The son of two good friends and prior wedding clients is graduating from high school this year. Originally, they had intended to come visit me in Tahoe so I could photograph Jason’s senior portrait session, but as it happens, complicated athletic schedules got in the way. I was nonplussed, however, and promised Lori that I was sure that I could find a weekend to come to them instead. The stars aligned perfectly and this past weekend I was able to make a stop and be Jason’s Tracy senior photographer! Here’s a sneak peek from our session around his hometown.
They met in high school (for real).
We may or may not have taken photos now described as “the anime photos.”
Serious foodies, thank goodness! They took me to Off the Grid and I felt like I about died and went to heaven.
I’m 99% certain all we talked about all day was food and how much we wished we had room in our stomachs to eat more.
San Francisco plays and important role in Josh’s life and they really wanted to highlight the city in their engagement session so I was quick to suggest a romp around city for the afternoon and they were quick to agree.
More to come from this amazing San Francisco Engagement Session. In the meantime, here’s a few frames to hold you over.
This post could also be titled: how I launched my business using Thumbtack.
There is a lot of negative attention on internet forums and Facebook threads dedicated to people angry with Thumbtack.
To this I say: if you aren’t successful on Thumbtack it’s not Thumbtack’s fault. It’s yours.
Failure is never someone else’s fault. Failure is an opportunity to figure out what you can do better. Does your portfolio need to be better? Does your approach need to be more personal or inviting? Whatever the reason, if you aren’t finding the customers you want using Thumbtack, you need to examine your process.
I was successfully connected to 29 new clients in the past three years via Thumbtack and it has amounted to 33% of my revenue in the last year alone. One of the biggest complains about Thumbtack is that it’s “expensive.” If you are successful on there, it’s one of the least expensive advertising campaigns I use and one of the most certifiable. I have spent less than 6% of my combined revenue in the last three years to be connected with qualified leads. As long as this number stays under 15%, I am a happy camper.
After a few years of experience, here are my personal tips on being successful with Thumbtack for photographers.
- Pay VERY close attention to what they want as a product. If you only offer digital files and they want an album, do not bid. If they literally choose EVERY SINGLE THING that you could possibly check as final product, they have no idea what they are looking for, don’t value photography, and aren’t worth bidding on. This is one in particular is an non-negotiable rule to follow.
- I’ve found that Thumbtack is best used to fill in dates you wouldn’t normally fill with small, relaxed weddings and clients that turn into great referrals. Most of the weddings I’ve booked on there are elopements and intimate, informal events. I’ve booked about 3 backyard DIY “rustic” weddings as well with about 100 guests in attendance. I booked a not-wedding on there that turned into one of the best weekends of my life. The point of this is that if you find the right clients, awesome things can happen on there. Read through the lines to seek people out who seem to have interesting stories or plans and they are the ones to bid on.
- I take my regular hourly rate for photography and I bid on those events with it. If there’s a super tiny wedding on a Friday morning with 10 people and they only want a photographer for two hours, I am personally okay with offering a discounted hourly rate if their budget meets my minimum hourly specifications. I will take on elopements and small DIY events on weekdays at a lower hourly rate than normal: it’s not a giant wedding, there are not details to capture, there’s no decor, there’s no DJ, there’s no cake cutting. It’s you and 25 people and an hour or two. The post processing is faster than other weddings, and you generate sales and income on a Tuesday morning.
- If it’s more than a year out, I never bid. I bid on things that are a month to 6 to months out only unless I have a really good feeling about the client. I bid on things that are on days I wouldn’t normally get hired. I bit on things that fall within what would be considered “slow” or “off” season.
- Build up your SEO in destinations. Thumbtack is most useful to me for building SEO for new destinations that I want to market to. By creating Thumbtack profiles in destinations that I want to focus on, I’m not only reaching my target audience with qualified leads, but also creating targeted block posts after each wedding is completed.
- Keep very good track of what you spend and what you net from it. You should be doing this will every cent you spend anyways, but it’s especially important to do so on here or it can get out of hand. Devise a specific plan of what types of work you will bid on, bid only on those and keep yourself to it.
