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The rumors are true…

The rumors are true…

Rumor #1: It’s true! Our  IN-CAMERA Workshops are coming back for the Spring! Save the date: May 10th, 11th and 12th!  This is the chance to come to our home in Nashville, TN, and you can choose to spend up to three days with us shooting, lighting, and getting...
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Rumor #1:

It’s true! Our  IN-CAMERA Workshops are coming back for the Spring!

Save the date: May 10th, 11th and 12th!

SavetheDate

 This is the chance to come to our home in Nashville, TN, and you can choose to spend up to three days with us shooting, lighting, and getting your business on :) These are some of the most fun times we have with photographers – hanging out, eating together, learning, and of course, shooting together!

 Rumor #2

We will be offering an awesome early bird special for those of you on our newsletter list because YOU are important to us!

 

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Rumor #3

It’s true, the workshops will sell out fast!

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Last fall these workshop SOLD OUT in less than 24 hours to our newsletter list, so if you know you want to be there, then be prepared as we will launch registration NEXT WEEK!

Get ready. We can’t wait!

 

PS. Yes, there will be payment plans available!

Does “Diffusion” Actually Soften Light?

Does “Diffusion” Actually Soften Light?

“Soft light is a thing of beauty in photography – finding it is the real trick.” -Zach Gray There is some information in the photography world that says diffusion can make your flash images look better by “softening” the light. Today we...
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“Soft light is a thing of beauty in photography – finding it is the real trick.”

-Zach Gray

There is some information in the photography world that says diffusion can make your flash images look better by “softening” the light. Today we are going to explore this and see if it is true or false.

When we first starting shooting, the first thing we bought was a Canon 580ex speedlight so we could light our subjects at dark receptions. The issue with that light was if we pointed it directly at our subject, or even moved it off-camera and pointed it at our subject, we would get lots of contrast and “hard” lighting on our subjects. Hard lighting is caused by having a small light source and the result is having “specular highlights” or bright spots right next to dark spots that create lots of contrast.

Light - Hard Light

You can see when you use a small light source like the one used above, that you get a very defined line from highlight to shadow, and the skin can look worse than it really is. There are some hot spots on the right side of the frame and you can see that “specularity” we mention earlier.  This lighting is not right or wrong, but it definitely is not forgiving when not used just right.

Does Diffusion Really Solve this Problem and make light softer? 

hard light

Early on, we got sold on this idea that if you added “diffusion” (or something that evened out the light coming from our flash), we could then get soft light. The myth here is that there is only a partial truth in that. The diffusion itself does not actually create soft light. Diffusion only evens out the light.  It’s the size of the light-source (it getting bigger and bigger) that actually does the softening.

Some diffusers do make your light slightly bigger (takes the light source from 1.5″x3″ and making it 4″ inches in diameter, for example), however, this will not make much difference at all in the softness of light.

Defining Soft Light: 

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  (Light from flash image above was softened with a 24×32 soft box at 3 feet away)

Soft light (light that appears to “wrap” around your subject) has a painted-on effect and diffused shadows. Soft light is created when you have a large light source in comparison to your subject. Light is NOT softened when you shoot a small light through diffusion, but rather when the you use a large even light source. Soft light looks great on anyone and we love shooting our clients in this type of light (whether it’s created by a strobe or natural light outside).

The problem with the way lighting modifiers like the Speedlight ones above are sold, is that they tell you that they “diffuse” light, and because you added this diffusion, the light is now “soft.” But the truth is, they only even out the TINY light source you are using, and while that does make the light softer by making it slightly larger (and more even), it does not make the light soft enough for a light-wrapping portrait (or much else). If you shoot mouse photography, then that might be a great way to get soft light on your subject, but for people, you need a light source with a little more size to get truly soft light.

If you want light that wraps around your subject, then you need a light the same size as whatever you are shooting. Once you have that larger light source, if you move that light back from your subject a few feet, the light gets harsher (because it gets smaller in comparison to your subject), and then needs to get even larger!

The Real Solution for Creating Soft Light Portraits: 

The real way to solve the problem of using difficult to work with harsh light that comes out of a bare-bulb speedlight or strobe, is to simply increase the size of that light as much as we practically can. If you take a speedlight (that is about 2×3 inches in terms of the size of the light), and make it 2.5 x 3.5 inches by adding a “diffuser” like the ones shown above, then you will barely even notice the difference in the quality of light coming out. But if you can increase the size (and evenness) of that light by 10, 15 or 20 times, then you can start taking ultra-soft lit portraits that require less guess-work and look stunningly beautiful!

For a real world example, watch the video below from our IN-CAMERA: Natural Light Photography System video workshop to see exactly what we mean.

 

 

2 great light modifiers that change harsh light into soft light that we recommend are:

For Speedlights – Westcott Rapid Box 26 inch (this will make your speedlight look AMAZING with even, large light for great portraits! Click HERE to see a live demo of this modifier).

For Strobes – Westcott 24×32 Soft Box (this is one we have used for years and is the one used in the video above, and in MOST of our flash images you have seen over the years. As mentioned, the rule of thumb when lighting a subject with soft light is the light source should technically be the size of the subject being lit. However, as a portrait or even wedding photographer, it can be difficult and very cumbersome to lug around a huge softbox. This softbox here gives us a great balance between beautiful, soft light and ease of use).

Hope that helps! Now go off and take some beautiful soft lit shots of your clients!

3 Key Tips for Building Social Media Engagement

3 Key Tips for Building Social Media Engagement

“The goal of social media is to turn customers into a volunteer marketing army.” -Jay Baer   Social media is a great supplementary tool for your marketing plan in your business. It should never be the first place you look to build your brand, as you should...
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“The goal of social media is to turn customers into a volunteer marketing army.”

-Jay Baer

 spreading-the-word-socially-1 (1)

Social media is a great supplementary tool for your marketing plan in your business. It should never be the first place you look to build your brand, as you should always focus on building personal relationships first. Even though social media marketing is not THE most important part of your business, it does have an integral role, and today we want to share 3 key tips to get people engage with your more!

 

Key #1 – Talk about things that are interesting

Screenshot 2015-01-15 12.20.06

 

(This Instagram got more attention because my, Zach, audience, photographers, like the unique use of lighting and posing, and reacted strongly to it… not to mention the adorable kid in the shot ;)

Realize that unless you are a celebrity, that no one really cares what you ate for breakfast, and definitely don’t want to see a picture of it on Twitter. Think about your audience and WHO you are trying to speak to, and then create content that THEY care about. (Click to Tweet this out!)

Examples: 

If you are a wedding photographer, then you can use Facebook to create a private group just for your brides where they can all connect, talk about their recent weddings and planning, and you can give ideas to them as well because you have a ton of experience with weddings. They will have the things Seth Godin talks about in his book Tribes (a tribe is a community with something in common, a way to talk to each other, and a way to talk with you). Having a place where your tribe can engage with each other is powerful and keeps you top of mind with your clients! You could also then use Instagram to re-enforce the community and post images from their weddings, using a hashtag that you create just for your clients, and continue to energize the base.

(Side note: Many of us can focus too hard on finding new clients, when what we might need to do is focus on our base – on the clients we have already won over, and give them a reason to go out and sell us to their friends).

Key #2 – Share helpful  content

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 (The content here is helpful, and that is why engagement was high on this image)

Another area to use social media is to help others with useful information. That can be anything from giving simple information out that someone is asking for, giving something away, or even curating(pointing to other people’s) content that helps your audience get what they want.

Examples: 

If you’re a newborn photographer who connects socially with your moms on Facebook (or your blog), then write and share content about tips for new moms, be engaged with the personal issues they are dealing with like their kids not sleeping or eating well, and use your platform as a resource to help them be better parents. Some of the top blogs and social media platforms out there are doing this as a niche. They just create relevant HELPFUL content that gets their audience from where they are to where they want to go.

If your goal is to connect with wedding planners on Twitter, then re-Tweet their content (they care about being heard and seen and that is helpful), Tweet out links to planning blogs and other planning content that is relevant and helpful to them, and engage with them personally by commenting back on things that matter to them.

 

Key 3 – Talk about things that are funny

 (This image was ironic and funny, and that is why the engagement was higher than my, Jody, usual Instagram posts).

People love things that lighten their day, and sharing things that are funny is the 3rd thing we recommend talking about on social media (and we recommend NOT talking about much else). The goal here is to get them to engage with you and your social media accounts, and when you do that, you are on their mind, and when you are on their mind, they recommend you for gigs.

Examples: 

If you are connecting with brides on Instagram, then follow a few funny Instagram users who talk about newly-wed bliss, and then re-gram them to your audience.

If you use Facebook to engage with your senior girls, then re-post funny content that is interesting to their age group.

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The goal of social media in your marketing is not just to create a Twitter and Facebook page and start making noise. It’s about being intention. The goal should be to reach your ideal audience with funny, helpful, and interesting content that keeps them focused on your brand.

Make sure to follow us on our Instagrams & Facebook!

