Podcast Interview with Susan Shek Photography

The latest podcast episode of Tea with Jainé just went LIVE on our channel. I’m chatting with New York City Wedding Photographer Susan Shek of Susan Shek Photography. We talk about all things related to advertising and marketing for wedding photographers - one of my FAVORITE topics to discuss! Susan is continually ranked on the first page of Google Search so I’m excited for her to share some of her tips, tricks, and valuable advice for you to listen too!

You can listen to Tea with Jainé on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and all other major podcasting platforms. We’d love for you to leave us a review to help other listeners find out about us. Want to support Tea with Jainé? You can make a monthly contribution by using the Support this Podcast button in our profile. It’s like you’re buying me a new cup of tea each month - Thank You!!

Susan Shek Photography Podcast Interview

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What to do if a Client Cancels Their Wedding

What do you do when your client cancels their wedding OR you have to cancel on them? Well, it’s not a fun topic to talk about but as a business owner, you should be familiar with your options just in case it happens to you. Over the course of my wedding photography career, both scenarios have happened to me so I thought I would tell you how I handled each of them. It’s never easy, or comfortable but being prepared is always half the battle.

My BEST advice is to have the RIGHT wording in your contract!

I am NOT a lawyer but I have been told that the type of wording you use in your contract can determine how you can protect yourself from these type of unfortunate events. Let me explain:

First and foremost, you collect a RETAINER for your services, not a deposit. The client is RETAINING your services for their wedding. A deposit is defined as “a sum payable as a first installment on the purchase of something or as a pledge for a contract, the balance being payable later” but a retainer is defined as “a fee paid in advance to someone, especially an attorney, in order to secure or keep their services when required”. Does that make sense? They are retaining your services vs. putting a deposit down.

You need to protect yourself so you do not have to return any money collected for retaining your services. If you do not have associate photographers, you are not accepting other jobs for their wedding date and if they were to cancel on you, you are losing the reaming balance due AND other sales in the future.

I’ve heard other wedding photographers say “but I feel bad, and I should return the money”. Well, to that, I would say “I feel bad for them as well but feeling bad, doesn’t pay your bills and when you can’t pay your bills, who’s going to feel bad for you?”. Unless you have a second source of income, spouse, or trust fund to support you, you need to think like a business and stick to your contract. #toughlove

Again, be sure to check with your attorney and modify your contract to use the correct verbiage that will hold up in a court of law, if necessary.


What To Do When Your Client Cancels On You

Unfortunately, if a couple decides that they aren’t ready to get married and cancels (or postpones) their wedding, it stinks for everyone involved including us, the wedding vendors. Once the couple notifies you about the cancellation, they might ask you for a refund or partial refund from their retainer. This is where your contract comes into play and you need to stand firm to protect your business.

As difficult as it is to get the news that your couple is breaking up, it’s just a difficult to realize that you have lost the potential earnings from their wedding and all future sales. In most cases, you have turned down several other inquires for the same date and depending if the couple notifies you early enough, you might not be able to rebook date at all thus creating a loss in your business for the year. Keeping the retainer, although it stinks for the couple, it’s in your contract to ensure your time and services thus far are accounted for.

One of my couples did have to cancel their wedding due to travel issues in and out of the united states and even though they knew about my retainer policy, they did ask for their money back. I kept my retainer and said that if they could reschedule their wedding within one calendar year, I would be happy to move their retainer to the new date and honor my current pricing.

For my business, I require a 50% retainer fee at the time of booking. I am a small business and photograph a limited number of weddings per year, so if I have a couple cancel, it’s a big deal for me and my bottom line.

What To Do When You Have To Cancel On Your Couple

Ugh! This was NOT fun for me. I do not like to be the bearer of bad news and I definitely want my couples to depend on me but sometimes things happen and you have to let a few people down.

The only time I had to cancel on a couple was because I was expecting a baby. As a women entrepreneur, this is just one of those times when your family (and body) comes first. Their wedding date was too close to my due date and I just physically couldn’t risk the possibly of going into labor 2+ hours from my hospital. It was my first baby and I was very nervous as to what to expect.

