November 10, 2020

Interview with Iz + Liv Films: Local Central Florida Wedding Photographers

We recently had the joy of being interviewed by local wedding photographers, Iz and Liv Films! Please read below, or listen to our conversation about how we got our start in photography, how we feel about our work, what our goals are, and a whole lot of other nuggets of information from them and us along the way! We’re FIRM believers in community over competition in our industry. Every couple deserves the very best fit for them when it comes to planning for wedding photography. We have a large network of like-minded wedding professionals with whom we grow and perfect our craft. Ashely and Manny are not only talented artists, they are just incredible human beings! Enjoy our fun interview below.

M – Welcome! We’re finding it really hard to connect with people, but the circumstances just to be safe, it’s just not possible.  So we don’t have a formal name or introduction for this, we just want to talk to other people in the wedding industry, specifically in the wedding industry because I feel like we don’t really get to know the other wedding vendors or have much of a chance to talk with them.  So you guys ready?

So, who are you guys? and what do you do?

G+S – We are Garry and Stacy Photography Company, and collectively we’ve been doing photography for about 12 years full time.  We started off in North Carolina and now, we’re here.

M – So what brings you to Florida?

G – Uhmm, I was tired of the cold.

M – Really?! It’s SOO hot here! I’m so tired of the heat.

G – Well I’m getting tired of the heat now.  My brothers live here, my dad lives here, I used to live here.  I grew up here and went to uh, Lake Gibson in Lakeland, I graduated from there.  I moved away for about 25 years, and uh, then I came back.

M – 25 years? I mean you look like you’re in your 20’s!

S – We’re grandparents!

M – No way! That’s crazy! My dad’s a grandparent! *Cue Laughing*  That’s insane!  We are 24 (Ashley) and 28 (Manny)!  So, anyways, 12 years in the photography industry, who kinda started it, did you guys both get into it at the same time? What’s your story, your background?

G – I got into it, I used to be a metal sculptor in North Carolina, I built this giant sculpture, this stainless steel thing in north carolina.  And right as my ticket was being written as a sculptor, that’s when the economy crashed.  Right after I delivered it.  And so they weren’t hiring any huge sculptors, you know, no commission work after that.  So I always loved photography, I carried a camera around in my truck all the time, and I just decided to pick up photography.  I found someone who was shooting weddings and needed help, and jumped on there, started doing that, and opened up Big Star Studios.  Which is what I had forever, I went through 9/10 years with Big Star, (went through 3 studios in that 9 year span, they were killing it!) it was good.  Then I decided to move down to Florida.  I had bounced back and forth between Florida and North Carolina, doing wedding down here too, so I had a little foot in the door.  But I moved back here all by myself (Stacy interjects: and I’m so glad he did, cause that when I met him!), yeah, that’s when I met Stacy, and she liked photography.  

S – I dabbled, I don’t have that extensive background like he does, but he told me, “You can learn the skillset, it’s the eye for it that I can’t teach you.  So he saw that, cause I’m more of the abstract shooter I guess.  And he’s the more, well seasoned shooter than I am.  But we’re always learning from each other, you know?  But he taught me everything basically, with the technical side of things.  And then I came with the business background, like starting Non-profits, and some social media management, and just sort of establishing…

G – The stuff I hate. The stuff that I’m just not good at, at all. Big Star had went down, I almost quit.  I took an entire year off and did absolutely nothing.  Literally.  I had no job, nothing.  I just existed for a year.   I just didn’t want to do it without somebody.  It’s not as much fun.  I need somebody to pose girls, cause I don’t really pose girls very well, it’s just so much easier. 

M – Same here, same here!

S – Garry when you say “arch your back” it sounds so different compared to when we say it.  (Manny- “alright now, arch your back.  No, more.” LOL!)  Garry’s like “Sit up straight”, and I’m like *whispering* ARCH YOUR BACK.  

G –  Yeah, So I wasn’t doing it, it was about to just  be.  And everyone was saying, “you can’t quit… you can’t let it go”

S – Yeah, he was about to throw the towel in.

