Happy Little Tree Photography: Blog http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog en-us Happy Little Tree Photography tree@happylittletreephotography.com (Happy Little Tree Photography) Tue, 20 Feb 2018 11:44:00 GMT Tue, 20 Feb 2018 11:44:00 GMT http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/img/s/v-5/u290770645-o552895990-50.jpg Happy Little Tree Photography: Blog http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog 80 120 9 Months And Counting! http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog/2018/2/9-months-and-counting You've made it nine months!

Nine Month Sessions can be a minefield! 

 

First off this is where little ones usually start to have stranger danger.

I usually encourage clients to come early and let me just sit on the floor and play and read with their little one so they warm up to me.

 

Then there is a matter of teeth.

They usually start running a slight fever on and off, not sleeping well, having gum pain and getting rashes around the mouth.

Fun times huh. Have them wear a bib in the car if arriving in their outfit.

 

As with every session bring any items important to them. Bunnies, books, blankies etc

 

Two to Three outfits. Unless your child hates changing clothes! Don't tick them off!

 

We concentrate on what they are doing now pulling up, dancing, playing ball, bubbles, eating, etc.

 

These sessions usually last about 45 minutes.

We can shoot in studio with funky hats and chairs.

We can shoot outside in gardens and orchards.

We can shoot in your home with their best buddy (puppy) who eats their left overs.

Franklin 9mth-39Franklin 9mth-39

 

 

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tree@happylittletreephotography.com (Happy Little Tree Photography) 9 month nine omaha photographer http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog/2018/2/9-months-and-counting Tue, 20 Feb 2018 11:43:47 GMT
Very Merry 1/2 Birthday! http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog/2018/2/very-merry-1/2-birthday Your baby has made it through a whole six months!

Starting foods, big laughs and sleeping through the night....hopefully!

We can hit the studio with furs and blankets.

Shoot in home with book reading and kitchen sink baths.

Or outside with greenery and picnics!

Three outfits tops but if your kid hates outfit changes we can do one outfit and naked baby shots!

I usually say if your baby is not sitting up on their own yet delay the session by two weeks! Waiting until closer to 7 mths will get you better photos!

Bring any blankets, luvies, or items of importantance for photos!

Please do not bring your baby in if they just got their vaccinations shots. 

If you are trying to help get your little one to smile stand right behind me!

I don't care if you hit me over the head! This way baby is looking at the camera and not off to the side.

Peek A Boo, Baby Food, Bath Time what do they love to do?

If we are shooting in studio come a little early so baby can get use to me and the space.

Sessions usually take 45 minutes!

Also the more rolls the better so work on that!

Ellie 7mth-92Ellie 7mth-92

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tree@happylittletreephotography.com (Happy Little Tree Photography) 6 month omaha photographer six http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog/2018/2/very-merry-1/2-birthday Sun, 18 Feb 2018 14:33:29 GMT
3 Months And Going Strong...... http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog/2018/2/3-months-and-going-strong Let's face it. They're not going anywhere.

They can't crawl, sit up, stand, walk, run or escape me!!!!

So why photograph now?

They have doubled in size!

They have personality in spades!

Now when they smile at you it is not "gas"!

They are actually happy to see you!

They are still little enough that you can put them in outfits that they will hate you for later!

Three month sessions are all about personality!

It is almost like modeling headshots for your munchkins.

If you want to wait until they are at least pushing off their tummy and lifting up their head that's cool.

If not we do laying down and interacting with parents poses.

I'd say three outfits tops! 

If you know that your child hates to change clothes we can just stick to the one outfit and we can always do naked baby time so I can get those chunky thighs!

Let's try not to tick off the talent with too many wardrobe changes!

I usually say please bib your child for the car ride over so they don't arrive with huge drool stains on clothes!

Even if you don't want to be in the shots I might borrow your hands to get photos of your little one holding you finger or you playing with their feet!

These sessions are shorter and usually only take half an hour.

We can rock it out in the studio, go for a natural look at home or head into the great wide open.

Love your beautiful faces and can't wait to see you!

Eden 3mth-33Eden 3mth-33

 

 

 

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tree@happylittletreephotography.com (Happy Little Tree Photography) 3 omaha photographer three http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog/2018/2/3-months-and-going-strong Sat, 17 Feb 2018 18:14:47 GMT
Home Sweet Home http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog/2018/2/home-sweet-home Myth: You need a clean Martha Stewart styled house to shoot a session.

Reality: I usually spend all of my time in a space the size of a small blanket near a window to get 99% of the shots.

Houses are a mess! You just had a baby! We shoot around it. No big deal. I might move some furniture but I promise to put it back!

In home is also easier for healing Moms and toddlers!

 

When?

 We try to schedule the shoot between 5 to 12 days old.

A Session is usually two and a half hours long.

 

What is needed?

I love recommending in home. I brings wraps and blankets. We also get to take advantage of all that time you spent putting the nursery together.

Have a pacifier. Even if they don't normally take one. That little bit of extra suckling might be just what they need to get to sleep.

Try to keep the baby up an hour or more before the shoot and feed right before. I say this but I also know babies definitely make up their own schedule! I've had some parents get ready while I start with baby.

Bath time and naked time are great for keeping them awake before.

If Grandma made a blanket or you have your old stuffed animal that is important to you have it out! I will try to work them into photos.

I do love Pinterest but if you message me the night before asking for a giant moon instead of giving me a few weeks time, it's probably not going to happen but I will do my best.

If in home turn up the heat 30 minutes before the session!

 

What to wear?

Have the baby in something easy to get out of like zip up pjs. They will stay asleep longer when we undress them to shoot.

We usually do not do too many outfits. It just ticks the baby off going through a lot of outfit changes.

I usually recommend neutral colored clothes for family shots but not all the same, just the same color palette. Moms please wear what is comfortable for you! Simple tops and camis are great.

We know you just gave birth to a tiny human being. We don't normally do full length shots unless outside so wear your comfy pants!

That being said Mom if you want to pass the baby to Dad and go get your hair done and have a mani before the shoot I'd say you earned it!

We usually try to say no logos (Dads do that!)

 

Is This Normal?

If we need to take a break to feed baby during the session do not worry! Completely normal and means better shots. It just gives me more time to setup!

Try to have faces clean and little bodies lotion before I get there. Doing it when I arrive sets a not so good mood with kids.

You don't have to get peed on. We can just wrap baby. If you want completely naked baby shots though at least you are at home where you have easy access to clean clothes!

If you have more questions just ask!

Patrick NB-40Patrick NB-40

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tree@happylittletreephotography.com (Happy Little Tree Photography) home in newborn omaha photographer session http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog/2018/2/home-sweet-home Fri, 16 Feb 2018 14:54:57 GMT
Do You Remember the Times? http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog/2018/2/do-you-remember-the-times Hands in each others back pockets.

Dedicating songs.

Waiting for the laser lights to turn on.

Wait........What?

Rollerskating!

For a lot of us it was our first experience mingling in a large group while you try to catch the eye of someone and not fall flat on our faces.

It's the pre-clubbing trial run.

Complete with disco ball, the one show off of the group that could wear inline and go backwards and cryptic song dedications done by what sounds like a a Barry White wannabe.

What does this have to do with photography?

EVERYTHING!

My First Day of Xmas Giveaway!

I gave away a session recreating a couples' first date!

I waited until midnight as the voting continued to see whose first date would win: the zoo, movies, football game?

