A few months ago, a couple bigger-time photographer couples that I absolutely adore and
blog-stalk follow (Katelyn James and Amy + Jordan Demos), started posting about this secret project they’d been working on with some other photographers … they didn’t say what it was, but my little bunny ears immediately perked up with interest. What could it be?? Maybe a combo workshop? A posing guide? What WAS it?!
In my wildest dreams, I didn’t think it would be what it ended up being: an actual accredited school for wedding photographers – an intense learning opportunity with some of the most sought-after photographers called the International Academy of Wedding Photographers. The teachers include not only Katelyn, Amy and Jordan … but also Matt + Carissa Kennedy, Mary + Justin Marantz, Chris Mortensen, and Montana Dennis. Yeah, seriously. Talk about an all-star line-up!! When it came time to enroll, Randy and I knew that this was the educational opportunity of a lifetime and not something we wanted to miss … and we jumped RIGHT in!
Classes officially kicked off recently and just last night, I completed my first course: The Business of Wedding Photography with Matt + Carissa … and I’m pretty sure I learned more about running my photography business (as well as LOTS of awesome little tips and ideas) in the 10 days or so it took me to finish up the course than I have in the last 5 YEARS of experience. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I wish this course had been available before I opened up my business – it would have saved so much time, money, heart ache, and wasted energy. There was so much taught within the course – some stuff I already knew (how to be legal, paying taxes, utilizing social media, having a website, being financially wise with the business, etc.) … but a lot of it was stuff I hadn’t even considered or didn’t know as much about (having a strong business plan, marketing, making investments in the business and in clients, balancing work/family life, and so much more). I’ve been to several workshops over the years, and I’ve studied business through UMUC and AAU – and still, this course was incredibly valuable.
With that being said, Randy and I are working on our business plan for the rest of 2015. We are asking ourselves some BIG questions: What do we want to be doing 2 years from now? 5 years? 10 years? Who do we want to attract as clients? Who is our ideal client? How can we better serve our clients? How can we be better spouses and better parents? How can we help our favorite vendors? How much do we really want to make each month/year? Where should we allocate our marketing budget? And really … just how badly do we want Randy to quit his day job so he can work with me full-time as a photographer?
The answers to some of these questions came to us easily, while others really took some thinking (and praying). We want our brides and grooms to know just how much they are valued to us as friends and clients. We want to make sure vendors know they can always count us to deliver images. We want to be able to provide for our family. We want to invest in our marriage (and in the marriages of our brides and grooms). We want to really BE THERE for our kids. And if I’m being totally honest, I really want Randy to quit his day job.
So what does this mean for us? It means changing up the way we run our business behind the scenes. It means adjusting our wedding packages and prices to reflect these changes, which we will be transitioning to very soon. It means becoming truly “all-inclusive” – all packages including engagement sessions, digital files and albums. We want our brides and grooms to be able to say, without a doubt, that hiring us was one of the best decisions they made for their wedding. Basically … We want the Ashley Durham Studios Wedding Experience to be something AMAZING.
To sum it up – this business course really opened up my eyes to the possibilities within our reach. It encouraged me to think outside the box and to set goals and to become the best wife, mom, photographer and business woman I can be. I’m so excited to start the next course (Branding with Katelyn James)!