M – I think that’s one of the biggest things when it comes to doing a creative field, like, everyone gets to that point.  Even if you’re killing it, sometimes we get to that point of “I just want to drop this, I don’t know if it’s my passion”, that feeling of uncertainty.  What things have you guys done to get through those uncertain periods of like “I don’t know if I want to keep on doing this anymore”.

G – I would say, we switch up what we’re doing.  Keep it interesting.  We start shooting something else.  We pick up another hobby that we have, and don’t neglect that too much.  I’m also a leather smith, and do leather things, so being able to go off and get away from it for just a little bit.  Or just shoot, you know we got the drone recently, and that’s another photography type of things, and (Ashley- It’s exciting!  It like, reinvigorates you!).  It is, it does!  So it kinda helps with the other stuff too.

M – Right.  And you guys have been doing the wedding thing together, right? For how long?

S – Well, so we rebranded a year ago under Garry and Stacy, but he was Big Star for what, 9 or 10 years.  (Ashley- And then you were working with him under Big Star?) No, it was kinda this awkward in between stage of like “what are we going to be called?” we initially kept the name big star, but we changed the logo a little bit, but its like you know, you are your brand, it us, it’s what you get, so that’s when we started doing it together.   

G – It’s been a year this month together

M – See, your story is very similar to our, minus the fact that you’ve been doing this for years and years Garry.  I’ve been doing it all my life, but actually making money off it, I’d say the last 3 mayyyybe 4 years.  And then last year is when we rebranded, maybe a year and a half ago is when we rebranded to Iz and Liv Films.  So if we had a boy, his name would have been Isaiah (nickname Iz or Izzy), and Olivia is our daughters middle name, so Liv.  And so the whole reason we do this (business) is because this allows us to spend a lot of time together.  As I’m sure you guys are well aware.  

A – We spend a lot of time with each other, but our thing is cause we re-branded right when we started talking about me coming off of work (working for another company).  So my big thing was steady income, like how are we going to pay our bills?!  (Manny- Cause I was EP Photos for 2 years)  So he started off doing his own thing, and he was saying “this is what I want to do, I want to build this business”  So I told him “alright, cool.  You can do whatever, and I’ll continue making my money.  So it slowly got to the point where he needed me more and more.  So I would go and second shoot, or I would handle client communication, or organizing things, or paperwork, or whatever.  And then a couple months before she (our daughter) was born, we realized, this is taking way too much time from both of us.  So after she was born, I think we had enough income to pay our bills for like 6 months, so we decided to just run with it.  That’s when I came on full-time, so it’s been a little over a year now.

S – What industry were you in before that?

A – I kind of jumped around, so I did hair for 5 years, and I worked in Daytona, and then in Orlando, and I was dual licensed, so I was a Barber and a Cosmetologist.  But then I just grew to a point where I DID NOT like the industry, I didn’t like being in a salon, I didn’t like the mindset that I was surrounded by, I just didn’t like it.  AND I was working every single weekend, I couldn’t get a weekend off, and I was just tired of it.  Plus he was working during the week at that time, and I was working weekends, and we just didn’t get to spend much time together.  And I was just over it.  So I ended up going to work in a German Bakery downtown, and then I actually ended up working managing an e-commerce site for a local jewelry business.  So I’m a little all over the place, but I feel like I’ve learned something from each business that helps what we’re doing now.  

M – So she picked up a lot of photography just from being around what I was doing.  Is that similar to what happened with you Stacy?

S – So in my prior life, I was a firefighter/EMT, it was on my bucket list, I had to get it out of my system.  I was a single mom, 35, and needed something I could pour myself into.  Little did I know I needed the creative side, instead of the risk your life every third day side.  So it gave me a lot of time off.  So we would do a lot of stuff then, and like you, we were taking referrals, and we would book weddings during that time, and I’d have to work my schedule so that we could be off together.  But yeah, we would just start practicing, honestly.  Like he would just start showing me.  And I only shot in manual, like he never let me baby step, it was straight to manual.

Manny – That’s what I said!

G – Yeah, you might as well

S – I was so frustrated.  What do these numbers mean?! Whyyyyyy??? Fix thissss!  And then I’d ask, what did you do?? And it was like greek to me.

