Friday, February 29, 2008

Denis Reggie and Joe Buissink at the LA PUG!

Yesterday was an entire day of photography networking. Hello its Jules Bianchi, the leader for the Los Angeles Pictage User Group! This month's meeting was a little different in that the highly regarded and well respected talents of Joe Buissink and Denis Reggie graced our PUG with their presence. There was no real agenda, just two hours of questions and answers, and we combined the OC, Clairmont and LA PUGs for this event. We had a turn out of over 100 people!

My day started out with a VIP (Very Important Photographers!) lunch that was organized by Pictage. In attendance were photographers Denis Reggie, Joe Buissink, Jon Barber, Jared Bauman, Dane Sanders, Robert Evans & Jules Bianchi, Pictage employees Lisa Allen, Scott Anderson, Debra Gerson, Jason O’Hare, Betsy Hirayama, Ian Siegel, Renata Dionello, Jason Kiefer & Michael Caro. The very talented Ron Dawson was there to videotape the event.

Joe, Jules & Denis.

Clairmont's PUG leader, Julie Weaver, and I introduced our speakers.

The first speaker up was Christine Smith of CLS Photography, our Studio Spotlight for the month. She shared how her business really started to take off after her mentorship sessions with Mike Larsen and her Tea for Two session with me! (Thank you, Christine!)

Then Denis and Joe were on! Ron Dawson of Cinematic Studios videotaped the entire thing to feature on his site, F-Stop Beyond. You should be able to check it out there soon! Denis and Joe answered countless questions on many topics including marketing, albums, how to keep your work fresh, the direction wedding photography is moving in, lighting, as well as sharing their own personal stories. Both remarked about the importance of community and sharing. They both had amazing insight and were so open to everyone's questions.

Afterward, you would think there were movie stars in the house! Everyone wanted to talk to them and have their photograph taken with them.

This picture of Denis Reggie and Veronica Slavin cracks me up because Denis is pointing to where he wants me to "foof" my flash.

And to wrap up our day, a bunch of us went out for sushi afterward. This is a shot of me, Debra Gerson, Robert Evans, Jay Goldman & Julie Weaver that I captured in the mirror of the bar!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Love has been spread to DC and Baltimore

This month we were lucky enough to have Justin and Mary Marantz visit our Washington, DC PUG and combined with members of the Baltimore PUG we had almost 50 photographers in attendance - our largest group ever!

Justin and Mary were so awesome and they had such a great impact on our audience - and me. It was so nice to see two genuine people talking honestly about the simple yet thoughtful strategies that have made them successful. It is clear that they love each other, their clients, and what they do.

Their message of spreading the love really hit home and has made me examine our entire client experience to ensure we cultivating the right atmosphere, exceeding expectations and wowing our clients

Don't know how we can top this for the March PUG attendance contest, but we're plotting right now...

Here are a few pics from the night.

Geoff Chesman

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

asheville pug - february meeting

At our February meeting, we did a panel discussion. The PUG has so many new members that I thought it would be great to have a format that allowed them to ask questions to a panel of "experts". Honour Hiers, Corey Cagle, Corey McNabb and I answered questions and got to know some of the new people better. Out of the 13 people in attenance, 8 have been in business about a year or less and 4 were at the PUG for the first time. Questions that we will explore further in future meetings include second shooters and the expectations both from the primary and second photographer, advertising, studio task management and websites.

The group

Sage, Christy and Suzanna

Alicia and Corey McNabb

Corey Cagle and Honour

Mark Block asks a question, Christy, Suzanna, Peter and Zac

regina holder - asheville PUG

asheville pug - january meeting with the marantz

In January, we had the privelege of having Justin and Mary Marantz guest speak at the PUG meeting. Their presentation on client "loyalty beyond reason" left all of us thinking of how we can improve how we treat our clients, how going above and beyond on customer service brings clients that rave about you and how to be more exclusive, having the clients wanting you instead of trying to sell yourself to them. They are genius at branding, marketing and setting themselves apart from the "competition", which is really their network of friends that refer weddings to them. By creating client loyalty, resulting in super-referrals, and networking with other photographers, they have been able to shift the dynamic and actually pick and choose which clients they want.

We had the biggest turnout ever, even with the snow that arrived just as we finished dinner. I really appreciate the ones that braved the weather, especially with long drives home and a massive THANK YOU to Justin and Mary that spent 15 hours driving home in a snow storm.

Another big THANK YOU to Corey McNabb and his lovely wife, Jill, the queen of the martini. A few of us headed over to Corey's studio for some chocolate martinis and fun times with awesome friends.

Look at that group shot! Awesome turnout for a snowy night!

Justin and Mary with Detra Dowling

Martini-maker extraordinaire - Jill McNabb

Regina's BFF - Mary!

Zac Thomas


Corey and Justin

"Say cheese"

Zac, Mary, Corey, Sarah Henry, Honour Hiers, Justin and Regina in front

regina holder - asheville PUG

Feb Philly PUG

Todays Philly PUG was a huge success. we had over 30 photographers come out and listen to a panel of 5 vendors, or as they would like to be called, partners. our topic was improving the experience our clients have and how to work together to build the industry. The biggest thing I got out of it was communication. Communication with everyone involved cures many problems we have as photographers.

Once we know who the players are we should call them about the timeline. Call them and tell them what we need. Ask them what they need from us. Call the videographer, introduce yourself, talk about your style and ask them about theirs. On the day of, communicate with them. Tell them what you need, "I am shooting wide and getting this" find out what they are doing.

Call the caterer, tell them what your contract says. Ask them to feed you when they drop salads. Let them know what you need and they can tell you what they can do and what they need.

Talk to the band or dj. Go over the schedule. If they like you they will make sure you don't miss the cake cutting. So will the videographer and maitre d.

Another big thing. Give them detail photos. Yes, maybe 1-3 cool images of the bride but give the vendors photos they can use to sell themselves. Include your photo credit. Include their credit in your blog post. Scratch each others back.

Finally socialize with them. Go to industry events, take them to lunch. build meaningful relationships. People always like referring their friends.

We also had other sponsors donate gifts. I think that really helped. We teamed up with a venue. They donated some food and their space at a much much lower rate.

I find, at least on the east coast, that the photographers want to make connections with other vendors. When I have a wedding planner or florist or venue come speak, it draws a crowd. It gives them an excuse to connect with someone.

Our very first meeting, a wedding planner came and spoke. he met a photographer and they have done several weddings together.

Hope this helps with ideas and gives you a little info you can use in your business.