Emily- Bridal Photography in Lexington, KY

I met Emily at Rachel’s wedding. She had actually found me online while searching for a photographer. She didn’t realize who I was at the wedding, but kept thinking, “Why does she look familiar?” The next day I posted Rachel and Christian’s sneak peek and she realized! I am so happy she chose me to photograph her wedding. Here is her Bridal Session sneak peek!

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So gorgeous, lovely, and classic. Thank you, Emily, for letting me be a part of your wedding!

-Kristen D.


The Great Cake Debate!

This past Thursday was my birthday! My amazing Sister-in-Law (aka Friend) and Brother-in-Law (aka Brother) took me out on Wednesday to celebrate! On Thursday, my son was sick, so I didn’t want to get him out of the house. He looked at me that morning and said, “Happy birthday, mom!” Then, “Cake?” Haha! Of course he has cake on the brain. I had a nice evening in, eating Mexican take-out and watching a rented movie. The next day, my Sister took me to get my nails done. I have never had color on my nails before. EVER! I chose pink, which may surprise some people. My Husband also came home from training that day. So, my birthday celebrations went for three days. I had a good birthday.

Here is something you may not know about me… I prefer cheesecake for my birthday. I do. I REALLY do. I love cheesecake. This happened about two years ago. I still love cake, but cheesecake is my go to birthday dessert now. Is that weird? I had a Birthday Cake balloon. Does that count?

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I want to thank everyone who wished me a happy b-day! Let me know your favorite b-day dessert! Do you have cake or another delicious treat? Tell me in the comments!

-Kristen D.


Pricing Your Services

Money

As promised, I am going to help you determine what you should be charging. Now before we get into it, there is no standard formula. In the end you need to do what you deem best. Entrepreneurs and freelancers all do business differently, and their pricing formulas reflect this. So, let’s go…

Okay, I am coming at this from a photographer’s point of view. Please feel free to adjust where necessary!

Value your time.

 

Start with a salary that you know you will need to sustain your cost of living and determine the value of your time. For example:

You need $3000 per month to live. This includes shelter, clothing, utilities, phone, car payments, insurance, fuel, food, bills, debt, etc. All of this adds up to $3000 per month. So that is $36000 per year after taxes. So you need to gross around $47000 per year. Wait! Don’t forget to….

Value the cost of business.

This is another constant. Write down everything that costs money to run your business. This includes anything and everything you need to buy to do business. Cameras, lenses, speed lights, light stands, computer, software, fuel, etc.

Now the investments (such as cameras, computer, and lights) can be divided up by the number of years you will be using them. I know I’ll be replacing my computer every four years. $1200 divided by 4 equals $300. Do this for all your investments.

Determine your yearly cost of doing business. Don’t forget to include electricity, fuel, rent, professional memberships, yearly services, etc. Let’s say you come to a value of $15000 before tax per year. So, you would need to make about $20,000. Now let’s…

Value your talent and experience.

If you have talent, display it proudly and don’t be afraid to ask for what you are worth as an artist. Experience is gold. The more experience you have, the more trusting your client will be. I put talent and experience together because of how I started in the Wedding Photography business. I had talent, but hardly any experience. So they need to be weighed together. So how do you value these aspects?

Think about this as a “raise”. You know you need a raise based on your experience and talent. So you march into your boss’s office and give a figure you think you deserve! The good news is, you are your boss. How much extra do you deserve based on your talent and experience? Let’s say you deserve about $5000 extra per year.

Okay, so your time is worth $47,000, cost of business is $20,000, and you deserve an extra $5,000. That amounts to $72,000 per year. So, you may average 20 clients per year. That would be an average of $3,600 per client. If you average 40 clients per year, that is $1,800 per client. Both are doable, but will be different clientele. Which is where marketing comes in handy!!!

I do hope this post has been helpful! Let me know your thoughts below. Thanks for reading!

-Kristen D.


10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started My Business

Starting a business is scary. Self-doubt, an unsure future, and lack of experience in managing a business are huge factors that almost kept me from following my dream. If you want to start your own business, hopefully these things will help you get off on the right foot…