@ZachGray

@JodyGray

@ItstheGrayFamily (this is where we keep our family updates)

Facebook.com/ZachandJody

 

Top Survival Tips for Mom-tographers | Part II of the Mom Series

Top Survival Tips for Mom-tographers | Part II of the Mom Series

In my previous post, I (Jody) shared the adjustment we went through adding our son Jaxon to our family and about my struggle with how business fit in with my new responsibilities as a mom. For today’s blog I want to share with you practical tips that not only...
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In my previous post, I (Jody) shared the adjustment we went through adding our son Jaxon to our family and about my struggle with how business fit in with my new responsibilities as a mom.

For today’s blog I want to share with you practical tips that not only myself, but other moms in the industry have put in place to avoid meltdowns and going crazy. :) I know and respect these women and hope you enjoy learning from the diverse group we have below.

Without any further ado, I first introduce to you…

Leeann Marie
of
Leeann Marie Collective

What you need to know about Leeann:
We first met Leeann when we were a part of a tour back in 2012 and she was a fellow speaker.  She was sharing on studio workflow management and how to get organized and become efficient so you can spend more time doing what you love. Her efficiency blew me away, and when I found out she was having a kid I was SUPER curious to know how she was going to make the adjustments to having a child in her life.

Leeann is sweet and totally fun and generous and has recently started Baby Plus Business – a resource and community to help other moms who walk the fine line of being a mom and business owner. Make sure to follow her and you’ll soon get more information! (Heads up, if you’re going to WPPI, make sure to read below where you can see and learn from her!).

(image by AnnLouisePhotography.com)

How long have you been in business:
6 years

How long have you been a mom:
9 months to my daughter, Joy

The biggest adjustment you had adding “mom” to your title and responsibilities during the day:
I no longer have large dedicated chunks of time to focus on business. I have to work in smaller time periods of time. I also don’t get to work out as much and that makes me sad.

Top Efficiency Tips:
#1. Choose each day to focus your “non-baby” time in a very specific manner. Some days I choose “CLEANING”, other days I choose “EMAILS AND ALBUMS”. If you can break up your days to be more dedicated, you can knock things off of your to-do list easier.

#2. Work quickly & efficiently when you have small periods of time. I keep different lists in my iPhone. One is “Groceries”. One is “Business”. One is “Personal”. If you keep lists and categorize them, each day you’ll know exactly all of the random things you need to knock out!

#3. Try and still maintain family time. It’s easy to work in the evening when the kids are asleep, but don’t forget about how important marriage and relaxation are to your overall family health.

If you could say one thing to other moms/business owners out there, what would you say?
Remember that tomorrow is a new day! Be thankful for each day – good or bad. You love your family, and you love your business and you are blessed to have both!

The best place for people to follow you:
Instagram: @LeeannMarieG & @BabyplusBusiness

See Leeann in Vegas!
Are you going to WPPI??  If so, you will want to attend her masterclass, “Balancing Baby and Business.”
Wednesday, March 4 from 8am-10am
Sign up for Leeann’s class HERE.

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Evin Krehbiel
of
Evin Photography

View More: http://zachplusjody.pass.us/evinphotography

(image by Jody Gray)

 What you need to know about Evin:
Evin and I go way back. And when I say, “Way back” I mean, I knew Evin before Zach and Jody Gray were ever ZachandJody.com. Evin was actually one of those gracious photographers who let us take her out and she opened her business to us and gave us advice and insight on how to start and run a wedding photography business. Over the years, Evin has become a dear friend of mine (she even shot our birth photos!) and it has been really cool to see how she has adjusted her business around each new precious addition she has added to her family. This lady is a gem and if you ever have the chance to hang out with her, you will be uplifted and encouraged.

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(image by KristineNeeley.com)

How long have you been in business:
9 years, full time – 6 years. The day I found out I was pregnant was the last day of my day job!

How long have you been a mom:
6 years to my son Cohen (6), daughter Kinzie (3.5), and son Leyton (1.5)

The biggest adjustment you had adding “mom” to your title and responsibilities during the day:
It was hard at first trying to balance my “mom brain” and my “work brain”. My biggest adjustment was learning how to separate the two. When they intersect is when I lose patience and become overwhelmed.

Top Efficiency Tips:
#1. Have a very organized online calendar (iCal) shared with your spouse. My husband also works for himself (real estate). We share a calendar and have different categories color-coded (kids are orange, work is purple, spouse is green, blue is personal, etc.). Having a shared calendar helps keep things from overlapping.

#2. Get a studio coordinator. It’s our job to run a business that serves our clients. In order to serve them, my business has to be able to respond quickly. As a mom, I knew I wasn’t always available as much as I wanted to be during work hours so I realized I needed help. My studio coordinator helps with inquiries, wedding albums, disc of images, image back up, getting vendors images, etc. So helpful!

#3. Take advantage of a great management software system (I use ShootQ). This helps keep my tasks and products organized so everyone is on the same page.

#4. Hire a house cleaner. To some, this may seem like a frivolous expense, but believe me, it’s not. Someone comes to our home every other week (it’s less than $100/2 weeks) and it is 100% worth it for my sanity, my marriage and for my family. When I’m done with work, it’s one less thing I have to do and now I’m able to be with my kids and my husband. Shoot an extra photo session here and there to cover the cost! You get a clean home and the photo session is another opportunity to market your business.

#5. I don’t list my phone number on my website, facebook or email. When clients do call me I’m usually in the car with kids or they are in the room being their rambunctious selves. I say in my voicemail, “The best way to reach me is by email or text, so we can keep track of it and get back to you quickly.” That way I can serve my clients in the best way.

If you could say one thing to other moms/business owners out there, what would you say?
Just because no other friend you know has successfully balanced being a mom and a business owner, doesn’t mean you can’t. When I had my third son, Leyton, I was thinking to myself, “I don’t have any other friends who have 3 kids and not just work but own their own business, maybe it can’t be done.” The Lord firmly spoke to me saying, “I have given this to you, it can be done, and I ‘m going to show you how to do it. I have you in this for a reason. I have a purpose and a plan.” You can do it!

The best place for people to follow you:
FACEBOOK: facebook.com/EvinPhotography
INSTAGRAM: @EvinPhotography

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 Ashley Poisella
of
Ashley Therese Photography

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What you need to know about Ashley:
I cannot even remember how long we have known Ashely and her fabulous, supportive husband Chris. We have known them for quite a few years and they even brought us out to NYC to host our workshops out there. These two are so genuine, it has been a joy to see Ashley’s business take off and how she has become a voice of authority and continues to give back to the photo community. We were so thrilled when we heard that they were adding to their family, and I value Ashley’s heart and insight, which is why she is sharing with you here!

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(image by AliciaSturdy.com)

How long have you been in business:
4 years

How long have you been a mom:
10 months to my son, Greyson

The biggest adjustment you had adding “mom” to your title and responsibilities during the day:
Time management! My days are filled to the brim with a fluctuating baby schedule and work demands, and figuring out a new routine has been a huge change and challenge.

A few months ago someone said I was “Supermom” when I told them I was a full time stay at home mom and a full time business owner. But the truth is I don’t want to be Super Mom. I don’t want to be the kind of super mom that strives for perfection and doing it all, but nothing with intention. I don’t want to be a Super Mom because I have way too many things juggling in the air and I am barely getting by with keeping things going. I don’t want to glorify “busy.”

At the end of the day, I want to be an AWESOME mom, the BEST mom to Greyson I can be. I want to be a GREAT business owner and photographer, but not at the sacrifice of my family or to the level of service to my clients. I want to be present and intentional in whatever I am doing. It has definitely been a big adjustment to find a new normal and daily balance by managing my time more wisely.

Top Efficiency Tips:
#1. Ask for Help | This one was a game changer for me. I thought I could or should be Super Mom – that I could be both a full time stay at home mom and be a full time business owner working from home at the same time. I would work when Greyson napped and put my work aside and just soaked in every second of being with him when he was awake. I would have dinner on the table when my husband got home from work and the house would always be tidy. You know, like June Clever. I would find the perfect balance. Needless to say, I quickly found that on my own, this was impossible. Greyson didn’t and doesn’t sleep for more then an hour at a time which barely gives me time to make a dent in my email inbox let alone actually check things off my to do list. I wanted to do it all but just couldn’t. I felt like I was being pulled 20 different directions in which I couldn’t give 100% to any. So I asked for help. We hired a babysitter to watch Greyson at the house so I can be in my office with the door shut a few mornings a week with no distractions. And boy what a difference it has made. I have been so much more productive when in my office and can truly enjoy down time with Greyson, not think about all I have on my To Do list. It has freed up my schedule more and has provided a new routine that helps me do all I need to. Now I can truly enjoy watching Greyson play with his toes for an extra hour without the distraction of thinking about ALL I have do get done or constantly multi tasking. It has allowed me to be more intentional and present. If you need help, ask for it. It’s not an admission of not being a good mom or being inadequate. It’s recognizing that you are one person and can’t do it all. Whether its asking your in laws to watch the kids for a few hours or asking your husband to pick up something for dinner so you don’t have to cook, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

#2. Outsource More | For me this meant outsourcing more of my business tasks that I didn’t need (or want) to have my hand in (initial editing, album designs, etc). It also meant getting help with some of the household chores I was juggling. Every few weeks Peapod delivers some basic groceries like laundry detergent and paper towels. In addition, we also have someone come clean our house every few weeks. Outsourcing and hiring services has freed me up to focus on running my business more efficiently and spending more quality time with my son. It has allowed me to focus on doing the things I want to do.

