Ashley & Rich Pizzuti, Inspire Interviews: Episode 7

Ashley & Rich Pizzuti are Boston-based wedding and lifestyle portrait photographers. They are also speakers at the next Inspire Photo Retreats conference, to be held from February 9-11th, 2015.

Like the other interviews in this series, I spoke with them about their background in this business, their presentation on why photographers should use business plans, and what they are most excited about Inspire Photo Retreats. Check out our conversation below:

Here are a few examples of their awesome photography:

Pizzuti Photography - Kid Praying

Pizzuti Photography - Businessman

Pizzuti Photography - Child's Portrait

Pizzuti Photography - Groom Getting Ready

Pizzuti Photography - Bride Getting Ready

Inspire Photo Retreats - February 9-11, 2015, Portland, Maine

If you are still on the fence, please take a look at all the speakers who will be coming to Portland. I believe speakers like Ashley & Rich and others have one mission: to inspire you to do your best work in the near year. Everybody needs that kind of motivation year-in-and-year-out. If you agree, I expect to see you at Inspire Photo Retreats in 2015! Register today.

Next up in the Inspire Interviews series is New York City based wedding photographer Spencer Lum.

Opening Your Own Photography Studio? 5 Things To Consider

I am excited to share how I made the decision to open my studio. It has been a positive experience for me and I am grateful for the response it is receiving from both new and existing clients.

I had run my business, Yellowhale Photography, for many years as an on-location photographer focused on high end, boutique portraiture. I was very proud of what I had accomplished and the growth that my business had made in that time, but as I approached my 10 year anniversary, I found myself considering the ways in which I wanted my business to grow.

I began making lists, evaluating what has worked for me in the past and what I wanted Yellowhale to become. I thought about what I needed to do to create the business I envisioned. It wasn’t long before I realized that having a physical studio space was key to achieving my goals. By concentrating my sessions to one locale, I could make them more accessible for a broader spectrum of clients and ultimately enhance the service for my existing clientele.

I was able to find a gorgeous space with lots of natural light on the main street in our city. I am so happy with it! Because I am in the center of town, I have greater opportunities to network with other local businesses. In addition to the reception and studio space, there is another room which I can use for meetings and workshops. I can even open it up to guest speakers for interesting cross promotional events. Having a physical space allows me to become a part of the community and invites passers by to come in and learn more about what I do.

Yellowhale Photography Stduio Wideshot

Yellowhale Photography Stduio Outdoor

One of the surprising benefits of the foot traffic is the local business people requesting sessions for a modern headshot. Between work and social media, everyone needs a presentable, image of themselves that they can feel confident in. Having a studio makes it convenient for these clients to come in and have their portrait taken during a quick break throughout the day.

The majority of my work, however, is focused upon family and newborn sessions. New parents have so much to adjust to in the first few weeks baby is home and having to clean the house in preparation for a photo session just adds to their stress. I am finding having a studio is a blessing for these clients. It benefits my young families as well. Let’s face it, families are busy! By having a studio for them to come to, they are able to enjoy their session with their children in a relaxed environment which ultimately results in beautiful images.

The reception area is filled with examples of my work displayed on huge canvases, in custom frames and wall galleries. Having the physical product on display for my clients is essential to selling. My motto is: seeing is believing, believing is buying.

Yellowhale Photography Stduio Display

Yellowhale Photography Stduio Display

Yellowhale Photography Stduio Display

An added bonus of the studio is that I now have the space to display the full range of albums from my other business, the Dream Album Co. . Our product line has expanded in recent years and having the space to have it all on display for my clients to view is exciting. We also now have the space to have a dedicated shipping and supply room which streamlines our businesses.

Yellowhale Photography Stduio Entrance

On a more personal note, one of the things I am most thrilled about is the ability the studio provides for me to explore creatively. I now have a space where I can play with various off-camera lighting options and with the way the natural light falls in our all-white space. I find myself consistently inspired to experiment here.

Making the decision to invest in a studio can be a difficult one. You are required to completely change the way you do business. However, for me, establishing a studio allowed Yellowhale Photography to grow in the ways I had envisioned and I am excited by all the unexpected opportunities it has created along the way. I am looking forward to celebrating our future anniversaries here!