- Make sure you have a full website before you start bidding. A facebook business page won’t hack it. No one is going to hire you over the internet without it because you haven’t established trust. If you are a new or beginning photographer, there are tons of amazing and inexpensive templates from a variety of places that can accommodate your website needs.
- Make sure your portfolio reflects the work you are looking to get hired for. You may still be in the portfolio building stage and Thumbtack is a GREAT place to build your portfolio. That being said, you need at least ONE wedding under your belt so that you have examples of relevant work to show if you are trying to book a wedding. If you haven’t shot a wedding yet, DO NOT bid on weddings. Stage a wedding, offer to shoot a friends wedding, create a styled shoot: how you get the work in the portfolio is up to you, but it needs to be there before you try to win weddings. This goes with photography of all kinds – do not bid on portraits if you do not have relevant examples in your portfolio. Do not bid on head shots if you have none to show. After you have the work to show, your hourly rate may be a significantly lower amount than what I charge. That’s okay, we all start somewhere. Bump up those rates after every five successful shoots of that type if you fall into this category.
- The bid MUST include all the relevant information and in particular, a total number of hours if it’s for a wedding. If this information is not included, do not bid!
- Make sure you have reviews. Your reviews can come from past clients that aren’t associated with Thumbtack. Having 5 reviews improves your chances of hearing back by 400%. Every time I create a new Thumbtack profile for another city, I have previous clients review me before bidding on any jobs.
If your market is glitzy and glamorous giant hotel weddings, Thumbtack is not the avenue for you to pursue clients. If your client is rustic, backyard, vintage, DIY, and relaxed, then Thumbtack is a great place for you to be.
I’m so in love with every client I met on Thumbtack. They are the coolest people around. I have so much to thank them for. Frankly, if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be as successful as I am.
THANK YOU TO:
Vince + Courtney | Amanda + Jason | Amanda + Bruce | Heather + Gerrad | Brittany + Chris | Summer + Peter | Jeana + Tom | Paige + Daniel | Ryan + Rebeca | Sarah + Suman | Jeff + Eva | Heather + Raymond | Sawyer + Josh | Ashley + Matthew | Lisetta + Sam | Adam + Tracey | Sunny + Chris | Eddie + Lori | Stephanie + Garrett
I owe some amazing brides and grooms from last year some amazing blogs. I was almost on top of every wedding from last summer, but there were quite a few that slipped through the cracks and remained, taunting me from my to-do list. Heather and Gerrad’s Berkeley Botanical Garden Wedding is one of these. I could wait until their one year anniversary to post it, but frankly, the lush gorgeous greenness of it all is just too fabulous to wait any longer for.
Heather and Gerrad met at a Starbucks in Tempe, where they both worked. They quickly became fast friends after sharing a chocolate chip cookie together on their first day at work. On the day of their wedding they told me all about their planned Honeymoon. It turns out they both have an insane love for Disneyland (Gerrad claims he’d liver there if he could) and they drove from Napa down Hwy 1, topping off their vacation with a visit to their favorite place.
Heather and Gerrad are beautiful people and I’m so insanely lucky that they managed to connect with me. Heather and Gerrad were Thumbtack clients of mine and they are 110% proof that awesome people use Thumbtack. They are fun, bright, and smart with delightfully sweet families. Their August wedding was small, intimate and full of tender moments and completely reflected their quirky personalities. Plus, they are clearly folks after my own heart: they served BRUNCH. Their first look is one of my favorite first looks of all time: we held it in the Japanese Tea Garden which was lush, peaceful, and gorgeous.
Without further adieu (because really, it’s been quite long enough), here are some of my favorite images from Heather and Gerrad’s gorgeous botanical garden wedding.
Venue: UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens | Officient and Day Of Coordination: Jen Antoniou | Flowers: Costco | Catering: Wilma Lott
I am really fortunate to be returning to Austin for the third year in a row as an Austin SXSW Photographer. I look forward to my time at SXSW every year with great anticipation. It’s quickly stolen away a spot in my heart as my favorite music festival. Every year, I return home with a list of amazing previously unheard of bands to listen to. My number one goal for any music festival is to seek out new artists and SXSW provides like no other!