#3. Find a New Routine | Finding a new routine has been crucial for me. It’s important for me to go into each day with a general game plan to optimize my time. From waking up an hour before Greyson wakes up each morning to answer emails, to going to the grocery store in conjunction with nap time, to scheduling client calls when Chris gets home from work and can watch the baby. Having set blocks of time to solely focus on working on the photography business (like when babysitter is at the house) to having designated play time with Greyson and to attend play groups has been so helpful. That being said, not every day is going to go as planned. There may be a nap skipped, a babysitter cancellation, a meeting moved, and messy diapers that require a mid day bath.  So I shift things around and adapt to make sure I am still getting things accomplished and spending quality time with Greyson.

#4. Think Proactively | For my business, for my son, for the day. Learning to constantly think proactively helps me optimize my time and be more prepared for the curveballs each day has in store. Simple things from remembering to pack an extra change of clothes for Greyson so I don’t have to drive all the way home if he has an accident to giving myself a little bit of extra time on a project that I think could take me longer then planned because I have a super busy week. Staying two steps ahead of the game when possible has been key as a mom and a business owner.

If you could say one thing to other moms/business owners out there, what would you say?
Know that you are beautiful, strong, and courageous. You are running a business which is beyond challenging. And you are taking care and nurturing a little life which is one of the hardest roles in the world. But you can do it and do it well. You are more amazing then you know and should be proud of yourself! Be patient with yourself as you figure this “mom and business owner” thing out. Make time for pedicures, take walks and continue to take care of yourself. Oh, and did I say be patient with yourself?

Being a mom is THE most important job you will ever have.Being a mom is THE most important job you will ever have. Yes, it needs to be said twice. Because I know when Greyson was first born I needed to remind myself of that. I was so used to my business being my baby, it was a hard shift trying to figure out a new balance and daily priorities. But at the end of the day, Greyson comes first. He will always come first. No accomplishment, shoot, or money will ever be more important or bring me more joy than that little boy. As life picks up pace and you are juggling all that is on your plate, don’t forget what’s truly important. Be an intentional mom who also happens to be a rockstar business owner. And I encourage you to never forget how special and what a blessing your role as “mom” really is.

The best place for people to follow you:
FACEBOOK: facebook.com/AshleyTheresePhotography
INSTAGRAM: @ashlytherese

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Julia Woods
of
Jeffrey & Julia Woods

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What you need to know about Julia:
If there’s anyone I aspire to be like when I grow up, it’s this woman here :) Not only has she KILLED it in business (believe me, she’s brilliant) and has run an extremely profitable studio (while raising four kids), but she has a heart of gold. Her love for the Lord is inspiring, and any time she opens her mouth to share her wisdom about business, family, marriage –  I’m all ears… and you should be too :)

J&J 2014 wedding photo

How long have you been in business:
20 years. Began in the Spring of 1994.

How long have you been a mom:
21 years to my daughter Jaelyn 21 (who is now married!), son Josiah (18) and daughters Jozi (15) and Jenavieve (12).

The biggest adjustment you had adding “mom” to your title and responsibilities during the day:
We began the business when our oldest daughter was about 3 months old. It was kind of like having 2 babies at once. I personally choose to home school all of my children as well as have a photography business. The biggest adjustment I had to work through was recognizing that kids constantly change. I would figure out a plan that worked and then something would change and I would have to figure out a new plan. I finally found peace when I took each year one year at a time and decided what worked best for that year (3-6 months when I had a new baby). For many of the years with toddlers it worked to spend my mornings with my kids and help them with schooling and then when lunch was over, I would put them to bed or rest time depending on their age and then a babysitter would arrive about 2 hours later. That allowed me to work each day from about 12:30 – 6 p.m. but they only felt my absence I was busy from about 2:30 – 6 pm. As they got older, I had to have a nanny for the full day so I worked 3 days a week and took 2 off. It was just learning to adjust with them and their needs.

Top Efficiency Tips:
#1. As above - take each year and assess the age/needs of your child and then look at the possibilities for your business from there.

#2. Create a very planned work schedule. If not, it becomes too easy to get into emails or facebook and waste precious time because it is easier than figuring out what is most important to do. My weeks alternate from one week shooting to the next week planning/selling. (I wear one hat when I shoot and another when I sell – it saved me time and energy to not have to bounce back and forth in the same day. I also got to wear much cuter outfits on planning/selling weeks :) I liked that a lot!). I had administration time, marketing meetings, staff meetings, and so on marked as appointments on the schedule. I have to make time for those things or they just don’t happen. I work 3 full days a week and kept no less than half of one of those days for production – working on images, creating marketing materials, ect.

#3. Take a couple weeks to assess every job you do and how much time you invest in each one of those jobs. Then take that list and divide each role into $10 an hour jobs and $50 an hour jobs. Hire or resource out the $10 an hour jobs and you focus your time and energy on the $50 an hour jobs.

#4. I found my life to be much happier and productive when I started by deciding what I wanted my home life to look like and then I made my studio work around that. For example, I wanted a play day with my kids which I made Wednesday’s. I wanted one day a week to clean, plan my meals, get groceries, do laundry ect. which I made Monday’s. I wanted to cook 3 home cooked meals a week, so I worked at the studio Tuesday, Thursday, & Friday. I would cook one meal on the Monday, Wednesday and the weekend, Then I had leftovers ready to heat up on Tuesday, Thursday & Friday after work. I wanted to enjoy the sunset with my husband in the evenings. So, if I needed to take later appointments that was only available 1 night a month except during the busy season, I offered 1 each week for that 3 month time frame. Clients work with my schedule and I am filled up as a person and don’t get burned out.

#5. Get the education you need to be able to charge what you need to charge to work the hours you want to work and make the money you need. Trust me it is possible. For example, it is possible to have an incredible salary working 20 hours a week. Learn what you need to learn to get where you desire to be.

If you could say one thing to other moms/business owners out there, what would you say?
Time FLIES!!!! I know that isn’t anything you don’t know, but don’t think that your marriage and kids will be there tomorrow. Believe it or not your clients will be there tomorrow but your husband and kids may not. If your heart calls you to stop and read a book to one of your kids – do it! If you recognize you need to take a day and just be a mom – do it. Your kids grow up so fast and a marriage can become stale before you know it. It is never a bad decision to put your family first. You will all appreciate it later. Kids spell love – T.I.M.E

If that one is negative, here is another one. You were specifically chosen to be your children’s mother. You have what it takes to grow, nurture, and develop a world changer. There is nothing more important than who you are to your family! They are worth more than money, praise, or success. (Your kids may not pat you on the back each day – but one day you will know how much your sacrifice meant to them!). You don’t have to choose one or the other, you can have both, but if one has to be sacrificed – make sure it isn’t your family.

The best place for people to follow you:
TWITTER: @JefnJul

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 Jody Gray
of
Zach & Jody

Bio Image Jody Gray (2)

How long have you been in business:
Going on 9 years! (6.5 years full time)

How long have you been a mom:
14 months to our son, Jaxon.

2014CmasCard0001b

(image by DavidMolnar.com)

The biggest adjustment you had adding “mom” to your title and responsibilities during the day:
Not being able to plan on non-interrupted, set working hours.

Top Efficiency Tips:
#1. Set designated hours/days to work and hire a nanny to love on your kid while you get ‘er done (when putting feelers out, set expectations that your nanny needs to be up for doing basic housework – folding laundry, cleaning dishes, etc.  It’s a lifesaver!).

#2. Figure out what you HAVE to do… and outsource or in-source the rest. (Do you need to be spending 25 minutes importing photos into a blog? Do you need to be the one Instagramming and Facebooking and tweeting each blog post that goes up? etc.). Whatever does not need your unique voice or thumbprint, you don’t need to be doing it. It’s worth it to hire someone for $10/hour to do that stuff for you so you can spend that time focusing on getting new clients in the door or BE A MOM!

#3. Set small, daily goals. Personally, I like to accomplish the world and get a TON of stuff done each day. Once I had a kid, I wasn’t able to do that as well (who am I kidding, even without a kid, I still didn’t accomplish everything I wanted to every day :).  Each day I write down the things I would like to get done and I put them in priority from most important to least important. I make sure they are bite-sized tasks. Instead of “Get all WPPI logistics taken care of,” and come the end of the day I feel like a failure because I didn’t get it all done, I list out the small individualized tasks “1. Book flights, 2. Book hotel, 3. Check DVD inventory, 4. Finalize presentation,” etc.