I called the couple and told them the good and bad news. They didn’t take it very well but I assured them I would help them find the best replacement photographer I could, as we were several months away from their wedding. They met my replacement recommendation but in the end, they found someone else and we parted ways. I returned their full retainer and “gifted” them their engagement session for the inconvenience. It was the best I could do and I don’t regret that decision at all as my daughter came a week early!!

Again, having a good contract is going to save you in this type or similar scenarios. My contract clearly states that if I were to cancel, all monies would be refunded, I would help find a suitable replacement photographer, and that is exactly what I did. Personally, I do not see this happening again for all my potential couples, but like most things, you can’t really plan when you are going to start your family so you just have to roll with the changes when they occur ;)

If you are cancelling a wedding for other reasons, such as you no longer want to photograph their wedding because the client has become difficult or no longer a good fit, a family member is getting married on the same day, or really anything else that involves disappointing a couple, you’ll have to decide what is important to you and how are you going to handle the situation positively.

Have you ever had to deal with this type of situation in your business? What did you do and why? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below! Be sure to say hello and I hope this was helpful information!


Stay in the know! Subscribe to our newsletter, podcast, join our facebook group and be sure to follow brklynivew on Instagram for the latest Tea with Jainé IG TV episode.

Want more tea? Contact Jainé about her one-on-one mentoring sessions for wedding photographers!

Interested in collaborating? Please fill out our contact page and say hello!

How to Submit Your Wedding Photography to a Blog or Magazine

One of the most frequently asked questions I receive is about how to submit your work to a magazine or blog. How do you do? Which one do you submit to? What if no one ever replies to you? I've been very fortunate and grateful that my wedding photography has been published in several print magazines, online magazines and numerous blogs. My work has also been featured on magazine covers, published in books, and I photographed an entire wedding book (Weddings In Color) as well. With my years of submission experience, I thought I'd take some of the guess work out of submissions and share some of my best practices to help you create the best submission so you can to potentially get featured.

Why should you submit your wedding to a Blog or Magazine? One of the best benefits of having your work featured in print or online is to showcase your work, your vendors work and your clients vision. Most of my couples love when their wedding is featured and all of the vendors appreciate the recognition. It's sort of a "job well done" moment for everyone involved once the feature is live online or printed. Second, the SEO is an incredible marketing tool for you, your vendors, and venues. The more links back to your site means the more opportunities for new people will find you. The venue and vendors also get a great return for their work and when they show their services to new potential clients, they will be using your images to do so. Last, Social Proof that you are good photographer and editors/publishers think so as well. Your couples will see your work in more places other than your own website, blog and instagram account. What's the old saying? You have to see something 7 times before you remember it, so the more times you are featured online or in print, they will remember your name when looking for a wedding photographer.

How to Submit your Wedding Photography to a Blog or Magazine

No. 1 - Curate Your Images - Most magazines or blogs want up to 100 images per submission ONLY. This means that you have to be super selective about which images you include in your submission. You can tailor each submission to the specific publication by focusing on which images they might like to see included. Speaking for myself, I only include up to 100 of my BEST images from each wedding, engagement or styled shoot. I look at each image individually and ask myself if I were to be judged on this one image alone, would I be ok with this photo to represent my entire portfolio. If I don't, then it doesn't make the submission. You have to be harsh with your choices because a smaller and stronger submission will have a better chance of being selected vs. 100 "just ok" images that don't represent your artist ability. 

No. 2 - Get Your Specs Right! - In most cases, the online publication or magazine will have a FAQ or Submissions page where you can find out exactly what specifications they are looking for regarding image count, size and how to submit. Once you know what they will (or won't accept) you should start to curate your images. Be sure to include every single vendor you worked with inside your submission. You don't want to accidentally forget to mention someone who worked really hard on the event.

*PRO TIP* - I created Lightroom Export Presets for each publication I regularly submit to thus saving me time and energy per submission. I put in all their image specifications, save my preset and export my images. Super easy and very fast!