Well Chelsea and Cory's friends voted them to the top and I think you know by now what their date was.

Nachos and Skating.

This recreated date was a little different from the their first one. It included Averi and Eliana their two beautiful children who had never been rollerskating before!

So Saturday morning we got up and hit the rink first thing.

While we waited for skate lessons to end we hit the nacho bar.

I gotta say there were some cheesy lines as the girls looked on and giggled while mom and dad fed each other salty goodness and shared a slurpee.

We rolled up to the skate counter and had to figure out shoe sizes and get eight feet ready to roll. 

The girls did awesome!

They tried their best and then we went and grabbed one of those funky pvc pipe things so they could dance along as they got the hang of it.

When the girls felt ready I asked Cory and Chelsea to do a few laps alone.

Stealing glances at each and trying to impress his date, Cory only had eyes for his girls. I can see how a fox like Chelsea fell for him.

I wish we could say no one was injured in the making of this shoot but little Eli's finger's got squished and everyone left with sore calves.

All in all it was a success! Two beautiful littles girls got to share a piece of history with their mom and dad and see how one + one becomes four!

001-002001-002

 

 

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tree@happylittletreephotography.com (Happy Little Tree Photography) date first omaha photographer rollerskating http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog/2018/2/do-you-remember-the-times Tue, 06 Feb 2018 16:22:17 GMT
Book It! Part Ten- Engagement http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog/2018/2/book-it-part-ten--engagement Engagement Sessions-

ESessions, Love Sessions, Beloved Sessions etc etc etc

They are a great dry run to see if you and your clients will mesh on their wedding day and if they like your style.

I have a lot of clients who like the same thing wheat fields or downtown alleys.

I go over their PinBoards with them to see if there is a place that will work, tell them it will take anywhere from one hour to two depending on what we are doing, suggest golden hour times for outdoor sessions.

I usually ask if they have a special date or proposal spot. If they have any hobbies they love to do together: books, dog walking, roller skating, movies, music, food etc.

Remind them to bring flats if we are walking a lot. 

Two outfit changes tops or one outfit with a great scarf or jacket to make it look like another one.

If they are doing a change of clothes and it’s outdoors, are they comfortable car camping changing? If not maybe one outfit is best.

Bug Spray and water in the car.

Double check a week out on meet up times and location.

If they are bringing their dog can they bring extra treats (or stock some yourself in the car but some owners are picky about what their puppies eat).

I usually start easy. A simple walking away and walking back shot.

It helps to find a narrative, give them a a character to play “Hey remember While You Were Sleeping? You’re Leaning…”

They actually sell decks of cards that are prompts for you to get real emotions out of your clients during the shoot.

I love to end hot sessions at an ice cream shop and cold ones with cocoa, but that is just me and why I gained 40lbs as a wedding photographer! LOL 

 

I once had a bride request her engagement session at the park near her house. Your usual run of the mill green park. I had met with her in person a few times and she always seemed comfortable and natural. Well for her engagement session she showed up in head to toe black club wear and so much caked on makeup her skin looked thick and chalky. This is why if a client wants to send me texts of their outfits for approval I say hell yes! 

 

A common problem is couples like places that have a photographer fee. So many times I hear, "Can we go shoot at the train museum or the botanical garden?" We can but they charge $150 for us to shoot there. If my couple will cover the cost sure, sometimes if they have booked my top package I will cover the cost.

Be aware of different venue's rules. Offer other similar suggestions.

The local park down the way actually has a beautiful garden and cobble stone pathways, how about that?

It took me time to find that park by the way. Scout locations, ask friends online their favorite spots. I will tell you that on photographers' forums that is the most asked question and the least answered. Most photographers guard their spots so they don’t get over run or end up looking like everyone else's photos.

Call ahead to places to check on rules. Even if it looks like an abandoned barn by the side of the road that is someone else's property. Make an effort to find out whose it is and ask permission. You’ll be surprised most people say yes. Sometime I even give a finder fee to the owner of 25 to 50 dollars as a thanks.

 

During your shoot, no matter what do not write on anything. Even if it is just sidewalk. Photoshop it in later. A lot of places will not let photographers shoot anymore due to lack of respect for property. There are turn of the century brick buildings that a lot of photographers in town use to shoot at that are permanently ruined by simple chalk. A newer photographer wrote 1 + 1= 3 as a maternity announce onto the wall of one of these buildings. This is old porous brick, it permanently stained it and the owner now will not let photographers on the property.

 

One of my first engagement shoots I roll up to the Train Museum, pay the entrance fee for all three of us thinking that was all that was need. My couple is beaming. I am excited by the gorgeous light in this Art Deco building. Five minutes into shooting even though we were quiet, out of the way and not using flash, we were escorted out. I did not know you had to call ahead and pay a fee. It was extremely embarrassing for all of us and did not leave a good impression of my skills with my couple.

 

I had an engagement session where my couple wanted something different. So we decided to make a day of it and drive out to a place called Carhenge. I googled it and it said it was a four hour drive. I figured 8 hours driving an hour shooting. Nine hours would be a long day but worth it. We hop into the car and turn on gps. It then informs me that the drive is 7 hours. I turn to my couple and they say lets do it! 5 hours into this drive across the plains in my small Yaris with bald tires I see a complete wall of white. A freak snow storm like I have only seen in movies. A vertical wall of white reaching up to the heavens with a strange mix go fog to make it seem like any moment the car is going to drive off a cliff. We somehow make it through with a white knuckle death grip on the steering wheel. We get there, shoot for 45 minutes and drive the 7 hours back. Altogether 18 hours for an engagement shoot and I got a speeding ticket.

 

I had one session with a couple downtown. We walked around in the morning. Great light, all different angles and poses. I gave them 300 photos. The bride got back to me. She didn’t like the ones where they did not fill up the frame, or the ones shot low, or the ones shot high or the ones where they were both not looking at the camera. Out of three hundred shots she did not like one of them. I met with them for a reshoot. Fifteen minutes in front of a brick wall with them both staring at the camera holding hands and filling the frame. I then informed them we were not a good match and tried to return their deposit. They obviously did not like my style. The bride refused and insisted I was her photographer. It was the first and last time I tried to tell a client we were not a good fit. Five years later they now bring me their kids to shoot!

 

One engagement session that I always talk about. My couple and I were shooting in a field near a new housing development. Nothing is around but a small ice cream shop. At the end of our shoot we look up to realize the sky went dark fast and a funnel cloud is actually dropping next to us. The owner of the ice cream parlor came out and shuffled us into his pantry. We ate ice cream and played 80’s Trivial Pursuit for the next hour. Which really was not fair since they were just babies in the 80’s. After that I changed the names of my packages to ice cream flavors Vanilla, Chocolate Chip, Mocha Almond Fudge and Triple Banana Split with a Cherry On Top. It was fun and easy for my clients to remember. It also was a great lead in to the above story to show how fun and crazy things get!

 

I was at a Getting to Know You Meeting and they are ready to sign. Mom was with them. We start talking about the engagement session and what they should do. The bride and groom both tell me they are avid skiers. The Mom chimes in with , “Well there you go! They love snow. You can do a snow shoot.” I laugh. Well there wedding is in four months, we will probably be shooting the engagement photos in July, we could go to an ice rink and do a skating shoot?” “Oh no we want a snow shoot. You can just photoshop all the photos right?”

 

Moral of the story: It is rarely just a simple shoot.