A – I was the exact same way.  I was like “I don’t get it.  Set it for me.” I can frame, and I can frame and I can focus.  But at the very beginning, I just wanted him to set it and give it to me lol!

G – Yup, and it’s always changing, so it’s hard to tell you one thing to do when it’s going to change into something else in a minute.

S – Right, there’s no rules.  Sometimes it feels like you want 8 different cameras set up in the room where you’re shooting with all the different settings so that they’re all set up ready to go when you start shooting.

M + A – Wouldn’t that be great?!  So how did you guys land on weddings?  Like what draws you to doing those types of jobs? 

Stacy – Oh my gosh, I love it

Garry – Yeah, she loves it.  I’ve been doing it for forever, so I love it a little less, but I love it too.  

M – Dude, you and I are very similar in the way we think!  Like, I love doing weddings, it’s just that, like we’re creative people, we want to do more, like different things!

G – Right, like I want it to be perfect each time, and different each time, and better than I did last time, and then she’s (Stacy) is telling me “you’re killing it!” and then I’m like ehhh…

S – He always says “I hope those come out”  He says it EVERY SINGLE TIME.  It doesn’t matter what.

G – Like I know they’re good, but I’ve got about 15 places where I think they’re MONEY, but I don’t know.  And then you get back and I think, ah these are pretty good.  

A – YUP!  and we almost always, unless we get home like around midnight, we will almost always dump all our footage right then and there, cause we’re like “Did we get it? Is it good? Do we like it?  Like, I thought that they’re good, but I just need to double check!”

M – The deed is done, there’s no going back is the thing lol

S – There’s no going back, but you need to be able to sleep is what I think it is.

A – Yeah, it’s like whew, those are good, now I can go to sleep, and then I’ll start working on them later.  But at least they look good, you know?

M – It’s the nature of doing weddings, you know?  I think, and maybe you would agree, for someone getting into the wedding business or getting into the creative field, doing it full time.  I think that doing weddings is a great way to jump into it.

G – yeah, it’s a good way to hit fast forward.

S – It’s… baptism by fire.

A – I’m glad I learned with weddings, because I’m now starting to get more creative.  Manny was always the creative mind and the creative heart, but now I’m starting to figure out what I like and don’t like.  And manny was always the one to edit, and I started editing in October.  I did 3-4 weddings within like a month or two, and after editing them I was able to start figuring out what I like and don’t like.  And how a picture would be so much easier to edit if I just did x,y,z in the camera while I was shooting.  With a lot of shoots, we can decide when and where we’re going to photograph, it’s always during golden hour, perfect lighting, etc.  But with weddings, you don’t always have that option, you have to learn your camera and the technical side of things a lot more.  And I’m grateful I learned that, because now going into situations that might be considered “easier”, good location, golden hour, more time, it makes the shoot so much more enjoyable because i’ve already learned all the technical aspects, even though it was baptism by fire.

M – You have to be content with some of the things you get on a wedding day because sometimes you just don’t have the perfect situation.  From an editing standpoint, who edits photos? Both of you guys?

G – We both do, you (Stacy) started just recently.

S – I was like culling and Lightrooming, and he was “Garry-ing” I like to call it.  It’s a verb, he Garry’s a photo.  He’s the only person I know, to actually take time in photoshop to go through actions and tweaking and there’s special things that he does, that I haven’t seen other people do.  And I had to learn from him how to “Garry” a photo, and I’m still not great at it.  It’s for example, for photos that we send as sneak peeks before we send the full galleries, and people are like “OH MY GOSH!” and like lose their mind over them.  And I’m like “You’ve been Garry-d”.

M – How do you guys get through the moments where you like miss focus JUST SLIGHTLY, or the walls are pink or it’s just not the best situation, how do you guys get through those moments?

G – Cry. 

M – Yeah, me too.  Okay, so we’re not alone!

Stacy – Long term, we want to build a venue.  Lighting over background every time.

Garry – You know what we do, we ask Iz and Liv Films where they got their lights from!

M – That’s right! For those of you who don’t know, we met Garry and Stacy while working a wedding at Casa Feliz.  You guys were doing Bourbon Booth, an open air Photo Booth.  We met, we talked, and we haven’t gotten a chance to hang out since. 