#4. Stop the comparison game.  It is so easy to see what everyone else is doing with their businesses and feel like we have to do the exact same thing. We have to book XX many portrait sessions. We have to have be charging tons and making a buttload just like the leading professionals are. We have to be offering X, Y, and Z to our clients. We have to be doing pre-consultations and post-consultations and five sales sessions, etc. etc… You get the point. We hold ourselves to the standard of others, and oftentimes for no reason.

Awhile back, Zach and I did a coaching session for a mom-tographer who wanted us to talk through our sales sessions and look over her pricing so she could book more clients and make more money. After taking her through the Mission, Vision, Values, and Goals exercise, as we often do with those we coach, she realized that she didn’t NEED to be doing all of that. She didn’t need the income (her hubby made enough) and the whole reason she had her photography was so she could simply have a creative outlet. She was pressuring herself to do all this stuff and make her business be this big thing just because that’s what she thought she was supposed to do because everyone else was doing it.  Granted, not all of you reading this have the luxury of not needing to bring in an income, but maybe a solution to help with your workload is my next tip..

#5. Simplify! Think of things that you can do to simplify and cut back on your workload. Maybe for a time, you just need to be a shoot and burn photographer (*Gasp* Did she just say that??). Maybe it’s good enough to upload a few images to facebook of each session to get some word-of-mouth marketing going, and you don’t have to spend 2 hours writing a blog post and prepping and importing images for it. Think of how you can simply the processes that you have to free up time and make the best use of what you do have.

If you could say one thing to other moms/business owners out there, what would you say?
It’s ok not to be superwoman. I wanted to go out and show everyone how being a mom and business woman could be done, all on my own. I couldn’t do it. And you know what? I’m ok with that :) I have realized there are more important things than trying to be superwoman, and it’s being mom to my sweet son….  (Also, a quick side note for all of you first time moms out there who are looking for some tips to help out with the transition of adding a baby to your life – Feel free to check out a post I did awhile back on the Top 10 Lifesavers for New Parents on my personal blog :).

The best place for people to follow you:
FACEBOOK: facebook.com/ZachandJody
INSTAGRAM: @JodyGray
INSTAGRAM: @Itsthegrayfamily (this is where I post all of our kid happenings :)

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Being a mom and running your own business is NOT easy, to say the least. But know that you are not alone!  If you have learned tips along the way, leave them in the comments so we all can learn from each other. Also, don’t forget to follow the newly founded @BabyplusBusiness on Instagram to learn mom & business efficiency tips and to hear what’s next from this ever growing community.

PS. If there is another “mom” topic that you would like covered or have additional questions, also leave those in the comments and maybe there will be a Part III in the Mom series :)

How I Survived the Transition from Business Owner to Biz Owner + MOM | Part I of the Mom Series

How I Survived the Transition from Business Owner to Biz Owner + MOM | Part I of the Mom Series

It has been a year and two months since we have added a third person to our lives and business – Jaxon Pierce Gray joined our team November 7th, 2013. (image by DavidMolnar.com) It seriously has been such a blast having a kid, but as with any new addition to a family,...
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It has been a year and two months since we have added a third person to our lives and business – Jaxon Pierce Gray joined our team November 7th, 2013.

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(image by DavidMolnar.com)

It seriously has been such a blast having a kid, but as with any new addition to a family, there’s always adjustment that takes place.  Many of you have wondered how we are making it work and so I (Jody) thought that we would dedicate a blog post to share not only our journey of adjusting with Jaxon now being a part of our lives, but I also wanted to let other full time moms who are also business owners share how they are balancing the act of being mom and business professional.

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First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a… business!
I always thought that I would be one of those women who needed a career once I had kids… just for sanity’s sake. You know, trading the shirt covered in spit up for a cute top and have some good ‘ol adult, human interaction.

Then I had our first kid and that all changed :)

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(image by DavidMolnar.com)

A little over a year and a half ago, we found ourselves pregnant, and because we had no idea what to expect, we planned and prepared to take a few months off once Jaxon came into this world. Our little Jax was born, and it was a fun time of stepping away from our business and just being able to focus on this new little person in our lives.

Soon, it was time for both of us to head back to work. Zach was ready to go at it (honestly, he was getting a big stir-crazy) and I was ready too, but it was way harder than I expected. For those of you who may not know me very well, I’m a type A personality. I love being focused, I love things being done right and perfect :), I love tasks, To Do lists, and I love getting up and working and ending the day knowing I worked hard and gave it my all, and of course checked off my little boxes on my To Do list! Checking off To Do boxes means I accomplished something that day!

Weeeeeeell, let’s just say with a little one that all became a LOT harder.

I would start the day with these grand goals of accomplishing all these tasks, and feel frustrated at the end of the day when I only completed one task because my time with Jaxon didn’t go as anticipated. Even with the great sleep, eat and wake routine he was on, it still flexed so my work time wasn’t set in stone every day, so that would throw me off because I couldn’t work at the specific time I had in mind (expectations!). So then, I’d put him in a bouncy seat facing me but he’d coo and make noises here and there and it kept pulling my mind and attention away from the work I was trying to get done. And that of course, didn’t make me feel good either!

My son was familiarizing himself with my profile instead of my face and ME.

And then it got really bad.

I started getting frustrated not at myself or at work, but at my son.

As soon as that happened, I knew something had to change, but I didn’t know what or how.

I remembering posting this image online and saying the below:

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I love this little man so much, but I am definitely relating to the other women out there who work for themselves at home and have to get stuff done but also have kids who need them simultaneously. Luckily, I’m not alone here and have Zach, but I am definitely in the midst of this struggle and do NOT like my focus and attention being divided between two important things (one a bit more important than the other :). I’m an all-or-nothing kind of person. Looking for the happy medium…

Quite a few women wrote some great encouragement, and some of the comments really stood out that I would like to share for those of you walking through the same struggle:

“True success is providing for and loving my family deeply. The evil one wants to steal those precious moments with you. Be on guard.”

- JennaShriver

“God has given us women a VERY important role when he blesses us with a child/children. We need to do absolutely whatever we can to make sure we raise them and train them up to be lovers of Christ and we need to set that example through not only our words, but our actions. Parenthood is the most important job you will ever have in your life and they aren’t going to be little for long. You will never get these years and moments back. Ever. Now, I’m not saying you should quit (obviously) but thankfully you do have Zach. I would seek The Lord very strongly about where He is leading you for the time being. Here is a little poem that is hanging on my girls bedroom wall that I read often and it has such a huge impact on my heart: ‘Cleaning and scrubbing can wait til tomorrow… For babies grow up we’ve learned to our sorrow. So quiet down cobwebs… Dust go to sleep… I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.’ “

- Jodielj

I reminded myself: Jaxon was important. Jaxon is what matters most.

Not my To Do list.

Not my job.

Jaxon is my To Do list.

Having Jaxon was (and is :) a gift, and the whole reason we work for ourselves is SO we can have the flexibility to honor what is most important – our son.

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I don’t want to leave my kid five days a week so I can work and get my “adult” time in. I thought that would be me, but that’s not me.  My calling is him. (And to those of you who have day jobs: please hear me out – I’m not saying you’re a bad mom. We all have different paths for us and there is nothing wrong and it’s totally ok if you are a mom who has to go to work every day. More power to you that you are able to do that. Luckily, there are amazing care givers out there who can love on our precious kids while we do work!)

I would love to tell you the ways I made it work. I would love to tell you all the tips and tricks that enabled me to miraculously balance being a full-time mom and a full-time business owner all by myself. I would love to tell you how I rocked it. But I can’t. Yes, I made it work, but not in the way I initially thought.

After a lot of prayer, talking through things with Zach, and speaking with a few mentors in my life, I made the decision that I needed to pull back from the business. Not completely. Our business is “Zach AND Jody” afterall, but there were things that I could let go of (ouch! So hard) and entrust in Zach’s hands as well as to our office manager.

I could already see Zach being willing to step up to the plate and start to take over tasks and responsibilities that I always took care of (who is this man and what have you done with my husband?). God was beginning to show me that I could step away from the business a few days a week and it wouldn’t fall apart.

A hope began to spark…

We could actually maybe make this work.

Here was what we did:

#1. Selected days that I would be Business Owner and would work in the business
#2. Hired a nanny for those days
#3. Designated the remaining days for me to be Mom

We decided I would work two days a week (Tues & Thurs) and those would be the days our nanny would come to the house and watch Jax.

The days our nanny isn’t here, my To Do list for that day is to be Jaxon’s mom. To love on him, nurture him, and be there for him. He is my top priority, he is my To Do list. And hey, if he goes down for a nap and there’s a few things with work that I can catch up on or check in with, awesome, but if I don’t get those done, no worries, because it’s not on my To Do list that day. It’s a bonus.

This really helped my head space and has been amazing.