AS Engage-45 PinAS Engage-45 Pin

 

 

 

 

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tree@happylittletreephotography.com (Happy Little Tree Photography) engagement omaha photographer shoot http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog/2018/2/book-it-part-ten--engagement Mon, 05 Feb 2018 17:22:50 GMT
New Year, New Face http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog/2018/1/new-year Soooooo if you ignore my life and family and just focus on what I have to do for my business this next week: taxes monthly and yearly, headshots, new templates for contracts and emails, new pricing and structure for the year, finish Pinterest boards, redo website, work on marketing for the year, adjust new prices and shoots on top of all the usual shooting and editing that needs to be done.

You know what I am most worried about? HEADSHOTS!

I have not had them done in 7 yrs!

And I yell at people that do not have them updated every two years!!! Yes I am a hypocrite. 

To top it off I only know 500 photographers to choose from that all shoot with a different style.

I really do not like being the client. Who to go with. In studio or on location? What to wear?

Normally I make a Pin Board and figure out a style I like but not this time! Drawing a blank! Ideas?

WHAT FUN SHENANIGANS SHOULD I GET INTO FOR MY SHOOT!!!!!

***Picture because Barrett is farrrrrrrrr cuter then I! LOL*****

Barrett 1yr-80Barrett 1yr-80

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tree@happylittletreephotography.com (Happy Little Tree Photography) headshots omaha photographer http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog/2018/1/new-year Thu, 18 Jan 2018 17:11:54 GMT
SWF http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog/2018/1/swf I was sitting in a coffeeshop, ease dropping on the table next to me as usual.

It was a lovely young woman and her friend hunched over her laptop.

She spoke out loud as she was typing.

Strong passion for what I do.

Happy, Loyal, Fun

I see the world a little differently and love sharing that vision.

As she went on typing I realized she was on a dating site, but not at first.

My first thought was she's a photographer typing out her About Me Page for her website.

Then it hit me.

That is just what the About Me Page is.

In a world of thousands of photographers at your fingertips to chose from I had the image in my head of the average client on their phone "swiping" left through us all.

So I went and spent an hour ogling other photographer's About Me Pages.

It was scary how many of them were similar. I have a passion for my job and drink a lot of coffee.

There were not very many that I felt a connection with. So I kept swiping.

Then there were some that struck a cord with me: Gia Canali, Aralani, Zielecki

So my new year resolution is to write a kick a** About Me page that will make you want to swipe right!

If you want to help share a thought, memory, idea or feeling you think About ME!

PC: Ana McClary

 

 

Tree019Tree019(C)ANNA MCCLARY 9705803896

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tree@happylittletreephotography.com (Happy Little Tree Photography) dating omaha photographer swiping http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog/2018/1/swf Thu, 11 Jan 2018 16:29:37 GMT
Chug Chug Chug Chug http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog/2018/1/chug-chug-chug-chug Januaury

My lush month.

No not the organic cosmetic line.

LUSH as in crazy soft blankets and throws with naked women on them while I slowly become a lush guzzling champagne.

Yup.

I drink more in January then I do all other 11 months of the year combined.

Why you say?

I can't let my clients drink ALONE!!!!!

Being in front of a camera is scary enough.

Then to be asked to strip naked and look sexy!

PLEASE!

I can't even look sexy when I am trying to be! Seriously have no idea how I landed my husband.

Anyway.

I have some women that do it for their Anniversary, Morning of the Wedding Present, SO's Birthday.

I have a few women that come in just for themselves and come back every year to party and document their strength, beauty and yes booty.

So yes we may drink a little much (thank you so much to the client that introduced me to Root Beer Vodka with Vanilla Ice Cream scooped in it!).

We may turn up the music way to loud.

We may get naked or just put on that sexy little black dress.

The one thing I can guarantee is that I will be just as awkward with you! LOL

CHEERS!!!

Jenna-215Jenna-215

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tree@happylittletreephotography.com (Happy Little Tree Photography) boudoir lush omaha photographer http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog/2018/1/chug-chug-chug-chug Tue, 09 Jan 2018 22:09:29 GMT
Let Them Eat.......... http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog/2018/1/let-them-eat Ok.

Cake.

Who doesn't love it right?????

Some men.....stay away from those ones.

Diabetics. Wise move.

Bakers.......cause you can actually get too much of a good thing.

And 1 year olds.

WHAT ONE YEAR OLDS!?!?!?

You are going to call me crazy but let me save you the experience of being disappointed.

When you come in for a cake smash some kids will dive in and devour,

some will actually just smash it and smear it everywhere,

most will freak out by the strange texture and overly sweet taste because they have never had something like that in their short young lives.

If you are dead set on cake we will do it.

I can not tell you how many times I have seen parents get frustrated smash their child's hand into the cake where said child then freaks out crying and runs to them to be hugged smearing frosting all over them.

You don't have to eat cake.

Applesauce, pancakes, cereal, ice cream, strawberries....

What is their favorite food?

Exhibit A

Evelyn

Not big on sweets.

Mom told me she LOVES waffles!

So instead of cake on the stand went four big, golden waffles.

I topped with whip cream and a sprinkling of raspberries.

I sat in front of the stand and the first five minutes she spent daintily picking off all the raspberries and eating them.

We then showed her that the whip cream was edible.

She hated it.

Hated it so much that the top waffle got flung off to the side.

Then she just stared at the stand.

There was one thing I forgot.

Evelyn only knew waffles as small flat discs the size of her hand. She was use to Lego my Eggo.

Well after careful examination dainty Evelyn realized what they were, picked them up with both hands and started to tear into them, with a slight growl and murmurs of yum.

It was hilarious.

So for your little ones' one year photos. Think about what will make them happy and we will make it fun!

Ev 1yr-113Ev 1yr-113 Ev 1yr-115Ev 1yr-115 Ev 1yr-123Ev 1yr-123

 

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tree@happylittletreephotography.com (Happy Little Tree Photography) cake omaha photographer smash waffles http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog/2018/1/let-them-eat Mon, 08 Jan 2018 15:35:49 GMT
Leader of The Pack http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog/2018/1/leader-of-the-pack Chris is a long time family friend.

I don't often get guys that contact me.

For headshots yes but to book a surprise session for their SO, Not often enough.

I drove out to his house outside of town.

It sits on a dirt road surrounded by hilly fields.

We are definitely shooting at his place because there are family members that do not travel well.

3 Large but Lovable Puppies who need hugs and attention! LOL

Enter Haak.

He is not that big. Dark hair, slender reed of a boy but he definitely makes up for it with big personality.

The imagination on this kid!

He did don a cowboy out at one point LOL!

How was this little boy going to stand up to 3 large dogs?

The answer?

He didn't have to.

They accepted him as one of the pack.

It was amazing to watch.

As the adults talked I watched Haak and his "brothers" roam over the hill. Criss crossing, running, jumping, rolling down the hill together as one unit.

It made me think every kid needs a dog! LOL

“…he will be our friend for always and always and always.” – Rudyard Kipling

Us 2017-85Us 2017-85

 

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tree@happylittletreephotography.com (Happy Little Tree Photography) dogs hack omaha photographer http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog/2018/1/leader-of-the-pack Thu, 04 Jan 2018 19:06:58 GMT
Book It! Part Nine- The Meeting http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog/2018/1/book-it-part-nine--the-meeting The Meeting-

We love you! Can we meet up with you to ask you questions? 

