Do Friendships Make Better Pictures?

Ben Briones Studios



Building healthy relationships is a key to success in photography. I met Susana back in 2010 while studying at The University of Texas at Austin. My roommate, Miguel Cobos, introduced me to her after an event they attended.  As a photographer I noticed her natural beauty right away. She had it all; freckles, colored eyes. height, dimples and a million dollar smile but what was most appealing was her beautiful personality. Susana was genuinely a very nice girl and that’s why I think we’ve been friends ever since. The pictures above is a peak of genuine friendship that developed over time. Susana claimed that I promised to photograph her one , which I probably did, and that day finally came on May 10, 2014.

Friendships my fellow photographers are what it takes to create good portraiture.

  • A friendship builds trust with your subject allowing you to be more creative.
  • A friendship allows your subject to feel comfortable which helps the session flow well.
  • A friendship allows the client to value your services thus having no hesitation to pay for them.

The trust that Susana had in me allowed for creativity to flow and put her in a state of ease that allowed me to produce some milestone images for her. It’s not everyday someone graduates from a nationally recognized business school like McCombs plus UT-Austin’s Liberal Arts Program. These photos represent a special time in her life. Susana is an extremely smart and driven woman with a bright future ahead of her. I am very proud to call myself her friend. I present to you my favorite images from her portrait session. Hook’em Horns! 







If you’re interested to book a photographer/videographer, please fill out the contact form below.

60% Businessman, 20% Technician, 20% Artist

Deciding to take your photo-career to the next level and start a business is a milestone in your photography journey.

I believe when you have reached this state in your career you are on the right path; especially because a decision like this comes from real demand for your unique services.


Your life is about to change. The balance between the businessman-technician-artist in you will have to shift for survival. Starting a business is the worst thing ever! You are taking a leap from a Monday-Friday 9 to 5 secure job and steady paycheck to a highly demanding Monday-Monday all hours of the day fluctuating income lifestyle, not a job, but a new lifestyle. The small business life is not for the faint of heart. You now have to value time over money. The misconception of going into business for yourself is that you’re doing it for more money or to be your own boss. Well my friends, that’s not the case, especially as a photographer. If you’re the type of photographer that wants to book clients, manage clients, shoot, edit photos, design products, personally deliver, market, advertise, and handle finances all on your own you will not go far! Going pro means you have evolved into a businessman and thus must think like one; this means focusing on your strength and outsourcing your weaknesses.

If you haven’t peed your pants yet, then here is how to get started on this wild transition from being a hobbyist to a professional photographer.


  • Decide your business structure; sole proprietor, LLC or corporation. Read more about business structures here,  Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. I personally began as a sole pro and then switched over to an LLC because there are risks one takes as a photographer that can result in lawsuits and an LLC protects your ass(ets). When it comes to dealing with government crap I get all scared, and because of that fear I hired a lawyer to handle the paperwork and legalities of registering my business. This route can get pricey as I stated in one of my previous posts but it was the best choice for me. I believe the registration fee if you’re going solo is $350.


  • You also have to register for a Federal Tax ID. The government requires you to collect local and state taxes. Every service you offer has to be multiplied by 8.25% and that’s that amount you have to set aside for Uncle Sam. Click on the image below to find out why you have to pay taxes and how to go about it. The link will also allow you to began registering your business for a Tax ID.


  • Register your business name with your local county. If you are operating in Hidalgo County Texas download and fill out this FORM.


ben briones studios

  • Will you be a signature photographer or create a studio franchise? This question is important in identifying the services you will be offering and how those services will be managed. My suggestion is to make a list of the services you want to offer and then ask yourself if you will have a hand in all those services or if you’re willing  to delegate them. This is important to know before registering your business because the government asks you to state the intention of your business. At this point you’re no longer just a creative now, your businessman-technician-artist balance is shifting.
  • After legalizing and deciding your business direction now a new concern arises; personal image. How do you want your business seen as? Who are your clients? As stated above once you have reached this milestone it’s because of demand for your unique services. That being said I would hope your business has some type of identity but you’ll be surprised how many photographers have decided to go from hobbyist to pro without any following or branding.


ben brione studios bank of america

Money makes the world go round and it will make your business go round as well. You have to open a business bank account! In order to do this you must present your Federal Tax ID. For my business I use Bank of America because I’ve had a personal account with them since I was 18 years old. Talk to my homegirl, Ada Montemayor over at the Bank of America on N. 10th Street in McAllen. She handles my business account(s) and can help you (956) 928-7151, tell her Ben Briones sent you.