No. 3 - Make Sure Your Style Matches the Publication - I cannot stress this enough but if your photography style isn't a match for the magazine you are submitting too, chances are you will not be accepted. I highly recommend that you do your research and figure out which publications you would like to be featured in and see if your style would fit their esthetic. Like minds think a like and like images will most likely get accepted on a blog that features similar style imagery. Once you've figured out your ideal publication and curated your submission, in time you will have more accepted features than rejections.

No. 4 - How to Submit Your Images - Again, this information is most likely clearly stated in the FAQ or Submissions section on their website or masthead of the magazine however you do have a few options:

  1. Submit directly to the publication via their website or blog. 
     
  2. Contact the editors directly and send your images via online gallery or Dropbox (or similar service).

    *PRO TIP* If you do this method, please make sure your galleries and Dropbox folders do NOT have a password on them. You want the editors to easily gain access to your images and quickly review the photos at a glance. You do not want to hinder their ability to view your work.
     
  3. Use a third-party software application such as Two Bright Lights or Matchology. This is a subscription bases services that allows you to upload your images and submit to multiple blogs and magazines from one central location. It can save you time in the long run because you will not have to fill out the vendor information or re-upload the images because all of that information is already in online. The Knot owns Two Bright Lights so they want all their submissions to go through that system and Matchology is a great tool for more localized niche blogs which is perfect for targeting your audience.

No. 5 - Following Up and Being NICE! - After you have successfully submitted your wedding, engagement session or styled shoot for consideration, it's a waiting game. Usually on the FAQ page, the publication will tell you how long it will be until you hear from them. Most places are between 4-6 weeks but some outlets never reply. They receive so many submissions that it would be impossible to get back to everyone. I know, it's a bummer but it does happen. What I like to do is follow up in two week intervals to the editors via email. I will send a polite email simply following up on my submission and asking if any decisions have been made. It's short and sweet and ALWAYS nice. I cannot stress this enough! DO NOT BE MEAN PEOPLE!! The editors are the gate keepers to their online / print world and you do not want to piss them off. You will never get a reply if you are rude or following up to the point where they have moved your email into their SPAM folder the very moment it comes pops up. (just kidding!!) When you are nice, you can follow up and not be annoying and they will remember that. Even if you were rejected, maybe that editor will remember your work for another feature and reach out to use one of your images some where else. It happens ALL the time so if you start burning bridges now, it's not going to get any better along the road. 

No. 6 - Don't Take It Personally - Nobody likes rejection and it can truly sting when it's about your photography. Believe me, I would know! It happens all the time but that's ok because it might sting for a few hours (a day at the most!) but I do not take it personally. I just move on to the next publication and try again. It could be that the blog just featured a wedding very similar to yours, or you style didn't match, or it just wasn't a fit and hey, that's ok! If you want, you can ask the editor why they rejected your work and if they had any advice to share. This information and feedback is INVALUABLE, if they reply to you. Not all will, but some do! Gaining access into an editors insight is going to help you with your next submission, your next shoot and your next wedding to make it even better than before.

BONUS: I received a couple of questions about how I style my flat lay detail photos for weddings and submissions. While I'm no expert, I do love taking the time to style these photos to tell a cohesive narrative of my couples wedding day. The bonus? Publications LOVE these type of photos that clearly and beautiful showcase the couples details of the day.

One of the best resources I can recommend on learning how to style your own flat lay photos is the online course by wedding photographer Rebecca Yale. I purchased her course earlier this year and it's over 5 hours of incredible information and demonstration videos. You can find out more about the course here and use the code KERSHNER10 at check out so she knows you found her course through my site :) It's worth the investment and I cannot recommend it enough!

I hope this was helpful and encourages you to submit your work to be considered for publication. With a little effort and time, you'll be getting more Yes's than No's in no time! Have any questions you'd like me to answer? Please leave it in the comments below. I can't wait to hear from you! 


Stay in the know! Subscribe to our newsletter, podcast, join our facebook group and be sure to follow brklynivew on Instagram for the latest Tea with Jainé IG TV episode.

Want more tea? Contact Jainé about her one-on-one mentoring sessions for wedding photographers!