Which they will immediately forget what they wanted to say and your 30 minute meet and greet will turn into two hours of gossip! LOL

This is why I always had a 10 minute elevator speech that basically went over the highlights of my contract, which you should have out for them to look at. Start with about me, my experience, what to expect, when things are due and when you would be contacting them, time needed, what happens if you can't make it etc etc etc.

I first met up at coffee shops and clients' homes. 

Then my in home office, but that was too much work to keep clean.

Then I got a studio space. I find you get more respect for a dedicated studio space and they tend to only keep you an hour instead of two when you meet up at their place or a shop.

You have lots of options now and days and special places with dedicated offices you can rent!

I usually offer beverages and snacks and have slideshows running in the background and wedding albums out for them to pick up and feel.

“How did you find me?” “Oh them! I LOVE them! I remember the priest at their wedding saying the wrong names!”

“How did you two meet?” “How did he propose?” “

“OH MY GOD that ring is gorgeous he could not have picked that out alone! LOL”

Let them get comfortable with you. Ask questions which will lead to the information they want from you. 

“You have six sisters! That makes 8 bridesmaids! Well you have to include all your sisters and anyone whose wedding you were in! Don’t worry 8 is nothing. Did I tell you about my party of 14 bridesmaids?” This lets them know you are interested and yes you can handle that many and more.

A mentor of mine serves beer and wine at his meetings so I thought I would do the same.

The one time I tried I brought out a tray of beers and wine and the bride turned out to only be 20. I never offered alcohol again. Coffee, juice and water it is!

*By the way those drinks and cookies you offer are a tax deduction save your receipts!

As they are looking through the albums it is easy to talk about how they are custom made, what an heirloom they are and easier to talk them into upgrading to one.

They usually book right there. Some leave, meet with a few other photogs and then come back, but once they are comfortable with you it is usually a shoe in.

Go with your gut feeling!

I had a consultation with a couple half way through the groom broke out hysterically yelling, “OMG they are gonna kiss! OMG! THAT IS SO DISGUSTING! OMG!” A slideshow of one of my same sex weddings had come onto the screen. I should of escorted them out right there and told them I was not a good fit for them but I really wanted money!

When they book I often ask them to send me their wedding website link or their invitation so I get the same info as the guests.

Cultural Differences- Some religions will not allow photographers into the church. Some require women to cover their hair. Talk to the couple, google what to expect. Post in your photography groups for advice on what to expect.

It is not always what you think! My couple warned me things get a little crazy when the boys come in from the field. I was in the middle of a one street town that Google and my GPS did not recognize as a real city. I actually found my way by accident. Day went great. Ten o’ clock rolls around and I am expecting to be leaving because everything has died down. The bride had warned me. 10:30 the boys that had been working the field all day came to the reception and all hell broke loose. Buckets of ice dumped on the floor, cupcakes flinging across the room. You never know LOL.

Check In with them!

Afterwards I send and email thanking them for coming up and encouraging them to ask questions. Every few months until the wedding day I email again to see how things are going, anything I can help with? It gives them piece of mind and they know you have not dropped off the planet and are thinking of them.

AC Wedding-1826AC Wedding-1826

 

 

 

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tree@happylittletreephotography.com (Happy Little Tree Photography) omaha photographer wedding http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog/2018/1/book-it-part-nine--the-meeting Tue, 02 Jan 2018 19:41:23 GMT
Book It! Part Eight- Stay Organized http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog/2017/12/book-it-part-seven--stay-organized Staying organized-

I started with lots of paper folders. I literally had a mountain of paper fallen of my desk.

I now use 17 hats, it lets me know where I am at with every step of the client process. A reminder will pop up that a client hasn’t paid or signed a contract by the deadline. Easy to use and can be done from my iphone. It took awhile to get the hang of it though. There are lots of option Studio Cloud, Honey Books etc. Look into the one that is right for you.

When Google was down the other day for some reason or another, I was able to log onto 17 hats and look at my calendar there and immediately tell a person if I was open on a date. 

I once had a client whose wedding date was on my calendar as February 22nd. February 1st I shot an out of town wedding with a five hour drive back home. As I am just getting undressed in the morning of February 2nd I get a call from my bride. “HI Tree” “Hi Sarah! Why you calling?” “haha Tree are you coming up to the hotel to do getting ready shots?” It hit me then my fat fingers typed in a second 2. Her weddings was today. Luckily I did not double book and I have extra cards and batteries and ran out the door. This is why you need a good organization system! I was darn lucky and the bride never knew!

Educating your client- this is where blogs and newsletters are great. I encourage my clients to ask me questions and also try to get them to sit down and make a timeline with me well before the wedding day. This is usually their first wedding. Do they know that you need 45 minutes for formals of that many family members or that their venue will let them on the roof top for photos? I know a lot of photographers get upset and annoyed when couples keep asking questions but the more questions the less confusion! Hopefully all of the information in your contract, blogs and newsletters does this for them and they will not have to ask you!

The first six months that I had 17 Hats I opened, looked at the screen for 30 seconds and closed it. Finally in my slow time I spent two whole weeks making templates and emails. I was a lot of work up front but worth it in the end. Now if I see that a clients of mine keep asking the same question I know I should add it into my template. In the end those two weeks spend save me far more time and sanity.  

They have an online market were you can buy templates so you don't have to spend as much time as I did making them but I'm a cheapskate!

New Year is coming what better time to get organized!

Referral Link to 17 Hats:

https://17hats.com/card/prrvpkwkxw

Erin  Ryan Wedding Album Pages3Erin Ryan Wedding Album Pages3

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tree@happylittletreephotography.com (Happy Little Tree Photography) omaha organized photographer http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog/2017/12/book-it-part-seven--stay-organized Sat, 30 Dec 2017 21:41:49 GMT
Book It! Part Seven- Contracts http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog/2017/12/book-it-part-seven Contracts-

This is serious business. When I first started I had a one page contract I cut and pasted from Google. Over the years as I got more experience it grew. It stands at about six pages at the moment. Each state has different laws and you really should have a lawyer who deals photographers locally look at it. 

But where do you start? Google does help, ask a mentor to show you theirs. There are resources from the PPA and WPPI, you can purchase a templet from
Rachel Brenke a law photog. I purchased a template and added and changed a few paragraphs to it in the end.

It should cover every conceivable scenario you can think of: When and how many photos, model release, print release, acts of god, if you are ill, if you will be fed, turn around time, dealing with unreasonable requests, how long the files are held, retainer, cooperating with photos, protocol for if you can not make it, termination of contract for failure to pay, when and how much refunds are given, final payment deadlines, etc etc etc

I will say almost universally people say to use retainer instead of deposit in your legal contract. 

I at the moment have a digital contract which can be signed through email. When I first started these were not legally valid but are now accepted. I also make it a point to say Lovebird 1 and Lovebird 2 when requesting information since I shoot a lot of same sex weddings.

Speaking of. I love same sex weddings. After I booked one a few years ago I had a fellow photographer ask me, “Well what did you say to them?” “Yes?” It took me a minute to realize that she was assuming I would turn them down since I was a Christian. I was a little shocked. Sometimes my rose colored glasses get in the way and I can’t believe people still feel that way in this century. I will say this unless you want to be sued you either book them and treat them as you would every other client or just say you are booked. 

Make sure that anything important that needs to be stressed in the contract such as turn around time for images has to be initialed next to so they definitely see it and can’t say they didn’t know.

