Building and Maintaining Relations | Episode 015 transcript

Jack:                Well,
as always I’m Jack, the world’s funniest indie author, and I’m joined by my

Jennifer:          Jennifer
Roach, Atlanta’s premier wedding photographer.

Jack:                See,
not that I only get to say it. It’s not fun anymore.

Jennifer:          Sorry.
That’s why I took the Jennifer from you.

Jack:                So
I see what’s going on, your stunting on Michelle.

Michelle:         Stuntin’.

Jennifer:          Yeah.
I’m Atlanta’s premier wedding photographer. Michelle is also a wedding
photographer and she is also here.

Jack:                But
much like Pitbull, she is worldwide. Michelle, introduce yourself.

Michelle:         I’m
Michelle Mejia-Jones. I am the owner and lead photographer at Mejia-Jones

Jack:                Based

Michelle:         Atlanta.

Jack:                Atlanta,
the greater Atlanta metro area.

Michelle:         Greater
Atlanta metro area. I specialized in weddings and engagements but also do
families and travel photography.

Jack:                Do
you ever do boudoir?

Michelle:         Yes.

Jack:                Do
you ever do family boudoir?

Michelle:         That
would be awkward.

Jennifer:          How’s
that even of help. That’s not a thing.

Jack:                You
know somewhere out there…

Michelle:         That’s
probably a fetish if you google it.

Jennifer:          Oh god.

Jack:                Welcome
to the family, son. Alright, now, today we are finally going to talk about my
topic which we were supposed to do last week but Jennifer didn’t read the email
I sent her — as usual. Hey, we are going to be talking about building
relationship and how it’s the key to building repeat business. Now I’m going to
go ahead and knock my part out of the way because I am severely outnumbered. For
the most part building relationships to authors is pretty simple. You email
other authors on Amazon and say, “I love your work. Can we swap newsletters and
give me advice.” And they say “Yes” because authors are great and they are very
giving because it is not considered as zero sum game, a rising tide lifts all
ships or all ships float in a rising tide.

Jennifer:          A
rising tide lifts all those.

Michelle:         Yes.

Jack:                Something
like that. Anyway, it’s…

Jennifer:          Oh, I don’t even know what you are talking

Jack:                It is supposed to be good.
Anyway, we authors don’t compete with each others. We are more than happy to
share some advertising and some advice. So yeah, reach out to other authors in
your genre and I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how willing they are
to help you. But I am not the center of the show today. I am going to turn it
over to Jennifer and Michelle and they are going to talk about relationships
with vendors, with other photographers and with brides. So, Jennifer, take it

Jennifer:          So Michelle and I have both been in
charge of leading styled shoots, so I think that that is one big topic that we
can both talk about with building relationships with other vendors. I have led
three different ones and then Michelle…

Jack:                Well, hold on first. I’m
offended that you didn’t say, “Thank you Jack for sharing your information.
That was very enlightening.” But second, you got to tell people what styled
shoots are.

Jennifer:          I was just going to say that.

Jack:                A style shoot is a fake wedding.
It’s crazy.

Jennifer:          We’ve talked about styled shoots

Jack:                Not like a fake marriage like
what we’ve got.

Jennifer:          Well, okay. We have talked about
styled shoots on here before, but if you don’t know what styled shoots are,
they are basically fake weddings that planners, and photographers, and other
vendors will come together. You get a florist, and a baker, and all that kind
of stuff and come together and you sort of showcase what you can do and also
what kind of client or wedding you’re hoping to attract so that you have these
beautiful weddings in your portfolio. Vendors like them because that they get
beautiful photos of their work, and then obviously photographers like to come
to them to get the beautiful photos for their websites and their portfolios
especially if they haven’t gotten very many weddings of their own.    

Jack:                Or only weddings with ugly

Jennifer:          That’s one too.

Michelle:         Everyone is beautiful in their own way.

Jennifer:          Or ugly weddings.

Jack:                Some people look best in the

Jennifer:          So we’ve both hosted our own styled
shoots to get other photographers to come and get other vendors to participate.
I think that’s a big part of cultivating relationships with other vendors as a
photographer. Michelle, what would you have to say about that?

Michelle:         Well, I would start out with also
saying that the majority of styled shoots are wedding styled shoots, but there
are some that are other types.