….Technical talk about photoshop…..

M – So do you guys photoshop every single one?

S – No.  Our couples ask that, because our galleries that we deliver have both fully edited images and lightroom edited images.  So depending on the length of the wedding and the size, it ranges from like 30-75 fully edited images, and those have all been hand retouched.

M – So is that all part of what you offer then? Like your base package?

G + S – Yes, so they get that, and then they get the lightroom collection too.  Which is just exposure, a little contrast, you know.  And in lightroom you can go in and duplicate that, and make it go a little faster, you know?  It does take a long time, but the idea is that if they’re going to enlarge it or print it, we want it to be perfect.  No one looks plastic, but you know if there’s a hair out of place or what not.

A – Do you let them choose the pictures or do you choose them?  The ones that you’re going to retouch to that point.

G – We choose them.

M – That makes sense though, because you’re the artistic eye.  That’s what we as photographers as videographers get paid for, to make the client look as best as we possibly can on that day.

A – But that 30-70 is a good amount for them to choose from, right?

G – Yeah, I used to, back in the day, do these albums and I would let them choose 30-60 images that you want in the album.  They won’t all make it but at least you know these will.  So they would do that, and we would bounce back and forth through email, and the numbers, and numbers would get changed, and we would go back, and it was just the biggest headache.  So I was like “no more”.  If you want to pick something later and say “oh I really like this one” cause it’s similar to this one I just don’t like that side of my face or something, then I’ll say “send me that image number, I’ll edit it and send it back to you.”  But generally we know, cause they haven’t even seen the other ones.

A – I think that’s why, we’ve always wanted to avoid that back and forth back and forth back and forth because it’s very time consuming.

G – It is, and they do ask sometimes “well what about here at the bridge, the ones (photos) you shot over there? Can I see those?”  And I’m thinking that’s the moment that I’m walking over there and hating the light, and I was just trying to make it work, going “those are fantastic, but you know lets try it over here…”

S – I’m the hype guy!  He’ll show me the screen and i’m like “OH that’s… Man, that’s ridiculous”, and I don’t say it’s good, I just say it’s ridiculous hahah I’m the hype guy!

M – Speaking of client communication, what’s your process in finding clients?  I know one way we do it is just simply putting our work out there, I think that’s just the core of doing it.  But you guys have so much experience, what would you suggest for other wedding photographers trying to get into the industry?

S – Man, have a hustle year.  You gotta hustle.  I learned early on.  Garry was saying that we have to expand our gear, upgrade our gear, lenses and cameras and lighting, and so we were dumping everything we had back.  Every booking we had, we spent it.  On equipment.  

G –  I think that’s number one.  Educate yourself, get someone that you can sit next to and see how they do it, and get good equipment.  There’s a lot of people out there that have the eye, that are great photographers, but their pictures are nowhere near what they could be because their hands are tied.  When I moved from the 5D, to the Mark 2 to the Mark 3, as I moved I thought I just became this all star photographer, I shot it and I’m like “OH, wow I’m good!” and then after a while, I’m not so crazy good anymore because I’m used to it, so then I upgrade to another, and you DO get better with your gear.  And lighting, learning lighting.

M – Composition, all that stuff. 

S – But as far as getting bookings, that’s like the age old question.  Like every time I see an instagram ad, or look at my email, it’s always geared towards photographers “Looking for business? Want to be a booked up photographer? Want to make millions your first year?” and these are just so misleading.  It’s empty promises, it fills entrepreneurial sprits with unrealistic expectations.  I mean, we have been blown away by the amount of response we’ve had, and like you said, getting your work out there, but also curating it.  Making it cohesive, making it geared towards your ideal client, you HAVE to figure out who your ideal couple is, because you are not for everyone.  And we are very humble in that way, that’s the first thing I do when I get on a discovery call, the first call that we make with a client, it’s “So I understand that you love our work and our style, I just want to confirm that you like the warmer, more romantic, the moody type editing.”  And they’re like “oh yeah, that’s why I called you!”  Then I’m like, great let’s keep going.