If I could offer advice to anyone thinking about opening their own studio, the following five things would top my list:

1) Don’t rush the process. Take your time finding your perfect space. If you are uncertain if a studio is right for you, consider sharing studio space with a complimentary business. Another alternative is to establish a meeting space for your sales sessions. Having a smaller scale space allows you the time to grow your business and add to your confidence and security before establishing your studio.

2) Resist the temptation settle. Find a space that is right for you. Make sure the location, the light and the layout all work for your needs. Holding out allows you time to build your savings until you know you have found the perfect spot. Settling for a space to satisfy your desire to run a studio can easily cost you more in the long run.

3) Having a substantial savings is your safety net. Six months salary and operating costs are a minumum, but a year is so much. The moment you sign the lease, you are responsible for your rent & utilities whether you are ready to open your doors or waiting for the renovations to be complete. Having money in the bank also protects you in months where you may not be working due to unexpected illness or injury.

4) Create a support team to surround you. Figure out who/what you need to best support you in your business so you can create a consistent revenue stream. It may be in the form of a team of people (think of an editor, session co-ordinator, salespeople, or housekeeper as examples) or services (child care, a dog walker or grocery delivery to name a few). Having a solid support behind you will allow you the freedom and peace of mind to make your business a success and enjoy your time when you are home.

5) Create a beautiful space for yourself, but allow it room to evolve and grow with you. You will want everything to be perfect for your opening, but remember as you settle in to your space, you will be adding to it. Just as your home has evolved with you over the years, so will your studio.

Opening a studio is a commitment that can make or break your business. Grow into it rather than jumping into it. Before you even look for a studio, ensure you already have the consistent income to cover your daily operating expenses plus what you would need to pay for rent and insurance.

When you can afford to open the best studio, that is the time to open the studio. Do not open a studio and then hope for the best.

Smart Marketing For Smart Photographers

Blog post version 1: marketing for photographers

I wrote a draft of this blog post with some very generic information about marketing for photographers. Then I read it. And I didn’t like it! I didn’t think it was as valuable to you as it could be.

As I was reading it I was thinking “how many times have I read this kind of stuff before?” And the answer is too many times to count.

How much value to you is some generic information that is written by someone who doesn’t know your situation, doesn’t know who you are, what you love, what you hate, what your goals and dreams are? Someone who doesn’t know what type of photographer you are or who your clients are.

So it was back to the drawing board…

Blog post version 2: smart marketing for smart photographers

This second version of the blog post is completely different.

This blog post is not for everyone.

This blog post is not for you if you want some generic marketing strategies handed to you on a platter.

This blog post is for people who want to find the marketing strategies that are really effective at attracting more of the right kinds of clients – for YOU!

This blog post is for people who are willing to do some work!

So, are you up for the challenge?

You can reach your goals. And you can get all the clients you need. But it’s going to take some work. And the work starts now.

Marketibg For Photographers by Robyn Mayne

In this first of 5 blog posts we are going to work through some of the basics. These are things you should have clear in your head before you even think about building a SMART marketing plan.

They are:

Marketing basics

  • Your message
  • Your ideal client
  • Your philosophy/beliefs/values
  • About you, the photographer(s)
  • What do you have that is unique and worth talking about (remarkable)?
  • What have past clients loved and talked about?
  • What is the #1 reason why clients should/would choose you?
  • What other things do you offer that will make your ideal client sit up and take notice?
  • To help you on your way here’s an example:

    Our message:

    We photograph dogs and only dogs! We love our dogs – our furbabies – and know you love yours too. We are experts at capturing their quirky, unique and lovable personalities.

    Our ideal client:

    A couple, with no children, who are passionate about their dogs (they “are” their children). In their mid 40s, both working, with a disposable income and they can afford to invest in a photographic session with their beloved pet/s. They enjoy the stage of life they are at. They value their down time and love nothing more than to spend it with their dogs. They value (and can and will pay for) luxuries when it comes to their furbabies.

    Our philosophy/beliefs/values:

    Fun. Love. Laughter. We believe that life is too short not to have fun. We value love and laughter in both our personal lives and our business.

