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Managing Your Studio

Lesson 64 from: 30 Days of Wedding Photography

Susan Stripling

Managing Your Studio

Lesson 64 from: 30 Days of Wedding Photography

Susan Stripling

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Lesson Info

64. Managing Your Studio


Class Trailer

Day 1




Evolution of Susan's Style


Branding and Identity


Mistakes Made and Lessons Learned


Day 2


Introduction to Gear & Equipment


Lenses Part 1


Lenses Part 2




Day 3


Seeing the Scene


Seeing the Scene Q&A


Rhythm and Repetition


Leading Lines and Rule of Thirds


Rule of Odds and Double Exposures


Day 4


Intro to Business


Day 5


Financing Your Business


Day 6


Q&A Days 1-4


Day 7


Pricing Calculator


Day 8


Package Pricing


Day 9




Day 10


Vendor Relationships & Referrals


Day 11


Marketing w Social Media


Day 12


Booking the Client


Day 13


The Pricing Conversation


Day 14


Turn A Call Into a Meeting


Day 15


In Person Meeting


Day 16


Wedding Planning


Day 17


Actual Client Pre Wedding Sit Down


Day 18


Engagement Session Details


Day 19


Engagement Session On Location


Day 20


Wedding Details & Tips


Day 21


Detail Photos Reviewed


Day 22


Bridal Preparation


Day 23


Bridal Preparation Photo Review


Day 24


Bridal Prep - What If Scenarios


Day 25


Q&A Days 5-11


Day 26


First Look Demo


Day 27


First Look Examples


Day 28


Portraits of the Bride


Day 29


Portraits of the Bride and Groom


Family Portraits Demo


Family Formal Examples


Wedding Ceremony Demo


Day 30


Wedding Ceremony Examples


Different Traditions and Faiths


Wedding Cocktail Hour and Reception Room Demo


Wedding Cocktail Hour and Reception Room Examples


Wedding Introductions


First Dance


Wedding Toasts


Parent Dances


Wedding Party


Reception Events


Nighttime Portraits


Nighttime Portraits with Found Light


Post Wedding Session Demo


Post Wedding Session Critique


Wedding Day Difficulties


Post Workflow - Backing Up Folder Structure


Post Workflow - Culling Shots


Post Workflow - Outsourcing


Q&A Days 12-23


Post Workflow - Gear


Post Workflow - Lightroom Editing


Managing Your Studio


Post Wedding Marketing


Client Care


Pricing for Add-Ons


The Album Process


Balancing Your Business with Life


Post Wedding Problems


Parent Complaints


Unhappy Customers


Working with an Assistant


Assistant Q&A


Lighting with an Assistant


Q&A Days 24-30


Lesson Info

Managing Your Studio

I want to talk to you today about managing your studio and I know that I've immediately switched off the brain's about three quarters of the people watching because they say but I don't have a studio and when I'm talking to you about managing your studio not really talking to you about your brick and mortar physical studio I'm talking about managing the actual day to day operations of the business you're running whether you're running from a studio or what their you're running it from the spare bedroom or from your coffee table in your living room the actual day to day business operations of your business so with that said under the umbrella of managing your studio I work from home and kind of and I talked about this a little bit before I'm very open and transparent about what my living and working situation are I live in brooklyn new york my husband lives in haddonfield new jersey our kids go to school in separate locations we have homes in both locations we go back and forth that is ...