During my time at the event, I spend most of it photographing events that sponsors pay for like super fun happy hours put on by film and production companies, opening parties for the Tech Fest, and end of the event awards shows. In between, I get to run around photographing side events and discovering new music. Oh, and eating lots of tacos.
Now, it is the fate of every professional photographer, I think, that your clients come first and as such, I actually didn’t really take a very good look at any of my personal photos from SXSW until last week (and still, that’s a debatable statement). For the record: I highly regret not even culling them last year! Running through the images quickly was an insurmountable feat and I’m sure I missed some that I love, but, well, it’s probably a lost cause now because I’m flying to Austin today for this year’s event.
Here’s a quick selection of images from SXSW 2014 to hold you over until I return from this year’s event! I am hereby declaring to the internets that I will not leave my photos untouched for an entire year this time.
Lauren Lindley is a destination wedding, commercial and event photographer that services the Greater Austin area during SXSW. She is available for freelance event photography in the area from Thursday, March 12 through Tuesday, March 24th.
I was recently asked to attend FRESHbash, an exquisitely designed wedding fair and event, on behalf of Black Sheep Bride, a socially conscious wedding network. FRESHbash, a thoughtfully curated showcase of design exhibitions and experiences meant to raise the creative bar and inspire the senses for the wedding industry. It took place at the Beatnik Studios in Sacramento, a perfect location for this amazing design-centric event. I have to add that Beatnik Studios would be the perfect location for a wedding: I’m adding it to my ever growing list of dream places to photograph weddings at!
The event was impeccably decorated by some amazing teams of wedding designers, planners, florists and print-masters. In addition, it featured experiential stations like a paper calligraphy station, amazing photo booths in cars by The Photo Booth Bug, craft mixology sponsored by Honeybook and Liquidology, fun and innovative food from s+s Gastropub, and unexpected thrills like a human popcorn stand. You can check out all the amazing design talent that helped contribute to this event over at the FRESHbash website.
A few of the vendors I was most impressed with included the super rad D’Railed Beauty Trolley, a traveling beauty salon for your wedding day that comes to you! I also met Ara Arbabzadeh, head of VIP Photography Studios in Davis, CA whose spirit and mutual love of wine I absolutely fell for. I was also super stoked to finally meet Geoff Bardot, head photographer at The Goodness. His work is bright, sassy and fun and although we’ve also shared referrals with each other, it was the first time we were able to meet in person!
Last week I traveled with 30+ other photographers to the snow capped peaks of the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. We rented a five story
cabin mansion overlooking Gatlinburg and shared experiences, knowledge and dance parties. We set up shoots with each other, pranced about in the snow, and got pretty damn silly almost every day. Here’s a sneak peek from a Gatlinburg portrait session along the river of the state park, featuring Danny and Kate Sprague to hold you over until I have time to edit the rest.
My friend Megan Saul is a super cool chick. So cool, in fact, that she organized an informal photographers’ retreat in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, just outside of Gatlinburg, and I’m apparently so special that I was invited to attend. Myself and 34 other unbelievably talented photographers are here for the next four days to refresh our creativity, stir up our spirits, and teach each other everything we know. Oh, and drink. Oh, and dance party.
If you are interested in following along on our adventures in realtime, head on over to Instagram to follow @heavyheartedphotographers.
If you want to check out the work from some of the unbelievably talented folks I’m here with, these are my travel companions:
Megan Saul | Cassandra Niehaus | Jay Loafman | Chris Henderson | Danny and Katherine Sprague | Sabrina Hounshell | Cheyenne Gil | Lena Peterson | Laura Babb | Rachel Schirano | Jaime Smialek | Mysi Anne Falafel | Jillian Powers | Catalina Jean Dow | Ryan Deasley | Tuan Bui | Rachel Brandt Fisher | Chris Wojdak | Tommy Van Huynh | Meagan Lindsay Shuptar | Amanda Carso | Chris Ramos | Ashley Hamm | Sidney Morgan | Paige Gabert | Rachel “The Sherpa” Kaye | Mike Rousseau