Interested in collaborating? Please fill out our contact page and say hello!

Smile Brilliant CariPro Toothbrush Review + Coupon Code!

I'm so thrilled to be collaborating with Smile Brilliant again to review their new CariPro electric toothbrush. Last year, I reviewed their in-home teeth whitening system which I absolutely fell in love with. I saw incredible whitening results, and ever since our collaboration, I always recommend their teeth whitening system to all of my clients. I think having whiter teeth is always a good idea for your photos so when Smile Brilliant asked if I would be interested in testing out their brand new electric toothbrush, it was a definite yes from me!

Smile Brilliant CariPRO Automatic Toothbrush

For the last 10 years I have used an electric toothbrush, so I knew I would be able to give their new toothbrush an honest, thoughtful, and thorough review. Over the years, I have used the Oral-B from Braun with rotating brush heads. I loved how it got my teeth really clean but hated the cost of the replacement heads - so expensive! Last year, I purchased the battery operated and portable Quip toothbrush but I wasn't happy with the results. I always felt that I had to re-brush my teeth within a few hours and they never truly felt clean. Ultimately, I went back to Oral-B and put my Quip away.

When the CariPRO arrived, I will admit I was a bit skeptical. The brush head didn't rotate and there were a lot of settings but I set it up in my bathroom and gave it a fair chance. Soon after my first use, I knew that I had found my new electric toothbrush. Yes, it's true, I LOVE the CariPRO!! It gets my teeth unbelievably clean and whiter each time I brush. It vibrates 7x faster than any other electric toothbrush leaving my teeth cleaner for longer amounts of time. It's so fast that when I have to rinse, I actually have to shut off the CariPRO because water ends up all over my mirror. Gah, it's FAST!!

The verdict? I have been using the CariPRO for over two months and I can definitely say that this is the BEST electric toothbrush I have ever used and I will be recommending to to all of my friends, family, and couples. It's an affordable electric toothbrush that truly makes your teeth super clean and whiter. Love that!

Want to get your hands on one? I'm so excited to share that Smile Brilliant has graciously offered to give my readers 20% your purchase of the CariPRO. Just use the code BROOKLYN20 at check out. HOORAY!!

PSSST - If you want to get their amazing in-home teeth-whitening system, you can still use my code BRKLYNVIEW20 to save 20% at checkout. Enjoy!!

* I received a complimentary CariPRO electric toothbrush in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you Smile Brilliant for partnering with me! *


Stay in the know! Subscribe to our newsletter, podcast, join our facebook group and be sure to follow brklynivew on Instagram for the latest Tea with Jainé IG TV episode.

Want more tea? Contact Jainé about her one-on-one mentoring sessions for wedding photographers!

Interested in collaborating? Please fill out our contact page and say hello!

Best Instagram Apps for Editing Photos and Stories

After I shared my favorite tips how to use Instagram for your wedding photography business, I received a few direct messages asking me to recommend my favorite editing apps for Instagram. There are a gazillion apps out there so I thought it might be helpful to share my top apps that I frequently use to plan, edit, and share my photos on my Instagram grid and stories. 
 

Best Apps for Planning Your Instagram Feed

Planning and Auto Posting Your Images:
I've mentioned this a few times but I use Planoly to plan my Instagram grid in advance. I like that I can visually see how my photos are going to look prior to posting them. I created a photo grid for myself that I like to follow which helps me speedup my planning workflow. Instagram has also given third-party applications, such as Planoly, access to auto-post your images, which is a true game changer. Other applications you can use to do the same thing is Iconosquare and Later.

Best Apps for Editing Photos in Instagram

Editing Your Photos:
When I want to add a photo I've taken using my iPhone, I will use a photo editor to brighten, straighten, crop, my images before I share it on my account. My favorite app is Filmborn by Mastin Labs. This can give your photos a "film-like" look but I really just use it to brighten my images and remove some of the dark shadows and contrast. Afterlight is also a great app for Instagram to brighten your images and adjust the highlights, shadows and contrast. Both apps have in-app purchases for more options.