It’s crazy just how changing the expectations on myself has made a WORLD of difference. When I work, I can be fully devoted to work, and when I’m with Jaxon I can be fully focused on him.

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Was the transition easy?

Yes and no. It’s always hard bringing in someone to watch your kid because first off, they aren’t you, and also, they don’t know your child like you do (at first). They can’t tell the differences between their cries, they don’t know that when your kid makes this certain face he needs something in particular, or whatever. It takes time to communicate everything and for them to begin to understand your child. So that was a transition to be made. Once it’s made it’s AWESOME. Jaxon adores our nanny Makinze and the days she is over are great days because I know Jaxon is in good hands and I can focus on work (she even does some extra house cleaning for us, which is amazing and so helpful).

(Jaxon and our nanny, Makinze!)

The transition of letting go of some tasks was hard (and still is) and sometimes it takes every fiber of my being to try and not micro-manage our business but I’m trying to get better.

So that brings us to the reality of where I currently am with functioning as both mom and business owner. My time is limited. How do I practically make it work?

I know I don’t have it figured out yet (heck, I’m only a little over a year into it) so I thought that in addition to me sharing some practical tips, I thought that I would enlist some other mom’s to share what they have done to help make this work!

Stay tuned for Part II where I will share the Top Tips for Mom-tographers!

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Can you relate to what I shared? I’d love to hear from you and engage with you in the comments below :)

 

6 keys to Accomplishing More in Less Time

6 keys to Accomplishing More in Less Time

“It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires a great deal of strength to decide what to do.” Elbert Hubbard After 8 years of working in the same room with my incredibly talented wife, something interesting happened. She moved. Now, she...
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“It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires a great deal of strength to decide what to do.”

Elbert Hubbard

Moving Office Doormat

After 8 years of working in the same room with my incredibly talented wife, something interesting happened. She moved. Now, she didn’t move out of the house or anything, just to her own office down the hall. It didn’t happen because she was annoyed with me (well…. maybe a little), and not beacause we don’t communicate well. We just needed a little extra space, and because we have the room in our new house, we did it. What it reminded me of was something more important about work space that we wanted to share with you all.

Having a focused space for work is critical to getting tasks accomplished and having your time spent working be effective. Here are the 6 keys to accomplishing more in less time.

1. Get a door.

If you have to hang a sheet up in your living room to clearly define your working space, clean out a bedroom that is not being used, or rent some cheap office space, you NEED a private place to do work. When you go in, you work, and when you leave, you are done working. Create that separation and you will get more things done in a shorter amount of time.

2. Eat & Read each morning. 

My goal is to spend 10-15 minutes reading something that nourishes my mind and soul, and to eat well each morning. Every other day my goal is to spend 10 minutes working out using Burst Training to keep my body in top shape. This simple goal of reading, eating well and working out helps me feel complete as a person and does wonders for your energy!

3. Get off Email. 

“Email is the killer of the modern day business” says Tim Ferris in his book The Four Hour Work Week. Check email at specific times during the day and DO NOT let it be the first thing you check you get to work. It gets you off-task and the excitement of someone contacting you takes precedence over what really matters.

4. Spend 10 minutes to Prioritize your day. 

Jody and I spend 10-15 minutes talking about what things really matter each day and then we do them in order. We also start each week with a weekly plan and each month with a monthly plan and each year with a yearly plan. Forecasting and prioritizing your time is the best way to do what matters and stop wasting precious time on what doesn’t. Try creating a Standard Week Workflow that has a few important tasks that need to be done on certain days, and then put a print out of that up on your wall to help you focus. It is simple and works really well! It might look like this: “Monday, edit and check email at noon – Tuesday, Write Blog post and check email at noon – Wednesday, Reach out to Vendors and comment on clients FB pages” and so on.

5. Take Lunch. 

It is amazing how many of us try and plow through our work without stopping (which is illegal if you work a day job to work that much without a break), but the problem is that we lose focus over time and lose productivity. We need to stop, eat, breath and laugh a little to refresh our minds. Take a scheduled lunch break each day and see what it does for you!

6. Stop Mult-Tasking. 

Even though it seems like you are doing more when you have email open, three internet windows and Facebook while you edit a shoot, it actually slows you down tremendously. The human mind can only focus on one thing at a time and when you move from thought to thought and task to task, you mind has to re-engage with the new problem and that slows you down. Just do one thing at a time and get it done, and then move on to the next task. Your work will fly by much faster when you focus your mind and you will be refreshed!

 

Start the conversation: What is ONE thing you have done that helps you get more done in less time?

 

PS:  We have a video series coming up about some of the most important lessons we’ve learned in building a photo business! We can’t wait to share it with you! Stay tuned!

Free off-camera flash webinar!

Free off-camera flash webinar!

Come join us for this FREE off-camera flash webinar hosted by the amazing crew at Shoot Dot Edit! We will be teaching you the 3 simple steps we take to shoot amazing off-camera flash images plus some other great flash info! Off-camera flash may seem a little...
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Come join us for this FREE off-camera flash webinar hosted by the amazing crew at Shoot Dot Edit!

OffCameraFlashWebinar_Banner

We will be teaching you the 3 simple steps we take to shoot amazing off-camera flash images plus some other great flash info! Off-camera flash may seem a little intimidating, but after learning these steps, you will realize just how simple it really is and you will be amazed at the results you can get!

If you are tired of not being sure what to do when you have bad natural light, and are interested and excited to learn more off-camera lighting, then you should sign up and listen in to this webinar!

Just some of what you will learn in the live webinar will be:

#1. How to use small speedlights to create really cool portraits that look like they were shot in the studio.

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#2. How to practically use more powerful off-camera lights to create portraits in tough natural lighting scenarios.

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#3. How to get that super pro, ultra soft lighting you see on magazine covers with one simple trick anyone can do.

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We hope you can join!

Sign up HERE for the webinar to learn this, and much more!! We can’t wait to see you guys there!!

2015 Business Reboot Winner!

2015 Business Reboot Winner!

We have a winner for the 2015 REBOOT giveaway!! The incredibly adorable and fun Leigh Schrage from Schrage Photography has been randomly selected for this giveaway!   There were over 15,000 entries into the contest and we wanted to thank all of you for putting...
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We have a winner for the 2015 REBOOT giveaway!!

The incredibly adorable and fun Leigh Schrage from Schrage Photography has been randomly selected for this giveaway!

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There were over 15,000 entries into the contest and we wanted to thank all of you for putting this out there and talking about it!

Leigh will come and spend the day with us for a FULL-DAY coaching session and get our entire Digital Workshop pack from our store plus a bunch of other awesome goodies!  We can’t wait to spend the day with her and share her 2015 story with you guys on the blog!

Wish Leigh a congratulations!

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If you didn’t win, don’t worry!  We will have more giveaways throughout this year – one even being this month so stay tuned!

Thanks to all the fabulous companies who made this possible!

 

The Top 8 Essentials for a Successful 2015!

The Top 8 Essentials for a Successful 2015!

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we create them.“ - Einstein A friend of ours had the best year ever in his business, ever. The reason for it was talked about on this blog by the Business Insider. That post is about the top...
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We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we create them.

- Einstein

A friend of ours had the best year ever in his business, ever.

The reason for it was talked about on this blog by the Business Insider. That post is about the top tips Andrew Carnegie used to become one of the wealthiest men of all time and was documented in the book by Napoleon Hill “Think and Grow Rich.”

We used the exact same tips back in 2007 and it completely rocked our business and set us up for an amazing 2008!

We want to share with you our top 8 tips that took us from making $4,000 profit in 2007, to making 100 grand in 2008! These are the same tips that we now use each and every year that have helped us continually build our business and make it better time and again.

If you choose to use these simple tips, you will have a better business in 2015, so only read on if that is what you want!

1. Define your purpose.

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Hill says to, “Create a plan of action and start working toward it immediately.” The way we did that was to create a vision statement for our business. We wanted to “impact couple’s marriages through photography that is relationally based, with a focus on marriage, not just their wedding day.”

Having a defined purpose (or vision) gives you a reason to get up and work at it every day. When you are working toward something that is bigger than yourself, you have purpose in your life. Now you need a Mission, or a “how” and that is where you start to create an action plan and start working toward it NOW!

2. Create a “master-mind alliance.”

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Contact and work with people “who have what you haven’t,” Hill says.
Create a small, tight network of people that are doing what you want to do is what catapulted our business just when we needed it. We found wedding planners, photographers and a few brides that were doing the gigs we wanted (not the ones we had at the time), and demonstrated value to them.

We gave them every reason to refer us and our business exploded and we were booking like crazy. Someone already has a network, and YOU need that network. 

3. Go the extra mile

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“Doing more than you have to do is the only thing that justifies raises or promotions, and puts people under an obligation to you,” writes Hill.

 

Use this in every aspect of every single thing you do for anyone, ever. When you do, those people will feel reciprocity and will want to do something in return for you. They will want to refer you, help you, or buy your products and services.

4. Indulge your imagination.

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Dare to think beyond what’s already been done.