    About you, the photographer(s):

    We are L and P, husband and wife. Our passion is our furbabies many of whom have come to us as rescues having had difficult and traumatic pasts. For us though they are our children, we love them for all their quirks. We have been working together as a partnership in business since 1996. Out of this grew an interest in photography and we’ve discovered a way to blend the art that L loves so much with the technology that is P’s keen interest. We’ve decided life is too short to not enjoy what we do to earn a living so we’ve started our photography business and we love every minute of it.

    What do you have that is unique?

    Casual, relaxed atmosphere – we don’t mind getting down to their level and doing whatever it takes to get those great images. We love animals, this isn’t a job for us, it’s a passion – doggy kisses are ok!

    What have others loved and talked about?

    “They get to know our pets”
    “They don’t rush, they’re happy to work with our pets and their moods”
    “They are friendly and personable”
    “They go the extra mile to get that perfect shot”

    What is the #1 reason why clients would choose you?

    We care! As two photographers, husband and wife, working intuitively together we know and love animals and will use that knowledge and passion to capture the uniqueness of your pets.

    What other things will make your ideal client sit up and take notice?

    We work to your pets’ timetable, not ours – it takes as long as it takes.
    Working on location, in an environment your pet is happy in, allows for a relaxed, fun sitting and better photos.
    We look for the quirky, unique and memorable moments.

    Now, what’s next?

    If you would like to send your marketing plan basics to me using this form, I will select one and use it as the case study for the next blog post: Your marketing mix. How’s that? I’ll basically be writing your marketing plan for you.

    If you don’t wish to send it to me, no problem. Complete it, hold on to it and have it handy for the next blog post where we will take this information and work though the key marketing strategies that should make up your marketing mix.

    3 Factors That Make You A Professional Photographer

    Regardless of photographic genre, the primary factor a client will use to make their photographer hiring decision is going to be the photographer’s images; if they see that you can produce great photos, that’s going to be the most important thing. But there are a number of supporting factors that distinguish a true professional photographer; things that aren’t always visible in your photos; but they contribute behind the scenes to being able to consistently deliver a great client experience.

    A Professional Has Redundant Gear

    I never arrive at a photo shoot with only a single camera, lens, or light; and neither should you. Like everything else, camera gear will break, whether it’s just worn out or accidentally damaged. An equipment failure shouldn’t derail a wedding, senior portrait session, commercial shoot, or other client endeavor. Responsible pros will own or rent an appropriate amount of gear to work through the occasional problem.

    On Stage | Aaron Hockley

    A Professional Photographer Is Insured

    As a professional, it’s good business to have insurance. Equipment insurance will cover your essential tools you use to make photos. Liability insurance will protect you if a client trips over your tripod. Errors and Omissions insurance will protect against other failures such as missing a critical photo in a scene that can’t be re-staged. If you’re not yet insured, consider the risks.

    Balloons | Aaron Hockley

    A Professional Photographer Knows Other Professional Photographers

    It’s the night before a big wedding. Or the morning of a day in your studio booked solid with clients. Maybe you’re slated to head out first thing in the morning to set up for a day of executive portraits on location for a large company. And now you’re violently ill. What’s going to happen? A pro is going to have established connections with other pro photographers in the area that could potentially cover in a pinch.

    Jordan & Sara | Aaron Hockley

    Be Professional and Proud

    Be a professional; and be proud of that. Your clients want great-looking photos, but they also want assurance that you’ve done the work to make sure that can happen. Let them know about what makes you a pro; it’s a benefit to your client and they ought to know that you’ve thought about these factors. I can help them understand the value in hiring you rather than that guy off of Craigslist that’ll do the job for 1/4 of your rate.

    So, do you agree or disagree with Aaron Hockley? What other factors would you add to this list? Sound off below in the comments section!

    The Tiffinbox Black Friday & Cyber Monday Bonanza

    If you are in the US, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are huge days for online and big box stores. The savings can be enormous if you play your cards right. After searching far and wide I’ve curated the best offers I believe will elevate your craft and business.

    Photography Concentrate Black Friday 2013


    Before you scroll down, here is a simple reason why you should use the links to shop for the things you need: Tiffinbox is a labor of love. I try and find you the very information, have the most intriguing interviews and insights that help you become better photographers and business owners.

    Over the years, I have assumed the expense of running this site and every year I seem to spend more to upgrade its design and host it on a fast, spam-free web host. It’s expensive but you are worth it. By buying products and services here you are supporting this site for the long haul. I hope you feel what I do for you is valuable. I thank you for your patronage today, tomorrow and into the future. I look forward to serving you.