M – Because the last thing you want is to just be shopped around because you’re the best price.  We’ve had that before, and we’ve declined.  Because we’d rather you find someone in your price point that can do all of that for you.  Because it’s really hard for us to just *snap* change our style.  

A – And honestly, we don’t want to.  We don’t want to just change our style all the time.

M – Yeah, at least not for weddings.  It’s different for like real estate or a video production company, or a creative shoot you’re doing.  With weddings it’s a little bit more personal because the people are choosing you, for these perfect moments and you want to have your touch on it.  (Ashley – It’s the biggest day of their lives.)  So sometimes you’re not for everybody.

A – I think it just ends up being more stressful for everybody, no one is happy at the end because they didn’t hire you for the style that THEY like.  You might be happy with the work, but if you know your client isn’t happy with it, then you’re not going to be happy.  

S – yeah.  So that first phone call or meeting, honestly by the time we get to that point we already know, we can already tell just by communicating with them, and the fact that they’ve reached out and they’re not price shopping, they say “we like your work, we like your style…”

Garry – Confidence from them goes so far.

M – It sets the tone for the rest of the wedding.

G – Absolutely.  If they’re questioning everything and going “Did you.. Can you” it stresses me out and then I’m like, “here, you take the camera, I don’t know what I’m doing here”.  But we’ve had several here in the past couple days who have said “I don’t care what you do, just do your thing” and I’m like “YES”. 

M + A – Those are the best!  It just frees up your mind to actually work and be creative.  Cause the worst feeling is to come back from that wedding day and be unsure of what you’re editing.  How would you go about telling a client, “Hey, before you book us, did you watch our wedding videos, did you see our photography?” Because as wedding photographers, we want our clients to have a good experience, so how do you do that?

S – Hm well, you mean as far as making sure that they’re educated about what they’re getting?

M – Yeah, like, making sure that they saw your website, did they look at everything?

S – Right, yeah.  So I think that being consistent in the work that you’re putting out, because we have shot other types of styles.  You know, he’s such a chameleon, he can shoot any way, that’s how long he’s been doing it.  And he can edit in any way, pretty much any way, but that doesn’t mean that that’s the sweet spot.  So I’ve actually taken some of those weddings off of our galleries, because they’re different.  And that doesn’t mean that we can’t do it, but we’d have to really think about it before we book with a couple who really wants that type of photography.  Chances are they’re not going to book with us anyways, because of that.  But yeah, so the client communication process.  There’s so much to be learned in that, that’s the hardest part.  Advertising, Marketing, and your Online Presence and social media, all of that, takes up more time than actually doing the work. 

G – We call it dating!

S – I actually date brides, I court them!  So I will look for potential clients on instagram through their hashtags and their locations where my ideal client hangs out.  The coffee shops they go to, I’ll research by location “isaidyes” etc, or if they followed the venues recently that we like to shoot at, I’ll go follow them, and comment and interact with them.

A – I’ve heard of that before.

S – It works.  We’ve gotten like ten bookings completely from that. Finding them on instagram, thinking we might be a good match and like making actual connections.  I remember their names, I remember their dogs names, their hobbies.  It’s like you have a relationship with them, whether it’s official or not, they might not respond to you.  I’ve given advice, I’ve helped with timelines, I’ve connected them with you guys, I’ve sent profiles for you guys or other creatives that I thought would be a good match or if we’re not available, or whatever.  So we get inquiries, we run facebook ads, that’s another way we’ve been doing it.  

G – Have you run a facebook ad? 

A – So I tried my hand at facebook, and I… I hate facebook.

M – Hang on. Before you go on.  Everything we’ve done thus far is completely organic and word of mouth.  We haven’t paid for anything.  

A – Aside from, at the beginning of the year, we hired a company to work on our website and do SEO on our website.  And he’s been amazing!  He’s helped us completely transform our website, he also offers where they build your website for you, it’s another husband and wife team.  And even though we didn’t hire him for that, he still has given us tips like “why don’t you add this to your website?” or when he’s working on the SEO he’ll go in and add a sentence here or there, he does everything.  And that’s the only thing we’ve invested.  And we felt that that was going to be, and it has been, helping so much more because it’s setting us up long term.  Instead of like trying to run ads and trying to get money quick.