Cancelations happen. Specify in your contract what that means for the retainer and any money paid.

With the Contract I have them sign a Wedding Day Questionnaire with who what when where and why. I tell them it doesn’t need to be completely filled out because some clients panic. It is just a general idea of where and who I will be with that day.

I also see a lot of post about photogs being hounded by Mothers to get images and that are not happy with the images. Even if the parents pay. Have your couple be the ones that sign the contract so that you deal with them! 

You need a solid contract! No matter how much you prepare stuff goes wrong!

Rachel Brenke

Love your beautiful faces and stay legal.

ER Wedding-415ER Wedding-415

 

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tree@happylittletreephotography.com (Happy Little Tree Photography) contracts omaha photographer http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog/2017/12/book-it-part-seven Fri, 29 Dec 2017 15:19:31 GMT
What's In A Name? http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog/2017/12/whats-in-a-name I didn't want a boy.

I know nothing about boys.

They get on my nerves.

Smudged, Noisey, Bodily Creatures that laugh like Beavis at Fart jokes and try to kill themselves jumping off of furniture.

When I became pregnant I actually started buying dresses and picking out girl names.

There were all girls in my family. No way was a xy chromosome in my future.

Then I had an ultrasound. I actually cried upon seeing the images. 

Not tears of joy. I couldn't help myself.

I already have a daughter but she grew up wearing overalls and green sweater vests and hung out with her Grandpa watching Three Stooges. 

I wanted a Girl!         Glitter, bows, tutus and purples and pinks. 

Fast forward five years.

Any of you that know me, know that I am now a firm champion of the mother-son relationship.

It is a completely different relationship then that of my daughter.

In fact when Moms To Be come into the studio now and say they are going to have a boy, I let them know they won the lottery!

Now that being said what is the point of this blog post?

Baby Names.

I am not having anymore children. 

Yet I am still in love with the baby names I chose!

So here they are for you to use!

If my daughter was to be a ginger like my husband I was going to name her Lola after the song by The Kinks! What can I say we got a thing for Transvesities! After all that is why Em is the Divine Miss M.

If my theoretical daughter was going to have my dark curls I was going to name her Moselle. I might have been reading too many Southern books with Creole characters at the time.

I've added Roxelana from the Ottoman Empire harem to my list this year.

I will tell you this. Name your baby one of these wonderful names and I will play favorites!!!!

The next Momma that uses these names and brings her baby to me gets half off her newborn session!!!

Hannah NB-49Hannah NB-49

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tree@happylittletreephotography.com (Happy Little Tree Photography) baby names omaha photographer http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog/2017/12/whats-in-a-name Thu, 28 Dec 2017 19:07:02 GMT
Book It! Part Six- Marketing http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog/2017/12/book-it-part-six--marketing Marketing is home work that needs to be constantly done wether you are busy or slow. Have a color on your Google calendar just for Marketing projects that need to be done every week.

Say Pink is marketing on your calendar. Have standing dates for Blogs on Mondays, Facebook on Wednesdays, Brainstorming Thursdays etc.

That third year where I booked like crazy for the following year was also helped along by a wonderful bride with a very large friend group.

She was a hairdresser. She loved her photos so much that she told everyone and anyone who would listen about me. Business boomed.

This is why customer service and making your client feel wonderful on their big day is important.

Your greatest marketing tool is word of mouth. Friends tend to get married in clumps.

You do a great job chances are you will be seeing your bride again at one of her bridesmaids weddings because her friend loved you.

You can always push the inner bargain hunter in your bride too and offer say a 16x20  print of her favorite image for ever friend that is referred to you that books. Or a $100 credit for a boudoir or anniversary session.

Print-

We have a few different local Wedding Magazines you can spend anywhere from 800 to thousands to have space in. I have talked to several different photographers in different price ranges have tried this. Not one of them got a client from it. You can always give it a shot though, it is also a way to get your name out there in more places.

We’re CRAZY!!!!

You’ve seen the sale ads. A sale is a lure. Is there really a point to Black Friday? Posting a deal in a magazine, local blog, Facebook etc might just be the push your client needs. Free Engagement session with Wedding Booking. Wedding Album with Package purchase. What do your clients really want? Do an online survey, find out and give it to them! Give them a deadline only two days, give them a sense of urgency or this special goes away!

Charities-

You meet new people, feel good for donating your time, can hand out cards, they often give you ad space in their newsletter, good PR, you look like a good person who cares about something other then yourself and it’s a tax deduction. For years I covered a local charity event for a national health organization. I had a blast it was one night every year, they fed me, there was no crazy relatives to deal with and I always got a wedding or two out of it. To be honest the only reason I stopped doing the event was because they changed managers. It is always easy to find a charity looking for a free photographer. Think of what you actually can relate to and care about and go for it, but when you do blog about it, post about and hand out business cards!

News-

The local news often has little vignettes and interviews on morning shows. The trend of the TRex chasing bridal parties. Message them and say you will come on and talk about it and do a time lapse of how it’s done. Surprise proposals, see if they want to do a cover piece on how to go about it and offer to talk about your favorite ones! I will say the main local one in my town treats almost all interviews as ad revenue and wants you to pay $500 to be on the show. It is up to you if that is worth the marketing cost.

Stylized Shoots-

Business slow? Put together a shoot. You network with other wedding vendors which is good word of mouth, it is a controlled environment which means you get great new work to put up on your website and blog, participating vendors use your photos with your credit, Wedding Blogs and magazines LOVE to feature styled shoots. Your own brides will also follow you for ideas.

BillBoards Banners and Decals-

I love reading the ads on the back of cars. Why do I not have my business on the back of mine. There is a rash of thieves stealing gear out of photographers cars while they are shooting. Also I am a bad driver, I do not need to give my phone number to the people I cut off!

I rarely glance at Billboards and the photographers I know that do advertise that way are not use to designing pieces of such size and scale so the ad usually doesn’t look that great.

Silent Auctions-

At least twice a month I get approached and asked to donate some kind of gift to silent auctions. Think about if you want your name associated with this kind of business. If you do there are some guidelines. Donate Time not Money. Donating picture frames or products is an actual out of pocket expense that will always cost you.

Set restrictions- deadline for use, how long, how many poeple, non refundable, not redeemable for cash, how many images and when they get them, the more specific the better.

Once again it is a tax deduction usually and it gets your name out there.

I donate a lot to silent actions and rarely see a return.

 

Press Releases-

They are old school with the death of print papers but still a valid source of marketing.

Opening a new studio, running a charity event, win an award? Send a press release out by email to your contact list and to the local papers.

 

Blogging/Vlogging

Half the people who follow my posts are clients, half are other photographers.

Post often. This is free advertising for you and helps people relate to you.

Post a variety- use the rule of thirds- work-fun-what you know

Yes post your photos, but also post about the fun new place you found or a new technique you tried with your camera.

People love to see themselves. They will share your blog posts about them. I usually say be careful though, this is an all or none kind of thing. I have had several people tell me that others photographers did not blog their sessions with them and they felt slighted. Like they weren’t as good as the other clients. 

Post links in your blogs. Who designed the bouquet, where was this taken etc. It drives more traffic to you and is good for SEO.

You hate writing? Ask a fellow photog to write a guest post or a past client about their experiences with you.

