Hi there! We're Luke and Cat, and we're so happy you're here. We hope you'll stay a while! We’re a husband and wife wedding photographer team based in Houston, Texas. Ranchers-turned-photographers, our world looks like this: a Craftsman-style farmhouse; our newborn, Knox, in our arms; coffee in the kitchen; Edison lights on the back porch; and a pair of English bulldogs at the foot of our bed. Read more...

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The Great Football Fumble

Should I Put Pricing On My Website?

Oct 17, 2017 / Business

We get asked a ton of questions at our workshops. By far, one of the most popular questions involves that delicate topic of money: Should I put my pricing on my website?

We have strong thoughts about this topic, but first a little story – about the great football fumble:

A few years ago, we were at Cat’s parents’ house talking about how we were going to purchase our annual season tickets for the Texas A&M football games. Everyone in our family – immediate and extended – buys season tickets, and that’s a lot of people! Inspiration struck.  What if we all went in together and moved our season-ticket-holders party to a luxury box instead?  How much more would it cost? We excitedly grabbed our phones and started trying to research the boxes at Kyle Field. 

Our excitement quickly turned into frustration. We could see photos of the box interiors, the menu for the catering options, even a view of the field from the seats. It looked fantastic and expensive! What none of us could find was the season price for the luxury box.

We didn’t want to inquire to get the price. First, we were afraid that the people on the other end of the inquiry form would engage us in high pressure sales. What if once they got our information, they started badgering us, or worse, questioned our allegiance to our beloved Aggies if we didn’t want to spring for a season box? Furthermore, what if once we learned the price, it was completely out of our price range? It would be embarrassing to admit that we couldn't afford it.

So, guess what we did? Absolutely nothing. All the excitement of the previous five minutes had evaporated and we moved on, letting it go, and buying our season tickets as per usual.

The Takeaways:

  • Get in the Game: There are a lot of wedding photographers who clearly list their pricing. Make it easier on your future newlyweds to know where you stand by giving them a starting point. If we clicked away from those beautiful box seats because we couldn’t find the price, certainly brides had done that on our website, too. There’s no use in showing them how gorgeous our work is, if the information they want isn’t on the Information Page!

  •  You Don’t Have to Go for the Whole Nine Yards: When we looked at those box seats—we were intimidated by the luxury. Your images could be so astounding that you’re turning away customers who believe that they don’t have the budget for the luxury of your expertise. You don’t have to put every package and every fee on your site – just list a starting price or offer a few tiered packages.

  • Avoid Overtime: There are some clients who won’t have the budget for a professional photographer. If you list the starting price, you won’t have to spend time having a back and forth with them. They will look at your base price and know that it is not in their ballpark.

Our first several years in business, if you asked us whether you should put your pricing on your website, we would have said no, without hesitation. We could hem and haw over the reasons why, but the truth is it boiled down to self-esteem - or the lack thereof. Early in our business, we weren’t confident enough to state our price and let the client decide if we were worth it. We thought that without getting our prospective clients on the phone and warming them to our charming personalities, they wouldn’t understand what they were getting for that price! (Plus, once they realized how delightful we were  - they’d just have to have us, right?)

But the Texas A&M luxury box was a wake-up call. The truth is that our clients are just like us. It’s why we serve a mean meat and cheese tray with our favorite wine at our couples’ Meet and Greet. It’s also why we don’t tone down our sense of humor when we are on a shoot— “Groomsmen, stand close - nuts to butts close!”. Why would they differ from us when it came to wanting pricing information?  Just like our beloved football team, we realized that we must have been losing great clients because we weren’t giving them the information they needed to make a decision. So, we sucked it up, took that scary step, and put our starting price on our website. And, it only got better from there.  Touchdown!

Love Your Art & Conquer Your Fear,
(some things we learned by letting our starting price start the conversation)

Luke & Cat

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7 Things We Stopped Doing to Improve Our Lives and Our Business

Jul 20, 2017 / Business

Most people focus on all the things they’re going to do in their business. They’re constantly adding items to the list—“I’ll do this; I’ll do that; and I’ll start a new initiative.” And usually, we send you a lot of dispatches on that same theme—encouraging you to start making moves in your business.
This week, we want you take a breath. We’d like you to start compiling a different kind of list—one that’s just as important, but is often overlooked. What are the things that you do for your business that you want to stop doing?
When you’re an entrepreneur building a fledgling business—or even an entrepreneur who has already built a highly successful business—it can feel impossible to even consider the idea of stopping any one task. Sometimes, we convince ourselves that the only way our venture will work is if we keep tending it relentlessly until we collapse of exhaustion. But your business isn’t a house of cards—if you take one task out, either handing it to another person or letting it go entirely, the whole company won’t cave in. In fact, it’s more likely that it will get stronger. Why? Because you’ll be able to truly focus on the parts of your business that matter to you most. And that focus, in turn, will generate revenue.

