For real guys? It's so late I am just hoping this stuff is even remotely understandable. Sorry if there are typos or other weird errors, i'm sleepy. As always, just sharing my opinions and what works for me, this is by no means photography doctrine.
PART II - Business and clients
First, let me shamelessly plug my friend Kellee Smith from MBK. The woman is a full on genius. If you need help with your business (anywhere from marketing to tax stuff and everything in between) you should probably hunt her down, picket her lawn and beg her to mentor you one on one or offer more workshops. I attended her workshop this summer because even though i was feeling like i was really coming into my own with shooting, my business was nowhere near where it should be. I'm very right brained and the business side just doesn't come naturally to me! She is so passionate about business and i was blown away by her knowledge and ideas. she helped me turn everything around and would have paid twice what I did. Seriously. Best decision ever. So basically, i am still figuring out a lot of this business stuff out, but pretty much anything i do know, i learned from her. THANKS KELLEE!!!!! much love. =)
Belinda Olsen said...Happy Anniversary. ..1. Where do you meet clients for signing contracts, giving prints, getting to know them, etc.?
I set up my living room as a client meeting room. ‘cause really, how often do you use your formal living room anyway?
2. Do you have questionnaires you have your clients fill out before your shoots? If so, what's in them? How do you help the session have the personal touch for each client?
I usually have a phone conversation and talk about what they are going to wear, what look they are going for, what some of their favorite images are from my blog etc. Although a questionnaire is something I have considered and may use in the future! I think I am lucky in that I warm up to people really easily and I think I have a knack of picking up on people’s styles relatively quickly, based on their personalities, clothing choices and of course some conversation.
tanalicious said...whoa.. you really got yourself into one now! my question is more family based. how many clients do you take a month/week?
I usually seem to have 2-3 shoots per week, 2-4 weddings per month. But it depends on the time of year too!
how do you schedule enough time for work and family? how do you balance your family life/work?
Oh boy. Does ANYONE know the answer to this one??! I always laugh when people say, “I just don’t know how you do it all” because really, neither do I. to be honest, this is a constant struggle for me, the balancing act. I probably don’t always get it right, and more often then not I feel like I am barely keeping my head above water.
There is one thing that helped me out a lot that I wish more people would do too. Let me start by saying, that while I believe that we as women can choose to be and do anything we want (go us!), I DO NOT believe that we can “HAVE IT ALL.” It is unfair for others to expect it of us, and even more so for us to expect it of ourselves. After a while of editing in my free time, staying up all night, sneaking off to the computer every free second, I started to feel like a crazy lady (I know you can all relate). I realized I wasn’t really doing a good job at anything, which means I had to make some choices. I had to just accept that I was a “working mom” and that if I was going to treat photography like a real job, I actually needed a couple of uninterrupted work days. That meant two things for me: 1. Childcare. Enter awesome neighbor who I love. 2. Hiring someone to deep clean the house twice a month. So right now, Max goes to my neighbor’s house two days a week and my husband usually is home for my evening shoots. It always shocks me how many women are trying to juggle several sessions per week and have no help with their kids or homes. If you are not charging enough to cover the costs of childcare etc, then honestly it might be time to re evaluate. I try really hard to work on work days, and on days that I am home actually BE present and play with max, do things with friends, something other than photography. Do I work during nap time? E—mail at night? Absolutely. I don’t have it totally figured out, but I’m working on it.
Whew! Consider me off my soap box.
when do you do your editing? how long do you spend on average per photo session?
I edit sessions during the day while max is at the neighbors. Though I do blog at night quite a bit. To do basic proofing for a family session/bridal or engagement session, it probably takes an hour or so. Weddings maybe 4? Seriously, I am so ADD it’s probably different every time.
Final edits for prints and my blog take quite a bit longer. I’m slow. What can I say?
for your weddings, how many photos do you normally give the client
This depends quite a bit on how long the bride hires me for. I think I tend to be pickier on which images to include, I probably include around 500 for full day sessions.
? and does your hubby think you are married to your computer? ;) good luck.
You know, I do sometimes feel like I am married to my computer, but thankfully my husband is SUPER supportive of my photography. In fact, I think he’s kinda proud of me. =) ok. Not kinda, he definitely is. He will totally help with Max, dishes LAUNDRY, so I can get my work done if I’m overloaded. I think because he owns his own business too, he gets it!
