Rank #1: 10 things to do to improve your portraits - EP 84
Shoot in raw
Learn off camera flash
Learn to walk the line between creative and tasteful editing
Understand white balance
Learn to “see” light.. And milk it for what it is worth
Get inspired, look at the works of others
Watch Connor’s High End Retouching Video on IP+
Never stop learning and finding that “new thing”
Rank #2: Let's Talk About Specialties in Portrait Photography - Season 2 Episode 1
Erica and Connor take an overview of the subject they are talking about throughout the second season of Portrait Session: The different specialties in portrait photography.
This is just an overview of all the different types of photography a person interested in portrait photography can focus on and specialize in as they master their photography.
We by no means feel we have compiled a total and complete list of potential specialties in photography in this list, but this list will be the general guide for us through this second season of Portrait Session.
If you feel like we may have missed something, feel free to join our facebook group and post in there to let us know!
Throughout this season we will be bringing on a number of experts who have mastered their specialty in the field of portrait photography. We will be focusing on our expert's abilities, experiences, and advice for those interested in digging in to their specialty in photography while making efforts to highlight the key factors a person should be aware of that might make any particular specialty different from others.
Specialties in portrait photography
Rank #3: Shooting headshots like a pro - EP 92
Preferred lighting set ups
Jessica Charron I'd be curious how you determine the best light setup. Headshots are used for all different types of businesses and website. I don't think it's too tricky to figure out bright and airy or dark and dramatic. But I'd like more info in the before the shoot stage I guess. Do you send questions to your client, do you have a consultation, do you just do the same set up for every headshot?
Morayo Sayles Hi Erica, I would love to discuss your take on Natural light headshots vs. flash headshots. I know Connor works in studio, but do either of you take your headshots outside? And when you do, how do you decide when you want natural lighting vs artificial lighting?
Traditional v. Environmental
Adrian Mitchell I use seamless rolls for backgrounds (Black, Thunder Gray, and White). Sometimes I get bored with these generic backgrounds and use gels to switch things up a bit, or apply textures to the background in post. Besides gels, are there any other special tricks you use to bring life to a bland or dismal background?
Margo Rader Do you use any portable back drops for headshots? If so, which ones? Fancier Studio Pop up backdrop
Individuals v. Group
Zelda Zaragoza Johns I have a potential opportunity to do a high volume shoot. Wondering how to speed through a lot of people and still get good quality.
Acting/Dramatic v. Business
Scott Hallock For actor headshots, should the lens be at eye level, slightly above eye level, or slightly below eye level?
Agatha Knelsen How much is too much editing? We are providing pics that directors and talent agents expect to be a fair representation of the actor. Between posing and Photoshop, where is the line between true likeness and glamour?
Rank #4: The Biggest Mistakes Photographers Make - EP 98
Common mistakes we commonly see include things such as placing their light way to far from their subjects, placing their lighting to low compared to the subject, fumbling with gear and post processing blunders
Rank #5: Q&A with Connor & Nick - EP 83
-All about off camera flash portraits: what modifiers to use, how to balance flash and ambient light, how to backlight, etc.?
-How do I build my portfolio to portray high end opportunities?
-Which website builder should I use for my new website?
-How do you prepare for a photo shoot?
Rank #6: Portfolio Building and Culling the Right Way - S01 Ep05
In this episode, Erica and Connor discuss the best practices for putting together and curating a strong and effective portfolio that will help you put your best foot forward.
Then on Sticking Points, Connor sits down with Aaron Taylor to discuss the ways in which he can improve his sales and customer experience with his in person sales process.
Don’t throw every session you’ve shot into your portfolio. That is fine to start with, but eventually you need to get choosy.
Having a great body of work is good and fine and will look great on social media, but it is a good idea to have a place to show off your work and a website is a fantastic/professional way to do so.
Other items of branding, business cards, possibly print boxes, letterhead etc.
Before making any of these things, be sure you feel confident you can answer core questions about your brand. What do you stand for? What kind of service do you provide?
These questions have more to do with what your customer can expect from their interactions with you. Are you a brand that gives great looking photos at an affordable rate? Will your business model support that? What will that mean you are having to sacrifice to keep costs low in the long run?