Best Instagram Apps for Adding Text and Borders

Adding Text and Borders to Your Photos and Instagram Stories:
By far, my favorite app to do this is Word Swag. It's so user friendly and they have a lot of great font options, backgrounds and sizes to choose from. Additional options are Over and A Design Kit for more fun font options and additional stickers and cool colored backgrounds. You can never have too many options, right? If you want to make a cohesive story showcasing your wedding or photography, you should try the Unfold app. You can add white borders, text, multiple images to one slide and much more. It makes your story really stand out among the crowd!

Best Instagram Apps to Edit Videos and Create Slideshows


How to make Slideshows for Instagram Stories:
It took me a while to find an app that I could easily make a 15 sec slideshow for my Instagram story that was  fairly easy to use. I finally found InShot and paid to remove the logo inside of the app which is well worth the $1.99 fee.

How to cut your videos for Instagram Stories:
If you don't want to keep creating 15 second videos for your Instagram Stories, you have the option to record one video and then have Cut Story or Storeo clip your full length video into 15 second intervals automatically. Once the app is done, you can just upload each clip to your Instagram feed.

Best Instagram Apps for Hashtags and Adding Sparkle

Add Some Sparkle to Your Story:
If you know me, you know I love my glitter and I really love using the Kira Kira app to add a little bit of sparkle to my stories. It's great for adding a bit of bling to the ring or beaded wedding dress. It's super fun and I might be addicted to using it!

Automatic Hashtag Generator for Photographers:
My last recommendation comes with a warning, do not solely use this app to create hashtags for your photos. Focal Mark is an application that will automatically generate instagram hashtags that are the most popular to the content you are posting. This is specifically designed for photographers. You can tell it what your subject is, what location the photo in and what camera type you used. Next, Focal Mark will search Instagram and give you the best hashtags to use for your photo. However, you do have to pay to access all 30 hashtags which is the max you are allowed to post inside the app. My advice would be to use this app for part of your hashtags (let's say 15) but then use different hashtags that you found on your own for the remaining 15. This way, it's more authentic and you have less of a chance of being shadow banded by Instagram. (oh, it's a thing - look it up!)

I hope these Instagram app recommendations where helpful and help you create some great content for your own Instagram account. Do you have any apps that you love and would highly recommend? Please leave them in the comments below. We'd love to hear from you!


Stay in the know! Subscribe to our newsletter, podcast, join our facebook group and be sure to follow brklynivew on Instagram for the latest Tea with Jainé IG TV episode.

Want more tea? Contact Jainé about her one-on-one mentoring sessions for wedding photographers!

3 Tips How to Avoid Client Negotiations About Pricing

Over in the Tea with Jainé Facebook group, I received a question about what to do when a potential client starts to negotiate about your prices while you are already in a meeting. Ummmm, can we say awkward? This person had two potential couples start to haggle with her at the very end of their meetings and she was beginning to feel discouraged. She wanted to know if I had any tips to help avoid this from happening again. Boy, do I! This is such a great topic that I recently posted my thoughts over on my Instagram IGTV channel and wanted to follow up with a more in-depth blog post. Here are my top three tips how to avoid awkward client negotiations about your photography prices.

No. 1 - Make Your Wedding Packages SIMPLE - I think the biggest "A-HA" moment for myself was when I started to reflect on what my couples were booking vs. what I was offering. When I first started out, I had several collections with all sorts of options that frankly, were VERY confusing. Every couple wanted something different and I was tired of making "custom collections" so I decided to update my wedding packages to what my couples really wanted and go from there. I created three collections and I made my base collection the minimum I needed to do my job of capturing a wedding from start to finish. This way, there would be no more negotiations about what to "take out" because there was literally nothing to take out. For myself, my base collection will always include 8 hours of photography, a second photographer and the digital files. Once I decided that this was the right formula for me, I built my next two collections on top of this base collection so when someone asks to take out the engagement session or remove the albums, I refer them back to the base collection. I will not remove anything items or services from the base collection because it's the minimum I need to do my job. I wouldn't take a job that wanted me to do less (unless it was a small wedding or elopement which would have separate pricing all together - see my note below). 

