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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Stop It. Stop It Right Now!

Apr 13, 2016 / Business

Learning how to behave. Learning the good and bad ways to get attention. Getting past those couple of awkward years that included growing pains and questionable decisions. No, we’re not describing our teenage years — we’re talking about our business. In a lot of ways, Luke and Cat Photography feels like its own living, breathing, personality-filled being. And while we’re pretty darn proud of where it stands today, our business has definitely experienced its own version of all of our worst teenage choices: the horrible high school haircuts, the slang we tried out just to fit in, the whacko fashion choices. But that’s what happens on the road to maturity — you hit a lot of bumps along the way. 

In the early days of Luke and Cat, we were actually called Our Little Ranch Photography. It was a name that seemed right at the time but which now seems embarrassingly off the mark, like if Luke suddenly decided to go by Billy Ray. (Nothing against the Billy Rays of the world, of course.) We’re pretty sure our current friends and followers would never recognize the jumbled promotional materials we used when we were just starting out. They featured photos of beat-up cowboy boots, smiling cartoon faces, and enough exclamation points to give any used car salesman a run for his money.   Want to see what we’re talking about?

And as for our services? That particular misfire could be summed up in two words: mini sessions. See, we took a look around at what other photographers were doing and decided the mini session (a.k.a. a session that’s shorter and cheaper than normal) was the thing to do. 

We also figured the more discounts we offered, the more clients we’d attract, so we spent endless time fiddling with pricing and promotions. When we look back on those days now, we have the same thought as when we unearth a photo from our awkward teenage years:

If we only knew then what we know now.

Because those cowboy boot promotional cards and mini session promises had something in common. Neither represented the kind of business we wanted to be. On the one hand, we weren’t creating images and materials that suited the sophisticated brides we wanted to bring in as clients. And as for the mini sessions — well, it was something we knew others were doing and it fed into our belief that every red-blooded person loves a sale. But while it did pull in a few clients, it wasn’t for the right reasons. We realized that we were thinking too much like shoppers who love sales and not enough like business owners offering a respected service. If you start discounting the way we were, you train clients to value sales and price over a quality experience. This was a big-deal epiphany that helped shape the way we do business… but it didn’t hit us overnight.

There are two bad habits that photographers with young businesses tend to have. One is thinking that the uncertainty and clumsiness of their early days is a rare thing. (Hint: just like those awkward teenage years, we’ve all been there.) The other is getting caught in the comparison trap. When you’re just starting to get your feet wet, it’s tempting to look at the equipment, clients, and overall brand of a more established photographer and think “I don’t have that. I’ll never have that, so I’ll never be successful like that.” And, let’s face it, comparison is just a hop, skip, and jump away to an inferiority complex—especially for creative people. Looking to other photographers for inspiration is one thing; looking at them and seeing only their success and not the journey that got them there is something else entirely.  If you’re caught in the comparison trap, we have just one thing to say: “Stop it!  Stop it right now!”

As the very wise Theodore Roosevelt said: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” And, as the very eccentric Karl Lagerfeld added: “Personality begins where comparison ends.”

We didn’t always have the kind of resources and vision for our business that we do now — but as we began to transform Our Little Ranch Photography into Luke and Cat Photography, we infused our goals into everything we did. When one client with a tight budget worried about her wedding’s fake flower decorations, we focused our lenses on her hands holding the bouquet, or the way her grandmother’s ring sparkled. We found joy and beauty in everything and made it our personal mission to do the best we could with what we had. Sure we made missteps along the way, but beating ourselves up because we weren’t as good as our photography heroes sure wasn’t going to help.

Eventually, something really cool happened.

We realized that we were laying the foundation for the brand you see today and that we could take it one step further. We used the experience we’d gathered to develop our Bride Guide so we could share our knowledge with clients. Not only was this helpful to couples planning their big day, it also was a way to cleanly display our style and attract like-minded brides while we were at it. Today, it’s something that defines our business — but we never could have made it happen without experience and, yes, those embarrassing missteps from our early days.