Sweet Shibui Photography said... Congrats on your photo-versary!! Your work is so great and it's incredibly obvious that you throughly enjoy what you do. Rock it! I guess my questions has to do with prints/albums/canvas. How did you decide what you wanted to offer and then, once you decided, how did you figure on prices? That's my huge hang-up right now. I want to offer EVERYTHING, but know that's just unrealistic.
My advice is that on products, keep it simple. You can always offer something custom, but keep your basic product list easy to understand and easy for your clients to choose from. Also, I am just barely getting into albums. I think you just have to offer products when you’re ready to take on the responsibility. Albums for example are quite a bit of work, so generally they are quite a bit. I think my print and canvas prices should reflect your experience, quality and professionalism, just like your session prices do! It really depends on your whole pricing structure too.
Do you have meetings with your clients to discuss ordering and options, or do you mostly rely on emailing/calling them? I swear, it's the most painful part of my workflow... :-) THANKS!!!!! :-)
While I would like to meet with each client to discuss orders, it usually doesn’t work out that way. I have an online proofing gallery so after a some suggestions from me, the client can put the order in online and pay online as well.
Heidi said...When you started charging people money, did you get yourself a business license? And what did you do about figuring out taxes?
My situation is a bit different because Danny and I have an S. Corp. that owns both of our businesses, so a lot of things were already in place when I started my business. We have an accountant that does our taxes, which is super important to get right when you are a small business owner! There are so many deductions etc. available, you don’t want to miss something and pay more than you should. Frankly, I am so bad at all that stuff. I am lucky my husband is so left brained! Also, if you’re a photographer, you should be paying taxes on ALL OF YOUR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES. That was a rude awakening for me too. Woops.
The Gulls said...how do you get your clients to relax and have fun? When I tell couple to relax and have fun they seem to get shy and cant relax..thanks for doing this your awesome!
I try to give my clients ideas of things to do or tell them what I am looking for at the beginning, then let them ease into whatever happens naturally. I think if you just tell your clients to just be themselves, act natural or whatever, they are just going to get nervous and self-conscious. Most of the time you still have to direct the candid shots too to an extent.
Clayton Austin said...Hey Jessica, I would like to kow how you deal with couples who are dead set against seeing each other prior to the "sunset" ceremony. How do you fit all the necessary portraits in with what little available light is left, if any.
I’m usually pretty lucky in that department- I shoot a lot of LDS temple weddings and ceremonies are often during the day, giving me lots of time for portraits afterward. I also offer formal bridal portrait sessions, which can be done before or after the wedding. Another thing I offer to do is to set up “first look” shots, so I can capture the first time the couple sees each other and they still get the “wow factor” even if it’s before the actual ceremony.
Kelty said...Hoo wee! I love this time of year. :) I'm sure I'm going to learn oodles anyway, but I'm curious how you work out a partnership with a second shooter. Responsibilities, pay, crediting, etc! Mwa!
I often get e-mails from photographers who want to second shoot to gain experience, build a portfolio etc. So in the case that someone contacts me and asks to tag along, I assume they are volunteering. In that case, they help me with equipment and second shooting, and I help them by answering their questions, teaching a little technique as we go and giving them a portfolio building opportunity.
However, if I approach someone to help me as a professional second shooter, I trust that for the most part they are going to know what to do without too much direction technically, and of course I pay them. All of my regular second shooters actually volunteered the first time and then I invited them back a second time as a paid shooter.
As far as copyright and editing, I usually edit all of my images and the second shooters images and give them to my clients. They are put in the mix with the rest of the images and are considered part of their Jessica Kettle Photography package. The second shooter also has all the images for their own portfolio purposes, but I do ask that they clearly state that they were second shooting for me and that they do not use the images for heavy advertising like blog headers or business cards, since it would be weird it we were both advertising/branding with images of the same shoot.
Jasmine Star posted some AWESOME advice for second shooters. If you are looking into second shooting, you MUST read THIS! I 100% agree with everything she said.
Amy said... At risk of wasting time and embarrassing myself, I'm wondering what the first few steps are if I want to be a portrait photographer. Are there free or at least public classes I can take anywhere? I've got a camera, a tripod, and a little instruction book, what's the next step?
Hey! No need to feel embarassed! It's all love and kumbayah 'round here. =) This is actually a great question!
