We believe in the importance of a TEAM! You are only one person and once you get bookings, you are limited in how much you can take on. Every event based business is anchored to dates which can limit your capacity. Sure, you COULD capture 20 weddings in a year, but you can’t capture all 20 if 4 have the same date. Enter your associate photographer team, the ultimate hack to being able to be in two places at once. Now these photographers should not join your team and immediately get thrown into the field. We are here to share why it’s important to train your associate photographers.
Real talk – Every time you say “I’m already booked for that date,” you’re losing money and giving it to your competitor. Ain’t got no time for that, honey. The best business structure for photographers is to set yourself up for scaling. We’ve released our blog on Signs You’re Ready for an Associate Photographer and how to Build an Associate Photography Team.
Also, know that you can send this guide and your photographer has all they need to be another YOU. These fully editable pdfs walk photographers all the way through your business to every part of the wedding day. It includes brand guidelines, associate’s responsibilities, and photo do’s and don’ts. With our guide, your photographer is training to be your clone. And it doesn’t need to take a ridiculous amount of time! Do it right and do it well. Learn more about our Photographer Onboarding Guide or buy now.
So, WHAT does an associate photographer do?
What do you take care of as the business owner? What does the associate photographer take care of as the associate? For us, we serve freehearted couples who believe (just like we do) that eloping is the best, most intentional way to get married! They’ll get a team working for THEM on their elopement day. We craft the perfect location and timeline, then our photographers are there to capture all the magic.
Every business is different, but this is what we’ve found works for us. Breaking that down into the Honeybee process, it starts with me in charge of the pre-booking, booking, and pre-wedding planning services. Next, the associate takes over for the wedding, workin’ their magic’ and photographing the big day. Finally, I edit photos, create wedding albums, deliver images, and guide clients through the sales process. I have control over the entire client experience before and after the wedding day.
Having an associate photographer may sound easy. After all, they’re responsible for shooting the session and handing over the memory cards. They don’t have to worry about all the planning, scheduling, emailing, or editing! Just let them run wild right? HARD NO. You must start with your brand, your WHY, who your main client is, your brand philosophies and style. Without this information, photographers will not have the directions to follow.
Contrary to Joan Jett, we give a mighty big damn ’bout our reputation. First and foremost on our list of why it’s important to train your associate photographers is brand reputation. Many of your prospective clients are referrals from past clients. If your reputation is questioned at even one event, it can affect your business prospects for years to come. It also can affect how you are seen in the community.
However, it goes even deeper than the external reputation, it’s personal. Your business is your heart and soul. A Honeybee Weddings example, we BELIEVE in Conscious Tourism and Leave No Trace Principles. If our Associate Photographer were on an adventure elopement and had no regard for the environment around them, we would be horrified. Truly horrified. It is the core of who we are, so regardless of the photography skills, the person themselves will align with the deepest mission of your band. This is why it’s important to train your associate photographers in multiple facets of your business. A well-trained team contributes to a positive brand reputation and will act as you. Clients are more likely to hire and recommend your business if they trust your entire team. This trust is built through effective training and an understanding of your brand’s values.
Focus on Your Brand’s “Why” When You Train Your Associate Photographer.
Ever since we captured our first elopement, we knew why we cared so much. Our lives fill with expectations about what is “right” and “what people do.” Couples don’t have to fall into that trap of having a big wedding. We are elopement photographers and filmmakers because we feel that people deserve to be themselves on their wedding day. Honeybee is an all inclusive business. All love, bodies, abilities, races, genders, and sexualities are accepted and welcomed here.
Wanna know what motivates us? It’s not just that we take pretty pictures, it’s that we believe in the bottom of our souls that we are put here to help couples have the best elopement experience. We help our couples focus on being present, and giving them the very best elopement experience possible! We eloped in Glacier National Park, so we’ve literally been there!
Our associate photographers need to feel the same. Our team is not going to show up on the day, take photos, and leave. They are going to be cracking jokes with the couple, putting them at ease, bringing smiles to their faces. Our team knows that, equally as important as taking photos, is bringing focus to being present, and giving couples the very best elopement experience possible. It is a once in a lifetime experience for the couple and you can trust that it will be treated that way by everyone in our team!
Dial in to who your main client is. For our couples, the idea of sharing their intimate vows in front of people makes them sweat. They shrink when they’re the center of attention. Other people’s expectations are literally their worst nightmare. Wedding planning stresses them out. Knowing our couples will help our associate photographers understand how they might be feeling. We train our associate photographers so they learn how to be responsive to our couples emotions and hype them up! Eloping can be scary and our associate photographer’s number one job is to make them feel comfortable.
Our couples also care more about how their wedding day feels than it looks. Their favorite thing to do is find an epic place to get lost in. When their hair is blowing in the wind, they will laugh. They have a bucket list of places in the world they wanna explore. They’d consider themselves an adventurous soul. They see a stranger’s puppy & it takes everything in them not to run up & cuddle it. If their dress gets dirt on it, they know they’re having a good time. They think ice cream & wine are always acceptable dinner options. Always. They LIVE for the feeling of wind in their hair and sand between their toes.
Knowing our couples will guide our associate photographers on how to interact with them! We walk our associate photographers through the importance of finding pockets of fun along the trail. To stop for a snack break and point out deer gingerly making their way behind the trees. To be as excited as the couple is when a dog crosses their path. Laugh with them when their white hiking boots get some mud on them. Have a damn good time with them! This is an EXPERIENCE, not a photoshoot.
Why it’s important to train your associate photographers- Image and photography style.
Now that we have been over the soft skills, the technical skills are equally as important. What skills do you need to be a photographer? Associate photographers will train to maintain a consistent style and quality across your portfolio. This consistency is essential for meeting client expectations.
Being a good lead is a responsibility that we take seriously. We believe in truly mentoring our associates. We WANT them to ask shooting questions. It’s EXCITING to be part of their growth and nudge into their creativity. We will have our associate photographer shadow us before their first client session. We want them to absorb how we pose, shoot, and handle situations.
We’ve discussed why it’s important to train your associate photographers for the clients. For your business, you need to train them because they are key to your long term business success. Without them, there is only one of you and you are limiting your business potential. A skilled and well-trained team is more likely to thrive, adapt to changes, and contribute to the sustained growth of your photography business. This isn’t a role you want to cycle through. Train them thoroughly and build an authentic relationship.
You think you don’t have time to train? How much more time would you have if you weren’t shooting a wedding every weekend? If you could double the bookings you have on prime wedding days? What if I told you that you could onboard your lead photographer in a day? Would you freak the fuck out?! Yeah. Me too.
After only one day, you can send this guide and know that your photographer has all they need to be another YOU. Learn more about our Photographer Onboarding Guide or buy now. See you in the success circle!