Before starting her career as a photographer, Kathleen from JoPhoto was an experienced Public Relations professional. Her background in PR still plays an important role, influencing the ways in which she markets her business and increases her brand awareness. Viewing herself as a “news reporter” for her company, Kathleen knows that getting her work published through Two Bright Lights is one of the easiest and most effective ways to showcase her photography and increase brand awareness.
With JoPhoto booking approximately 60-65 weddings a year, it is clear that they know how to sustain their leads and grow their clientele. Curious to learn how they’re achieved such success? Read on to learn more…
Why do you want to be published? How has getting published helped your business? “My background is in public relations and I worked in that field for fifteen years before I started in the photography business. So it is ingrained in me that being published is only good for your business. Getting published is good for exposure, it’s good for positioning your brand, and it’s also good for Google. Whenever you’re work is published you get those backlinks from Google. So getting published is just good all around. Unless it’s bad press it will only help your business.”
What makes for submission success? What would you recommend to a first-time submitter? “I would recommend that first-time submitters research publications ahead of time. Depending on the blogs that they want to submit to, what I would recommend is going to that blog and looking at the types of photos that they post and, more importantly, the types of photos that they don’t post. For example, many blogs don’t post photos of the reception or cake cutting. So I wouldn’t include those types of photos in a submission to a blog that doesn’t post photos like that. You don’t want to waste your time doing all of that work and then end up wasting the editors time as well.
Also, make sure that you have enough detail shots in your submissions. Be really heavy on the details, a little less on the portraits and make sure you include a good story or description. I’ve heard that some photographers will submit but won’t include any story or description to go along with their submission. This isn’t a smart strategy since the editor will become frustrated when they are unable to learn anything about the wedding. In order to write a feature, editors need to know details. Like why did the bride choose those particular flowers for her bouquet, for example. Well, maybe those flowers represented the state where she grew up… That type of information is important to know as an editor.”
When you’re working for a client, are there things that you do to make sure you get the shots you need for publishing? “Whenever I’m shooting, I’m shooting for the client, the other wedding professionals involved and to submit to publications. I think about these three things before the wedding and have a game plan for shooting day of. For example, if I walk into a wedding knowing that it would be perfect for Glamour and Grace, I then know the types of shots that I need to take for that publication. Glamour and Grace likes heirlooms and family stories- so in that case, I’m going to take editorial shots of the wedding’s heirlooms and include their family stories in the submission. When I walk into a wedding and I have a particular blog in mind, I’m going to shoot specifically for that blog.”
What is one unexpected thing you’ve learned since getting published? “That getting published is also a big a deal for the other wedding professionals involved in the wedding. I didn’t think that it would matter much to them because we rarely see the other wedding vendors throughout the planning process or big day. But we’ve learned that wedding vendors often have a hard time getting photos of their work. Our photographs are the only tangibles that these wedding pros get from that wedding day. So if they don’t get those from us, through Two Bright Lights, or if they don’t get published these wedding vendors can’t report on the news of their business. So surprisingly, there have been many wedding pros that come directly to us to ask for our photos to be shared through Two Bright Lights. Then when their work gets published, they are super pumped and excited- which we love!”
How do you use social media to enhance your brand? And how do you share your published features? “So I incorporate Two Bright Lights and social media into my workflow. Whenever we complete an album, after sending it off to the client, my next step is to pull all of the images that I’m going to use when submitting to publications. I then upload those to TBL and submit my albums. After that, I use those photos for blog posts on our site and I also use the images for our social media.
Blogging and posting on social media is huge because no one will know about our work unless we talk about it. So I have to consider myself the “news reporter” for my business. As a reporter, my job is to get the word out about all of the wonderful weddings that we’ve shot. And if I don’t tell anyone about our work then no one will know about it.”
Give us some of your pro shooting and editing tips! “Some general shooting techniques that we use with our couples is taking more natural candid shots as opposed to the posed portrait shots. We know that there are a certain amount of portraits that need to be taken. But we also try to take as many “naturally posed” photos as we can. We ask our couples to do more natural things like holding hands and walking through the forest. Trying to keep the couples in their element is important.”
What made you choose photography as a career? “Well, I have to include my husband in this! So we met in 2007- he was working for an advertising agency doing photography and television commercials and I was doing PR for a health care tech company. I never thought in my life that I would be a photographer. But then I met my husband and he was shooting weddings on the side for friends for free. I was like ‘Woah, woah, woah… you know you can make money off of this right? We can make a business out of this!’ And he said ‘Okay, that sounds good!’ I then explained that my background is in marketing and PR and I could help with those types of tasks and he said ‘Okay, that sounds good!’ Neither of us thought that it would become what it is today.
So we launched all of that in 2008 and now here we are 8 years later! My husband no longer works for the ad agency and I no longer work for the health care company and we both do this full time. We love working for ourselves and having the flexibility to be our own bosses and business owners. We average 60-65 weddings a year and it’s great being able to choose our schedules and do our own thing- we’re super excited about it.”
What is your personal approach to wedding photography? “We specialize in what we call earthy and intimate weddings. JoPhoto is based in Knoxville, Tennessee so we are surrounded by a stunning, natural landscape. Our approach is to incorporate mother nature into our photography and into our business as much as we can. We’ve shot more that 350 weddings and over the years we have really narrowed our focus, trying to do what we love most while also defining our style to help us find our perfect client. We asked ourselves, where do we really shine? And where we found that we shined the most was earthy and intimate weddings. So whenever we approach a new client or try to find our perfect client we have found that earthy, intimate weddings is the zone where the magic happens for us.”
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Photos courtesy of JoPhoto.