Take it from us: A young business just starting out isn’t so different from a teen trying to form an identity. So if our grains-of-sand-turned-pearls-of-wisdom make your rite of passage a bit smoother, we’ll consider it a win all around. 

The Take Aways: 

  • THE GRASS IS ALWAYS GREENER WHERE YOU WATER IT: If you feel yourself getting sucked into the comparison trap, remember that the photographers you admire didn’t get where they are without a lot of work and a lot of trial and error. 

  • DO THE BEST YOU CAN WITH WHAT YOU HAVE: Take advantage of all opportunities to express who you are and what you can do. If that means drawing attention to certain details of an event over others, so be it. Honing your brand goes hand in hand with honing your instincts. 

  • YOU HAVE TO WALK BEFORE YOU CAN RUN: You wouldn’t look at a marathon runner and think “I’ll never be able to do what she does, so I won’t even go for a walk today”. That’s why you shouldn’t look at another photographer’s work and get too hung up on how yours measures up. Trying counts for a lot because you’ll never learn how to grow your brand otherwise. 

  • AN AWKWARD PHASE IS JUST A PHASE: There’s no wallowing in photography! Don’t let growing pains or bumps in the road get you down. 

  • GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK: When it comes to new businesses, everybody (we repeat: everybody) will go through the school of hard knocks. Don’t beat yourself up for needing a learning curve. Don’t get in your own way by obsessing over woulda-coulda-shouldas. Give yourself a break and don’t forget that this is your passion. Keep on keepin’ on and eventually you too will grow into your signature style.


Liberal Use of Exclamation Points & Cartoon Characters (Led us here!),

Luke & Cat

We love to teach photographers how to hone technique, artistry and business acumen to create a life that improves your craft, and a business that supports your life. For a fast track to your authentic Life & Craft, check out more about our workshops we host on our cattle ranch in Texas.

If you like this post, be sure to sign up for our FREE Life & Craft Newsletter for photographers. You'll receive great content like this straight to your inbox every two weeks! 

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The Luxury Bride

Dec 2, 2015 / Business

First, there was Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.  Then, there was Four Weddings and a Funeral.  Luke and Cat now proudly present:  Three Brides and a Photographer.  In this email series, we will be looking at three different brides through the lens of running a successful photography business.  Our first post introduced The Mythical Bride.  Now, please welcome our second vision in white as she walks down the aisle.  She’s: The Luxury Bride.

Back in 2013, we got to capture Ashlena and Weston’s destination wedding at the Hard Rock Punta Cana resort in the Dominican Republic. The locale was perfectly suited to the couple, who are beautiful inside and out.  But, when we arrived, there was a hitch we hadn’t counted on. They say that everything’s bigger in Texas, but this resort was massive! There were miles between the beach where the ceremony would take place and the hotel where everyone was staying—a distance that was extra daunting when we considered all the equipment we’d need to haul around on their big day.

It came down to this: we could either rent a golf cart at cost of $450 for the weekend (an expense that would come out of our own pockets) or we could save that money and hoof it with our heavy camera equipment. 

Now, in a case like this, renting a golf cart could be seen by some as a luxury. We happen to think that luxury isn’t always about money—it’s about priorities.  Why not lace up our walking shoes, skip that cost and work off a few of those Sprinkles cupcakes? Because that weekend, we had different priorities.  We whipped out our credit card and paid for that golf cart.  You see, for us, renting that golf cart wasn’t a luxury; it was an investment

We saved time and energy by being able to zip around with all our gear. And, we got better shots in more locations because we didn’t have to ‘waste’ time walking the resort.  As a bonus, instead of being a pain in the neck because of its size, the huge resort turned into our own super-fun racetrack. (The guards at the gate weren’t thrilled, but what else are you supposed to do when you’ve got a knack for stunt golf-cart driving?)

Best of all, we created extra value in terms of “The Luke & Cat Experience” by chauffeuring the happy couple.  In fact, we captured some of our favorite shots of the bride while she was riding to and from the wedding.