Jennifer:          That’s
true. There are.

Michelle:         I guess
there could be boudoir styled shoots.

Jack:                Okay.
Jennifer, do you have a second camera that I can borrow?

Jennifer:          I do.

Jack:                I
want to get into this amateur pornography too.

Jennifer:          You
can’t have my camera.

Jack:                Michelle,
what is the difference between a boudoir shoot and boudoir styled shoot?

Michelle:         A
boudoir styled shoot would be one or more models and definitely about five or
so photographers trying to also get into boudoir photography. So they need to
have a model there in order to, like you said, market to other clients.

Jennifer:          And
there would be hair and makeup there too. There’s not always necessary hair and
makeup artists or the client wouldn’t have gone and gotten their hair and
makeup done by a professional beforehand. I did go to a boudoir styled workshop
once and there were hair and makeup artists there doing the models’ hair and
makeup so that they… And then they would they take those photos and show this
is what I can do for.

Michelle:         Right.

Jack:                I
guess what I’m getting at is when you do a wedding styled shoot the models
aren’t actually getting married, but in the boudoir styled shoot she is still

Michelle:         Correct.

Jack:                And
also do you have some phone numbers you can pass along and email addresses,
Twitter handles?

Michelle:         We may
pass that along later on. You have to behave though.

Jennifer:          Good

Michelle:         I guess the main reason for styled
shoots would be like what Jennifer said will be to build your portfolio. These
are things when you are just starting out that are important to gaining new
clients. You have to have your work shown granted that on a wedding day it’s
going to be completely different. You’re going to have stress levels at the
roof and there’s going to be a timeline. And you’re not going to get it to take
30 minutes of the couple. It’s going to be an all day event and then you’re
going to have thousands of photos to call through versus a few hundred.

Jack:                Alright, so that’s what a styled
shoot is. Thank you, Michelle, for that explanation.  

Michelle:         And Jennifer.

Jennifer:          He doesn’t thank me.

Jack:                Okay, it’s going to be…

Jennifer:          I have backup now. You are
outnumbered. You can’t pick on me like normal.

Jack:                Back it up.

Michelle:         Back it up.

Jack:                So at the styled shoots you

Michelle:         Other vendors.

Jack:                Other vendors such as bakers,
and hairstylists, and butchers, and candlestick makers.

Jennifer:          Florists, dress shops.

Michelle:         Stationery.

Jennifer:          Yes, stationery.

Jack:               Wedding

Jennifer:          And so I’ve met most of the vendors
that I recommend to my couples and then I put in my… I have a recommended
vendors guide that I give to all my couples and the majority of those vendors
in there are vendors that I have met from styled shoots that I’ve worked with
on styled shoots. So that’s a really good way to get your name out there if you
haven’t build any of these kind of relationships yet is to either plan your own
styled shoot or attend a styled shoot that someone else has planned. And
mingle, and network, and talk to the people that are there and get there social
media information and tag them and follow them and just praise them. You know,
vendors love to get the photos from the photographers and be able to put them
out there and show like, look at this beautiful picture of my work. And they
want that, so if they are looking for photos then be more than willing to
supply them with those.

Jack:                I remember a while back you did
a wedding, I forgot if it was the florist or the venue or something, but you
said that you always make sure to take pictures of the food and the flowers and
the venue specifically not necessarily the bride and groom. But you edit the
photos and you just shot them over and as a matter of course and they are, oh
thank you nobody ever send these pictures of ours though.

Jennifer:          Yeah, it was the hairstylist and she
was like, “Are you kidding me? Like no one has ever sent me just an album full
of pictures before that’s crazy. Thank you so much.” She usually has to track
down the bride’s Facebook and download them from their Facebook pages to be
able to get any pictures.

Jack:                Again, when I do that it’s a
violation of my parole.

Jennifer:          I know. So they want photos of their
work to show and they’ll credit you and then that’s another way to get your
name out there too to find more clients and more clients find you.

Michelle:         And really quick to add to that…

Jack:                Thank you Jennifer.

Jennifer:          You’re welcome.