 

When we changed our business model in late 2007, I remember looking at the top 5 wedding photographers in the country and deciding we would do what they were doing, only better.

You have to allow yourself to think big, and believe big if you want big things to happen. You are what you believe so don’t think small.

5. Exert enthusiasm.

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A positive attitude sets you up for success and wins the respect of others.

 

The more positive we thought about situations, the more those situations worked out for our good. The way you choose to think will determine the outcome of your circumstances. (Tweet this out!)

6. Concentrate your effort.

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Don’t become distracted from the most important task you are currently facing.

 

Focus + Intensity + Time creates Momentum according to best-selling author Dave Ramsey. You need to concentrate your business, your effort, and your time into to doing what matters most and close out all other distractions.When we did this in 2007 it gave us powerful momentum that took our small city by storm. It gave the perception that we were everywhere and that made us more valuable. You can’t do that if you are not concentrating your efforts in one direction.

7. Profit from adversity.

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Remember that “there is an equivalent benefit for every setback,” Hill writes.

 

We all fail, and we have had plenty of set-backs in our career. Use those set-backs and as opportunity to learn, adjust and more forward with more knowledge than you had before. 

8. Practice “applied faith.”

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Believe in yourself and your purpose so fully that you act with complete confidence.

 

If you don’t  believe yourself, than your clients won’t either. A lack of confidence is very apparent to everyone around you and when you don’t think you are good enough, then everyone starts to believe it. Guess what? You ARE good enough. Hear that from us. Hear that you are good enough and that you CAN do this. Don’t listen to anyone else that says otherwise.

 

Your Chance To Respond! 
Which one of these 8 Tips do you need to do the most? Start the Conversation by making a comment and let us know!We know that you are going to have an amazing 2015 and we will see you after the first of the year!!!
2015 Photography Business Reboot Giveaway! Enter Now!

2015 Photography Business Reboot Giveaway! Enter Now!

This giveaway has ended and the winner has been chosen!   Do you want an all-inclusive business transformation for 2015? Well you are not going to believe this, but we are giving one away in honor of the launch of our brand new website and it is worth over...
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This giveaway has ended and the winner has been chosen!

 

Do you want an all-inclusive business transformation for 2015? Well you are not going to believe this, but we are giving one away in honor of the launch of our brand new website and it is worth over $8,000!!!

 All you have to do to enter the contest is Click HERE and enter your email address for a chance to win! Oh, and you can actually get MORE chances to win when you Tweet, FB and share this giveaway on social media!

 

ENTER-NOW

 

(this giveaway has ended and the link to it removed)  

Someone will have a completely revamped business for 2015, and it could be you, so enter now.

(Deadline to enter is December 26th and the sooner you enter, the better chance you have of winning!)

 

Blessings,

Zach & Jody

 

PS. Don’t forget to share the contest to give yourself way more chances of winning!

 

The cool items for you on our brand new site!

The cool items for you on our brand new site!

We are so excited that after months and months of designing, tweaking and prepping, our brand new site is finally here! This new site has been designed specifically for you, the photographer, and is packed full of ways to help you grow your photography business! We...
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We are so excited that after months and months of designing, tweaking and prepping, our brand new site is finally here! This new site has been designed specifically for you, the photographer, and is packed full of ways to help you grow your photography business!

We have a HUGE thanks to send out to the one and only Melissa Love, creator of The Design Space, who has once again, knocked out a beautiful site for us!

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Melissa never ceases to amazing us with her creativity and ability to come up not only with great ideas for us, but also make possible our crazy ideas!  Make sure to check out her site where you can get her beautiful designs for your own website, blog and brand!

Thank-you, Melissa!!!!!!!!

…And without any further ado, here’s a few highlights of our site and then enjoy looking around to see all of the new benefits and features we have created for you!

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Our new website Home makes it easy for you to get access to our newsletter sign up page so you never miss a post, and when you scroll down, you can quickly see the latest information to help you grow your business!

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You can see right from the Home page our business position, and how we have converted our entire brand to help photographers reach their goals with their business. We have been there, done it, and now are ready to bring thousands more of you closer to the business you have always dreampt of. 

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Our blog is now integrated into our site so you never have to leave to find what you are looking for. We also have easy access to our best free content on the right side if you want to pick up our eBooks on Lighting and Business Essentials.

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This is HUGE! We now have a “Learn” section of our site!

We have literally spent months redesigning and tagging all of our 1,000+ posts on business, shooting, lighting and content videos so that you can easily find the topic you need and find it fast! No more hitting “search” to scroll through posts!

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If you want to share in our journey and know all about what we do and how we did it, then check out our new About Section to see our entire path unfold. You can also access our portfolio from here and find out all sorts of fun details and facts about us (and some cute baby photos too!)! 

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Our goal is to continue bringing quality educational posts, products and services to all of you amazing photographers so that you can keep on running amazing businesses that bless you, your families, your friends and your pocket book.

 

Blessings,

Zach and Jody

 

PS. Please let us know in the comments below what you think of the new site and start the conversation!

Don’t Just Survive the Slow Season | Tog Tools Podcast

Don’t Just Survive the Slow Season | Tog Tools Podcast

We recently had the privilege of being interviewed by Tog Tools about how to do more than just keep your business moving even when things are slow. Back in 2008 when we were still photographing weddings full-time, we were in the process of building our brand, all...
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02_TT_Podcast_Graphic_EPK_Zach&Jody

We recently had the privilege of being interviewed by Tog Tools about how to do more than just keep your business moving even when things are slow.

Back in 2008 when we were still photographing weddings full-time, we were in the process of building our brand, all while the nation-wide economy was tanking. We only knew one way to build a business, and that was when economically, we should have failed. We didn’t just survive that year, but we thrived and made our first 6-figure earning year!

In this podcast we will share some of the lessons that we learned including:

  • Why you should niche down to build a brand
  • Why being excellent is no longer compelling
  • How to create a new category to stand out
  • Why bootstrapping your photography business is the best approach
  • How to make a financial plan for the slow season
  • Why you should get in a Mastermind
Growing your Photography Business in the Slow Season | Tools for Success | Part 4 of 4  (video)

Growing your Photography Business in the Slow Season | Tools for Success | Part 4 of 4 (video)

This last video in our 4 part series on Growing your photography business in the slow season is all about getting tools that can give you an edge and get your business on track faster. We also have something really amazing that we have been working on just for you, so...
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This last video in our 4 part series on Growing your photography business in the slow season is all about getting tools that can give you an edge and get your business on track faster. We also have something really amazing that we have been working on just for you, so watch the video and read the post!

A New Free Tool

We know that many of you need the tools that we talked about in this video, and we are excited to make them even more accessible this Cyber Monday!

To hold you over until Cyber Monday, we wanted to give you a FREE copy of our brand new Essentials Tool Kit! This kit has the 54 must-have tools to give your business a head start.

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If you want to know more about the killer deals we are offering for only 24 hours THIS CYBER MONDAY, and you want our new Essentials Tool Kit, then Click HERE to immediately get your free download and be one of the first to hear about our specials on Monday!

Stay tuned.

PS. If you have a friend that could use this tool kit, then share it instantly!

 

 

Growing your Photography Business in the slow season | How to Get Referred | Part 3 of 4 (video)

Growing your Photography Business in the slow season | How to Get Referred | Part 3 of 4 (video)

When we started shooting weddings back in 2007 there was just one thing we needed more than anything else. Clients! The problem was, we had never really worked with anyone in order to get referred, and in order to get referred, we need to work with someone. Sound...
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When we started shooting weddings back in 2007 there was just one thing we needed more than anything else. Clients! The problem was, we had never really worked with anyone in order to get referred, and in order to get referred, we need to work with someone. Sound familiar?

This catch-22 is a problem that needs to be solved, and this video is the first step to start getting MORE referrals now when you needed them more than ever!

(To watch video 1 in this series on standing out, click HERE)

(To watch video 2 in this series on pricing, click HERE)

If you thought this video was the best video that we put on our blog today (it is because it is the only one) then click HERE to instantly tweet about it OR, copy and paste the below into FB:

 

“This 3rd video from @zachandjody on growing your photography business in the slow season is just what I need to get more referrals! http://tinyurl.com/o27vqln”

 

If you have a unique way that you are “remarkable” with your team, then share with us below what you do and how you do it!

 

PS.  Did you miss the first two videos? Follow the below links to view them:

Video 1: Growing your business in the slow season
Video 2: How to gross $90,000 in your photography business

Growing your Photography Business in the slow season | How to gross $90,000 | Part 2 of 4  (video)

Growing your Photography Business in the slow season | How to gross $90,000 | Part 2 of 4 (video)

In this second video of our four-part series on growing your photography business in the slow season, we are going to be talking about something that most of us DREAD. Pricing. Pricing is complex and sometimes feels like a crapshoot. Today we are going to bring some...
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In this second video of our four-part series on growing your photography business in the slow season, we are going to be talking about something that most of us DREAD.