What may have seemed like a decision on a luxury splurge—to rent or not to rent?—ended up being the thing that tipped the whole weekend in our favor and allowed us to produce the kind of quality photographs that represent what we’re all about.

We’re sure a lot of folks would have opted out of the golf cart rental fee, despite that old piece of wisdom about spending a little to save a lot.  And that’s why it’s important to start looking at luxury differently—not as a frivolous, expensive, or unattainable indulgence, but rather an opportunity to enjoy something you value.  Luxury is a matter of priorities, which means every “average” bride is The Luxury Bride.  

We’ve seen brides spend $4K on their wedding dress and serve a $10 per plate buffet because that’s where their priorities were.  Likewise, we’ve seen a bride wear a family heirloom gown (free), choose inexpensive wildflowers for her bouquet ($100), and go all out on a great live band ($5k) because music and dancing were the couple’s passion. We serve The Luxury Bride who values heirloom photography.  She’s willing to invest a large percentage of her budget on this expense because it’s worth so much to her.  One of the couples we just met said: “Even if we have to get married in a pole barn and serve peanut butter & jelly sandwiches to our guests, we’re booking you as our wedding photographers!” 

To put it simply, one person’s luxury is another person’s necessity and vice versa.  If your clients can afford to have an “average” wedding by American standards, your clients can afford your pricing.  The question is:  What matters most to them?  Do they value what you offer?  Do they see its worth?  It’s your job to communicate why your service or product is worth the investment.


The Take Aways

  • LUXURY IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER: It’s about time to reinvent your definition of luxury. Despite what you know about price tags, the truth is that people put value on things based on their priorities. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that what you do is frivolous. 

  • YOU’RE NOT SELLING PHOTOGRAPHS: Do you recognize the value of what you provide? You’re selling their story, you’re making their memories, you're capturing their emotions and love in a beautiful and thoughtful way. People will pay for a luxury if it’s worthy of their time and money—it’s up to you to prove it.

  • CAN YOU PICTURE THIS?: The question isn’t how much your work costs, but how much it’s worth—and worth is about more than dollar value. You can do a lot to connect with the personalities, emotions, and personal priorities of potential clients. Your business strategy should include helping them envision how they’ll benefit from working with you. Can they see just how you’ll immortalize the important moments in their life? Can they picture how their dream celebration will be that much more extraordinary with your help?

  • LITTLE DETAILS CREATE COMPLETE EXPERIENCES: What do a golf cart-turned-wedding chariot and that iconic blue Tiffany & Co. box have in common? They’re both part of an overall experience. Make sure your entire experience reflects the quality of your work, your commitment to customer service, and your own priorities as a businessperson and an artist.  Sometimes the little blue box matters more than what is in it.  Our clients book us for more than great photos; they also buy into the way we package and deliver the experience of making them.

  • TAKE STOCK OF YOUR OWN LUXURIES: What’s essential to one person (first class airfare, room service, valet parking, or golf cart transportation at a big venue) won’t necessarily be true for another. Take time to consider your priorities and recognize that if something is important to you, then it’s worth the investment.   Do the same with your clients.

Little Luxuries & Complete Experiences (They Go Together!),

Luke & Cat

P.S. If you liked The Mythical Bride and The Luxury Bride, be sure to sign up for our newsletter. Part 3 (the grand finale!) will be emailed exclusively to our subscribers

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The Mythical Bride

Nov 24, 2015 / Business

First, there was Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.  Then, there was Four Weddings and a Funeral.  Luke and Cat now proudly present:  Three Brides and a Photographer.  In this email series, we will be looking at three different brides through the lens of running a successful photography business.  Please welcome our first blushing beauty:  The Mythical Bride.

The Mythical Bride is that fantastical figure you’ve seen in books, movies, TV shows, or on the cover of a magazine while you’re in line at the grocery store. She’s got off the charts high-end taste and an unlimited budget to go with it. She’s got a runway dress from a world-famous designer. We’ve even heard some wedding photographers cite her as the reason why their business is stuck. “She’s not the type of bride I work with” they tell us as they point to editorial spreads, Hollywood screens, or even our own website. “I feel like I can’t charge more or take my photography to the next level until I work with this bride.”