M – We’re not so good at facebook ads.
A –  And he said he would help us with that and do that for us if we needed a quick boost of income, but we really wanted to set it up for long term.

Talking about ALL THE AMAZING THINGS MODSQUARE DOES FOR US!!! LOOK HIM UP NOW!! skip to 38:50 to hear us sing Eli’s praises.

S – So Big Star had a large following on facebook, since it was over a decade old, so it had like 4,000 likes.  So we have a friend here in lakeland who does digital marketing and she knows a lot about facebook.  She can get you in touch with an actual person who works for facebook.  So I was able to merge our facebooks and keep the following.  But she also helped us with facebook ads.  

M – Our facebook is atrocious.

A – Yeah but the thing is that we were posting there for a while.  We had buffer, and so I would take an entire day, 8-12 hours and schedule everything to twitter, facebook, pinterest, LinkedIn.  Pinterest is a hidden gem, by the way.  Pinterest is like a hidden market for wedding photographers.  So with buffer we were posting to everything, and after about 3 months, we weren’t really seeing any growth, any engagement, nothing on facebook and twitter, so I figured, why am I pouring time into this if I’m not going to see any results from it.

M – Like, focus on a couple socials, and interact as much as you can. And admittedly, we slack off sometimes, because we have work coming in, deadlines, etc.  So do you guys have like a schedule that you use to keep up with it all?  

S – So i’ve been working on getting our albums all in order, and updated.  But that’s not where we were getting our leads from.  We were getting our leads from the ad, and then that ad directed people to our website.  Because it gave them a choice for how they wanted to contact us, they could either send in a short form OR they could click onto our website.  So it was working so well that with corona, when the quarantine happened, we were booking them faster than I could keep up with, and they were all our ideal client.  But it’s because that ad is hitting all those people, because my only restriction is that they have to be engaged, their relationship status has to be “engaged”.  But we booked 9 weddings in 4 weeks during quarantine!  Because brides were home, planning their weddings, and we’re not saying it to brag, but it literally blew my mind!

M – That’s actually encouraging to hear, because what I think some people forget sometimes is that there will always be enough weddings for everybody.

G – but my point was that they weren’t going to facebook to find someone, it was specifically that ad.  In fact, facebook is like our end of the line, that thing that we’re the least worried about.  Instagram is our biggest one, but its that ad on facebook.   And yeah it does cost money, and we were afraid at the beginning, but its a fraction of what we would be spending somewhere else.  But now I don’t care what it is because we keep getting people from it.  And now we’re going “I’m sorry we’re booked, I’m sorry we’re booked…” 

A – Yeah, and it’s tough because you don’t want to overbook, and then not have enough time to put your heart and soul into each wedding, you don’t want to get to the point where you just have to get it out because of a deadline.  and then end up getting burnt out because you’re just working too much……

M – Speaking of burn out.  What is something that you guys do, other than the drone, but what is something that you guys do, or what do you do when you both get burnt out?  Have you guys both gotten burnt out at the same time?

Garry to Stacy – Do you get burnt out? Nah, so yesterday we were working on flat lays.  And its been several days that she’s wanted to do these flat lays, and I’m like “I’d rather watch Netflix”.  So I was like “go ahead, if that’s what makes your heart sing, go set it all up, I’ll come in there and snap the picture”… But…. Oh, we gotta go shopping, and do all these things, and I need this and we need to make a list, and I’m thinking “oh god this is a lot”.

S – Then he got into it though

G – So I’m up there, taking pictures, and got excited, and come over here and edit, and saw we needed something else, so I’d go back.  But that was fueling her, because she’s in charge of the facebook, and instagram, and what not, so…

S – I’m always trying to create our own material instead of buying it from someone else.  I just wanted to show what it was like in our lives, and the items that surround us.  I feel like full time photographers are like the unicorns of creatives, like its such a mystery how we make it.  Like what do you do everyday? Do you work?

M – I don’t know if we even make it.

A – What do you mean, we make it!

M – We make it by sometimes.  But there’s times when we’re not making boocoo bucks.  How do you guys deal with that?  How do you get through that, especially together?

S – I’m not gonna lie, I get more jumpy than he does.  