Rank #7: Going Legit - Establishing Your Business as a Legal Entity - S01 Ep 03
Erica and Connor Discuss how to go about getting your business established as a legal entity with the state and federal government. Then on Sticking Points, Connor sits down with Nick Skog to talk about how he can bring order to the tasks he has to take care of with his photo business and discuss ways of feeling confidence in the value of your work.
Some Helpful notes and resources
SBA has a huge section of their website dedicated to launching your business. Covers most of what we’re talking about today.
Consider the legal ramifications and the taxable ramifications of your business structure.
Each structure affects your operations, how you file your taxes, and how much of your personal assets are at risk.
IRS classifications are:
Limited Liability Company (LLC)
Most photo companies are sole proprietorships or LLCs.
how to file with the state.
If you’re operating your business as yourself under your legal name, you don’t need to register.
But, you’ll miss out on some legal/personal asset protections.
If you’re using a business name, you’ll need to register.
Very simple process that you can do online.
Ohio Small Business Development Center will do it for you!
Look up SBDC’s in your area. Lots of workshops, legal professionals, funding opportunities, etc. at your service.
How to get a tax ID number if needed
This is like a SSN for your business.
Costs involved with each.
Remember that we’re not lawyers or tax professionals. All of this information is based on our own personal research and experiences. Please consult professionals in your area to solidify and implement your business plans.
Rank #8: Proper white balance and calibration - EP 96
Connor and Sandy discuss proper techniques and reasoning behind proper white balance and calibration.
Rank #9: Additional Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Business - S01 Ep 10
In todays episode we talk about additional marketing strategies to help you grow your business. Then, on sticking points, Connor sits down with Pete Lagregor to discuss ways he can convert traffic coming to his website into actual bookings.
Step 9 Developing additional marketing strategies
Will you operate on word of mouth? If so, is there a way you can encourage that further?
Clear expectations for tagging/photo credit on social media
Relationships with other businesses
Facebook has become a marketing monster
Social media as marketing
Hashtags and tagging
Plan things ahead of time. When Creating advertisements don’t just ask what it is doing, but how it is doing it and how that will encourage others to follow through on their end.
Think creatively about what needs your ideal client has that only you can fill or that you can fulfill in an easier, cheaper, faster, or better quality than others in your market.
PEOPLE WILL NOT COME TO YOU, YOU HAVE TO GO TO THEM
Rank #10: Setting Prices For Your Business - S01 Ep 06
Start by learning what your pricing needs to be for you to have a sustainable business.
Don’t let local markets influence this part too much. It is important to know at what point your business will be sustainable to know when you’re on the right track.
Erica disagrees. You have to take local markets into account when pricing. You’ll struggle if price yourself at $10k a wedding in a market that has an average of $2k a wedding. Similarly, if you price yourself at $2k a wedding in a market that averages $10k a wedding, you’re devaluing the art and everyone else in your market. If I lived in LA/NYC/Chicago, I’d be charging 3-4 times more than I do now because of the market in both locations.
You can start out lower than this sustainable number, but it is important to figure out ahead of time. When you know what it will take to be sustainable you will have a target to hit.
Cost of Doing Business Calculator: https://nppa.org/calculator
Sticking Points with Renos Erotocritou
Flash Gear to get started
Yong Nuo YN-560 IV
YongNuo YN-603 trigger
Cowboy Studio Stand
Shoot through Umbrella
Rank #11: Banking, Bookkeeping, and Accounting for your Photo Business - S01 Ep 04
Erica and Connor discuss the things to consider in getting your business set up with a bank account and give our recommendations for things like bookkeeping software, business lines of credit, credit cards, and accounting. Then, on Sticking Points, Connor sits down with Evan Criscuolo to discuss the finer details of being in business as a fine art photographer and why that is a path he might want to consider.