not entirely unlike living at home and having a studio somewhere else or working in a satellite location of some kind so while I do wake up in the morning on monday and usually I manhattan field sometimes I wake up on monday and I'm in brooklyn and no matter where I am I need two people to roll out of bed and get to work so even though I work from home, I have duplicate computer set ups in both locations. I've got duplicate hard drives in both locations, I have log me in on my computer so that they can talk to each other. So back when I was in tallahassee, florida had a workstation at home, and I had a workstation at my studio it's the exact same thing now so that I can hit the ground running no matter where I'm working, and if I'm shooting a wedding in philadelphia or I'm shooting a wedding in new york city, I can come home and it's business as usual because I know we've been talking about all of the different things that go into a shooting, a wedding and nothing contribute up faster than being out of your regular groove. So I do everything that I can to make sure that having two homes is harm alias I mean, don't a little simple personal things like I own to flat iron from the hair, and they live in both locations, I have to make up bags, they live in both locations, I have running she's, you know what I mean? Like, doing things in duplicate, and is that a little expensive? Kind of does it help make my life a lot easier? Yes, it does. So I've talked to you an awful lot about being careful with money and not spending money and not buying things unless you have to sometimes and you know david and I have actually talked about this a little bit about other things sometimes spending the money the time that it ends up saving you is such a worthwhile investment that it's worth reaching a little bit with your money to make it happen because you know that it's going to make life a little bit easier for you on the end and there are a lot of things that I use in my studio and by studio I mean husband studio slash their bedroom that I do to make my life easier. Now we do have a full day that's dedicated to talking about managing your business and your life because I think that's so incredibly important that it warrants another day but managing the day to day aspects of running your business are you it definitely does warrant talking about so let's talk about ours. How many of you have actually given thought to the hours that you work in your business, right? Like you know a little bit, but for most people unless you're going to your nine to five day job or your you know, working in a studio that's open from x time x time, you just kind of sit down to work when you wake up and you don't go away from work until either your kids come home or it's time to go to bed it's really hard to set designations so I tried incredibly hard to set times that I work and stick to them for example mondays most of the time on monday I'm traveling back from the philly area to brooklyn so I give myself about a two hour window to work four to six if I wake up at home and I don't have to travel congratulations I get monday afternoon off because we work a lot right and our weekends aren't really weekends sometimes you work on saturday sometimes you work on sunday sometimes you work on both days and if you're not building in time into your schedule everything is going to collapse we'll talk about that on another day but monday's I just have a nice two hour check in check my email get stuff done make sure things were downloaded and backed up from the previous weekend good to go tuesday and ninety five my daughters go to school in the morning I walk my youngest daughter to school at eight forty in the morning I come back I make myself breakfast I sit down at the computer and I get going I brake for food obviously I try to break to take a walk to get some exercise in but then I stop it five when I go when I pick her up wednesday looks a lot like that so does thursday actually, those start to blur together after awhile friday is a variable day because they don't know what I'm doing on friday. If I have a wedding out of town, sometimes I have to travel, drive, fly, get on the train. If I'm in new york and I have a wedding in philly, I've got to drive, so sometimes I have the whole day where I drive and maybe I have a client meeting, so instead of trying to keep a solid schedule every single friday, because I know what's going to change, I give myself the flexibility for it to be a variable, and with friday being a variable day, if I know that I worked saturday and sunday, the week before, I'm going to do everything I can to take off as much of that friday as possible. So the meat of my work week, the actual I know that I'm going to get a sit down and nail it out and get it done. It's tuesday, wednesday and thursday from nine to five. Now we're going to talk about what happens at night when your kids go to bed and how to manage that with your life a little bit, but sometimes at night I do work after ten o'clock at night, I tried desperately hard not to and when I do work at night, it's with a little bit of a different persuasion than it is when I'm working during the day when I'm working during the day, I'm desperately trying to get stuff done when I'm working at night it's a little more leisurely, like all have I message open on my computer and I'll talk to my friends and jennifer from sidecar post she stays up super late, so we talk to each other and don't call my husband. We talked on the phone, I'll watch tv it's a little more akin to sitting in front of the television with your laptop and getting stuff done that's what I say of the e mails and I need to write that kind of take a little bit longer or the tedious projects that I just sort of I don't have enough time to focus on during the day I saved those for nighttime, but I try really hard to not work at night as much as I possibly can because otherwise it's just it's just a vicious cycle and keeps on going, but I am trying to get the bulk of my work week done tuesday, wednesdays and thursdays and well, I make exceptions, I try really hard not to now it's an exception, I'm here with you guys. Right I mean obviously I'm not at home in my studio right now but I have built this into my schedule like I knew this was coming I set aside the time for it when I am done wrapping creative live thirty days I'm doing two things I'm taking my kids to the bahamas and I'm going on my honeymoon and I have that to look forward to so I try to balance days when I know that I have lots of work with something really awesome so look forward to on the end so let's talk about the tools that I use to keep my studio running to stay managed to stay on top of things and again like we talk about efficiency in your workflow talking about efficiency in the day to day running of your business is very very important so shoot q is above and beyond the single thing that I used that keeps my studio running in an efficient manner and let's talk about why and as I've said before and I'll say again I am not here to be a commercial for xu q I use them because I love them there are tons of other studio management ideas out there you don't even need anything like that you could do this on a spreadsheet you could do this in a notebook you can do this on a whiteboard but whatever your method of staying organized is do it because if you think