G – I’ve been there, I’ve been through the lows, the really low lows, where I had $13 in the bank account and I didn’t even have gas to go do the shoot that was on the books.  So I’ve thrown out a special, or done a wedding for $1,000 to get me going again and kept up with it.  In North Carolina, there’s seasons where you actually dip where there’s crickets, there’s nothing, you might as well go work somewhere else.  There’s no leaves on the trees, it’s cold, people are depressed, they don’t want their photos taken.  But yeah, you build up right before then and just squirrel it away.  So i’ve been through those really scary times.  And since we’ve started, I haven’t been scared. She’s scared because we haven’t gotten a phone call or email or haven’t booked a wedding in 3 or 4 days.  And i’m thinking “so? They’ll be there.” They’re thinking about it, let’s just keep doing what we’re doing, and have faith, and they’ll come.  And if not, then go throw out a special for families, seniors, go shoot somebody and you’ll get some attention!

S – I love him.  I don’t know what I would do… In my personal life, he’s brought me so much peace and stability, and for our children.  He has single handily rescued us.  And in those moments where I’m thinking “Oh maybe I should run another ad, or maybe I should do this…” I am constantly talking about redoing our website, he’s nauseated by it.

G – She redoes it because she’s bored of it, but no one else is bored of it, they’ve only been on there one or two times!

A – So I did most of our website,  because at my old job, I basically had to take the idea and design from the owner, and make sure that it looked the same way on the screen as the developer guys were building the website.  So that kinda helped me a little bit, and I was able to apply certain things to our website from that.  I mean, if it was up to him (Manny), we would have 3 pages on our website, photo, video, and contact.  10 pictures, 2-3 videos and that’s it.

S – There are some schools of thought that support that.

A – Yeah, there are.  So that’s how the website was for a long time.  But I spent probably like a month or 6 weeks just on the website.  And I researched all these different things, and I looked at other photographers websites, and at this point, I’m kind of over looking at our website for a while.  I can see where it could be better, where it needs to be better.  But I just need a couple months of not looking at it too hard, and then we’ll make some changes down the road.

M – For me it’s more so like, I don’t know if I get bored of the look or bored of looking at it but I want it to be better.  Without it being the same thing that I see everybody else doing.  And sometimes I look at other photographers, wedding photographers in particular, and I think “I don’t want to do that style, but I feel like they’re getting more work..”  So I get it, you have to change somewhat.  You have to be palatable to a wide set of people.   I get that, but I think that fighting through those hard times, and staying with it, and being true to your style, you’re going to get your ideal clients, like you said Stacy.

S – Right.  And comparison is a dark hole to go down.  Like you don’t… It’s a trap.  And I’m speaking from experience, I look at other peoples websites, I’ve looked at yours (I like it by the way)  For ideas is one thing, but Garry is really good when I bind to this idea that we need to do such and such, or we need to buy that coaching series, and I really used to be very quick to fall into the comparison trap, or the maybe we’re just missing something, or we could be doing it better.  I’m very very driven and I’m always looking to improve and perfect.  But what I was really missing was honing in on the client.  Like hello, we’re not focusing on taking care of our couples.  And as soon as I changed that mindset, that’s when it started to click.  When we meet with couples, or we’re on the phone, and if I get goosebumps, I know it’s a match.  When they’re telling us how they met each other and got engaged, and I’m taking interest in their story, I really want to get to know them, and the photos will reflect it if we know how they are.  If we know how they touch each other, how they interact, are they goofy, are they super sappy, are they a romance novel couple.  Who are they??  We spoke to a couple the other day who most of their love story has taken place in an elevator.  They first met in an elevator, and he proposed in an elevator, it’s a fun story!  So we’re planning their engagement shoot, and we’re getting photos for sure in an elevator.  But all this to say that, when you’re focusing in on treating your client, and embracing your client the way that you would want to be treated and BETTER.  I want to REALLY cater to them, so whether it’s vendor referrals, or photography timelines, I don’t charge for that.  It’s the biggest day of their lives, and they’re choosing US to put it into photo or video forever. 

G – Do you guys feel like a coordinator sometimes?