Michelle:         To add
to that, when you are first starting out and you are trying to build your
portfolio don’t be afraid to reach out to those people that you do already
follow on Instagram and Facebook. And a lot of times they are just starting out
too and they want, like you said, a portfolio like images. A lot of times you
can build that relationship and ask them, “Hey, if you send me some of your
stuff, I will take pictures of it and send it back to you.” And that’s a really
good way to begin your relationship with a lot of the vendors. I’ve had jewelry
boxes sent to me as long as I keep sending them photos, for free, like they
will send it to me for free from overseas. I also have a baker that I’ve teamed
up with and a florist that I just teamed up with. And so they really
appreciate, like you said, just that phone call that says like, “Hey, I love
your work. I would love to work with you. Do you want to team up and do
something?” And then you can get it easily. You just have all of these items at
your disposal.

Jack:                And, maybe not. I
don’t know much about planning a wedding but if you team with a venue they can
recommend you to the bride. You know, “Yeah, here’s some of the photographers
we’ve worked with before”, and that’s a way you can get business. So, Jennifer?

Jennifer:          Yeah.

Jack:                We’ve been talking
mostly about relationships of vendors. What about the photographers you meet at
these styled shoots? Is there any benefit to being friends with other wedding
photographers? Michelle, feel free to chime in since you are both wedding
photographers who are friends with each other.

Jennifer:          Absolutely.
We are very good friends.

Michelle:         Yup.

Jack:                Has any business
come out of that?

Jennifer:          Well,
Michelle did shoot our vow renewal so.

Michelle:         And I
have second shot with you a couple of times.

Jennifer:          Yeah,
you second shot with me a few times.

Jack:                And you’ve got
your suicide pack?

Michelle:         Yeah, we

Jennifer:          What
is… I don’t know what we’ll call that.

Michelle:         It is
definitely not a suicide pack. But yeah, there is a benefit to meeting other
photographers. You want to find a circle of creatives that you can trust, that
you can rely on when you are shooting a wedding because you don’t have time on
a wedding day to pick up somebody else’s slack. It definitely requires two
people or more. And if you can’t rely on someone then you might as well have
shot the whole wedding by yourself. So meeting other people and getting to know
them through second and third shooting. Third shooting is a really big thing
for me. It is almost like the interview process, having a third shooter there.
And then once you start seeing their work ethic and you know that you can rely
on them it becomes a team member.

Jennifer:          Most of
my friends are also other wedding photographers. And I also go to these groups,
at these meet ups, like the Rising Tide Society or the Tuesdays Together

Jack:                Well, hold a
second. When I said the rising tide lifts all ship. I don’t know what you are
talking about. It’s crazy talk. You’re still drunk. But you are going to this
rising tide means.

Jennifer:          Yeah,
you just said it wrong. We were just helping you out with the wording.

Jack:                Uhuhm.

Jennifer:          So
going to these and also going to conferences and things like that and being
around. There is something very refreshing to be able to talk to someone who
knows exactly what you’re going through and exactly what you’re dealing with
and what are you talking about and why that so irritating.

Jack:                I feel attacked.

Jennifer:          Well, I
can tell you these stories and stuff, “Oh you won’t believe what so and so this
person did…” But you honestly don’t get why that’s a big deal. But then you and
I, Michelle, we can just sit and talk about, “Can you believe what she did,
this and this and everything.”

Michelle:         It is
like a little therapy session.

Jennifer:          I know.
And they’re like or you just get it.

Jack:                Have either one of
you ever pushed an inquiry to one of your friends because you are already
booked for that day?

Michelle:         Oh yes.

Jennifer:          Yeah.
Michelle got one of my couples that I had because they moved their wedding day
and turns out I was already booked for that day, and so I said, “Alright, well,
sorry but here is my buddy, Michelle.”

Michelle:         I was
like, thank you.  Thank you, Jennifer.

Jennifer:          And I
do. I actually have an email template that’s already typed out that I just
automatically send out whenever I get an inquiry for a date that I’m already
booked and say, “Bummer! I am booked for your day. I would have love to have
been there. If you have flexibility let me know… blah… blah… However, here is
three of my friends that have similar style and similar pricing to me. You
should check them out. Here is Debbie, here is Michelle, here is Nikki.”

Michelle:         Yup, and
I did the same thing.

Jennifer:          Yeah.
It is just right there. Like there’s their names, there’s their website and so
I don’t even have to type that stuff out anymore because I already that I’m
going to recommend those three people. And I don’t know how many of those
actually come through and talked to you guys. But I’ll tell the couple let them
know I sent you. It’s just a little cute thing. But I hope that they do. I hope
that they would follow through on that referral.