Pricing.

Pricing is complex and sometimes feels like a crapshoot. Today we are going to bring some much needed clarity to the pricing problem and help you guys get paid MORE and get paid more often!

 (To watch video 1 in this series on standing out, click HERE)

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If you enjoyed this video, then share it with your followers by clicking HERE to tweet it out instantly!

 

If you have had pricing issues, let us know about them in the comments below and we would love to chime in!

 

(All pricing data is from the BrideReport.com 2009 national averages)

 

 

Growing your Business in the Slow Season | How to Stand Out | Part 1 of 4 (video)

Growing your Business in the Slow Season | How to Stand Out | Part 1 of 4 (video)

As the days get shorter and we start to head into the holidays and into a slower season for most of our photography businesses, we know that it is actually a great time to focus on growing your business! We have created a 4 part video series just for you that gives...
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As the days get shorter and we start to head into the holidays and into a slower season for most of our photography businesses, we know that it is actually a great time to focus on growing your business! We have created a 4 part video series just for you that gives you some powerful solutions for your photography brand so you can start working ON your business instead of just maintaining it.

This first video in this 4 part series focuses on how to stand out in a sea of photographers and get your brand noticed!

 

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If you loved this video, then tweet it out and share it with your friends! Click HERE to instantly tweet it out!

What other ways are YOU standing out and being remarkable to your clients? Please share below!

 

 

 

How to use an incentive to book more shoots

How to use an incentive to book more shoots

When we were shooting weddings, we had a 95% close rate when someone sat down to meet with us about their wedding day. This wasn’t luck and wasn’t because we are the best wedding photographers. It was because we know why people buy, and made sure to give...
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When we were shooting weddings, we had a 95% close rate when someone sat down to meet with us about their wedding day. This wasn’t luck and wasn’t because we are the best wedding photographers. It was because we know why people buy, and made sure to give people what they wanted. Today we want to teach you one of the tools we used so you can start to get the same results.

sale

The Why of Buy 

People show up when there is a sale, people buy cars when the dealer throws in a set of tires, and when what you want might be gone tomorrow, people buy because of scarcity because no one wants to miss out.

We know that people buy when they see value, when there is scarcity, when they feel safe, and when they are incentivize.  So how can we use these facts to help give our clients what they want and help us close more deals? Simple, INCENTIVIZE! (Click here to Tweet this out!)

Nashville, tn engagement photography

 

When a client comes in and sits down with you to decide whether or not they are going to book you, there sometimes comes a moment right after you “close” (ask them if they are ready to book you), that they hesitate. This hesitation is what I call “riding the fence.” They didn’t say no to you, and they didn’t say yes. They are right on the fence and just need a little, soft push from you to fall on your side.

In these situations, we always have an Ace in our pocket (an incentive). We would use an engagement session as an incentive to push them over to our side of the fence and book. Here is how it might sound in a real client meeting.

Us: So, does booking us sound like what you are looking for?

Client: Man, we really love you guys but we are just not sure about it.

Us: What is your hesitation?

Client: Well, we really want to add an engagement session, but that will put us over the budget and we are not sure we can spend that much.

Us: Well, here is what we can do. We loved your story and you guys are the exact type of client that we want to build our business with. We would love to GIFT (not give) you guys a 30 minute engagement session (instead of our normal 1.5 hour one), as a wedding present from us to you for booking. How does that sound?

Client: Wow! You guys are very generous and this is exactly what we wanted and we would love to book you!

Us: Great! Here is the contract and we just need 50% down and we are all yours!

 

This is actually a scenario that happened to us many times over the years. Sometimes the client would not give us an answer right then, so we would create scarcity with the gift and let them know that we would hold the offer for 24 hours and as long as they called us no later than tomorrow, we would still offer the gift.

When thinking of what incentive to use, try to have it be something that takes a small amount of resources, but gives huge value.

This style of offering more for more (instead of removing value from us by giving a discount) helped us have a 95% close rate. Find a good incentive that you can always have in your back pocket that you pull out any time a client is hesitating on closing the deal. Use it and see the results for yourself!

Win a Full Conference Pass to Imaging USA!

Win a Full Conference Pass to Imaging USA!

We are pumped to be back speaking the Imaging USA photo conference in February right here in Nashville, TN!! MARK YOUR CALENDAR Conference: Feb 1-3, 2015 Our Platform Class: Sunday, Feb 1st, 7:30am-9:30am, How to Avoid What Most Small Businesses Do – Fail (You...
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We are pumped to be back speaking the Imaging USA photo conference in February right here in Nashville, TN!!

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MARK YOUR CALENDAR

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Conference: Feb 1-3, 2015

Our Platform Class: Sunday, Feb 1st, 7:30am-9:30am, How to Avoid What Most Small Businesses Do – Fail (You are welcome to come in your Pajamas :)

Imaging USA is a fabulous 3 day event where you get to not only learn from your favorite photographers, but you get to see your favorite companies, in the flesh, and be exposed to the latest and greatest in the industry.

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In honor of us being a part of this conference, we are giving away ONE FULL CONFERENCE pass!!

giveaways

 

How to Enter to Win:

Simply Tweet:

I would love to win a conference pass to @ImagingUSA and also hear @ZachandJody speak! You can win one too at: http://bit.ly/ImagingUSA

Winner will be selected at random on Monday and notified via twitter!

Can’t wait to see you all there!


 

PS. We are tossing entertaining the idea of facilitating a mini-workshop in Nashville, the day before PPA begins (on Saturday, Jan 31st), if you’re interested, we’d love to hear from you.  Email us at info@zachandjody.com or leave a comment below letting us know if it’s something you would like to be a part of and what you would love for it to be on (natural light shoot, posing, off-camera light, business, a photowalk, etc.). Stay tuned!

 

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3 Words you should never say at a sales meeting

3 Words you should never say at a sales meeting

When meeting with a potential client, there are three words we should never use. When we do use these words, we might still book the client, but we can create major problems later on that we didn’t even realize would be an issue. The three words are: 1....
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client meeting

When meeting with a potential client, there are three words we should never use. When we do use these words, we might still book the client, but we can create major problems later on that we didn’t even realize would be an issue.

The three words are:

1. Discount 

This is a dangerous word. The word “discount” tends to come up when we get to the money part of the conversation. People ask for discounts for one reason, the price you are asking them to pay is more than the value that you created for them. (Click here to Tweet this out!) xtweet-graphic-1.png.pagespeed.ic.LNzi5ZIr0x Instead of doing discounts, we need to add value. Value is added by creating a more dynamic client or meeting experience, demonstrating value by selling something MORE than just images (like a great story), or by adding something (like an engagement session) instead of taking something away (reducing your price).


2. No

Unless something is asked that goes against your values, then we should never tell a client no. If a client wants a cardboard cut-out of themselves (yes we have been asked to do this!), then the answer is yes! If they want it, then we will deliver it. Now, of course we won’t do it for free and the client will have to pay for the time and resources it takes to do it, but like I (Zach) learned in my internship years back, MAKE IT HAPPEN!

When we say no to something that a client thinks is important, we can lose their faith in us. We once shot a wedding and the client asked me to take an image in some bad lighting and I said no because the light was better somewhere else. Guess what he kept talking about and remembered about me after that? That I was the photographer that said no.


3. Give

Now giving sounds like a good word, but in the wrong context, it can be a word that if you say it, you will regret it later.  There’s a difference between GIVING and GIFTING.

When we want to offer something to a client as an incentive, the last thing we want to do is “give” it to them, because when you just give things to people, they start to expect it and will more than likely tell their friends, and their friends will expect the same as well.

If instead we “gift” things to people, then we are being generous instead of offering a hand-out. Giving something away for free can quickly sound like a discount, but a gift (like a wedding gift) is something that you offered because you care. Gifts also are not expected when you tell your friends about it and therefore referrals won’t expect the same offer.


Those are the three words to avoid using! We mentioned that “Gift” is a great word to use. Gifting can be so powerful that we have a post on Thursday sharing how using this word will help you close deals when in client meetings.  Stay tuned!

 

2015 Photography Business Reboot | Official Rules

2015 Photography Business Reboot | Official Rules

For those of you who like to know the nitty, gritty details, this is for you!   OFFICIAL RULES: By submitting an entry to the Sweepstakes (the “Sweepstakes”), you acknowledge that you have read and agree to be bound by these Official Rules and the decisions of...
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For those of you who like to know the nitty, gritty details, this is for you!

GIVEAWAY_Just grand Prize_final

 

OFFICIAL RULES:

By submitting an entry to the Sweepstakes (the “Sweepstakes”), you acknowledge that you have read and agree to be bound by these Official Rules and the decisions of Zach & Jody, and that you satisfy all eligibility requirements.