GANGS-

Join a gang. The PPA, the WPPI, local shooting club, wedding forum for your state on Facebook. They will inspire you and you will also have some one to fall back on. You are booked on a persons day already? Post to your local forum, see whose open who you trust. Refer the person to them. The client will appreciate the help, the other photographer will appreciate the extra work and next time they are booked they will refer you!

Tradeshows-

They are usually on a weekend and wouldn’t you know that is usually when wedding photographers work. You have to pay for a space, design it to fit your brand, order samples, spend a whole day setting up, spend a whole day trying to be upbeat and enticing people to use you and then several hours tearing everything down. This can get expensive but there are always ways to make it cheaper. 

These shows are usually oversaturated with photographers to warn you. Only some of them limit the number. You usually have to give something away in a raffle. The bride writes down her name and email and at the end of the day 5 brides names are drawn at the show and they when a free engagement session with 5 digital images given to them. Once again donate time not product. The trick is usually that everyone is a winner. Message their email and let them know. The clients that already had a wedding photographer would still do the session. They would love all the images and purchase more then their five and I have had them come back to me for family and boudoir later.

Your samples are important here. Yes I had my beautiful images blown up and plastered on the walls but when a bride would pick up one of my flush mount album samples that is when I would hear the oohs and ahhh and the “This is exactly what I want!”

Go easy, smile, don’t be all business. These brides start to feel like they are in a meat market. I was once stuck between a two cake vendors handing out samples and I was the only one who had a trash basket. A bride would finish her sample and be left holding a plate as she was walking. I would smile at her, say “Hey you need me to toss that out for you.” She would be grateful and thank me and I would strike up a conversation, did you try the lemon? This place is really better with chocolate and it would always turn into them looking at my work and talking to me and not feeling rushed.

Malfunctions happen, bring backup, extension cords, table covers etc.

 

Facebook-

It’s free use it! I know lots of people complaining because the new algorithms suck for business but once again IT'S FREE!

Use it to tell stories and post your favorite moments for clients to share.

ALWAYS ALWAYS check with clients first before posting!! Your bride might hate that image after you post it because she thinks she looks fat in it and wants you to talk it down immediately.

I have seen several newer photographers say in private forums, they signed a release in their contract I can post what ever I want. If some one did this to you you would be ticked! Do you really want a client who will then turn around and tell everyone she had issues with you to feel that way. Check first!

Stay Positive! Good karma!

Interact on Facebook. Like other peoples and photographers posts, don’t just hit like actually comment! This puts your name in their mind more!

Post images from a wedding you just did, link through to the image gallery as well it will drive more people to your website.

YellowPages-

Todays Yellow pages are places like The Knot and Wedding Wire. The bridal sites have replaced the actually book of pages. I have had good and not so good experiences with this. It usually costs each month to have your name on these sites. I was paying about $150 a month. The first year I did not have one single bride book with me from the site I used. There were 60 other photographers on there as well. The second year they changed what you could upload to your “space”. Instead of just photos I was able to upload my fusion slideshows which is a mix of photos and video from the day and after that I was getting at least on inquiry a day! The next year they changed the way the layout looked and lots of brides did not know the photos were actually slideshows and it went down to one inquiry a month and I cancelled with them

On a different wedding website I tried that you could post for free I got a negative review and it to this day still bothers me. The Review- “We LOVED our photographer, she went above and beyond, we love our images, everything was great but the one draw back? We felt extremely rushed during formal photos.” I was livid, yes they were rushed, their officiant was 45 MINUTES LATE and they refused a first look which left me with 15 minutes of venue owner yelling at me to hurry up so they can serve dinner while I did family, bridal party and individuals of the them. As you can see I am still upset a decade later! I hold grudges. Negative reviews are tough to take down and unhappy clients try to hold the threat of a bad review over your head. Luckily with the exception of the review above I have not had issue with reviews.

Contests-

I see them all the time on blogs and Facebook. Although Facebook does have some rules that are ever changing about what you can run for a contest so check those out!

As with Charity and Silent Auction work make sure the rules are clear, not redeemable for cash, must be used by this date etc etc etc.

These are usually not your target client and are people just looking for a deal. I see the altruistic spin sometimes with the nominate a deserving bride. You get a heart warming story and blog post and lots of people waiting to see who won driving traffic to your site to vote for them.

Publishing-

Wether book or blog form it is always a credit to your business to be published. I know several brides who actually design there wedding with dreams of getting it published. 

There are companies like Two Bright Lights that help with publishing. You pay a monthly fee and can submit easier to different business. You must have a thick skin you are going to hear a lot of NOs before you get a yes, just keep submitting and try to make sure you are submitting to the right kind of place. Weddings with neon hair and the bridal party is in a band? Maybe more Rock N Roll Bride or OffBeat Weddings then Ruffled.

Once you do get that yes you can not usually blog, post or submit that wedding else where unless specified but once it is published flash that baby everywhere on Facebook, your blog, in an email newsletter etc!

Competition/ Awards-

Having your work critiqued helps you to grow as an artist, just like publishing it requires a thick skin but keep submitting. It is good networking, improves your eye, your credibility, goes on your resume and you should also shout it out on Facebook, blogs, emails when you do well! Most of the time these are print competitions and it requires money to enter and make the print.

Passion-

Work slow? Great time for you to do a personal project. I had been dying to shoot a bride running through the fountain at out local art museum. I paid the 75 dollar fee to shoot there and 75 dollars to a hair/makeup artist. It cost me 150 in expenses and hour to shoot, two hours to edit but my client who got married out of state now had something to show her friends, loved it and told everyone. I also got more work to post of something different that I wanted to do and I got new clients and PR out of it.

Give a Workshop-

Teach a class on how to shoot a sparkler shot or in mid day sun. This means more networking for you, your clients see you as a professional teaching other photographers, creates more buzz and is usually fun hanging out with people for have the same interests as you.

Planners-

Getting on a wedding planners list usually helps with a steady stream of clients. Sometimes that means their clients get you at a discounted rate. This is great for referrals but can also mean that you are working with someone trying to control the show including how much time you have to do your work.

Target Market-

Who What When Where Why and How

You can not please everyone.

Walmart/Hermes- Some people only want a photographer based on price or the fact that they use a matte filter on all of their photos. Some value your work and know this day is important to capture.

Love vintage weddings with tattooed brides? See if you can donate a canvas with your name on it to the retro store in town where those brides shop.

 

Copy Cat-

Good Artist Copy, Great Artist Steal

You positively love the marketing piece another photographer put out. There is no one says you can’t make one just like it. As long as you are not taking their ad and pasting your info over theirs go for it. 

Pinterest-

Back in my day they use to be called Mood Boards. Design a page for your business. Brides love to share Pins, it’s free and does not take long to make or do. That moment when a bride is telling you what photos she wants and pulls up your Pins instead of some other photographers work is an awesome one. I also make secret mood boards with my clients for their sessions. I warn them that I am still gonna shoot like me but I find it inspiring. I once had a client send me a mood board that was half filled with photos of the couples hands. I don’t normally shoot hands but I did take a few with this in mind and she loved it. We all have stories of the clients that sends you 300 Pins and wants them all done on her wedding day. Thank her for her ideas, let her know that you want to create something new and artistic just for her so that people will want to Pin her day.

*On a side note. I had a bride Pin everything for her wedding. She worked hard to create it. Two weeks before her wedding was her cousins wedding. Her cousin took her Pinboard and used everything on it for her wedding. Moral of the story: Tell your clients to keep their Pinboards secret!