So, how do you do this for yourself? I would figure out what is the minimum you need to cover your weddings or events and start from there. It won't be the same as mine but knowing what your base collection is will stop clients haggling over your services because if they can only add-on, they won't be able to take anything away. 

Also, I would recommend having a different collections for the different types of weddings and events you photograph. If you specialize in small weddings and elopements, having different pricing for those types of events will alleviate the frustration of creating smaller collections from your full wedding day services every time someone inquires. If you are a destination wedding photographer, having separate collections for your destination and local weddings is a great way to minimize any type of price negations as well. Only send your potential client the pricing information for their type of event. 

No. 2 - Share Your Prices In Advance - I cannot stress this enough but no one, I mean, NO ONE wants to be surprised especially when it comes to talking about money. They want to know in advance how much your services cost (if not start at) and you should tell them well in advance to ever meeting them in person. As I mentioned in my blog post about Ghosting, one of the biggest reason people ghost you is because they have complete sticker shock. I strongly suggest listing your starting price on your website contact and investment pages. When I first reply to new inquries, I always reiterate my "starting rate" and I ALWAYS send my pricing guide before each phone call.

What should you do? I would create your own process where you will send clients your full collection guide prior to any phone call or meeting so they have time to read and review it. They'll be able to see your wedding packages, prices and be able to ask any questions specifically related to your prices during your meeting or phone call. No more awkward conversations about "asking for a discount" or "what can we do to lower the cost" when you are already in a meeting. Phew!

No. 3 - Get Comfortable With The Word "No" - I know, no one likes to be the bad guy and say "No" to a potential client but to be a successful business person, you have to learn to say the word "No" and for the right reasons. However, with that said, I do have a twist on the way you say "No" without really having to say it. When someone asks for something that I'm not comfortable doing or I don't want to "swap out" to lower the price, I always suggest something else that could possibly be a better solution and benefit both of us. How you ask? Let me explain...

Let's say someone is asking for a discount on an album and I already know that don't offer discounts on albums. How would I answer them? I would say is "Unfortunately, I don't offer discounts on my albums but if you choose to add and album to your collection, I would love to gift you additional spreads as my way of saying Thank You". I'm saying "No" but in a positive way and offering something of value to my client vs. taking money away from my profits. Offering your client something of value such as additional hours of coverage, more pages in their album, an engagement session, etc... is inherently more valuable to them then lowering your prices for your services.

Being able to confidently explain and defend your pricing will lead to less haggling and negotiations during your client phone calls and meetings. I truly believe streamlining your pricing structure for your photography services, being up front with your prices and able to politely (but firmly) say "No" is the best way to avoid awkward negotiations and book the perfect couples just for you.  

What are your thoughts? Have you ever had an awkward conversation about your prices with a potential client? What did you do? I hope these tips were helpful and I'd love to hear from you in the comments below. 


Stay in the know! Subscribe to our newsletter, podcast, join our facebook group and be sure to follow brklynivew on Instagram for the latest Tea with Jainé IG TV episode.

Want more tea? Contact Jainé about her one-on-one mentoring sessions for wedding photographers!

Podcast Interview with Cassi Claire Weddings is LIVE!

We are so excited to have our very first Tea with Jainé Podcast interview LIVE on our channel- HOORAY!! We interviewed our good friend and fellow wedding photographer Cassi Claire of Cassi Claire Weddings. We had so much fun chatting (and laughing!!) about all things wedding photography. Cassi talks about working with your spouse, defining your own version of success and shares her favorite workflow apps and tips. There are SO many good tips that I just know you are going to LOVE it!

Also, the Tea with Jainé Podcast is now on even more podcast networks including Overcast. There are so many great ways to hear Cassi's interview. So grab a cup of tea and happy listening! xo - Jainé

Cassi Claire Weddings Podcast Interview

Stay in the know! Subscribe to our newsletter, podcast, join our facebook group and be sure to follow brklynivew on Instagram for the latest Tea with Jainé IG TV episode.

Want more tea? Contact Jainé about her one-on-one mentoring sessions for wedding photographers!