I'm not that busy right now like I'm totally on top of it I can totally do this I'm good there will be a point in time in which you are not good and the time to dig yourself out of the hole is not when it's so deep that you can't see this guy anymore so what does she cute does do for me? Well, first of all that keeps me on task. I have a workflow for every single wedding and it is timed out by day so after a wedding I know that I have to download my cards. I know that I have to back it up several days after the wedding. I know that I have to get my files to my post production team and it reminds me of every single thing along the way whenever I get an inquiry in from shu kun and I respond to the inquiry when I send it information I market as sent five days later it reminds me to follow up when I book a wedding a couple days later it reminds me to review all of the booking information and to write a note to the client saying that I'm excited to work with them so all of these things even even as little as write the client a letter is built into my work flow and it's set with a day either post booking or a pre or post wedding so when I wake up in the morning, the first thing that I do is I opened shoot q I go straight to my task spar and I say, what am I supposed to do today? And it will tell me cole this wedding down bill this wedding for overtime designed this client's album send this wedding out for marketing pay your american express bill pay your quarterly taxes okay, that's what I have to do today and I get started the other thing that I like about shoot you is that it manages your clients in your relationships so that I can look that cinema cake a videography team that I really love working with when I put them into the vendor section of each client that I work with, I can then go to my relationships tab in xu q and I could look up cinema cake and I can see how many weddings they've referred to me. I can see how many weddings we've worked together so it helps me stay on top of the relationship now let's say you don't have shoot when you're not using something like that you could do this in an excel spreadsheet you can do this in address book on your mac just write it in your notes however you choose to work with the data worked with the data, this is helpful stuff to know it reminds my clients of the invoice due dates I used to have a little green calendar that I put in my google calendars it was colored green and it was called money do and I would go in every single time a client would book me and I would put a little teeny tiny reminder thirty days before the wedding sixty days before the wedding a week before with the wedding whenever their payment was due I would put in you know sorry owes me sixty five hundred dollars so and so is me forty five hundred dollars whatever it wass and then I would have to put in a reminder a week before email this person about that invoice using client the studio management software means that I don't have to do that anymore when I put the invoice in I give the invoice a due date and it automatically reminds the client a week before it's due that it's d'oh well that's great I mean listen it's an email it's hey, your money is due but that saves me a couple minutes. Oh, I have to do this. Okay, let me get the envoys to be attached to the email and they send the email. Maybe it took me five minutes but that's five minutes that something else did for me and five minutes times fifty weddings gets me a nice chunk of the afternoon back if you look at it spanned out over the year so it's really helpful for that and again, there are ways around this if you don't use studio management software, but my point was to set up something like this before you get super busy. You know, when you start to feel that curve of I think this is going to be a pretty good year, go ahead. And if you're looking to implement a system like this, do it, and studio management software doesn't have to be something like this. It could be whatever you set up a home hanging file folders for all, like here, but stay organized and have a system. This also allows me to track data, and I have mentioned multiple times my spreadsheets, my calculators in the way I like to lay things out so that I have all of my information in front of me. Part of why I you shoot q is because it will do a lot of it for me to explain. This is my taskbar. I blacked out my clients last names. No, it does not automatically just put spontaneous, cosy and blurs all over your screen, but I can see, for example, when I went in and I looked at my task for on this day, I was running behind. I was three days behind backing up some files I should have backed up something you know, understanding that backup images in brooklyn or backup images in haddonfield sometimes run a little bit late because I haven't gone there yet after that wedding that's something that I understand but if I see oh yesterday I really should have called that wedding that's the first thing I'm gonna tackle when I sit down this morning so it helps me stay on top of this it helps me track my work flow and you can see yesterday lauren post shoot that's step one post shoot so I know that I just shot that wedding but then we have sorry postproduction step one that means I've shot the wedding I've gotten past post shoot and now I'm in postproduction so I could just take a quick list and then I can look oh my god I've got a lot of stuff to do today and then I have some weddings that I sent info to now is the day five days later that I need to go back in and follow up with them and then I just started on top I started the stuff that's late if I didn't get it done and I just pick off one box at a time until I'm done it also will show you if you click on a client's wedding you could go in and you'll come look at the work flow just for that person in particular so I was talking about sorry oh gosh, I should have really backed up her images and called them what is the rest of her workflow look like I can go directly to the client space itself and look at that so if you're going to do maybe a major workflow whiteboard it's not a bad idea if you're working with hanging file folders to have something clipped to the front so the check off what stage you're at all of this is because my business is bigger than me it really isn't if anything were to happen to me and I don't mean to sound like I'm planning for like some untimely demise, but if somebody were to need to come in and help me and really hit the ground running, I don't need to figure out my system first before I explain it to someone else if I ever brought in an employee I know exactly the way everything is done and it's consistent from wedding to wedding so I have a system and while I haven't written down and operating manual I have it in my head I could write it down and it would be consistent for every single wedding I also can track my invoices that's a helpful thing we're going to talk about how I double inter my accounting but looking at this inn quickbooks aiken see okay this person paid me a retainer of a thousand dollars on april nineteenth on january fourteenth she owes me an undisclosed sum of money which listen, this is her private client section. I blocked out pertinent details. I think my clients would appreciate the privacy on their financials. I can see that on january fourth that's due they've paid both of theirs. Awesome. We're