Memories!-

Remember Anniversaries, Birthdays, Births etc. Post and email clients about them. One year I made inexpensive photos Xmas ornaments for my clients to celebrate their first christmas together. I still get tags, posts and thank you about them from clients and their friends see it! I love posting an extra beautiful photo of their day with a short but sweet sentence to my clients Facebook page, usually all of their friends then start commenting on the photo when they go to say happy birthday as well. Five minutes time and great word of mouth.

Local Businesses- 

Jewelry, Floral, Dresses, Tuxes, Venues you can offer to design promo cards or an album of their products with your logo and referral on it. You should try to get with the places brides usually book first Venues and Dresses. There are many places you can partner with though! Does not even have to be a specific wedding vendor. A personal trainer, vintage shops, spas etc. This may require a little time and a little out of pocket but is worth it! Please it is great to also know other vendors you can recommend to your bride! They will ask you for recommendations on everything from nails to DJs.

Newsletters-

Make a monthly newsletter or private Facebook group for your clients with photo tips and specials that might be running on other wedding vendors. “Worried about a double chin. Go out and down not up! And did you see the $99 dress sale at David’s Bridal!” Make a phone App for your studio that will sent out the newsletters.

Mailers-

There are companies that will supply you with a mailing list and you can design a postcard to go out such as Marathon Press. I honestly don’t know any wedding photographers that do this. I know lots of Senior Photographers that do.

With everything above to don't be afraid to dream up something new! You're the Artist!

****Comment with some of the crazy ways you have Marketed!!!!

 

Erin  Ryan Wedding Album Pages2Erin Ryan Wedding Album Pages2

 

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tree@happylittletreephotography.com (Happy Little Tree Photography) marketing omaha photographer http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog/2017/12/book-it-part-six--marketing Wed, 27 Dec 2017 16:53:14 GMT
The Rabbit Stays. http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog/2017/12/the-rabbit-stays "Is it alright if Bun Bun is in the pictures?"

Bun Bun

What the hell is a Bun Bun?

I look down at the little two year old with eyes too big for his face in front of me.

There in his arms is a rabbit.

It is stuffed.

In a moment of clairvoyance I see this creature's future stretched out in front of me.

Twenty years before in a past life Bun Bun was Bunny, the crocheted rabbit that my daughter could not live without.

Bunny went everywhere and my daughter was never without him.

By the time my daughter was four we had scoured the planet for a replacement bunny as we watched him disintergrate before our eyes.

When we found one I explained to Em that we had to take Bunny to the vet and the switch was made.

As the years went by Bunny's ears doubled in length from being carried by them.

My daughter is now in her last year of college, but if you go in her room and check under her pillow bunny is still there.

I was going through a box of photos and came across a portrait studio photo of Em and Bunny.

Em is three. Pale bruises all over her legs and forced into a dress for pictures.

We had tried to get the Bunny out of the photos but it just caused tears.

We came to a compromise. Bunny will sleep in a wicker pram pushed by Em for the photo.

I laugh as I realize staring at this photo that bunny use to be white not grey, and have a hat, and a dress, and eyes for that matter.

It has been so long living with disfigured bunny I forgot what he originally looked like.

As I stare down at this little boy dragging around his best friend I tell him, "Yes! Bun Bun is welcome in the photos!"

I smile and know that 20 years from now as he is in college his mother is going to look at this photo and smile a big smile as she says, "Oh look Bun Bun use to have a nose."

Family 2017-58Family 2017-58

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tree@happylittletreephotography.com (Happy Little Tree Photography) bun bunny luvies omaha photographer http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog/2017/12/the-rabbit-stays Sun, 17 Dec 2017 17:40:19 GMT
Book It! Part Five- Pricing http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog/2017/12/book-it-part-five--pricing This is a hot button issue. Price too low and you get demanding budget brides who want everything for nothing. Too high and you hear crickets, unless you have the work, experience and business know how, quality and customer service to back it up.

My first few wedding were 300 to 500 dollars in price. My ego quickly inflated to 800 even though I really did not know enough about what went into shooting weddings. I then upped it to 1200. I had steady weddings, booked like crazy, but I was there all day 15 hours shooting a wedding.

I would have people say oh well that is still 80 dollars an hour! No it isn’t. The emails and phone calls back and forth, engagement session, editing, wedding, editing the wedding.

They say for every 1 hour of shooting is two hours of editing. So you have about 45 hours right there per wedding.

You then might say oh that is still $26 an hour.

No it is not.

From that 1200 you need to take out your business insurance, camera equipment, gear repair, gas, cost of goods for usb drives, packaging etc, and sales, state and federal taxes.

So if you take out the usual 30% in state and federal that is minus 360, 10% for sales tax is $120 so 1200 minus 480 in taxes alone is $720

Take out 30 dollars in insurance, 690, Cost of Goods, say very conservative $50 brings you down 640.

We say $45 in gas, 595.

Now if I divide the 45 hours by that we get 13.20 an hour. This does not include the money you paid into your gear, tax person, website, marketing.

And that is just business did you pay your mortgage, electric, medical? 

You can see why this is so tempting to just try to do everything under the table and not pay taxes. You will get audited.

They are following Facebook and tracking websites. When they catch up to you they will go through all of your emails and bank statements.

I have a friend who did not pay her sales tax, after one year they audited her and she ended up owing them 30,000 dollars. Scary yes!

Sit down with someone and figure your budget. Your living expenses, business expenses, taxes and how many weddings you need to book to make it.

I will give an example below:

Business Expenses-  *this does not include all the initial startup costs of equipment which around 8 grand.

Monthly insurance- 30

Gas-160

Website- 22

17Hats- 15

usb drives and packaging-60

client expenses- lattes and food- 50

gear cleaning repair purchase- 350

marketing- 200

Child Care- 400

Acct for taxes- 600

PPA-28

 

Personal

Mortgage- 1200

Electric-80

Car-120

Gas-80

Medical-400

Food-1000

Internet- 40

Cellphones-220 (about 100 a month for just me and can claim mine on my taxes for business but put it under personal because I am also paying for two other family members phones.

Clothes/Birthdays/Household Items-400

Entertainment- 100

Totaling- 4855

*extras- gym membership, cable/streaming services, book addiction, Credit Cards, college fund.

Go through your last six months of bank statements and see where your money is going, 17 Hats can help with that and so can a program called Minted. This will help you budget.

There are 56 weekends in a year. You know that in colder winter months you book a lot less and warmer months you can book a wedding on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Some photographers like to keep their sanity and will not do a double header or back to back weddings.

12 months say six months you will only do one and the other six you shoot 3 a month which is 24 weddings.

If I times the grand expense total by 12 months it equals 58,260 needed to make it (this is before taxes too!), divide that by the 24 weddings you book is 2,427.50 for each wedding.

If that is the minimum you need that should be the cost of your lowest package.

There are always ways to upset too! Adding on a second shooter, or wedding album, or bridal session.

My first year I booked 3 wedding, the second year 7, third year 25, the next couple of years until I had my son and stopped shooting weddings was at about 45-50 weddings.

How? 

I had four packages-

3600- 12 hour 2 photographers, 12x12 30 page flush mount wedding album, custom engagement session, all images edited and given to you.

 

2700- 10 hours, 2 photographers, 10x10 20 page flush mount album engagement session all images edited and given to you on a usb drive. 