Season 1 Episode 4: Accounting & Finances
Open a bank account for the business
Not all banks are created equal
You’ll need your Federal Tax ID number to do this
Get an accountant
Connor Likes Wave Apps
Freshbooks is another good option
Studio management software like 17 Hats
Home office space
Receipt maintenance: Neat
Rank #12: SEO and Building an Organic Web Presence for Your Business - S01 Ep09
In todays episode we talk about building an organic web presence to allow people to find your business on the web without you having to pay for advertising. This can be done through the channels of social media, google business/pages, and strengthened through your blogging capabilities on your website.
Then, on sticking points, Connor sits down with Ken Breivik to discuss building the confidence to fearlessly price your business where it needs to be priced for sustainable longevity.
Step 8 Building an Organic web presence
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest
Google maps, Google + PO Boxes?
Blogging helps search engines to find your site by populating your website with lots of words that have to do with your business. This is something to write strategically as a part of your SEO plan.
Yoast plugin for Wordpress
Rank #13: Branding and Displaying Your Work - S01 Ep08
Branding and Displaying Your Work - S01 Ep08
In todays episode Erica and Connor talk about displaying your portfolio and tips for building the visual elements of your brand.
Then, on sticking points, Connor sits down with Michael Pugh to give him some thoughts on intentional improvement as he learns more about photography as well as giving some advice as to where his money would be best spent to help him hone his skills.
Branding and using visual elements to speak to potential consumers about what your business stands for.
Logos don’t mean much on a blank page, but branding is important for getting your message across to your client
You have an idea of what you stand for in business, this is the time to start writing things down on paper. Make a list of 3-5 adjectives you feel represent what your business stands for/says to clients.
This can also be helpful to put into terms of:
“I want people to know that my business is _______” or “I want people to know that my business doesn’t do __________.”
When doing this step, don’t be too focused on the aesthetic portion of your branding, but just consider the emotive elements of your brand. Often times the emotion and message of the brand will dictate the visual elements.
If you have the means, work with a professional designer to brand your business. They’ll help you with colors, fonts, etc., but also with coming up with things that will speak to your target client AND help you implement things in the best way possible.
Check out fiverr.com for affordable, but good quality logos 12:30 ish
“They” say that people have to see something 7 times before it becomes memorized. Put your logo and branding everywhere so that people see it constantly. It’ll help you become a recognized business in your community.
Other items of branding, business cards, possibly print boxes, letterhead, social media, etc.
Having a great body of work is good and fine and will look great on social media, but it is a good idea to have a place to show off your work and a website is a fantastic/professional way to do so.
Squarespace v. Showit v. Wordpress v. Wix v.
Client experience is also a part of your brand. Consider making videos that demonstrate what that experience looks like. Promo videos are a really cool and unique branding tool.
Rank #14: Things to take care of before your busy season hits - EP 97
Connor and Nick discuss changing out batteries, cleaning sensors, camera maintenance and other good practices for the best upkeep on their camera.
Rank #15: Tailoring Your Ideal Client Experience - S01 Ep 07
In this episode Erica and Connor discuss different considerations to make as you think through the way you would like your ideal client to move through their interactions with your business. This can range from being a high end full service photographer, or a speedy and efficient shoot and burn photographer. One way or the other, it is incredibly valuable to think of how you would like your client to interact in your business and start putting systems in to place to allow for a consistent delivery of that client experience.
Strategize about how you want your business to operate from a financial structure
figure out how you want your ideal client interactions to run and work on getting systems in place to help things do so.
Think about client experiences/customer services you’ve had. What did you love about them? What did you hate about them?
Include the client experience in your workflow, so that it becomes an automatic part of your business.
Think about the client experience in all interactions - first email communications, first in person conversations, the duration of the project, the actual shoot, the delivery of the images, the creation and delivery of products, the final communications.
Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews (FB, Google, website, The Knot, etc.)
Be aware that asking for Yelp reviews goes against Yelp’s terms & conditions
On Sticking Points, Connor sits down with Diarmuid O’Donovan to discuss his current issue of feeling a lack of passion going in to his fourth year as a full time wedding photographer and is looking for a way to get past his feelings of redundancy and burn out.