  1. You have worth. When I first started photography, I was practically giving my sessions away. A guilty feeling would come over me any time I thought about asking for money. Then I watched Sue Bryce (an amazing photographer and business woman that I hope to meet one day). She stated, “In what other business do you feel guilty asking for money?” It hit me like a ton of bricks. I don’t go to the counter in a grocery store and haggle with the cashier. Nor would I do this if I hired a roofer, carpet cleaner, portrait artist, or personal trainer. Why in the world should I feel guilty about setting a price that will allow me to not worry about bills this month? I was losing money because of time, travel, and product cost. So, I set my standard. You can, too. Don’t be afraid. You have worth.
  2. Define your ideal client. This is marketing 101. If you don’t know your ideal client, then you really have no direction and are wandering aimlessly. I was challenged by a Jasmine Star (another photographer and business woman I would love to meet one day) while watching one of her classes to define my ideal client. Saying, “A bride is my ideal client,” isn’t good enough. I had to think about her habits, likes, what she might watch on tv, where she would shop, her age, her job, etc. Really define who your ideal client is, then you will be better equipped to market to them.
  3. Your brand is an experience. You are not just selling a service. If you are a chef, you are not just selling your food. You are creating culinary art that is beautiful and delicious. When you sell a service or product, you are selling your brand. Define your brand, what it stands for, why it’s different, and what you can do for your ideal client. Create an experience for your client that will have them talking. It doesn’t have to be huge. It could be a small gift you give as a thank you. Define your brand then create an experience that compliments it.
  4. Under promise and over deliver. When you tell your client you will have a project finished in three weeks, but it turns into four, will your client be fully satisfied? You may have done a beautiful job, but you came up short on your promise. Now, if you promised your client the project would be done in six weeks, and you finished in four weeks, you will surprise your client with being done earlier than you stated. Which will get you better reviews.
  5. Network! The more you give, the more you get back. One way I love to network is by creating styled shoots. A styled shoot needs a hair stylist, makeup artist, attire, models, a baker, florists, venue, rentals, and more. This is a great opportunity for me because it lets my creativity shine and provides photographs for vendors. Because of this networking technique my work is on a billboard, been published on a blog, and vendors pass out my business cards. So go out and create opportunities through networking. Join Facebook groups related to your business, have a vendor luncheon one day, work with other professionals and help build each other’s businesses.
  6. Balance. Life is hard to balance when you are starting a business. I spend a lot of time on the computer answering emails, researching, writing, booking, updating, networking, and editing. I travel all around Kentucky every week. I am gone all day when photographing a wedding. Trying to balance a home life and my photography business gets tough. What I am beginning to do is every week I write down what I would like to accomplish. This includes accomplishments in my home life and business. This helps me stay on track and know that I can be successful in both.
  7. Workflow, workflow, workflow. Okay, I’ll say it again. WORKFLOW! When I first started, I was all over the place when it came to getting things done. I admit, this is something that is still developing. However, I am in a much better place than I was years ago. Make your life easier and write down everything that has to be done for your clients. Then put it on a timeline. Here is what typically happens once a client decides to book with me:
    1. I send a contract for them to e-sign.
    2. Once signed, I send an invoice for the retainer fee.
    3. Once paid, I hold their date on my calendar.
    4. Four weeks prior: Email a questionnaire.
    5. Two weeks prior: Email and confirm timeline and send last invoice.
    6. Photograph wedding.
    7. Post sneak peek on blog that evening.
    8. Edit photos.
    9. Upload to online gallery.
    10. Email client.
  8. Don’t spend money on SEO. No offense to the SEO people. They can do wonders, but (at least for me and my business) it was a waste of money. Did they get my website up in the ranks? Yes, but could I afford to keep them forever… no! So, I ended up having to get a new website that I could afford, which brought me back to square one. If you can afford it, more power to you. However, client referrals and networking will generate more clients in the beginning of your business than SEO will.
  9. Back. Up. Everything. Especially for us photographers. The last thing you want is to have that sinking feeling in your gut when your hard drive fails. I backup my files on two hard drives and have a working file on a thumb drive. I also don’t clear my SD cards until after I have delivered the final photos to my client. That makes four separate places that I can retrieve my files. Don’t take the chance; back up your files!
  10. Have a system to determine your pricing. One of the mistakes many newbies make (myself included) is basing your pricing off of other photographers. Or you would price yourself extremely low in comparison thinking, “That will get customers!” Has it worked? It didn’t for me. When I began thinking about the value of time, travel, experience, and cost of production I started to understand my own business a little better. Now I have a price system that reflects all these things. I will write more about how to determine your pricing on Friday’s blog!

Wedding Albums

Here is the post I have been wanting to do for forever! I love my albums and have been wanting to share them with you. So, without further ado…

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I absolutely LOVE these albums. You can choose between leather and linen, with multiple color options, cover styles, gilding, and more. I always print with thick pages for durability, and it adds a nice weight to your album.

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Also, all my albums are the lay-flat style. This allows for a seamless center which will easily display a favorite photograph over both pages.

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You can also choose between a classic grey linen album box or the luxury wood album box.

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The luxury wood album box also allows for custom engraving.

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You will also receive care tips for your investment!

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What is your favorite detail of these amazing albums? Let me know in the comments below! Also, check out my wedding album video!

-Kristen D.


Rhea & Keshav- Engagement Photography in Versailles, KY

Rhea contacted me just last week to schedule an engagement session. Her and her fiancé live in New York, and I am so happy they selected me to photograph their engagement! She had a wonderful vision for their photos, which included horses. We were able to have a wonderful horse named Richard assist us for the day! I was very excited to work with them, and they are the sweetest couple. They have a love that is truly profound. I can see it in his glances towards her. I can hear it in her laugh when she is around him. Their marriage will be strong, and I feel honored to have photographed them during this exciting time in their lives! Congratulations, Rhea and Keshav!