Michelle:         I’ve
gotten definitely a few from you.

Jennifer:          Good. I
hope so.

Michelle:         I know
we talk about like being able to vent to each other. That’s one of the good
things about having a group of people that you can share these things with. But
it is also inspiring because we can bounce ideas off of each other or Jennifer
may have some sort of procedure in play or something that I’m not using them.
Just like, oh man that would work really good for my business. Let me try to
implement that. So it’s really good to bounce all of our creative ideas off of
each other as well.

Jennifer:          It is
really lonely to wall yourself in and not have any other kind of contacts that
are in your world.

Michelle:         Right.

Jennifer:          Like
that’s how I started out. I didn’t know like being friends with other
photographers or going to these meetings like I didn’t really exist. So I am
just out there just struggling. I didn’t know any other photographers or I
didn’t know any other entrepreneurs and all, and so nobody got what I was doing
or why I was doing it. I’m just out there just struggling and just trying to
make it and didn’t really have anybody to talk to about that. And then I
discovered these Facebook groups and everything started to getting into them
and then I realized it is okay to be friends with these people because they are
not your competition. We talk about this on one of the previous episodes of one
of the lessons I learned from the Creative at Heart conference. And one of the
takeaways from it is to approach this with the mindset of abundance, that there
is not a scarcity of clients out there, there is enough out there for all of

Michelle:         Right, exactly and that’s one of the
things as a new entrepreneur it’s you don’t know that yet. It is sad when you
try to reach out to people and try to learn your craft from others that you
admire and they are not willing to share that information with you.

Jennifer:          Oh yeah, don’t get me wrong. Some
photographers are jerks.

Michelle:         Yeah, well, and other entrepreneurs as

Jennifer:          No, because the very first… I am not
going to put the name out there but there was one big Facebook group that I
came to before any others for photographers in the area. And so I joined it and
so I am asking questions and they are basically like, “Get out of here noob.
You don’t know what you are talking about.” They just saw me as me basically
what as I was, you’re a stay at home mom who picked up a camera and thinks that
she can be a photographer. I’m like, be nice to me because I’m trying to learn
and I’m trying to hey your work is great. But they were jerks.      

Michelle:         Yeah. Yup.

Jennifer:          So you have to find the right

Michelle:         And to find your tribe for sure.

Jennifer:          Yes, find the right community that
will not treat, like those secrets and everything. The secret to the trade,
they shouldn’t be guarded.

Michelle:         They shouldn’t because we’re all going
to have different perspectives on our clients. What I may shoot in the same
location will look different from what you shoot. So it’s we all have a
different eye for that creativity and we shouldn’t be afraid to share it.

Jennifer:          It is just crazy when I would ask
other photographers like, “Oh I love this. Where is that location?” They would
ignore me.

Michelle:         Oh yeah. They would not give that

Jennifer:          Or they would not tell you where this…
like who cares. What’s the big deal? What’s the big secret that you’re not
going to tell me where this place is? Like it is some big secret. 

Jack:                The blue barn door I should

Jennifer:          The blue barn door, yes.

Michelle:         Well, you know, it is funny because I had
another photographer the same thing when I was fresh and was trying to figure
out locations as well. I don’t know why these locations are guarded with their
lives? But the investigator in me figured it out, and I went over there and I
took pictures and I was almost like, FU so and so, I found this location

Jennifer:          I’ll find it anyways.

Michelle:         Exactly.

Jack:                There is another incident,
Jennifer. I remember when reached out to a photographer that we knew, we went
to the gym with. You knew that they had a wedding coming up and you said, “Hey,
you know, how about me shooting for you.” And they are like, “Oh no ma’am. I
would never.”

Jennifer:          Yeah, she was really rude about it.
She was like…

Jack:                I was trying to protect her

Jennifer:          Okay. She was extremely rude about it.
I was like, okay.

Jack:                I don’t think she understood
what you are asking.

Jennifer:          I don’t
think she did either. I don’t know. She thought that I was asking to shoot it
for her or something. I don’t know. Alright, I just wanted to work with you and
work at this wedding because I wanted more weddings at that time. I’ve only
done like maybe two at that time and I wanted more experience. I think like I
offered to do it for free. Like let me just tag along and she is like, “No. My
clients stress me.” 

