win.

One thing that I’ve noticed on Instagram that gets more engagement is photos where people are smiling. Is there anything that would relate to that for you as a travel photographer? What images get you the best engagement? [00:14:31]

    • If there isn’t a person in the picture, traction is ridiculously low.
    • The traction has doubled just for me putting myself in these couple of images for the last couple of weeks.

As a design and photography expert, what do you think people are connecting with? [0:15:34]

    • I think first, it’s adding that focal point.
    • Second, the contrast of colors. In the pictures of Bali, the color contrast adds the interesting focal point. It makes it more wonderful to look at. It adds a sense of identity.

What about hashtags? What is your philosophy or theory about hashtags? [00:16:44]

    • Hashtags help tremendously.
    • Having your own hashtags helps someone to find your content and they could use your hashtag and keep that momentum going. I’ve got this method where the first hashtag is my own.

What is your preference? Are you someone who likes to use hashtags in the initial captions or do you put it in the first comment? Have you tested it? [00:18:02]

    • I haven’t tested it. The only reason I haven’t tested it is because the designer in me hates seeing the hashtags.

Do you use any type of a third-party app like Later or Planoly to help you plan out your post? What’s your method of post-production on getting things posted? [00:18:37]

    • After every shoot, I would edit it.
    • I use Lightroom so, I have the Lightroom mobile app on my phone.
    • Then I would create a single post as a draft with the caption location and everything ready to go. I post it every morning when I wake up. It’s my routine.

Are you a business account or a personal account? [00:19:24]

    • I’m a business account with analytics.

What about comment pods, have you ever used those to raise engagement? [00:19:51]

    • I have not and I haven’t heard about it until the other day.
    • [00:20:08] How comment pods work on Instagram

How has the Instagram community been to you? Have you made real friends or connected with people in real life? [00:22:17]

    • Yes. I think the Instagram community is good.
    • The best part for me is using Instagram to find places to shoot photos or where to find good food when traveling. 

Give us an idea of what of the most exciting moments was for you when it came to finding a sponsor or somebody who wanted to hook you up with something. [00:23:29]

    • I think my favorite time that I got a sponsorship was last month in Bali. This company got in touch because in my description is says where my current location is and where I’m going to next. 

What kind of gear are you traveling with? [00:25:21]

    • The traveling camera right now is the Sony A6500. It is a beast. The shutter speed is ridiculous.
    • I have a drone also.
    • (David’s blog post: What’s in my bag?)

sony a6500



If I remember, you have a YouTube channel, is that part of your larger goal as well, for example as a portfolio to get gigs creating video content for some of these resorts and hotels? [00:26:35]

    • For the past year or so, I started out experimenting with different things.
    • I started experimenting with travel blogging and then I switched to travel blogging. How could I use Instagram and video to Travel the World?
    • Video has a huge soft spot for me and it’s something I want do more with.
    • Right now, I’m focusing on the career switch and when that is solid, I shall go back to video.

travel photography

Where are you off to next? [00:27:57]

    • I’m heading back to Bali. I had a month there previously and it was unbelievable.
    • From Bali, I’m back to Europe to do a road trip around Scotland.

After Scotland, any other plans? [00:28:21]

    • Cape Town, South Africa.


Today’s topic is about how to make money as a photographer. A lot of photographers burn brightly for two or three years and then they burn out. They close down their business and move on to other professions. Becker and I talk about why photographers struggle so much to make money and make a sustainable business.

Chris Becker has been in the business for more than 20 years and has a wealth of knowledge and insight to the photography industry. Becker still shoots weddings, coaches people on losing weight and consults photographers one-on-one pricing for their business.

how to make money as photographer











What are your thoughts why photographers have a hard time making money in this industry? [00:03:03]

  • This is my 21st season as a wedding photography.
  • It does depend on the kind of clients that you have. It’s more than photography. You have to have a solid business background.
  • I’ve got my style of photography but beyond that, I always pride myself on giving a killer experience to my clients and make sure they have fun on their wedding day.
  • Maintaining relationships with clients is crucial.

Why do you think photographers are timid to set a price that allows for sustainable business? [00:07:34]

  • One factor is the lack of confidence. I hate being pressured so I hate to pressure my clients.
  • The hardest part of the business is getting booked. If you don’t believe in yourself nobody is going to either.
  • Another factor is that photographers just put prices together not knowing what it’s going to cost to get the wedding edit or build an album.

Can you go back to your early days and think about some missteps that you made or something that changed your direction of your path as a business owner? [00:11:20]

  • I was a teenager when I started doing weddings. I wasn’t trustworthy because I wasn’t experienced in charging for the job.
  • I started as a fashion photographer and I felt let it pushed me into wedding photography. I took a workshop about wedding photo journalism.
  • The most important thing I learned is instead of selling pictures, charge a fee for your time and talent and make everything else available. I embraced that concept.
  • There is the perception that if you charge more, then you’re worth it. So, I learned that from Denis I started charging as an artist.
  • My goals were to every single year, shoot fewer weddings and make more money.
  • [00:14:43] Story of my mentee Mike Colón who was charging small rates for wedding photography but later fixed high rates and clients began to see him as better.
  • [00:16:26] One of the elements of this is owning your art, talent and business.
  • There are many photographers are fantastic with great work but there is this mentality of “I’m not good enough to charge that money.”
  • You have to believe in yourself. If you don’t, then nobody will believe in you but at the same time, you must justify the rates you’re charging.

There is a connection between raising your price and owning it. When you raise your price, you feel you have to perform at that level. Would you agree with that? [00:20:02]

  • Yes. I’ve always thought that you should charge a little bit less than what you’re worth. That way, when you’re meeting with the client, you’ll be, “Hey look I should be charging $5K and I’m only charging you $4800.” I believe that anything in life, your attitude and how you approach it really have to do with your results and stuff like that.
  • Set your goals high.
  • The bottom line of making money in the photography business is happy clients. If your clients love you, they would refer you to their friends.

What kind of advice can you give somebody when it comes to making your numbers? How do they begin figuring out that number that actually gets them to where they can sustain their business? [00:24:28]

  • Everyone is different. There are a lot of factors that contribute to it.
  • Photographers should know figures like their rent, their overhead, what they need to make every week.
  • Don’t worry about what other photographers think, think about what you need to put food on the table for your family.
  • I have basic package and other packages, I add more value to it. When you are selling a package or an album, have that exact album.
  • When selling your work, look at it from the client perspective. Don’t just pick numbers for your prices.
  • If you’re starting at $2000, you can’t just have a $20,000 package because it doesn’t make sense.

Is there some strategy to the way you sell without being overly salesy? [00:33:23]

  • For me, my whole entire career, I’ve always used a very low-pressure sales pitch because if the fear of rejection.

To summarize today’s conversation about how to make money as a photographer: [00:35:45]

    1. Own your art and craft
    2. Have a good level of confidence
    3. Refine your sales process to reflect you and your personality and adding value.
    4. Providing a great experience for your clients.

The BECKER system [00:36:27]

B stands for better photos.

E stands experience delivered.

C is cultivate relationships with clients and other photographers.

K is for killer branding.

E is for Efficiency.

R is for right attitude.

If you would like to learn more about making money as a photographer, check out Becker’s coaching program here.