 

2000- 8 hours, 1 photographer, engagement session edited and given to you on usb. 

 

1300- 6 hours just me, files edited and given

*If you paid attention to COG you would see that the above prices are not high enough. Also know that I am a kept woman whose husband pays the mortgage! lol

My two middle packages were my biggest booker, but I still did quite a few elopements at my bottom package I would say 15 of the 45. A lot of the times my clients would buy my second package and then later buy the album at tax or christmas time.

Half of my brides would also add on a boudoir session as a day of present to their groom. Which would also lead to additional album and print sales.

I made an online pdf and flip book of my pricing for clients to go through. I will say do print it out on really nice paper though.

A lot of clients still like to look at and hold the physical pricing sheet.

I branded it with my logos and fonts. I included all of my ala carte items to tempt. I priced them descending in price order from highest package to lowest. People usually book your middle package. I left the lower package very cut and dry in description but expounded on the detail and luxury of what you get in the top two packages.

An Engagement Shoot in the lower packages became a personalized planned engagement session centering on what you lovebirds like to do!

I named each of my packages after ice cream I loved.

Which clients loved, they thought it was fun and the names were easy to remember. I also had a good story to tell as to why my packages were named after ice cream.

*I was shooting an engagement session with a bicycle in a field with a fun couple. Just as we ended the session we looked up and realized a storm was coming fast. We high tailed it back to our cars but nothing was around except a small ice cream shop. A funnel cloud was forming right overhead. Tornado season in Nebraska hits fast! The owner of the shop came out and got us and offered us shelter. We spent the next hour eating ice cream and playing 80’s Trivial Pursuit, which I won by a landslide because they were born in the eighties but I had lived through them! Kinda like cheating really.

At this point my clients laugh, say "No way!" and also feel like I will get through most any situation with them.

One of my favorite weddings had me booked for a year. It should of been the usual wedding. They lost their funding. Ended up having it in their backyard under an old oak tree with barbecue and cupcakes and personally made decorations. They spent 4000 dollars total on their wedding. $2700 of that was on me. Photos were important to them. Sad to say these clients are the exception and not the rule.

I will say research your market. You usually have to have the quality and experience to back up your pricing. There was one year I met with four brides that didn’t book with me. The next year I discovered that they all referred friends to me instead of the photographer they had gone with since the less experienced photographer they went with botched the job.

I also experienced what we call Budget Brides, it would seem like most of my brides who were below the 1400 mark where the most demanding, hardest to please and wanted the world for nothing. I had one bride come in who originally wanted my top package. She informed me that two months before their financial situation had changed and she would only be booking my bottom package but that she still wanted me all day and with a second photographer at my bottom package price. A sane person laughs and says no way and walks away. I was nervous, I needed the money so I agreed. I ended up not making a dime off of the wedding. Was it her fault? Nope it was all my own for not valuing my work and for letting a client walk all over me.

Stand your ground!

 

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tree@happylittletreephotography.com (Happy Little Tree Photography) omaha photographer pricing http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog/2017/12/book-it-part-five--pricing Fri, 15 Dec 2017 19:11:42 GMT
Proof Is In The Pudding...... http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog/2017/11/proof-is-in-the-pudding I met the Johnson Family last year.

Our first meeting was in a hospital room.

Melissa had just given birth and had hired me to do a Fresh 48 Session.

For those of you that do not know what a Fresh 48 Session is I come up to the hospital and photograph the older siblings and grandparents meeting the baby for the first time.

Melissa and Luke had come prepared.

As their three older children bounced into the room they had presents from the new baby for them.

Each child received a bag with clothes, toys and books.

As the new baby needed tests I got to do the best part of my job. 

Sit on the floor and read to the kids.

I told them all about my son and his favorite book at the time, Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs.

The book was funny for kids and had enough adult sarcasm to keep me entertained as well.

In it instead of porridge Goldilocks eats three gigantic bowls of pudding.

Fast forward a year.

The Johnson Family shows up at my studio for family photos.

Not only do the kids remember me, they scour my book selection looking for the Goldilocks book I told them about!

What kind of an Aunt am I!!! It was not there!

After the session I went home and through the magic of Amazon I ordered not only the book to be delivered to their house but a package of chocolate pudding to make with it!

I then went about my day.

A week later I see a strange post on Melissa's Facebook feed.

"Did someone send me pudding?"

"Is this a thing now?"

Amazon had sent the pudding on ahead of the book which would arrive a week later.

I was about to explain but when I looked at Melissa's feed it was hilarious.

Her friends were having too much fun running with it.

I am sure after the book came she figured out the pudding was from me as well.

I now want to send random pudding to my clients to see what Three Stooges antics ensue. LOL

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tree@happylittletreephotography.com (Happy Little Tree Photography) and dinosaurs goldilocks omaha photographer pudding the three http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog/2017/11/proof-is-in-the-pudding Thu, 30 Nov 2017 17:56:12 GMT
Book It! Part Four- Website http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog/2017/11/book-it-part-four--website I bought my domain name off of GoDaddy for a decade for $80. I was going to keep Captured By Tree forever!

I used the website builder that came with Go Daddy.

It was crude, amateur and boring.

 

I went on to try Wordpress, Big Black Bag, SquareSpace and several others to varying degrees of success.

When my business rebranded to TreeSnap I had a custom site designed and built for me.

Yes I did love it but anytime a problem arose I had to pay someone to fix it and I had to add on the shopping cart feature and order prints.

When my business changed again several years later I shut down the site and moved to Zenfolio.

Easy to design a simple site and photos could easily be ordered through several professional labs without me having to do the extra step of ordering.  

 

Make sure that the website you choose is easily navigable.

Have friends try it out and try out test markets like Peek by UserTesting which will send you a 5 minute narrated clip of someone going through your site and what they think. I believe you get three free uses. 

Peek Link: http://peek.usertesting.com

 

Do not add music.

It makes it load slower and you probably don’t have the copyright permission to use it.

Lots of people do it but if someone was using your images for free without your permission you would be p***ed off.

Don’t do that to another artist that worked hard to make that song.

Plus quite a few of my brides check me out when they are bored at work. Don’t make them get caught by the startup of cheesy music.

 

Don’t overdo how many photos you have in your portfolio galleries, more is not better! Just keep the stunning ones. 

Don’t have enough to fill a portfolio?

Borrow a friend and her dress. Take her out to shoot. Shoot your own wedding ring. Put your kid in their Easter clothes and go to town. 

If you love church weddings show photos with churches.

Love the serious romantic couple shots? Post that and those are the clients you will attract. 

People see your photos as a love story. They want to look at your photos and be the person in it.

So you want vintage tattooed brides? Post that. You are going to get the kind of bride that you show case.

I post a lot of funny outtakes and reception shots so I don’t get as many serious brides. I get ones that want a fun night to remember!

 

Make sure it has links to your blog, Facebook, Instagram and all of your other informative links.

About You Tab, Portfolio, Pricing, What to Expect, etc etc etc.

Do your homework! Emulate the sites you love!

 

Last but not least is it your brand style? Remember your brand is everywhere from website boarder to business cards!

 

PS- As I write this post my website is in serious need of an update, but that is what the winter is for!

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tree@happylittletreephotography.com (Happy Little Tree Photography) omaha photographer website wedding http://www.happylittletreephotography.com/blog/2017/11/book-it-part-four--website Tue, 14 Nov 2017 15:15:44 GMT