    BUSINESS

    Psychology For Photographers is offering Irresistible Words for $199 and Portfolio to Profit Engine for $109 or get both for $299.

    Joy Vertz offers $50 off her popular course, Referral Plan That Works

    WORKFLOW & SALES

    Queensberry Albums offers you 40% off the first year of any annual paid plan for Workspace

    Preveal is being offered at a steep discount at $25 $49 – grab this!

    ShootProof is offering its 1500 image plan at only $35 (regularly $100)

    Jared Bauman’s new Wedding and Portrait Email Templates – use: black2013friday

    PHOTO EDUCATION & TUTORIALS

    Photography Concentrate – 40% off all ebooks and tutorials

    Modern Tog has several products for sale for a limited time:

    Easy Client Manager at 66% off

    Easy Client & Money Manager – $50 off

    Easy Client & Money Manager + Photography Pricing Guide – $50 off

    The Go To Guide To Client Emails – $50 off

    Photographer’s Questionnaire Library – 59% off

    Enter here for The Modern Tog’s iMac Giveaway

    DESIGN TEMPLATES & SOFTWARE

    Fundy Software is offering 30% off on the following products:

    Album Builder
    Blog Collage
    Image Brander

    BUSINESS FORMS

    Business Forms By Nifty Knowledge Rocks – 75% off – use: “blackfriday”

    Rachel Brenke’s The Law Tog is offering 30% off of all of her business forms – use: “BlackFri30″

    WEB RELATED

    Get 27% off the awesome Photocrati theme

    NextGen Galery Pro, one of the best known WordPres gallery plugins is 25% off for a limited time

    Gravity Forms – one of the most crucial WordPress plugins you need to use on your site. Use: “wpbeginner”

    Flothemes – Use: 25GOODNESS to receive 25% off any Flothemes WordPress theme

    SEO Cookbook by Photography Spark: Easy Recipes To Rank Higher – $60 off –

    LIGHTROOM PRESETS & PHOTOSHOP ACTIONS

    Totally Rad – 35% off all presets and actions

    Mastin Labs – 50% off the Portra 400 Preset Pack – film emulation at its best!

    VSCO Presets

    Adobe Cloud – Photoshop & Lightroom for $9.99/month

    Code + Hustle – Storyboard and Batch+ at insane prices!

    WEB HOSTING

    WPEngine – Tiffinbox is hosted here! Totally awesome customer support. Get this if you can!

    Small Orange – my headshot portrait site, Connecticut Headshots, is hosted here. Very reasonable monthly rates and also prompt email based support.

    BlueHost – my old host but an old favorite if you are starting out.

    HostGator – a well known low-cost web host that is quite popular as well.

    BOOKS

    Craft & Vision books are all 50% off for a very limited time

    Simple SLR Complete e-book bundle

    Christopher O’Donnell Ebooks:

    The Art of Color Processing
    The Golden Hours
    The Golden Hour Portfolio
    The Art of Bokeh
    The Portfolio of Bokeh
    The Complete Ebook Collection

    Angela Pointon’s ebook will get you thinking about how you are Worth More

    Create, share and learn lighting at Strobox through their e-books that are now all $4.75 each.

    Strobox Volume 1
    Strobox Volume 2
    Strobox Volume 3

    Which vendors would you like to see here? Whom am I missing? Let me know in the comments below. I will do my best to include them as I update this post today, Black Friday and through Cyber Monday. So, please bookmark this post and keep coming back as I find other awesome deals for you.

    Thank you again for supporting Tiffinbox!

    Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Awesome Giveaway By Photography Concentrate

    My friends Lauren & Rob Lim of Photography Concentrate are Canadians. And, they celebrated Thanksgiving back on October 14.

    But for the US Thanksgiving holiday and for Black Friday and Cyber Monday especially, they wanted to do something special. They have gone ahead and offered all of you a 40% discount on ALL their tutorials and ebooks. This is huge and it isn’t something they will likely repeat for another year.

    Look, we all want to be better at photography than we were last year. At least, I would hope those of you who read Tiffinbox feel that way. From several of you who have privately emailed me and thanked me for introducing you to resource, a website or a tool that has elevated your craft or business, I know I am pretty good at curating the very best offers out there for you.