First of all, I would say to take it slow. You just got your camera, so start by being a good hobby photographer before being a professional photographer. I think a lot of people buy a nice camera and feel like they should immediately take professional photography by the horns. Take your time, build your skills, practice practice practice, learn everything you can and see if you like it and are good at it, THEN start thinking about going pro. You wouldn't go buy your first cook book and a frying pan and immediately decide to open a restaurant right? you would study, experiment with recipes and ingredients, take classes, that sort of thing. Same thing goes for photography. I realize I may sound a little hypocritical in saying this, because i probably started a business before i should have. However, currently Utah has a seriously over-saturated market and you have to work twice as hard to stand out. And there are a lot of disadvantages to charging money before you know what you're doing and have professional equipment, even if you're not charging much (maybe especially if you're not charging much!). In retrospect, i think it's better to learn first and then come out with a bang.
I really don't mean this to discourage anyone from starting a business, just discourage people from jumping in before you're ready. capiche? =)
Heidi said... 5. Anything you used to do that you don't do anymore and why?
I can’t think of anything major, but my style is continually evolving and changing little by little over time. But I can’t say that I have fully abandoned and certain technique or anything in the last year. My pricing structure has changed a lot, because I was finding people were buying their cd and not printing a thing, which is such a waste. So now clients can only get a cd if they purchase prints first.
Also, as you have continued learning and practicing over the last year, what have you focused on the most? (sharper pictures, better editing, etc.)
Last year my big focus was LIGHT. I wanted to totally understand all kinds of natural light and be able to get a good shot in ANY light, not just pretty perfect light. Now I am really working toward understanding flash, video light, and all that. I am also working really hard to catch my business skills up with my photography skills!
Andrew and Rachel said...Hopefully this isn't a stupid question. How do you make your pictures so big on the blog? Is it just the type of camera you have? Photography looks more impressive it is big enough to see some of the details!
There are a few different ways to do it, but I resize my images for the web in photoshop (resize, convert to SRGB, sharpen), upload the web sized image to flicr, and then copy and paste into blogger.
Emily Hartvigsen said...I'm always curious how other photographers advertise. What do you do to get the word out about your business? You probably don't have to do much currently, because you're so well known now, so what did you do to advertise when you first started your business? I know photographers get lot of business through word of mouth, but have you ever advertised in any other way? I just need some advice on how to spread the word, so I can get more clients. Thanks! :)
I am not the best one to ask on this because I have never paid for advertising in the traditional sense. I have always booked all of my business from blog traffic and client referrals. I really think the best advertising you can do is to treat your clients great and make them happy, to know your stuff and deliver a great product, and to sell YOURSELF. Dane Sanders wrote a book called THE FAST TRACK PHOTOGRAPHER, which I highly recommend. He talks a lot about how there are a lot of good photographers out there, but if you have a magnetic personality to go with it and you connect with clients and colleagues, it will give you a leg up.
Brittany Stucki said..I am starting to do proofs, what size do you do on your CD's for proofs, you give the clients so they can see them but not print them??
I use online proofing. I would definitely look into that because I don’t know how realistic it is to give clients a proofing cd that you don’t really want them to have printing rights to.
PART III - products and equipment
marissa moss said...2... what is your all time fav lens? I'm looking to purchase my second lens (the first one just came with the camera, and I don't LOVE it). I want something that is quite versatile since they are pricey and I don't know when i'll be able to purchase another one. I use canon if that makes a difference...
I think EVERYONE should have a 50mm lens. It’s sharp, affordable, and extremely versatile, especially if your only other lens is a kit lens (usually not very high quality, especially if you are shooting as a “professional” or charging money at all). However right now my favorite lens is my 85 mm f/1.8. the compression and bokeh are just yummy!
kathy said...ok...where to begin #1 if you could only have two lens to use professionally and personally what would they be?
oooh, hard choice!! That would mean I had to drop one of my three lenses. Lately I have been using the 17-55 and the 85 the most. But the 50? The fifty is the trusty, steatfast, always there for you lens. Couldn’t live without it either. Ugh. Forget it. I can’t choose. It depends a lot on what you’re shooting too…
Marcie Meredith said...I have one more question I forgot to ask. Do you use reflectors? If so, when and what kinds? Thanks!
Yes! I have only been using a reflector for the last 6 months or so and I really like mine. It’s a lastolight tri-grip, and it’s the shiz because if you need to, you can hold it yourself and shoot at the same time.
Natalie Park said...2. Do you ever do professional wedding books? If so can you explain what program you use, how you do it, and who you publish them through...PLEASE!
I am actually just getting started in albums and I am SO excited! I am planning on printing through Cypress Albums even though they cost tons. They are amazing, and I love them. They are not available unless you are a professional photographer, apply for an account with them, and provide your business information and tax ID. Just so ya’ll know.