We call our lifestyle workshops Life and Craft for a reason. It's because while we believe it's important and necessary to hone your craft, we also believe in balancing that craft with the life that makes it possible. Nobody starts a creative business because they want to be decimated by the workload, but that's often what happens. When you love your craft, it's easy to so caught up in it that you don't even realize that your business has started running you-into the ground.
To prevent this from happening in our own lives, every year, we've made it a tradition to stop doing something that we don't enjoy, something that prevents us from living our fullest lives and keeps us from being strategic about the ways we make money. Think of it this way: just like you periodically go through our closets to get rid of shoes and clothes you aren't wearing, it's important to go through your photography business and find those things you're doing that aren't necessary.
Keep in mind that this isn't about singular tasks. It's about a better sense of resource management, about how to allocate time to make the space for things you want to do. After all-why start your own creative business if you don't make time to pursue the creative projects that make you happiest?

So, what did we stop doing?

1.   We stopped doing Sunday weddings-to make time for church and family!
2.   We stopped doing our own housework-for us, it was worth it to hire others for these tasks!
3.   We stopped putting together our own gifts for clients-and found a brilliant gift-giving company to take the reins for us!
4.   We stopped hosting preview parties with potential clients-and freed up time to devote to the clients who had already chosen to book us.
5.   We stopped fielding the same questions over and over again from couples-by taking the time to design and print the Bride Guide, which educates couples and answers their frequently asked questions. 
6.   We stopped writing our own blogs-we trained an employee to do them for us. After all, we like the photography part, which isn't literally worth a thousand words.
7.   We stopped booking portrait sessions whenever the client wanted-and instead set the time and place that would enable us to take the best possible photos.

Now, we didn't do all these all at once. We implemented them slowly, over time. We identified them based on a hard look at our priorities and our enjoyment level of each activity versus the 'reward' for doing the activity.  Today, with a little one on the way, all of our priorities and lists are about to get a hard shove. And, because we've practiced sticking to our stop list for years, we feel ready for the challenge!
Each time we stopped an activity, we've felt a bit of "FOMO"-the fear of missing out. It's only natural.  And, yes, you might miss out on a few things, but just remember that those things weren't your ideal business, anyway. In short, stop bending over backwards, and start cartwheeling instead, toward the business of your dreams.


Now for the Takeaways:

 • Don't Be Afraid. You're not missing out.  And, stopping (or delegating) unpleasant tasks will not collapse your business! By prioritizing what truly matters-your passion-you can improve your work, your state of mind, and your profit margin.
What You Don't Stop, Finish. If there's something you're still interested in keeping on your list, and you're not at a good stopping point, finish the job! Half-done tasks and ideas can make your schedule feel cluttered. Complete something that's been on your to-do list for a while (Launching a new website? Hiring an intern?), so when that task is done, you can slide it away and make room for more.
Clean Out Your Closet. Go on a hunt for three things you know you can stop doing in your business. Don't stop until you find those three! Like getting rid of old clothes and shoes, you might hesitate at first, but once you start, it can be freeing.
Delegate, Don't Procrastinate. We've said it before, and we'll say it again-if there's a task you know you hate doing, hire someone who makes that task their business! Cat used to dread doing wedding blogs and sharing them on social media-but procrastinating was actually losing us potential business as we always see an uptick in inquiries after a blog gets posted.  Now, our blogs are done on time and our pipeline is consistently full. Finances, housecleaning, gift giving, marketing, and more can all be handled on time by professionals who are happy to get that job done.

Leisure Time & Church,
(two things we got back by giving other stuff up!),

Luke & Cat

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Five Ways to Avoid Burnout

Jul 6, 2017 / Business

Thirty weddings a year. It sounds amazing to those of you just starting out on your wedding photography journey, doesn’t it? All that business, all those clients! We admit—we were super excited at the beginning, too. We were saying ‘I Do!’ to every client that came our way, ready to put a ring on it.
But over time, the true cost of thirty weddings a year started to weigh heavily on us. Thirty weddings a year means, give or take, thirty weekends a year. No trips to the farmer’s market, no walks to the bakery for cupcakes, and most damaging to our week—no church on Sundays! That’s our time to recharge and enjoy fellowship with friends and family, and without it, we were not happy campers.
On top of that—thirty weddings is a lot more than just thirty actual weddings. It’s also thirty engagement shoots, thirty bridal shoots, and thirty meet-and-greet evening consultations.  Are you doing the math? Cat wore the same shirt for thirty weddings in a row (that's it in the photo below) because she was so burnt out that she didn’t have the time or energy to shop for new things to wear! Yes, we were booked solid—but we were miserable.


