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

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Five Ways to Keep Your Balance

Nov 7, 2017 / Business

As a wedding photographer, you might like believing that certain things are beyond your control.  Sure, you can meticulously charge every back-up battery and lay out your wedding outfit the night before.

But, what happens when you enter the groomsmen’s suite, with just minutes to capture the shots you need, and all nine of the groomsmen have not yet pinned on their boutonnieres? Forget the shot of the groom tugging on his collar, looking coyly nervous—you’re the one who’s nervous now, because you have just fallen off the timeline tightrope.

But, hey—there’s nothing you can do….

Or is there?

In many ways, a wedding can feel like a circus where you are walking the tightrope watching everyone below and trying to stay on course. Here are a few of our tried and true timeline tips for not falling into the pit of the time suck.

As our business coach, Davina Fear, once told us, “Everything you like in your business you created; everything you hate in your business you created.”  In other words, you have more power than you think when it comes to controlling the wedding day timeline. 

Just by changing the way we communicate timeline expectations with our couples, we created a new paradigm where we now walk a tightrope better than Phillipe Petit.  (And if you don’t know who he is, add this nail-biting documentary to your Netflix queue à tout de suite.)

The Takeaways:

1. Pick Up the Peanut Shells: Consistently, when we arrived to shoot ‘getting ready’ areas, we found a mess of clutter that needed to be picked up before taking photos. We found that by adding one sentence (Please tidy up the ‘getting ready room’ before we arrive.), we no longer had to worry about this snag.

2. Banish Search Party Bingo: We used to spend the first 30 minutes hunting down the bride’s shoes, jewelry, bouquet and wedding rings. Now that we list them on the timeline, those items are ready and waiting when we arrive to shoot. It’s a mutually beneficial suggestion that keeps us and rest of the wedding party from becoming a search party.

3. Step (and Suit) Right Up: Trust us, there is no fast way for one person to pin on nine boutonnieres. So now, we specify in our timeline that they should be pinned by the time we arrive.

4. Know When to End the Show: In our early days, we were always staying past our contracted time for last minute ‘must-have’ photos. Our timeline now clearly states that if it’s an event the couple wants photograph (cake-cutting, special dance, etc.) it must be completed before our coverage ends. Likewise, if the couple wants exit photos, we specify that guests need to line up fifteen minutes before the coverage end time.

5. Be a Skilled Juggler: Even with all the planning that goes into preparing for the big day, there is no way to foresee every surprise. View the wedding day timeline as a rough outline of the day and add in some wiggle room and safety net, if possible. Finally, be prepared to juggle things around and renegotiate your balance in real time.

Step right up, Ladies & Gentlemen! If you would like to download our sample timelines, you can do so for FREE at this link.  We like to think of it as a 1-page survival guide. Plus our clients appreciate it just as much as we do; they are happy to do things that will lead to the best pictures of their special day.

Clown control & Lion Taming
(skills that come in handy when managing a wedding timeline),

Luke & Cat

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Slide, Swipe, Chip or, Charge?

Accepting Credit Cards in Your Photography Business

Oct 31, 2017 / Business

In the infancy of our business, we always felt a little sheepish telling customers that we only took cash or checks. And, if it was a check, they needed to make it out to our personal account, not our business name at the time, Our Little Ranch Photography. (Read more about what we learned while operating under that name here.)

 Can you imagine it? We found ourselves having the same awkward conversation time and time again:

“Actually please make it out to Luke Neumayr.”
“That’s N-E-U-M-A-Y-R.”
“Nope, not Y-E-R. Just Y-R.”
“Yup, strange spelling.”

Then, one day, after a very successful wedding shoot, we had the newlyweds and their immediate family members over for a “Preview Party”. (This was before the amazing online galleries of today were really a thing.) We showed them the highlights of the photos we took, and then, left them in privacy to discuss their ordering options. When we returned, we were beyond thrilled—the bride and groom wanted an upgraded album and the mother-of-the-bride wanted to purchase a separate album. The newlyweds started writing out a check (see conversation above) while that proud momma pulled out a credit card.