As far as design, I don’t know for sure if I will use photoshop or indesign, we’ll see. My friend Dustin Izatt sells templates if you’re interested! Check them out here. Plus he’s cool.
jer said...Hi, sorry one more question: Recently i took some pictures for my sister and she tried to have them printed at walmart, but they told her they wouldn't print them without the "photographers signed permission"... I was wondering if there is some sort of standard document out there that I can have ready/signed for clients or friends when they take the photos to be printed at places like walmart, costco, etc... in order for them to avoid hassle/embarrassment?
First of all, Walmart is about as bad of quality as you can get for prints, so start by redirecting your sister to somewhere like color pro lab in Kaysville for starters. When I give a copyright cd, I usually just have a really simple note like “so and so has permission from Jessica Kettle Photography to print images of her wedding at the lab of her choice.. blah blah blah. Like three sentences. Then I either attach a business card or just put my contact info on the letter.
Erin said...Just found your blog after a visit to Sassy Babies--love your work! I see you have the 1.8 85 mm in your bag (not the 1.2). . .do you think it is as sharp and fun as the 1.2, even though the price difference is pretty big? I am trying to decide if the difference is worth the cash. I rented the 1.2 and loved it. Can't wait to hear the answers to all these questions. . . :)Happy Anniversary!
hi erin, first, do you shoot canon? Because Nikon doesn’t offer an 85 1.2, just 1.4 and 1.8. anyway, I am SURE that the 85 1.2 is a better lens. By a long shot. The question is, do you have a lot of other lenses? The camera of your dreams? All lighting you need? An extra $2,000 laying around? If the answer is yes, go for it. =) There is so much to invest in when you’re running a business, for me it’s just a matter of evaluating my needs as a whole and deciding if it’s worth it. Right now, there are other things that I think might make a bigger impact for the money, so I will be sticking with the 1.8 for now. However, the 1.2 might be just the thing you need! And if you can afford it, go for it. I’m sure it’s amazing.
Karen Scoffield said...You are so cool to do this! … For now, I just want to know if you could give a percentage on how important good equipment is vs. good photoshop skills. I really want to invest in a good lens but I also want to learn photoshop. I know I need both but I would love to know your opinion on how important they each are.
That’s a really hard one. I think it depends so much on what your purpose is and what equipment you already have! And you’re right, you WILL need both to shoot professionally or even as a serious hobbyist. I think I would say go for a lens. Because no amount of photoshop can make up for poor image quality due to sub-par equipment. BTW, did you know if you have a student in the family (ANY STUDENT K-12 or college!!!!) you can get a HUGE student discount? Because you can. It’s seriously like 70% off.
alma and nicole smith said...CONGRATS jessica! what do you shoot with (camera, lenses, reflectors, etc)? i know you have had fun experimenting with lighting recently...what do you use and how? thanks, i think you are awesome. nicole
Nikon D300 (soon to be 700! Hopefully they will release the rumored 700x bc it’s prolly going to be awesome)
All nikorr lenses: 17-55 f/2.8, 50mm f/1.4. 85 mm f/1.8
SB 800 flash, Smith-Vector video light. I use the flash on and off camera, and also in conjuction with the video light sometimes for a bit of a fill. Video lights are really fun too, think of it as a big expensive super bright flash light. It’s more complicated than that (ok, not really that complicated), but that’s the idea.
Alycia said...I heard that you're selling some of your equipment. I might be interested.
Jeez, word travels fast around here! Like before it even happens..? I am planning on selling my 17-55 f/2.8 and buying the 24-70 when I upgrade cameras because the 17-55 is not compatible with full frame sensors. Boo. I love that lens like my own child. I will however be KEEPING my D300 as a backup camera.
Declutter Your Life said... LOVE your blog, I wish I had your talent. Here's my question: What camera do you recommend for beginners who don't have a large budget?
I really like the D90 if you’re looking into a high quality hobby slr that could probably transition into professional at some point if you wanted. Canon, I don’t really know.
Karenin Jaar Robison said...also i have a t1i, the kit lens and the 50 mm 1.8 which i love. but i feel like it doens't do the trick for group shots. what is a good overall wide angle lens?
Honestly, all of my canon friends love the 24-70 f/2.8. It’s supposed to be a very versatile, sharp, professional lens. I can not stress enough the importance of good lenses. If you’re charging money for your photography, be sure to use professional lenses.
Janice Twitchell I use a Canon xsi and I just have been using the 18-55 mm lens for all my shooting. lenses are expensive and I want to buy one that is versatile that I can do most of my shooting in, that's really fast, what do you recommend I buy? thanks!
