In 2 days it will have been 2 full months that our new website has been up. 2 chaotic months. 2 official months of Jason & Jenny collaborating together on our wedding photography business and building more and more marketing materials (website, fan page, newer business cards, banner, pamphlets, price guide, blog, etc).
Now, we're far from new to the game. We've both been Professional Wedding Photographers separately since the beginning of 2010. That's 6 years each of professionally shooting weddings and 12 years of combined Professional (PAID) wedding photographer experience. All of that, plus our imagery and skills have evolved throughout that time and our photos (honestly) are pretty fantastic. Also, since 2010 we've BOTH gone on to get additional degrees in photography (while also continuing to get paid work as photographers): Jenny for her MFA Fine Art Photography degree and Jason in his Bachelor's of Commercial Photography degree.
It seems crazy when you tell people you've been running your own paid photography business for so long when your collaboration website is so new, so recently we wondered if we should provide our old websites to clients to don't know us or doubt our lengthy experience. (They're www.jlhughesphoto.com and www.jennyjohns.com respectively). We started shooting TOGETHER in 2014 after we began dating and at first it was a huge adjustment for Jenny to shoot with someone. Her business was only her shooting, whereas Jason second shot weddings with a lot of other photographers. Luckily we've grown to know each others' strengths and weaknesses and work well with them. Jason loves to hone his technical skills and play with lights, whereas Jenny prefers to focus on the artistic side (staging, creating a concept, etc) and shoot with natural light. It's a great balance.
Long story short, we're in a new area (border of Michigan & Indiana) at the moment and it's a completely new market of clients for us. Jason's client base was in California and Jenny's was largely in Ohio and partly in Indiana. Though Jenny is from about 30 minutes from where we now live, many of her friends and family have moved out of the area and we've found ourselves building our new client base from the ground up. This has been an interesting process and a difficult one. Since we're new-ish to the area, we've had had to get creative to become known & hired.
A few days ago we attended a "wedding show" where we set up a booth in an arena in order to introduce ourselves to new brides in the area (well... an hour away from us). We didn't know what to expect and busted our asses all week to ensure we had the best possible booth, printed images, and information for any potential clients. We researched the venue, our competition, Jenny got 30-something new picture frames, we printed 30-something images, and we moved 6 large pieces of furniture from a 2nd floor to a trailer to a venue to the trailer. It was very hard work and a crazy 6 hours of chatting with brides and mothers and trying to get them acquainted with us and our work.
Starting from the beginning of the show, we were lucky enough to be immediately swept up by so many welcoming vendors. The photographers near us were so sweet and had already gotten to know us and love our work through our website apparently! Never have we ever had competitors be so welcoming and share with us all of their tips & tricks. A sense of community is necessary. In Columbus, Ohio there's an amazing music and art community that encourages and interacts with each other very consistently. It's amazing to see that there's a group of paid photo professionals who do the same! We have hope that there are more photo communities out there like this who are competitive, but in a friendly "good sportsmanship" type way. It was very positive & humbling to experience.
The brides in the area were amazing & enjoyed our photos, freebies, and us welcoming them into "our living room." Brides and vendors both told us that we had the best photos and best booth at the entire venue! This means a lot considering there were over 150 vendors & over 1,000 attendees. We are so humbled and grateful for such a crazy whirlwind (AND all the free wedding cake & BBQ we enjoyed and were sent home with.) We really hope that many more wedding session bookings come of this.
Though wedding photography is our main means of paid photography, we luckily shoot nearly everything else photography-related, too (aside from boudoir). Lately we've been booking portrait sessions such as family portraits and maternity sessions. We both also shoot real estate photography and Jason often sells stock photography as well. We hope our new client base continues to grow & flourish and we will definitely continue to do what we love.