Michelle:         Right. That’s
why I think it is important to find someone that is willing to take on a third
shooter like you are there specifically to learn to get to know what a wedding
flow is like and just simply take whatever images. The lead photographer can
either use your images or won’t use them. But I think that lead photographers
should allow a third and maybe a fourth shooter just because you also need
help, don’t get it twisted on a wedding day. You need help bring in a ladder,
you know, getting up there, calling all the family formal names out. It is just
gets rough on a wedding day and you can definitely use some back up. In that
way it benefits both of you. You get the experience and the lead photographer
gets some help and possibly extra images.

Jennifer:          And
somebody like, “Hey, just carry my bag pack or something.” I would love for
somebody to carry one of these bags. They are heavy. But that’s how I got my
start. My very first wedding I was just like unpaid third string shooter. I was
the third shooter and those images were crap. And I’m sure that they need not
use them.

Michelle:         Yeah.

Jennifer:          Because
I still wasn’t really comfortable in what I was doing.

Jack:                You forgot to take
the lens cap off.

Jennifer:          I did
not. Okay.

Jack:                You left it on
because it was your style.

Jennifer:          They
were pretty grainy though.

Michelle:         I have
the dark, not even the dark mood, I just have the dark because the lens cap is

Jennifer:          It is
the new trend.

Jack:                Goth weddings are
all great.

Jennifer:          It is
called wedding in the dark. It is a new experience for people.

Jack:                Speaking of
styles, Jennifer’s style is light and airy. And she had a client kind of
recently and she did her engagement photos as part of the package. And then the
wedding day came up and she sent her an email saying what Jennifer?

Jennifer:          “Just
wanted to give you a heads up that while we love our engagement pictures we
prefer that you not shoot overexposed for our wedding.”

Jack:                We love your
overexposed style for these but…

Jennifer:          She was
like, I like it but I don’t want my wedding photos to be overexposed. And I was

Michelle:         But this
is my style that you hired me for. 

Jennifer:          They
are not overexposed let’s just have that. There is a difference.

Jack:                You see, Michelle,
I thought that I could empathize with this but clearly she needs other
photographer to truly understand because she is lonely.

Michelle:         Right.

Jack:                Let’s talk about
maintaining relationships with brides. Has that ever driven any repeat business?
Probably not, right?

Michelle:         Actually,

Jennifer:          He is
just baiting us.

Michelle:         I had
one. I did a pop up wedding which is just like a 2 to 4-hour wedding. And the
niece of the bride contacted me about her wedding which is a full 8-hour

Jennifer:          Nice.

Michelle:         So yeah,
it was really… You’ll be surprised it is all about experience and what the
family and friends feel like cultivating that relationship.

Jennifer:          Yeah.
I’ve had bridesmaids from weddings come back and book me for their wedding.

Michelle:         Yeah. It
is all about their experience with you and if you rock it and you go in there
with a good open heart and do your best.

Jack:                Well, that leads
me into our final question because we are running out of time. What would you
two say are the keys to developing relationships and driving repeat business
based on that?

Michelle:         Don’t be
afraid to reach out to that vendor. Don’t be afraid to give them your work and
also ask them what they want to see because that’s I think a big thing as
everybody gives their photographs. They photograph the styled shoot according
to what they want their portfolio to look like. But a lot of times you don’t
ask the vendor like what can you use, like what would you want it to look like?
How can I gear this more towards you and make it more valuable for you. So I
think really talking to your vendors is a good way to cultivate those

Jennifer:          Yeah.
I’ve heard of some vendors who contribute things to styled shoots and then they
complain later that they didn’t get any photographs from it. That nobody
photographed it because let’s be honest, the photographers that come to the
styled shoots, they mainly want pictures with the models.

Michelle:         Right.

Jennifer:          So they
don’t spend as much time with the cake, or the stationeries, or that kind of
thing. They want to stay with the models to the point where sometimes you have
to run them off and yell at them to go back to their own group because they are
straggling and staying with the models. And they are like, “No, you are
supposed to be at the table. You are not supposed to be over here.” And so
that’s, never from one of my shoots, but there are other shoots in the area
that I’ve see vendors say, “I never got pictures of my cake.”