good to go and then down at the bottom I can see my profit margin because when I've built all of my collections and shoot q, I literally tell it collection a cost this much to produce so it will look at my invoices for me sometimes it's a little off, but it will take a stab at figuring out my profit margin for me. Helpful data have this is what it looks like for a client. The client gets their invoice, you can see that it's paid you can see what's in their contract. You can see the little bits of pieces here. You can see that we had a bit of a little weird issue here where there was a photo booth snafu where they had ordered it from me, but they're there needs ended up being something different than what I had, so how I refunded the photo booth part out of their invoice and adjusted the balance for it so it lets you look at your accounting all in one place is well again helpful information tohave and if you're not using a program to do this, you should be doing this in other ways and again I could do this and shoot you, but before I did this in shoe q, I did this in excel and I've done this on paper and I used to do this in a notebook and I used to do this on a white board I can track all of my leads, all of them and this is part of my studio management because knowing my numbers and knowing every single little bit and piece of what I'm doing is incredibly helpful to me. So I want to know something like january is clearly the year that most of the inquiry's come in and this is looking at two thousand thirteen, two thousand fourteen was exactly the same way I had a massive january lead wise and booking wise so you can see that when you're looking at booking months out of the year, the green tall bar is how many enquiries came in the green dot is how many weddings I booked so I can see okay, listen, january was massive and my bookings were really good too july is just dead it's dead every year so in july rolls around and I haven't booked a wedding I don't have to panic because I know okay listen historically manhattan filly everyone likes to go away for the summer. No one's around, no one's booking their wedding. We're all too hot. We're all too miserable. No one wants to think about wearing a big poufy white dress in a tux. Forget it. We're gonna talk about it again in august. So in you know, july of this year when things are totally and completely dead. I cannot have that moment of panic where I think, oh my god! My business is completely falling apart because it's not it's just the dead time it's historically the dead time now lookit october! I didn't get very many enquiries. I booked absolutely nothing. We've talked about this before that's the month the government shut down, nobody booked anything. I had half hearted enquiries but nobody was committing. Nobody wanted to do anything. And when I compare that october toe all of the october's prior he doesn't look the same. But there was there was an event beyond my control. That wasn't something that I did. I was not responsible for the government shut down. So in october completely died. That was a surprise to me historically, based on my data, but not surprising seeing as to what was going on. In our government, so I like to know these things. I like to know that my booking season is generally january, may and september, and now if a january and amanda september of this year roll around in there kind of bad, my my ears were gonna perk up a little bit and say, we don't know what's going on here are my inquiry numbers lower? Are my inquiry numbers high, but my booking numbers or lower what's going on with that? So even if you're just scratching this out on an excel spreadsheet, looking at your data year to year and month, the month it's a helpful thing to know so that you can start seeing the trends first of all, I mean, listen, I booked nine weddings in january of this year that's like pretty major that's, a big booking month, which he generally usually means that february is a little quieter. But then again, I might be having a massive booking month, and my husband might be having a quiet booking months like it's it's a really frustrating hard thing to quantify because everyone's market is different booking season for me when I lived in tallahassee, florida, was the day they announced the f s u football schedule. That was the day everyone was like game day, game day, game day I'm getting married there and I booked half my year and I am not joking in the week after and at tallahassee you know it's true in the week after they would drop that football schedule and new york could care less about the f s u football schedule so I book a lot in the winter when everyone's really bored so learning the booking seasons of where you are is really important and you're not going to know that by guesstimating you're going to know that by tracking your data however you do it when I'm also tracking my leads I'm also looking for things like keeping note as to who pete who is referring weddings to me I want to know if, um if jeff mosher out of new york referred me fifty weddings this year and none of them booked me well, what am I doing to not I'm getting a lot of enquiries from him why aren't they booking me? I should probably think about that but my friend heather might have referred me ten weddings in all ten of those booked. So I know that when a referral comes in from heather that's a higher probability of booking than a referral from jeff I'm not gonna treat them any differently but it's data and as I've said many times I believe that the knowledge is powerful so I want to know all of these things. I also you shoot you to build my workflow and no matter how you build your workflow and again and I don't have to beat this to death. But however you build it, build it and follow it, it will create continuity in your day to day life. It will remove all of the guesswork every time anything happens when you get your count. When you get your client's album selections, the way you handled that every single time should be the same. After a wedding, your system should be the same, and after a while, not only does it become routine to you, just like anything, just like with an exercise routine or a diet or a change in lifestyle after time, you just start rolling with it and it becomes second nature. So I literally build my workflow and I follow it for every single wedding and I follow it for everything. I have a different workflow for when I shouldn't engagement sesh because I edit those myself. I have a work flow that's laid out for album design on x day I design on x day I deliver on x day I checked back in again. Part of it is to remove it out of my head. And if you don't use studio management software, you can have a to do reminder program I used to use a program called things you can actually go in, and in put it in your google calendar today, I will do this today, I will do this. The other thing I like about using something like shoot q is it lets me actually tweet my tasks to it. I can direct message a tweet directly to shoot you, and it will put it right in there. So if I'm in the grocery store and I'm like, oh my gosh, that florist called and she wanted these images pulled and sent to her, I can just send the reminder to myself now you can do that if you have it too do app, but you need to stay on top of it, you know, because all we really have it the end of the day is