M – You (Ashley) more so than I am.

A – Yeah, so we’ve only done 2 or 3 weddings that have had an actual wedding coordinator.  Everything else has been couples planning their own wedding.  Part of every package we offer is a photography specific timeline, so I tell them when they have to be ready, what has to be ready, we need your hair and makeup done, but don’t put your wedding dress on yet, etc.  But I’ve worked with people who don’t have a wedding coordinator, or a day of coordinator, and I end up coming up with like the itinerary for the whole day.  Because, I need to know where to be, and, it’s going to help them.  So I’ll ask, okay, when are we doing this, that and the other? and they’ll say “uh, I don’t know, I didn’t really think of that.”  So I’ll say okay, well you know, it’s really time to start thinking about that… these are your options… Let’s get it put together. 

M –  There’s so much more work that goes into capturing weddings than just taking photos or hitting record.  I mean, look at how much times goes into just the behind the scenes of putting your contract together, typing it up, etc.

A – I think its at least 75%, or at least 60/40, or 75/25%, but the majority of the time you’re not behind the camera.

G – Right, the majority is before, and the majority is after.  And we’re the only vendor that’s like that.  Dj comes in, he packs up, goes home.  We’re all on the back end, still, weeks later, editing the pictures.  

M – Yeah… Well I think maybe a final conclusion to this whole thing is, what’s next for you guys?  What do you plan on for taking the business further?  What’s next for Garry and Stacy.

S – Man, we talk about that all the time.

G – Yeah, uhm, the biggest thing that we talk about all the time is we’re wanting to expand from here to Colorado.  We want to shoot in Colorado AND we want to shoot here.  So we would love to live part of the time here, and shoot here.  And then part of the time and shoot in Colorado.

A – So is that what the RV is for?!

G – That’s, that’s for relaxation.  It was going to be for the Bourbon Booth, we were thinking of putting the Bourbon Booth in there, for weddings, and we could drop it off, and that sort of thing, but we’re really lining towards it being our beach trailer.  But that’s our long term goal.  Just cause we love Colorado, there’s family cabins in Colorado, and obviously when it gets cold, you can’t do too much out there.  We do real estate photography, that’s, we have a good base of realtors in the area, about 8-10. 

M – That’s something I would like to get into.

G – We want to get one of those videos that you walk through and it gives you a visual.  It’s also fun, it’s quick, no pressure, no ones moving around.  There’s just you, the realtor, and the homeowner sometimes.  So we would love to shoot real estate pictures through the week and then do weddings on the weekend.

M – Yeah, I’ve shot a little bit of real estate photos in Kentucky, and also in Mexico.  Mexico was not houses though, it was resorts. And that was through one of my friends companies, so it commissioned a photographer to go there and do all that.

A – And that was like baptism by fire for him.  That was intense.  Every single day, 12-14 hours a day, it was insane.

M – Yeah, you were 2-3 days at a resort, and I think we had to get 8 rooms and….

A – And not only were they shooting ALL DAY but… they had to edit and deliver everything!

M – I had to deliver it  in like 2 days.  

A – I think houses would be SO much easier.

G –  Oh they are. They’re fun, they’re pretty easy, and I’m always wanting to get better, faster too.  We always get them their pictures the same day or the next day. But it’s $100-$150 for a standard MLS package, and you can do 2-3 a day.

Manny + Garry talk technical jargon for shooting real estate…

M – You guys are such a power house, and the amount of work that you guys put into your craft, it’s always going to pay off.  And I don’t know how much it means but, that’s something we admire from you guys.  I think it’s awesome that you guys are doing this together.  Not many people can.  But yeah, it was really nice talking to you!

S – Likewise! We admire you as well, I send referrals to you ALL the time!

M + A – We really really appreciate that!

G – We bring up your name all the time and you’re at the top of the list for when we refer people.  

M – Thank you, and Garry, give me your number after this, and we’ll talk about some video stuff that we can do for your business. 


Manny – Thank you guys so much for watching this video with Garry and Stacy.  Their links are all down below, be sure to book them for real estate, and weddings of course, and whatever else they do, they do a whole lot!  So anyway, Garry and Stacy, thank you so much for being on!

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