Michelle:         And I
think that has a lot to do with the host too and the host needs to make sure
that the photographers do that as well. That they make it known that that’s
what the vendor’s name.

Jennifer:          Yeah,
exactly. And I would always like overshoot everything at my own shoots. I’m
just going around just getting a million pictures of everything because I know
I can’t count on all the photographers that came to definitely turned in a
finished gallery in four to six weeks. So I’m going to make sure that the vendors
at least get my photos and just go above and beyond for the vendors. Not even
just for styled shoots but on actual wedding days or actual shoots if they are
part of other types of shoots besides weddings. Get their Instagram or their
Facebook and tag them, and share them. They love it if you post something like
how great they are, how great they are to work with, and share that and just
like a little mini testimonial or something. They will share the crap out of
that because they love that. They don’t get really like seen on the wedding day
as much as we do honestly because like we are running around doing things all
day. But oftentimes the florist will set up their setups and then they leave or
the cake baker will come and set up the cake and then leave. They are not there
all day front and center.      

Michelle:         They get
forgotten a lot of times because photography last a lifetime versus sometime
their product which is only for a day or two unfortunately. But they get left
behind because nobody thinks about that afterwards.

Jennifer:          Yeah,
and I try to make sure that I tag any vendor that’s in a picture that I’m
posting. And also when I do a blog post I’ll do a vendor credit list and make
sure to link back because also link backs are very important for SEO and that
kind of stuff. So it’s like a give and take thing that maybe if you link to
them then they link back to you and like his whole nerdy SEO thing about
linking back to each other.

Michelle:         And then
to answer the second part of that question about building or maintaining
relationships with the brides. It is all about the experience. If you can
create a really good experience then you will have those repeat clients.

Jennifer:          And I
like to keep the experience going. Like long after their day with me is over we
still keep in touch. I like to send them anniversary cards. Like don’t let them
forget about you so that when their sister or somebody comes up and is getting
married, the last thing that you want is for them to say, “Who was your wedding
photographer?” “Oh, I don’t know. I can’t remember her name.” No girl. I am on
her friends list. She has got my phone number, and she has got my email, and
she just got a card from me last week.

Jack:                We go out for
brunch all the time.

Jennifer:          Like she
has not forgotten my name. She knows me.

Michelle:         Yup.

Jack:                And then that
comes around when it’s time for anniversary photos.

Michelle:         And the
maternity photos. 

Jack:                Maternity photos,
family boudoir photos.

Jennifer:          Yeah,
when I see on social media like maybe they are having a baby or something and
I’ll like send them a congratulations gift or something like, “Hey, here is a
gift card to Bye Bye Baby or something like congratulations.” Like that kind of
stuff goes a long way. Like your time with them is not just over just when you
deliver the pictures or whatever.

Michelle:         Exactly.

Jack:                Alright. Well, I
think that wraps everything up. Thank you, Michelle, for joining us.

Michelle:         You’re

Jack:                Thank you,
Jennifer, for your lovely insight.

Jennifer:          And
thank you, Jack, for keeping us all organized and in line.

Michelle:         And in

Jack:                Oh you guys
figured the stuff I’m going have to cut out. Michelle, once again where can
they find you?

I’m also on Instagram and Facebook like that.

Jack:                Spell your weird
last name.

Michelle:         Yeah. It
is M-E-J-I-A hyphen JONES, J-O-N-E-S.

Jack:                And its hyphen
spelled out?

Michelle:         Hyphen
is not spelled out. Weird.

Jack:                Alright. Jennifer,
where can they find you?

Jennifer:          I’m on
the web at and on Instagram

Jack:                I’m on the website
at and on Instagram @jennifermariephotographyga.

Jennifer:          You
need to get off of my website.

Jack:                It is already set
up. I can just post myself on there this is not a big deal. You can also find
me at and on Instagram @jackroachauthor. And you can find
both of us at Send us an email at and talk
about your experiences with building and maintaining relationships or anything
else that’s on your mind. Tell me your thoughts on family boudoir. Is the time
ready? Is America ready for children in lingerie?

Jennifer:          Oh wow.
I was going to say we’re going to make this a thing but I don’t think we will.

Jack:                Pervert. Alright everybody
don’t forget take time of your day to get to art. Thanks for listening.  

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