our reputation in the word of mouth that our clients are using to put our names out there, and it needs to be good all the time. You need to not be the photographer who's late, or the one who forgets or the vendor who forgets to take care of other vendors, so because I am a paranoid type of person, I also use google calendar this is my google calendar for may of two thousand fourteen and you might be looking at this and you might be going wait a minute every time you have a wedding, you have the wedding listed twice what's going on with that it's because shook you links to my google calendar, so whenever I book a wedding, it automatically shows up in my google calendar from shoot you because I'm a total paranoiac what would happen if shook you went down? What would happen if I wasn't able to actually access that information? Not only have I already exported my contracts because I am paranoid for every single wedding, I also double enter every single wedding into google calendar, just in case I know a lot of photographers who use google calendar for their bookings and we'll share them back and forth so that if I have a referral and it needs to go out, I can go take a quick look and see who's available because if I'm going to refer someone to a wedding I'm only going to refer one person I'm so sorry I'm booked. However, I totally think you should check out my friend jenn cody she's based out of dc she absolutely travels her works incredible here's, her website here's her phone number I know she would make great images for you and take care of you and your family I wish you all the best boom I'm not just going to send this massive list of, and this person might be available in this person might be available, I want to say, listen, I want to take care of you. I can't take care of you, so I found someone who couldn't I know she's available great now just power ever note ever notice a huge programme for me, and I alluded to it briefly, and I've talked about it several times, but it's what? I used to manage my receipts and you can kind of go about ever note in several different ways. You can either email in your receipts, which means once you sign up with ever knowed it gives you kind of a specific evernote email address. So whenever I order something from being a jj, you know, thank you for ordering your eight hundred stuff in on the balance of the year because you lost yet another one. It yet another wedding. Here is your email receipt. I know right away that I automatically go forward, ever note sinned, and then I categorize it to my archives. I know that what it has done is it has already sent it right over to my ever note to my virtual shoebox full of receipts. Awesome. You can also scan pages with scan snap I use ah fuji scan snap scanner I don't liketo have paper all over the place my brooklyn apartment is small I don't like to have stuff that I don't need so if I have something that's paper that I really need I will scan it in and it will scan directly to ever note the great thing about sending a receipt scanning something the pdf goingto evernote are searchable so if I scan a paper receipt from being h and then I do a search and ever note for being eight it's gonna pop up that paper received as well as anything that I emailed in which is pretty fantastic, I think and you can also photograph receipts with your phone. You can actually open up the evernote app, start a new note and take a picture of a receipt with your phone which is also searchable so I think that's pretty excellent so that then when I want to look at ever note this is my computer version you do have it on your phone you do have it on your ipad but it will show me a look I forward it in a facebook ads receipt oh look afforded in an invoice from west host and then I'll take those and because I just like to categorize things I'll dump them into different things that I said at different folders advertising albums, my car, casual labour, all of those things so not only do I have a record of that for my accountant but if I ever were for any reason audited I have asked I have checked all of this will hold up in an audit so instead of dragging out a shoebox and laying out receipts all over the ground I have it here and I can access it anywhere it's pretty great any questions when you're using every note and you're tryingto work with shoot q is there any way to emerge any of that that sort of information between the two you know not that I found okay that doesn't mean that there's not I just haven't I mean I guess you could always build in a rule to shoot if you if you were like sending an invoice to a client that it automatically sent to your evernote addresses well you could probably do that but because I'm not sending invoices to ever note I'm just sending in payments I'm either sending in a picture that I've taken of the client's check or fording the e mail receipt that I get from authorized dot net that I've received their credit card payment right cool thank you won so just shoot you offer their invoicing can the clients pay for the cannon online yes they can it links with my authorized dot net account and authorized and it's really great waited it's good credit card processing I'll seize rocky mountain credit for credit card processing I'm always looking for somebody new who can give me a better non swiped a credit card because most of the payment that I'm taking from clients are coming online I don't actually have a car that I can swipe I have a square reader one of the little ones that you plug into your iphone for anything that I need to swipe in person but it's literally just molding in my wallet I almost never use it um client does get an invoice from shu que it says here is your invoice click here to log in and look at it online you can pay for it online or you can send in a check either way and the sheik you also offer contracts or yes it does yes, I have my contract set up and shoot you so that's how I book clients that when it's time for them to book, I send them the contract online bacon book it and pay for right away it eliminates that whole horrible thing where a potential client would say yeah, we totally got your contract and the checks in the mail and then you're waiting for it and then you're waiting for and they kind of haven't sent it because they're still kind of shopping but you kind of have to hold the date because they said the check was in the mail now there's no check in the mail there's no excuse for you not ableto log in and sign your contract right away so it eliminates like a lot of that uncertainty yeah it's pretty great yes sir to enter the information into the contracts so you don't have to the information as in like name and date and all of that sam's phone number where the venues where the reactions up yes, because the league has come in most of the time through shoot human if the lead didn't come through shoot you if it was a phone call or something like that by the time I go to book them I've entered at least their names and their phone numbers and their email address in there and when they're filling out the contractor will auto matic automatically populated with their names and their date and then it will say yeah it will say tell me what your venue is tell me this tell me that and they can put all of that info in yourself so again time saver yes ma'am, do you use any kind of template emails in your responses