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Tell me your favorite photos of the happy couple in the comments below!

-Kristen D.


Moving, Editing, & The Big Fake Wedding

BFW_promo1Wow, so we finally have an apartment… well, almost. We are waiting for a one-bedroom to be finished with upgrades before we can move. Then we will only be living there for a couple of months, and then moving into a two bedroom in the same building. We are almost there! I am so excited. The past few months have been rough, but we are almost to the point of setting up a home again. I am trying to go minimalist for the sake of space, and I really think I would be much happier to have less stuff. Only having things we use or truly love is a great goal for us, and I think moving into a two bedroom apartment is going to help get us closer to that lifestyle. More on that journey in future post…

The past two weeks I have been editing my heart out. With 8 weddings in 6 weeks, I had plenty to edit. I can see the end of the editing process for these weddings. Just in time, too! I have two engagement sessions and two weddings in the next few weeks, not to mention second shooting for another!!

I have been pretty quiet about The Big Fake Wedding. It was amazing! I definitely want to participate if they come to Kentucky again. I LOVE the photos I created and can’t wait to share them with you! Alas, I have to wait. The Ruffled Blog gets exclusive rights to be the first to display photos from The Big Fake Wedding. So once they post, I will share!!!

My next blog post will be about my albums! I love my albums so much and think that every couple deserves them! Stay tuned!

-Kristen D.

 


Getting My House in Order

My family has taken a very hard hit this year. Many friends and family have passed away. This past weekend was particularly rough. I won’t go into details for the sake of privacy, but it has affected me greatly.

The Bible talks about death, and what we are supposed to do before it claims us if we are able. Three verses that have been in my mind as of late are the following:

Psalm 90:12- “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”

Proverbs 13:22- “A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children…”

II Kings 20:1- “…Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.”

So, today I want to write about preparing for the inevitable. The first verse speaks about numbering our days. We only have a certain number, and we can spend those days being foolish or gaining wisdom. Hindering or helping. Hating or loving. I, more than ever, am looking at life differently.

The second verse is something that is very close to my heart right now. My husband and I are supposed to leave an inheritance that will last generations for our family. We have made bad financial decisions in the past. Each time we do so, we are stealing from our son and what we can leave for him. We are currently getting out of debt using the Dave Ramsey books we bought and will hopefully begin to start building wealth soon afterwards.

The third verse says, “Set thine house in order…” which was a command given to a king when he was sick and about to die. We often hear, “Get your affairs in order.” We shouldn’t wait until we can see the end to prepare. By then, it will be too late to really take care of some things. God extended the king’s life. We need to take every day as a gift and use it to it’s full potential.

I am getting my house in order. I can’t afford to wait, because there are so many unknowns.

-Kristen D.


Spanish

Okay, so this summer has been amazing! Every Saturday was booked and some weekends I’ve worked two weddings. God provides! I am so thankful. So here is an update on what I have been doing other than weddings…

Teaching myself Spanish. I remember loving Spanish in high school, but I took it my senior year and didn’t get a chance to really dig into the language. College waved my language requirement because music majors have a TON of classes and practicing on their plates. So now I am teaching myself. Here is how…

  1. I have an amazing app called Learn Spanish Words Free (I know, so fancy) that has 10,000 words and phrases. It teaches you 14 common Spanish words at a time. To test you, it will say the english word and you have to choose from multiple choice or spell it in Spanish. It will also say the Spanish word and you have to select the english translation. This is helping me with my vocabulary.
  2. I am watching movies made in Latin America and listening to radio stations in Spanish. I watch the movies with Spanish subtitles. This is helping me with grammar, understanding pronunciation, and slang.
  3. I research and write a lot. I have a list of 100 most common verbs written in my notebook that I am currently memorizing. Then I need to memorize the conjugations. I pretty cool language hack is saying Voy a…. for I’m going. The infinitive form of Spanish verbs translates “to verb“. Example: comer- to eat. I can simply say “Voy a comer.” for “I’m going to eat.” No conjugations needed!

My next step is to start reading some books written in Spanish. So, hopefully I will be able to carry on a conversation soon. We will see!

Coming up this week: The Big Fake Wedding Bridal Show! Tune in tomorrow for some details!!!

-Kristen D.

 

 


Rachel & Christian – Wedding Photography in Versailles, KY

I met Rachel through my best friend. Rachel opened her own flower shop a few years back, and she is amazing. So of course her bouquet had to be the best, and it was! I can tell Christian truly cherishes her. They love to laugh. The wedding was so much fun. They added their own special touches. Lego cufflinks, a beautiful (confetti) wedding cake, and Christian’s wedding ring is awesome!

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Congratulations Rachel & Christian!!

-Kristen D.