Rank #16: Advertising on Facebook - EP 94
The value of advertising on social media, especially for portrait photographers
Common misconceptions or myths surrounding social media advertising
1-2 takeaways that listeners can do RIGHT NOW to improve their social media marketing
Peter Foote Slideshows vs std ad vs actual dorky video of me? Best way to target wedding couples?
Brian Pex Does paying for the BOOST feature that they offer really work? I did it once for a test and got many likes on an image but whether that would lead to sales is still a question. Thanks
Margo Rader Best type of call to action and wording for that call
Tom Fairchild I've lived abroad for over a decade and for the last year or so have been completely on the road. In the next few months I do plan on settling down in a good sized city in the US and was wondering if Facebook Ads are a legitimate way to find new clients in a new area? My portfolio is strong (I hope!) but what would you suggest is the best way to go about finding people interested in my services as a portrait/travel/event photographer?
Use code ERICA for $50 off full course + 30 minute strategy session (education.sarahevansweddings.com)
Rank #17: Connor tackles listener questions - EP 90
What is banding and how do I deal with it?
What are best practices for lifestyle photos in low light situations?
What educational resources do you recommend for advanced photographers?
What are some other uses for your portrait lenses?
What factors do you consider when choosing which lens to shoot with?
Rank #18: Defining your style - EP 91
What is a photography style?
How do I identify my own style?
How do I develop my own style?
Where can I source inspiration for my style?
What styles am I drawn to?
Rank #19: Managing Life as You Transition to Your Job as a Photographer - S01 Ep11
In todays episode Erica and Connor give you tips for managing life as you transition into your job as a portrait photographer.
Then, on sticking points, Connor sits down with Frank Gallagher to discuss techniques for bringing out a person’s authentic personality in their portrait.
Step 10 Finding Success: How to manage a transition to a job as a photographer
You do not have to say yes to everything. Set boundaries.
Set aside management/administrative time in your schedule
17 Hats or similar programs
Fundy or designer programs
Editing & delivery
Rank #20: Season 1 Wrap Up - Listener Q&A's About the Season - S01 Ep12
Erica and Connor spend the entirety of todays episode answering listener's additional questions that have come up throughout this season as well as tying up other loose ends from the season.
We are both sincerely so thankful for all of the love and support you have shown us in transitioning back to our individual podcast feed and for following along with us as we develop a new format for the show.
We will be back in a few short weeks with the start of Season 2 of the Portrait Session Podcast.
Season 1 Listener Q&A's
Phil Roccuzzo 1) In the order of operations when setting up your business... do you need to create your business checking account first or do you create the business (llc)first?
2) Regarding insurance... is it best to form your LLC (if that’s your intention) first and then get the insurance under the company name ... OR can you get the insurance prior to forming the llc and update the name after?
3) In your experience from a marketing point of view .. does adding LLc to the name have any impact in clients hiring you ? (ie more confidence in your business... it is ‘legitimate’.. etc)
Wendy Miller Thank you Erica and Connor for a wonderful Season 1. It has been chock full of information. My question is about blogs. I would like to start one on my webpage. Do I start with current photos/events, or go back to the beginning of the year
Boden Eanes 1. As someone just starting, what’s your advice on contracts. As starting we don’t often have the client base to cover costs of lawyers fees to write one or should that just be a personal investment into ur business. General contract advice 🙂
2. When setting up a styled shoot to build/add to your portfolio, what’s the expected cost for a beginner? Personally I am willing to invest some money to get my business off the ground, which is required in some areas, but should this be something we try at the beginning or should this be something once business is up and can support the costs?
3. At what point should I set up a website? I don’t have a client base yet so I don’t know if I should try to get my portfolio built more and after I have clients set it up, or set it up right from the start, or somewhere in between?
4. If you do in person sales and not a shoot/burn style - do you still deliver digitals or are you a shoot/burn photographer who also does in person sales to deliver more product? I understand this could vary a little bit depending on wedding vs portrait photography.
Steven Morrow When starting to transition from just taking photos as a hobby, to starting the business; should I have paying clients first, a web presence, or business license? When tackling task by task what order would you rank the 3?
Nelson Tapias Advice for starting/running a “side hustle” business while you still keep your full-time job.