because I know or do you personalize everything? Okay no, I don't personalize everything a lot of things get template email responses you you want to book me when your contract is done I literally click on send contract dropped down email signature booking dear so and so attached is your contract deducted everything is temple it'd even my inquiry responses air temple it'd but in the points of the inquiry response in which I want to put in personalized information dear xxxxx all capital letters that means go in delete that put their name in it instead thank you so much for contacting me about your wedding photography I am available on your date xxxx success that is q for write nice things about them and their venue I understand that you've been looking at a lot of photographers or even if you're just beginning your search, there are some things that you're going to want to look for. Q canned response to the rest of the inquiry so I do I take the time to try to personalize thes, but if I sat down and tried to ride out a brand new response to every single thing and I have signatures, I literally have a signature labeled w t f which is where I get an enquiry and I have no clue what they're asking me. Hi, my name is bob here is my email address hi bob, please let me know what you're enquiring about. Wedding photography portrait photography if you're a photographer with a question, I'd love to be able to help you out, but until I know more about what you need, I don't know the right information to send you have a great day love season if I typed all that out it would take me a couple of minutes I mean listen that's not gonna break my back to write an email like that but if I could go clicks drop down fill in named bob send do it and I have an enquiry response for everything local enquiry inquiry with travel destination inquiry inquiry that is respect uh the inquiry that is enquiring for someone else so instead of saying your it always says there right like a mother of the bride a planner thank you so much for contacting me about your blanks wedding daughter son client here's all the information that I know that they're going to need they're going to want this I'd love to meet with them instead of I'd love to meet with you so instead of writing a brand new one for something like that great I have canned responses for your images are online your image is online and you need to order an album it's been a year and I haven't heard from you about your album seriously are you guys dead do you want to make an album like I have all of these written out so that I don't have to re type the exact same burbage every single time and as long as you personalize it how many different ways can you right yes I'm available for your date here's my price list like seriously so yeah ideo any other questions? Yeah you're smiling, I'm gonna keep talking. So also what quickbooks and I know that some of you might be saying, well, wait a minute shu que has an accounting function? Why are you using quickbooks as well? Well, part of why I'm using quickbooks is because my accountant doesn't understand it and because it they're just simply is no way looking at shoot. Cue that it can have the functionality that something like quickbooks does so, while I do send clients invoices in shoot you while I do take their payments in shu que I then go over and I double enter them in quickbooks and I understand yes that's double entry that's, true it's also a check and a balance to myself. Did I send this? Did I receive it? Who still owes me money? And it's, another backup and again, it just takes me a brief second it's also so that my accountant can handle my taxes and because I am an llc and I own a business and my husband does the same thing, but we have two residences are taxes are literally hilarious at the end of the year because there are snarly whatever mess. And if we're not organized in the way that we're presenting our information to our account not only is going to cost me more money because it's going to take them more time but it's just gonna be a mess and were more apt to have mistakes so I do have quickbooks I am actually quite good at it I'm quite good at it because I had an account and set it up for me and I had an accountant who is familiar with photography studios set it up for me they taught me how to enter invoices they taught me how to receive payments they taught me how to download my baked statements and reconcile them so that's what I do once a week I go in and I click a button that says download transactions and it downloads every single transaction that I put on my debit card in my american express card and then I go ahead and accept each one and enter it into my register so I'm not sitting there with my bank statement at the end of the month typing in pro dp I two dollars thirteen cents lab fee's enter it will download it for you it just helps me stay on top of my money so I know to the penny what I have in every single one of my accounts who owes me money and how much and when my accountant says it's tax time I say okay, print prophet lost two thousand thirteen print general ledger two thousand thirteen here you go. Do my taxes here. Some ten, ninety nine. Have a nice day. I can prep for my taxes for the year in about five minutes. Because I'm organized throughout the year. Literally five minutes. Oh, here you go. Let me print these out. Done. I don't work with a bookkeeper because I've been taught to do my own bookkeeping. I did work with a bookkeeper in tallahassee for quite a while because I didn't know how to do my own bookkeeping. But eventually, once I figured out, listen, you can download these transactions. Yes, you can reconcile things yourself. I can put things from my downloaded transaction screen into my quickbooks and then look at the number there and look at the number of my bank account. See that they match. I know I'm good very easy. However, I do use an accountant for my taxes because I'm not crazy. You know, my friend jenn and I were talking the other day about the number of things that we figured out how to do ourselves as a business owner and she's like, can you imagine what it would be like if we had to do our own taxes? And for me, it would be like doing my own post processing again, like it's, just unimaginable. I'm not an accountant. We talk all day long about that client inquired with me, and then they let a friend shoot their wedding. How would you let a friend shoot your wedding that's when you need to hire a professional? Why would I do my own taxes like that's? Just crazy town! And I found my accountant by just asking around and again, why don't you shoot you for my accounting? It's not really set up to be robust in the way that quickbooks is set up to be robust. Why can't we see your quickbooks, dude? That's my bank account, like I've stood up in front of you, and I've told you what I've charged for everything I told you, how much money I pay in taxes. If you doubt what I am making, you can look at my price list, you can go to my zen folio and see how many weddings that I did last year and do the math. I really don't feel like opening up my bank state meant laying out in front of the internet, so I hope you guys don't mind a peek inside of my accounting software itself is not really included in the transparency of the thirty days so hopefully I've given you enough information to know that I'm credible