The Sweepstakes (“Sweepstakes”) is open to all humans age 21 or older at time of entry. Residents of Taiwan, South Korea, Portugal, Italy, Austria, China, Russia, Hong Kong, Greece, France, Japan, Spain, and Czech Republic are not eligible to enter or win. Employees of Zach & Jody (the “Sponsor”), its respective parent, subsidiaries, affiliates, advertising and promotion agencies, distributors, merchants involved with this Sweepstakes, and their immediate family members and/or those living in the same household of each are not eligible to enter or win. Sweepstakes governed by United States law. Sweepstakes is subject to all applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary to enter or win. A purchase will not improve your chances of winning.

HOW TO ENTER:

To enter the Sweepstakes, follow all onscreen instructions to complete and submit the online entry form (“Primary Entry”). You can earn an Additional Entry in the Sweepstakes when you send the Sweepstakes page to a friend, age 21 or older, by following the Additional Entry instructions on the screen (“Additional Entry”). The friend must enter the sweepstakes through your referral in order to get an additional entry. All entries must be received by December 26th, 2014(“Sweepstakes Entry Period”). Online entrants subject to all notices posted online including but not limited to Sponsor’s privacy policy.

PRIZES & APPROXIMATE RETAIL VALUES (“ARV”):

Maximum ARV of all prizes: $8,000. Prize includes:

  • Full Day of Gray Mentoring Session with Zach & Jody in Nashville, TN (if applicable, winner is responsible for rental car and hotel arrangements)
  • One round trip flight voucher up to $300 (will be reimbursed upon winner booking flight)
  • Zach & Jody’s Business & Shooting 5 DVD pack (Digital downloads of: HARVEST, IN-CAMERA: Light, IN-CAMERA: Shooting, IN-CAMERA: Post, and In the Raw)
  • Complete branding kit for site, blog and print design from The Design Space
  • 1 free year of Showit websites
  • 1 Complete KISSbooks studio sample kit (includes 10×0 15 spread leather KISS, 10×10 15 spread linen KISS, 10×10 15 spread Tuscan KISS, 1 leather littleKISS, and swatch set).
  • Bay Photo wall cluster (One wall cluster or split, any size/any configuration, up to $605)
  • Zach & Jody’s Branding, Marketing & Sales Bundles (digital downloads)
  • 2 SanDisk Extreme 64GB CF cards
  • 2 SanDisk Extreme Pro 32GB SD cards
  • 1 SanDisk Extreme 16GB flash drive

If winner is unable to receive payment then prize will be forfeited, and an alternate winner may be selected in accordance with these Official Rules from among the remaining eligible entries for that prize. Prizes may not be transferred or assigned except with permission by Sponsor. Full Day of Gray Mentoring Session is based upon Zach & Jody’s availability and all prizes, if not used or redeemed, expire 12/31/2015.

Zach & Jody’s Lighting e-book and Photo Business Essentials Kit will be sent as a download in a separate email, no later than one week after the giveaway.

 

ODDS:

Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received during the Sweepstakes Entry Period.

THE FOLLOWING APPLIES TO THE ABOVE:

Winners will be selected in a random drawing from all eligible entries received. Random drawing will be conducted on or about December 26th, 2014by a representative from the Sponsor whose decisions are final. Winners will be notified by email and/or mail and at the judges’ discretion, will be required to complete and return an email confirmation of prize acceptance and possibly a Affidavit of Eligibility and Liability and a Publicity Release (“Affidavit/Release”) within 7 days of notification, or an alternate winner will be selected. Prize awarded within 30 days after receipt and verification of completed Affidavit/Release or prize notification. If a potential winner cannot be contacted, or if Affidavit/Release is returned as undeliverable or if the selected winner cannot accept or receive the prize for any reason, or he/she is not in compliance with these Official Rules, the prize will be forfeited and may be awarded to an alternate winner. If a winner is otherwise eligible under these Official Rules, but is nevertheless deemed a minor in his or her state of primary residence, the prize will be awarded in the name of winner’s parent or legal guardian who will be required to execute affidavit on minor’s behalf. No substitutions are permitted except if prize is unavailable, in which case a prize of equal or greater value will be awarded. Prize is not redeemable for cash and non-assignable and non-transferable except to a surviving spouse. Winner is responsible for all federal, state, local sales and income taxes. Any other incidental expenses on prize not specified herein are the sole responsibility of winner. Entry and acceptance of prize constitute permission to use winner’s name, prize won, hometown and likeness for online posting and promotional purposes without further compensation, except where prohibited by law. Limit: one prize per household. Prize is guaranteed to be awarded. If Zach & Jody goes bankrupt or out of business then the year they go out of business is the last year of payment for the premium service. If Zach & Jody is acquired or merges, it’s the new owners discretion to keep paying for the premium service. If we go bankrupt or out of business then the last year they are in business will be the payment for the premium service. Cash value of the prize cannot be redeemed.

Participating entrants agree to these Official Rules and the decisions of the Sponsor, and release, defend and hold harmless the Sponsor and its affiliated companies, and all other businesses involved in this Sweepstakes, as well as the employees, officers, directors and agents of each, from all claims and liability relating to their participation, acceptance and use or misuse of prize. Winner assumes all liability for any injury or damage caused or claimed to be caused, by participation in this Sweepstakes or use or redemption of prize. Sponsor is not responsible for any typographical or other error in the printing of the offer, administration of the Sweepstakes or in the announcement of the prize.

Winner acknowledges the Sponsor and all other businesses concerned with this Sweepstakes and their agents do not make, nor are in any manner responsible for any warranty, representations, expressed or implied, in fact or in law, relative the quality, conditions, fitness or merchantability of any aspect of prize.

In the event of a dispute over the identity of an online entrant, entry will be deemed submitted by the “Authorized Account Holder” of the e-mail address submitted at time of entry. Authorized Account Holder means the natural person who is assigned to an e-mail address by an Internet access provider, online service provider, or other organization that is responsible for assigning e-mail addresses for the domain associated with the submitted e-mail address. Entry materials/data that have been tampered with or altered, or mass entries or entries generated by a script, macro or use of automated devices are void. The Sponsor is not responsible for: (i) lost, late, misdirected, damaged, illegible or incomplete entries; or (ii) error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operations or transmission, theft or destruction or unauthorized access to or alterations of entry materials, or for technical, network, telephone equipment, electronic, computer, hardware or software malfunctions of any kind, or inaccurate transmission of or failure to receive entry information by Sponsor on account of technical problems or traffic congestion on the Internet or at any web site or any combination thereof; or (iii) any injury or damage to entrant’s or any other person’s computer related to or resulting from participating in the Sweepstakes. By participating in the Sweepstakes, you (i) agree to be bound by these Official Rules, including all eligibility requirements, and (ii) agree to be bound by the decisions of Sponsor and the independent judging organization, which are final and binding in all matters relating to the Sweepstakes. Failure to comply with these Official Rules may result in disqualification from the Sweepstakes. Sponsor reserves the right to permanently disqualify from any sweepstakes it sponsors any person it believes has intentionally violated these Official Rules and cancel the Sweepstakes if it becomes technically corrupted (including if a computer virus, bot or system malfunction inalterably impairs its ability to conduct the Sweepstakes), and to select winner from among all eligible entries received prior to withdrawal. Legal Warning: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN individual, whether or not an ENTRANT, TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE, destroy, tamper or vandalize this WEB SITE OR interfere with the OPERATION OF THE SWEEPSTAKES, IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS and SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK DAMAGES and diligently pursue all remedies against ANY SUCH individual TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW.

ARBITRATION:

This Sweepstakes shall be governed by and interpreted under the laws of the State of TN, United States. without regard to its conflicts of laws provisions. By participating, entrants agree that any and all disputes arising out of or relating in any way to this Sweepstakes shall be litigated only in courts sitting in Franklin, TN, United States.

WINNERS LIST:

For a winners list (available after December 27th), send a stamped, self-addressed envelope by December 26th, 2014to:

Sweepstakes Winner
c/o Zach & Jody Gray
PO Box 680114
Franklin, TN 37068
United States

 

CONFIDENTIALITY:

By entering, the information you are only signing up for the Zach & Jody newsletter. Your information will never be sold to anyone. You can unsubscribe easily from Zach & Jody’s newsletters by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the bottom right of any email.

SPONSOR:

c/o Zach & Jody Gray
PO Box 680114
Franklin, TN 37068
United States

The personal information collected from each entrant in the course of the Sweepstakes will be used by Zach & Jody for the purposes of administration of the Sweepstakes and as otherwise permitted in accordance with Zach & Jody’s Privacy Policy. Please see Zach & Jody’s Terms of Service for more information. Zach & Jody reserves the right to alter any rules of any sweepstakes at anytime. If you have any questions or complaints about a Zach & Jody sweepstakes, please contact studio@zachandjody.com.

Sweepstakes is not sponsored, endorsed or administered by [prize_brand], nor is [prize_brand] associated with the Sweepstakes in any way. You understand that you are providing information to the Sponsor and not to [prize_brand]. Any questions, comments or complaints regarding the Sweepstakes must be directed to the Sponsor or Administrator, and not to [prize_brand]. [prize_brand] is a registered trademark of [prize_brand].

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