That’s a lot.
With a Linked-In notification from my dad congratulating us on this milestone of completing 6 full years of business, I was jerked into the reality that, by God’s grace we have surpassed the 5-year benchmark. Most experts say that somewhere between 60% and 85% of photography businesses fail within the first five years. The reasons for failure are all across the board. I’ve kept this thought in the back of my mind over the years as we faced many, many obstacles. Every time our little business was stretched, I would ask myself, “How would a business fail in this situation? What is the worst possible thing I could do to make this situation worse?” then do my best to do the opposite.
Photography college had taught me a lot about photography, but nothing about business. In a sense I had to learn all over again, but this time combining photographic excellence and savvy business skills while curating an awesome client experience. We went to workshops, bootcamps, and online courses. Read up on networking, new gear, and websites (oh the many faces our website has had over the years!). I walked door-to-door from one wedding professional’s store to another introducing ourselves.
It was hard work. Time consuming and tedious. I worked 60 hours a week.
Our first year we shot 3 weddings. All three were for friends. We were honored to have been entrusted with such an important task. The only downside-all three were a solid three hours from our home. And sure enough, the following summer we received referrals from friends and fellow wedding professionals in those towns. We were traveling all. the. time. At first it was exciting, but soon it became tiring and wearing.
In our third year of business we photographed weddings in five different states: Alaska, Oregon, Idaho, Colorado, and Washington. Our love for travel had gloriously combined with our passion for photography. But we quickly realized that a nomadic summer away from our children wasn’t what we wanted. It was time to diligently seek out specific, attainable goals. Before this moment is was a take-whatever-we-get strategy 🙂
We set our goal: Chelan weddings. After a visit to Karma Vineyards, meeting the owner, we said: Chelan weddings at Karma Vineyards. We meshed well with their staff and quickly saw that the type of setting and experience Karma Vineyards provides attracted the same bride+groom we sought to attract. We started networking with vendors who worked there, visited the winery often, and built relationships. By year four we had multiple weddings at our dream location. Now, in our sixth wedding season, 75% of our weddings this summer will be at Karma Vineyards. Our first 2016 wedding we booked: Karma Vineyards. Not only do we shoot weddings there, but we have photographed their staff, wine bottles, and wine club parties for the past three years.
Our business strategy worked a little too well! It’s become a second home! Some photographers aren’t a fan of shooting so many weddings in one location. They want a new canvas to spur on their creativity. Our creativity comes in challenging ourselves to find new little hidden spots on the property to photograph, shooting different angles, and looking at the grounds with new eyes every time we are there, while at the same time being consistent in our work. We want to get that one specific shot a bride saw on our website that made her say “I want that picture with me and my man in it!”.
Now, as we look ahead to this summer and 2016 we are excited to continue photographing at our favorite location and expand further into Chelan venues we haven’t photographed yet. We are setting our sights on Leavenworth too! Each year we photograph 2-3 weddings in Leavenworth. We want to deepen our relationships with the awesome wedding professionals in that area. We love mixing up our vineyard weddings with a few woodsy weddings!
Thank you to everyone who has supported us. Both morally and financially by hiring us! Specifically, thank you to Ben’s parents have been our official babysitters. We could not be where we are now without someone watching our precious kids. To be able to leave the kids for an entire day (or two) each weekend, knowing that they are building a lasting relationship with their grandparents has been a huge blessing.
THANK YOU! We are so thankful for every couple that has chosen us over the literally thousands of photographers out there (dare I say hundreds of thousands?!). God has graciously allowed us to grow our little business and succeed in ways I couldn’t have ever dreamed.