without having to nail my tax return to the you know, front door I would if I had to, but, you know, anyhow, so let's talk about some common questions, and I did pull the internet to say, when you're managing your studio, what can I actually help you with in order to make this run more smoothly for you? And these were the common questions that sort of cropped up, so I was asked before you shoot. Q, how did you handle your workflow and the way I handled workflow before that was a white board and excel spreadsheet and a bunch of hanging file folders and did it work? It did. It actually worked remarkably well, and I could handle it. And the woman that works for me in florida could handle it as well, because it was a system because we both knew it inside and out. It was great. Now that meant that when I wasn't in my studio, I had absolutely no idea where I was at any point in time in production. So if I was out of town shooting a wedding or if I was even at home and a client emailed me and said, well, when is this going to be done? Or can you give me a timeline on this? I would have to say let me let you know tomorrow when I get into the studio and now saying let me let you know tomorrow when I get into the studio is really just code for I don't feel like looking it up tonight I'll look it up tomorrow because the information is right in front of me no matter where I am she know xu q ever note all of that is online. So here in seattle, if a client had a question about where I was in there workflow I could find any computer anywhere and tell them precisely when you switch the studio management software did life get easier? Yes, it did. Next question do you have every day dad tasks or do you just do what needs to be done as it comes in? I have everyday tasks. I mean not as in monday I do accounting tuesday I do marketing anything like that I do the task it's as they come in and everyday tasks as in how they're put into my chute q workflow so do I have something to do every single day? I do but it's not like tuesday I will write checks wednesday I will write letters it is a serious work flow where I sit down in the morning and I do have tasks but they're different every day based on where I am in every single project and do I do my own taxes absolutely not never never in a million years quarterly taxes I print out my own papers I write my checks and I send them in myself I don't need an accountant to hold my hand and teach me how to write a check I can do that myself I prefer to do that crying at home alone in my bedroom but he does prepare each quarterly estimate for me we do check in at multiple times throughout the year to make sure that my income hasn't gone up or gone down in a way that changes those quarterly estimates but I know when the quarterly estimates or do I have the papers in front of me I could do those myself but the yearly taxes we leave that to the professionals we don't try this at home at all do I take cheques? Cash credit cards are all of the above I take all of the above absolutely you can pay me in any way that you want you do not get a discount for paying cash and you do not get to skip out on sales tax because you paid cash why don't I have an employee to help me with all of this? First of all living in new york there are strict rules about having people work in your home just labor laws I can't have somebody come to my house every single day as an employee and work for me but I don't want somebody to work for me who I can't supervise every single day I have yet to find the point in which I know that I need full time help when I knew that I needed full time help I knew that that meant that I needed to outsource I knew that the biggest time sucking my productivity was raw processing so I needed to hand that to somebody else so in essence do I have an employee? I do it's called sidecar post but they're the great kind of employee who I only pay when I'm busy and I don't have to pay when I'm not what what am I gonna pay an employee to do right now? I haven't shot a wedding in two weeks winter were all dead nobody has anything to do I'm not designing albums I've been here giving my winter to create of live I was able to do this because I knew it was the slow season back at home but if I had an employee she just be sitting around playing candy crush all day long should not be nothing to do however, in may, there's so much volume that I could use somebody full time, but that means that I have sidecar post and because we have all of my weddings on a mutual calendar, they know when the busy season is coming, too, so it's like having a seasonal employees now, it wouldn't be nice to have somebody teo answer my phones and design my albums for me and free up more of my time, sure, but that's not such a surmount an insurmountable task that I can't do it on those tuesdays, wednesdays and thursdays that I have my nine to five part of the day on friday and part of the day on monday, I couldn't keep up with that on my own without really being stressed out at all, and if it ever did reach a point where I were too stressed out to do it by myself, I would have to run the numbers. I would have to figure out the logistics, and then I would have to figure out if hiring an employee was a smart financial move, so that's kind of where I'm at with that questions. Yes, ma'am, vacation, how do you handle the emails that come in from clients? Depends on the type of vacation, okay, I'm going to atlanta to visit my parents for christmas. I'll answer the phone when it rings I'll take emails when they come in, you will try to stay. I'm not going to be processing anything or blogging or anything, but I definitely try to stay on top of client communication, you know, not now I'd be a few hours late here and they're sure I'm going to take off christmas and thanksgiving. Yes, but other times I'm going to try to stay on top of it. I'm going to go on my honeymoon in march, and I don't give a crap who tells me honestly for the first time in thirteen years of being in business, I don't care about your wedding, I don't I don't care about your wedding at all. I am literally going to put up a good bye reminder on my blog's gonna say I'm out of town for a week, I'm not going to set up an auto responded because that just generally is kind of haywire, but I'm going to put something on my block that says I'm gone for the week out and I'm gonna walk away for a week, it's going to gorgeous, I can't guarantee my husband's gonna walk away for a week too, but I I really need that I really need that, and I really think that my business isn't going to die. From taking a week off, but I'm about take my kids the bahamas for a week. I'm not to be able make phone calls, but when they go to bed and I don't return some e mails here and there, but I have, I mean, we're gonna talk about this in business. In life you have to walk away sometimes. Otherwise, not only is it going to eat you, but you're gonna hate it. I just hate it. I hate that sound when an email comes and and I don't, I don't want to feel that way. I'm only thirty six. I've got a lot more years to be working, so I want to stay bright and I want to stay focused and I want to say productive, and I can't do that if I'm not staying on top of a manageable studio management workflow, you know we have our workflow for post processing. Why shouldn't you have a workflow for day to day studio life as well?