Mmm, ditto. 24-70. Professional lenses = mucho important.
Heidi said...4. How the D300 compares to other cameras? I'm trying to convince my hubby I need the D700 because it will help me take much better pictures. Is this a valid argument?
Well, as you know I am DYIIINNNNNGGG for the d700. So yes, it’s great. However, a better camera will only make better pictures if you know how to use it and if you have good glass to do the job. So if the camera is the missing link, make the change. But first, I would work on getting as great of images as possible by doing all that you can on your end with the camera you have. then if you KNOW you’ve outgrown the D300, pull the trigger.
8. What would you consider your best photography purchases you have made, and what is next on your wishlist?
Best? Lenses. Kellee’s workshop. Next? D700 (hopefully D700x! Come on Nikon! Just release it already. I know you have it!)
kalls_n_joel said...Hey girl, love your work! you are so generous to share your knowledge with us! I would like to know... 2. Did you notice a huge difference between your new cam and your old one? If yes, what was the thing you noticed most? Thank you thank you!
YEEEEESSS!! I upgraded from the D70, so it was night and day. Better color, clarity, higher resolution, easier to use, way better ISO sensitivity… it was better in every way imaginable pretty much.
and thirdly, who do you use for your prints and albums?
White house custom color
Kylee said...Jess, I am going to rack your brain at Lindsey's wedding...so get ready! :) Here are a few questions off the top of my head - 1. I got a Nikon D90, and you mentioned that there was one lens that you loved for Nikons. Which one was it?
The 50 mm 1.8 or 1.4 is a GREAT lens for the pro and hobby photog!
Melissa said...I love Q & A's it helps me learn so much as I have so much to learn as a new photographer! I primarily use my 50mm 1.4 lens to shoot. I have two others that came with the camera (I shoot Canon)--but I think they are pretty crappy. So with this lens I am pretty limited. My question is what lens would you recommend I get next? I am mostly shooting portraits but want to start doing families and be more versatile. I would love some advise as I am ready to start looking seriously at getting a new lens.
24-70 f/2.8 and/or 85mm 1.8
jill said...i am just starting out in my photog business and have a lot to learn. most of my questions, people have already asked, so i will just stay tuned. i don't think anyone has asked this one though... Nikon vs. Canon I noticed you are a nikon girl and wondered how/why you choose nikon. do you have any experience with canon or did you just start with a nikon and fell in love? i use canon and i'm just curious.
You know, there are a million arguments either way and it probably comes down to personal preference in the end. I just started with Nikon when I got my first film SLR and stuck with it and I am super glad that I did! Like I said, it’s probably personal preference, but I LOVE that the professional Nikon cameras have 50+ focus points, canons all have 9 focus points. Also, someone at pictureline said that he believes that Nikon has better quality control.
ok...one more. how do you know what lens to use when. would you say your 50mm is your most versitile? what needs to be in every photographer's bag (as far as lenses go) and would i be better off saving up for a new body with more megapixels or spending the $$ on lenses on an older camera body? hope that makes sense.
It all comes down to focal length for the most part. Sometimes I use a lens because I am in a small space and need a wide angle, other times I want to back up and zoom in to get that great compression. Sometimes I have to switch to the 50 1.4 in a dark situation and I need to maximize the light. There are tons of different variables! It’s a hard call to make on camera vs. lens, it really depends on what you’re working with already. I would talk to someone at your local camera store and ask some opinions, I like pictureline in SLC.
Amy! said...Well you already know how awesome I think you are... If I were to get a camera (some day when I have lots of dollars) which would be the best? What is your fave?? Yay for the blog-aversary!!!!!
Dear Amy, hurry and get a camera soon because I would love to see all the funky things you would do with it! If I were you I would probably go with the Nikon D90.
Nicole Udy Photography said...Oh yay!! I have a million and one questions but one thing that still vexes me is color settings and calibration and trying to get the color to match prints and on my blog. What color settings do you use in camera, photoshop, and saving them for your blog and website? What do you use for monitor calibration?
I don’t use a monitor calibrator, but Mac screens are generally pretty true to color and I am just kinda used to what it looks like on a screen vs. print. I shoot and edit for print in adobe1998, then convert to sRGB for web.
Let's end with a picture shall we? Because that was a whoooole lotta words. a sneak peek of Max's fall photo shoot. =)
a bus just happened to drive past in the background and i thought this shot was too funny!
Weellll, that's it for part II and III! Let me know what you think! but don't worry, we have a couple more sections to come. stay tuned!