We knew we had to make some changes. So what did we do?

1. We changed the structure of our business. Instead of high volume and low price point, well...we thought we’d switch those up. Low volume, high price point. Work smarter, not harder, right? 

It can be hard to change your business model; it requires a whole different mode of thinking. We had to become a full-service photography business—one that took extra-special care of our clients, provided exceptional service, and created beautiful heirlooms for them. Now, instead of serving 30 clients in a mediocre way, we’re able to serve 10-15 clients a year and be at our absolute best with them. 

And you know what happens? They tell all their friends how great we are. Then, when their friends get engaged, guess who they call? 

2. We hired outside help. We talked about this in our last couple of newsletters, but we really can’t overstate how much it helped us. Save the money-making tasks for yourself—or just do the things that absolutely need your personal touch. The rest can be done by assistants or experts.

3. We gave ourselves—and our clients—a little more structure. We made the big decision to stop shooting Sunday weddings, not accept Saturday (non-wedding) shoots, and start scheduling all our portrait sessions at our house on Tuesdays or Thursdays. At first we were worried—would we lose clients? But what it did was allow us to work with clients who really wanted to work with us, and who understood our values and respected our schedule. 

Now, our families and friends know that we work in the evenings on Tuesdays and Thursdays. And we know that Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays will be open for reschedules if the weather doesn’t go our way. Plus, shooting at the ranch takes away the guesswork and time spent commuting to and from shoots.

4. We eliminated in-person consultations. This saved us a ton of time. We moved exclusively to booking folks on the phone, which means we don’t need to clean our house, close our dogs in their crates, or get all gussied up for a client who might end up saying no. (We don’t mind doing the housecleaning for clients who’ve already said yes—but if you read our newsletters regularly, you know how we feel about cleanin’ house!)

Sometimes, people still ask to meet in person beforehand—and Luke directs them to our website, where there’s video of us and they can creep around to their heart’s content. This is plenty of face time for the folks who really want to work with us—and that’s the kind of client we want.

5. We remembered why we do it. After one particularly exhausting wedding, Cat was ready to call it quits. She wanted to sell the cameras and equipment and get back to cattle ranching. But we took a breath and hung in there—and the very next weekend, shot one of the most fulfilling weddings of our career. So, we knew the love was still there; it had just been overshadowed by the stress of shooting so much for so little return.




The Take Aways: 

• Be A Better Business Buddy: We may have had 30 clients that year, but we weren’t serving them the way we wanted to. We were almost grateful when people purchased digital files rather than prints, because it meant less work! Now, we craft beautiful, tangible heirlooms for each and every one of our clients.

• Clients Crave Structure: We create the schedule we want, and our clients work with it. No work on Sundays (we got our church days back!), no shoots on Saturdays unless it’s a wedding. Portrait shoots take place on Tuesdays or Thursdays—it doesn’t matter if we have availability on other days, those are the days we block off for portraits. And the location? Always our place—no stress about location selection.

• Create Space Where You Need It: When we changed the structure of our business, we eliminated the in-person consultation, allowing us to talk to potential clients on the phone. This is so much easier than having them in our house! If they want to see a little more about how we live our lives, that’s what our blog is for.

• Don’t Be Afraid To Hire Help: We will sing the praises of our assistants and experts all day long. Remember—we’re smart business owners. Smart business owners hire employees when they need help. They also know their strengths, and they know that it’s worth it to invest in experts to help out with the tasks that fall outside of those areas.

• Remember, You Do This For A Reason: We didn’t decide to be wedding photographers for nothing. We love the work, and we’re meant to do it. Don’t let one bad day make you think you made the wrong decision. Readjust where you need to—to create the life you’re meant to live.


Lazy Sundays & Calendar Appointments,
(two things we've made room for in our business!) 

Luke & Cat

We love to teach photographers how to hone technique, artistry and business acumen to create a life that improves your craft, and a business that supports your life. For a fast track to your authentic Life & Craft, check out more about our workshops we host on our cattle ranch in Texas.

If you like this post, be sure to sign up for our FREE Life & Craft Newsletter for photographers. You'll receive great content like this straight to your inbox every two weeks! 

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