Class Materials

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Quicksheet Inside Guide (one large PDF file)
Quicksheet Inside Guide (zip file of individual PDF pages)
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Ratings and Reviews

Misty Angel

oh Susan, you are AWESOME!! I am not a wedding photographer (despite dipping my toe in this intimidating pool for one of my dearest friends), I shoot all forms of portraits and love sports too! Your '30-Days' has been the single most influential and educational moments since I started my venture into photography in 2009! THANK YOU! Your honesty, directness, bluntness, humor and vulnerability makes these 30-Days the most worthwhile time spent away from actual shooting; while simultaneously is the most inspirational motivator to push you out there to practice these ideas/techniques! #SShostestwiththemostest You raise the bar in this industry, not just with wedding photographers, but with all genres of photography! I wanted this course to learn about shooting and thought, great... I'll get a little bit of the business side too... OMG! I got it ALL! I'm dying! What an awesome investment in myself, my business and in YOU! PLEASE keep doing what you are doing! I love your new Dynamic Range, I feel that it is a wonderful extension of the work you do with Creative Live! I watch you EVERY DAY, every morning... I know that I continue absorbing your wisdom through repetition! I don't want to be you, I want to rise to your level! So thank you for the inspiration, motivation and aspiration! Keep on being REAL, its what we love about you! We embrace your Chanel meets Alexander McQueen-ness! :) Thank you for stepping into this educational space and providing us with your lessons learned so we can avoid the negative-time investment making mistakes... we are drinking your virtual lemonade!! HA! Like the others, whatever wisdom you offer in this medium, I will be jumping at the opportunity to learn from you! THANK YOU!


All the positive reviews say it all. When Susan took on the challenge of teaching this course it must of looked like attempting to climb Mount Everest...and she accomplished just that. Susan is a detailed, well-organized photographer and this clearly comes out in her teaching. Using repetition, clear instructions, a logical and well laid out presentation, she answers most any question you might have when it comes to wedding photography. I felt like I was having a private consultation when watching the course. She is real, honest, tactful, funny, and a gift to the photography community. Finally, her photography is professional and inspiring. Thank you Susan for the tremendous amount of work that you put into making this an outstanding Creative Live course for us all.


Wow. What a super, comprehensive, entertaining, informative course. Well done. I've taking a lot of photography classes and this one is definitely top of the list. Susan Stripling was very well prepared (and great job by the CreativeLive Team too). Terrific course. Susan shared so much. Thank you! P.S. Love the CL boot camp courses.

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