I think we can all agree that if there was such an award,
Kanye West would be in contention for the prestigious "Most Obnoxious
Person on the Planet" honor. Yet, if there's one thing this year has
taught me, it's that there is valuable insight to be gleaned from even the most
insufferable sources. Don't think Kanye can teach you anything about your
photography business? Well, hold onto
your leather jogging pants people because you are about to get schooled.*
A reference to Kanye telling the press that it was he who brought leather
jogging pants to Fendi six years ago and was flat out denied. To quote Kanye
directly, "How many [expletive] you done seen with a leather jogging
pant?" Too many to count, Kanye, too many to count.
Last week I had two objectives. The first was to create
welcome boxes for our four new clients. I figured I would complete that task by
lunch time, freeing up my afternoon to dive into my second priority which was
blogging our last wedding of the season. Sadly, when 4 pm rolled around I found
myself making a dash to the post office with my four boxes just in the nick of
time. I felt so frustrated with my slow self! The urgent voice in the back of
my head (born of one too many lectures about maximizing time and streamlining
workflow) makes me feel like I am always playing beat the clock.
Could I streamline my welcome box assembly? I considered
1. Bake (from scratch) a batch of our signature Snap!
Vegan Salted Oat Cookies. Sprinkle in a few choice swear words when you realize
you are out of vanilla, craisins, almond milk, etc.-- take your pick because
there's always something missing! Run to the grocery store for said missing
2. Cool cookies on racks, beating back family and
business partner as they attempt to consume the cookies that are supposed to be
going to clients. Keep one eye on your computer screen and one eye on the
cookies while you attempt to complete step 3.
3. Go to the PPA charities website and start donating.
(We donate $240 for every wedding we book to Operation Smile). A separate donation form has to be filled out
for each new client. Print out a receipt for the donation to include in the
4. Hand write a note to each client explaining the awesomeness
of Operation Smile, and the awesomeness of them booking us so that we can
donate to the awesome cause.
5. Wrap the gift (a set of pewter heart shaped measuring
spoons) with fancy wrapping paper and ribbon.
6. Package the homemade cookies in a bag with luxe ribbon
and custom cookie recipe tag.
7. Assemble boxes with confetti paper, spoons, Operation
Smile card and cookies.
8. Hand write (another) thank you note on our special
letterpress thank you cards and nestle it on top of the presents.
9. Tape the Box and fill out a mailing label.
10. Run to the post office to mail the package--fresh
baked cookies need to be eaten straight away after all!
Ideas I came up with for trimming some time from my
welcome box assembly included; store bought cookies... out of the question! I'd
sooner eat Kanye's leather jogging pants. Besides, the snap cookies are
addictive, they've been tested. On the scale of addictiveness you have
cigarettes, then heroine, and next Snap's vegan salted oat cookies. I guess I
could skip the hand written note part, but I really love receiving a handwritten
note. Doesn't everyone?
Putting the cookie conundrum on the back burner, I dove
into my next project, blogging our last wedding of the season. Surely I'd crank
that right out.
Wrong, this took me two days. Is taking two days to blog
a wedding an outrageous waste of time? There's a popular "blog every day" movement
among some photographers, but I wonder how to create a quality post if you have
to churn them out daily. Again I considered my steps.
1. Carefully choose 85-100 photos. That's a lot of photos
for sure but that's what it takes for me to successfully tell the story. I am
VERY picky about what shots make it onto the blog. They must be flattering to
the client, flattering to the other vendors involved and flattering to us
because if everyone is flattered than everybody wins.
2. "Jazz" the photos. That's a technical term
we use around here for photoshopping. Every single photo is retouched, jazzed
with an appropriate photo shop action, sized for the blog and watermarked.
3. Rename the photos for SEO and upload them to the post.
4. Write the post. I find a clever or sentimental quote
and share some personal thoughts about the couple and the wedding. Then I mention
the other fabulous vendors. Finally I tie it all together neatly with some
expert advice or a funny behind the scenes peek.
5. Post the blog, share the link on Facebook, and notify
the bride and the other vendors involved that it's up. Hurray!
6. Take a nap before my head explodes.
Maybe there are some things I could trim here too. Less
photos? No jazzing? Skip the personal writing which takes so much time? I
suppose... NOT. Doing so would feel like sacrificing quality.
I'm really happy with the QUALITY of my cookies and I am
happy with the QUALITY of my blogging. More importantly, so are my clients. Here's
the thing about quality: most often it takes a long time to achieve. This is
where our friend Kanye's valuable lesson comes into the story. Kanye was
recently schooled himself by the Association of French Bakers in what can only
be described as the most sarcastically perfect reprimand in the history of
It seems Kanye wrote a song that really pissed off the
French. The offending lyrics were from the song, "I am God" (no, actually
that's not the offensive part). The part
they took umbrage with was these lyrics,
"In a French-ass restaurant
Hurry up with my damn
know! The nerve, right?! The scathing letter from the bakers to Monsieur Kanye
West was lengthy, so I'll just give you a few of the more biting and poignant
you are not a man to be satisfied with pre-made croissants from the baked goods
case reheated and tossed out on a small platter. No -- you had demanded your
croissants freshly-baked, to be
delivered to your table straight out of the oven piping hot.
croissant is dignified?--?not vulgar like a piece of toast,
simply popped into a mechanical device to be browned. No?--?the croissant is born of tender
care and craftsmanship. Bakers must carefully layer the dough, paint on perfect
proportions of butter, and then roll and fold this trembling croissant embryo
with the precision of a Japanese origami master.
us mere mortals, we must wait the time required for the croissant to come to
perfect fruition, but as a deity, you can surely alter the bread's molecular
structure faster than the speed of light, no?
that last line was my favorite! You've got to hand it to the French, they
really know how to sling an elegant insult. Much like the treasured croissant,
the Snap! experience is multi-layered; flaky
on the outside, tender in the middle and worth waiting for.
may take me all day to send four welcome boxes to new clients, but every one of
my clients sent a thank you email for the delicious cookies and gift. Every one
of them said they felt warm and fuzzy about donating to Operation Smile. I even
had a bride tell me recently that she makes Snap! cookies once a week for her
groom because... you guessed it... he's addicted to them. That kind of feel good
customer loyalty and branding is priceless.
feel the same way about blogging. We don't post everyday but I've had clients
tell me they look forward to the posts and savor reading them, just like a good
book. Would you feel compelled to savor something that you could have every
day? I know I wouldn't. I've never been there, but if I do ever make it to
Paris, I plan to savor me a few croissants and I'll wait patiently to get them.
next time you find yourself beating yourself up about how much time you've
spent on designing your website, networking with vendors, or creating a kickass
album design remember that quality attracts quality. Take another page from Monsieur
Kanye West's book because, after all, he attracted Kim Kardashian. Guess it
works in reverse too.