To that we reply:  “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo!” Let’s wave our magic wands and take a down-and-dirty look at fairytales, myths, and the curse of self-fulfilling prophesies.

Cinderella may have married a prince, but she got to the ball in a camouflaged pumpkin pulled by mice, remember?  If she had held out on her fairy godmother for a vintage Rolls Royce, she may have missed her window of opportunity. 

With a wedding photography business, that whole “Someday, My Prince Will Come” mentality doesn’t really work. Because waiting for Prince Charming or a Mythical Bride implies, well, a whole lot of waiting around.

Focusing too much on the Mythical Bride could make you miss what’s right in front of you: brides who are channeling her in different ways throughout their wedding planning process.

In all great fairytales, there’s an element of sacrifice and the same is probably true for most of the brides that photographers work with. As anyone who’s binge-watched Say Yes to the Dress knows, for every bride who says price is no object, there are ten more who are making certain financial decisions in order to buy their dream gowns: forgoing a new car and taking the bus to work, nixing an upcoming vacation, even giving up cable or eating out for a few months. They’re on a mission, and they’re going for it.

In other words, the mythical bride might not exist, but the desire to be like her definitely does.  You don’t have to wait for the Mythical Bride, you just have to communicate how your photography can enable your brides to have a little piece of the mythical fantasy wedding for themselves. They may not have the means of a celebrity A-Lister or the title of Her Royal Highness, but they can still feel like royalty in some ways (and have the photos to help them remember it).


The Takeaways


  • GLASS SLIPPERS REALLY AREN’T PRACTICAL: Waiting around for the Mythical Bride isn’t exactly the most practical business plan. But if you bend your idea of her just a bit, you’ll discover a whole world of potential clients.

  • DON’T WASTE TIME WISHING: If wishes were horses, would you have a full stable? Don’t get caught up in a vision of what your business or client should be and miss the opportunities you have right now.

  • BE AS RESOURCEFUL AS A FAIRY GODMOTHER: Take a cue from brides who are doing a lot to achieve their dream wedding and recognize that what you do is part of the solution. Work with what you’ve got, even if it’s a pumpkin and some mice.  Finding ways to help your clients attain a piece of that Mythical Bride is the thingamabob that does the job—whether it’s recommending a great planner, creating your own version of our Bride Guide, or helping them craft a sensible time line.  The better they look, the better you look.  So, help them work some magic by serving as a valuable resource.

  •  YOUR HAPPILY EVER AFTER IS IN YOUR HANDS:  That goes for love stories and the photos you take. You don’t need a Mythical Bride, you just need to understand the priorities of the bride you’re working with and provide your own signature photography magic that focuses on those priorities.

  • SLAY YOUR DOUBTS/DRAGONS: Know your worth and charge your worth. It’s that simple and that important. Don’t project your own financial expectations onto your clients—you might think they can’t afford it, but they might have goals for their wedding that include stellar photographs even if that means sacrificing elsewhere.  If that’s the case, you are an essential investment to them and they are an ideal client for you, no matter who designed their dress!

  •  FIND THE BEAUTY IN WHATEVER YOU DO: You’ve probably heard this one before, but it really helps to approach every wedding as if it’s the most beautiful event you’ve seen.  We can become jaded in our industry, but remember that this day means everything to them.  Look for her grandmother’s handkerchief sewn in the skirt of her dress, wait for his tears when he sees her walking down the aisle.  You can take legendary shots of any emotion-filled event, even if you do wish they had booked a better venue or spent more money on their flowers. To state it another way, we don’t work with Mythical Brides.  But we help regular brides create memories that become the stuff of legend and myth.  You see what we did there?   Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo!

Leaving Fairy Tales Behind & Celebrating our Cinderellas,

Luke & Cat


This post is part of a 3 part series. View the next post in the series, The Luxury Bride.

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