“Sorry”, we explained, “we don’t accept cards – only cash or check.”

“Ugh!” she sighed, “My husband will kill me! I’ve already overspent on the wedding. If I could pay with a credit card, I’ll have an entire month before I have to tell him!”

After fumbling for a checkbook – did she even have one in her purse? – she finally wrote out a check.

Checks in hand, we said goodbye and went back inside to celebrate another successful business transaction. Until the very next day, when we awoke to an email from that sweet, worried lady asking us to void the check. And that was our ‘aha’ moment.  We’d just lost out on $2000 sale because we had never bothered to set up a merchant account, and we preferred to avoid processing fees. 

The Takeaways:

  • Practice Emotional Retail Therapy: We had an emotional buyer on our hands, swept up in the joy of seeing gorgeous photos of the bride and groom.  At that moment, our client was thinking with her heart, not her bank balance.  If she wanted to pay with credit and gain an extra month’s time, who were we to stop her?  Make it easy for them and remember –  not everyone will come back. How many times have you left something in a store, thinking you’ll come back for it, but then…you never do. It’s much easier to sell prints when clients first see the results.

  • Give Credit Where Credit Is Due:  It’s an old business adage for a reason– you have to spend more to make more– and it’s right! That processing fee for accepting credit cards, is nothing compared to what you will lose if you don’t accept them. It’s just a cost of doing business.  In fact, these days, most, if not all, of our customers choose to pay with a card. And we can guarantee you that our average dollar sale is higher because of it!  Note: before adding on a convenience fee (i.e. passing along processing fees to customers who pay with credit), do your research. Depending on your state, this may not be legal. It’s not in Texas.

  • Money Talks and So Do Your Clients: Think about appearances.  People are more likely to feel confident in a business that is professional and credible-looking. If you cannot accept cards or you only take checks written out to your personal account, your business practices may be speaking louder than your photos: 
    • Incorporate your business or set up a DBA

    • Get a business Checking Account

    • Get business Insurance

    • Set yourself up for Credit Cards

If you’re anything like us, chances are that your photography business started in some type of unexpected way. Like so many of our counterparts, we had no formal photography training and we had never operated a business before. When we first got started, the “boring business details” were the furthest thing from our minds. We are creatives – it was all about chasing light and making great photos.

We had long put off the hassle of signing up for a credit card system, telling ourselves that we wanted to keep all the money we made. We learned the hard way that this was not the best system. While some things give you piece of mind (insurance), others give your business it’s best chance at success (accepting cards). The next day, we signed up for a Square and the rest is history.

Loyalty Programs & Cash Back (two more reasons people pay with cards),

Luke & Cat

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Here's a Must-Read Article on the Psychology of Pricing!

Oct 24, 2017 / Business

Three identical items - one $34, one $39, and one $44. It seems logical that most people would reach for the most affordable one, but the truth might shock you!

Today we’re sharing an article that revolutionized the way we thought about pricing in our business. Turns out that what makes us tick when we’re spending money is not as obvious as one might think. The Psychology of Pricing covers several game-changing concepts including: avoiding “option overload,” using the right syllables, and applying the rule of nine.

Read it and share your thoughts in the comments below. Be sure to look for a few comments from us with some more of our favorite takeaways and how we applied them to our wedding photography business.  Like this one:

Make the Math Easy: Too much math can take the romance out of wedding photos.  If you're selling collections with 'savings' make sure to list the value of the collection vs the 'discount' collection price. And make the math easy. For example:

Collection 3:
A La Carte Price: $6000
Collection Price: $4000

Even after a glass of wine during a Meet & Greet, our brides and grooms can still easily calculate that the Collection Price will save them $2 grand.  We promise that this article is worth the read – literally.  It could make you lots more money.  We look forward to the discussion below. View More Here!

Let Sales Be Easy and Create Happy Customers,

Luke & Cat

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