    The tutorials and ebooks that Photography Concentrate has offered in the past have always been mentioned here because Lauren and Rob Lim consistently produce useful, actionable resources for photographers. Every ebook I receive from them is so full of incredible examples that are not only expressed succinctly but also illustrated beautifully.

    These are books you will use over and over again. I promise. How do I know? Because I use them again and again all the time.

    Photography Concentrate Black Friday 2013

    The sale starts on Black Friday (that’s this Friday) and ends on December 2nd, Cyber Monday. Buy the e-book or tutorial you really need for yourself or your business.

    And Lauren and Rob are sweetening the deal even more, giving you a chance at winning a $1000 shopping spree at B&H. Bookmark this post and come back here between Black Friday and Cyber Monday to buy your favorite Photography Concentrate e-book or tutorial. You won’t regret it!

    Learn more about this special, time-sensitive offer here.

    How The Affordable Care Act Is Changing Things For Freelance Photographers

    Being a freelance photographer means always staying on top of things. You have to get to certain places at certain times, take care of your equipment and make sure your software is up to date among other things. But, have you been staying on top of your health insurance options? It is no secret that freelancers end up paying more money than a lot of other people on this front.

    Thankfully, it looks like things might be turning around because of the Affordable Care Act, or ACA. If you haven’t heard how this legislation is going to help you as a freelancer, you are missing out. A number of the plan’s refinements to the healthcare system are great news for freelancers such as yourself. If you want to learn more about these changes and how you can get an affordable plan, read on.

    Affordable Care Act

    Better Benefits, Better Plans

    One of the most clear cut ways that the ACA is improving healthcare is through its mandated essential health benefits. These are ten categories of medical benefits that every plan will have to offer under the law. Even if you think that a cheap plan is your only option, the essential health benefits might not make it so bad. If you want to take a peek at what they are, visit this list at Healthcare.gov‘s glossary. Now, you have to be aware that these are categories of benefits, not exact medical services. What I mean by this is that the law does not actually list what medical services fall into these categories. The individual states are responsible for figuring those out.

    A Range Of Coverage

    Now that you know what the plans offer, it is time to look at the plans themselves. Most of the states have allowed their health insurance exchanges to be run by the federal government. The federal health insurance exchange can be found at Healthcare.gov. To see if your state runs its own exchange, take a look at the Kaiser Family Foundation‘s list here.

    The exchanges have plans broken up into four levels known as Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Bronze plans have the lowest premium, but also pay for the lowest percentage of medical costs. The Platinum plans fill in the other end of the spectrum, giving more coverage of costs for a higher premium. The Gold and Silver plans help even things out by giving you some middle ground options.

    What’s The Deal With Tax Subsidies?

    As long as you make between 100 percent and 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Line, you stand to receive a potentially hefty federal health insurance subsidy on your exchange plan. The actual amount of the subsidy varies widely across that range of FPL and is calculated based on a number of different factors. It can’t be said for sure exactly how much money you’ll save on your plan’s premium, but the Kaiser Family Foundation‘s subsidy calculator can help you get a number to help with your planning.

    Learn More And Make The Right Choice

    Before you jump into things and make a purchase, you have to take a step back. Don’t go and buy an actual plan until you know how much money you have spent in the past on medical bills and health insurance. This way, you can actually have a reference point when you are comparing costs. Next, make sure to ask yourself what exactly you need from your plan. Conditions that you and your family have, as well as your overall health, should be taken into account.

    As open enrollment on the marketplace will continue for a while (until March 2014), it might be best to wait and do some more research on the ACA. The more information you have on this complex law, the easier it will be to choose a plan. You may want to think about talking to a licensed insurance broker. They know this thing better than just about anyone. When you finally think you have a good handle on the ACA, make your choice.

    Michael Cahill is the editor of the Vista Health Solutions blog. He writes about the health care system, health insurance industry and the Affordable Care Act. Follow him on Twitter at @VistaHealthMike

    So that Tiffinbox does provide its audience at least two opposing viewpoints of this rather contentious topic, I’m inviting one of you to step in and guest blog an article about the Affordable Care Act’s weaknesses. If you are interested, pitch me the post using the guest blogging form.