The importance of a business checking account is crucial because it will help you manage the expenses and profit of your company. You can literally see if your business is growing or failing through the numbers. Most business checking accounts are accompanied by a savings account, which you could use for saving purposes or taxes. I used my business savings account to separate my sales taxes.


Follow these steps and do the research needed for your business. If you need to hire a lawyer do so. An account can also set up your business as well. I hope this blog was helpful and it will help you decide on taking your photography career to the next level. If you have any questions feel free to email me or fill out the contact form below.


Make To-Do-Lists and Do!


As a small business owner you have to organize your thoughts and task or else you will fail!


Thoughts and tasks only manifest when they are visual. When you can see it then you can do it.

I use my iPhone 4S Notes App to make my to-do-list. Before I was cool with an “i” product I would physically write my to-do-list on Moleskin note pads. You’re welcome to use paper and pen but if you have a cell-phone then you have no excuses not to write down your thoughts and tasks.

I make a to-do-list every other day because I have so many ideas and too many tasks to mentally track. Once I type them out on my phone I email that list to myself and print it. The printed form allows me to SCRATCH OUT items as I complete them so I can see progress.

DOING = PROGRESS = SUCCESS = MONEY IN YOUR POCKET (or whatever you value as success)

If you want your photography business to succeed WRITE DOWN EVERYTHING!

Creating Workflows

2x2_Ben-Briones-Head-Shots-2013-(7-of-15)One of the most challenging tasks that hindered my business when it began to grow was keeping my jobs organized. It’s exciting to book a client or two and manage them well, but the real challenge comes when your business starts to grow rapidly and you have 15+ jobs for the year. Things get hectic when you have to manage Robert and Gloria’s wedding coming up in three weeks and they haven’t gotten their sign-in-book they ordered from you two months ago.

At the same time you are dealing with a new client you are about to book photos, video and who also need an engagement session right away; on top of that you have three portrait clients waiting to order prints and review images. Trust me, I have dealt with all kinds of crazy situations –but this is how I overcame being unorganized and began managing each of my clients as if they were the only ones that mattered. I built a system using a client management application like ShootQ.

When I began my business I did not pay for a client management application, instead I had paper and pen which I used to create workflows for each type of job I was booking. One day I sat down and just recollected the whole experience a client goes through, from the consultation meeting to receiving their final product from us. I wrote all of that down in a chronological step-by-step list. I did this for all my jobs including, photo booths, portrait sessions, quinces and weddings. Once I got my hands on ShootQ I began to apply them to their shoot workflow settings. You don’t have to purchase a client management application to be organized, you are free to use excel, printed lists or whatever you feel works best for your business. Many photographers I know manage their clients fine with just excel and their Google Calendar.

Below you will see a detailed workflow for my portrait sessions. Study it and see if it something similar to what you are doing and manipulate it to fit your jobs. If you would like to sit down with me to do a one-on-one mapping of your job workflows please fill out the contact form below.


Session Pre-Shoot

  • Photographer: Discuss Session Ideas. Add Remarks. [Online or Meeting]
  • Assistant: Confirm Session Details. Add To Client Management Application
Due Date: 3 Day(s) After Booking


Send an Email – (Reminders) Meeting Reminder – Ben Briones Studios

Session Post-Production

  • Photographer: Backup Images on 2 HD’s
  • Photographer: Cull Images
  • Photographer: Edit Images
  • Photographer: Upload To PASS
  • Assistant: Email Print Order Form To Client
Due Date: 1 Day(s) After the Event


Send an Email – (2014 General) PASS Instructions

Session Post-Shoot

  • Assistant: Share PASS Gallery w/ Client
  • Assistant: Collect Final Payment
Due Date: 5 Day(s) After the Previous Milestone


Send a Questionnaire – Ben Briones Studios: Client Follow Up Survey – 2014

Why I am paying $2071 more in taxes for my business than last year!


Here are the numbers plain and simple:
Ben Briones Photography cleared $60,000 in our second year as an LLC, as compared to $24,000 from last year — baby steps, but we’re moving.

So, let’s get to the juicy goosey part, which is preparing your business for tax season and organizing all your numbers.

When I first started my business I did not know anything about business and how to handle its finances.  I had no idea that bank accounts, profit and loss statements, FICA, taxes and all that ‘mumbo jumbo’ is what makes your business legit. I had to learn that as I went, but these days I’m eating up business books like it’s a buffet. You have to know these things to produce a successful business — this means — making a profit, AKA cash-money-dough!

And you may be wondering,  what are these “things” ?

Número Uno: You absolutely have to get a business bank account or a separate bank account for it. This will help you monitor the money going in and out of your business. Having record of expenses is extremely helpful when tax season rolls around. This helps a lot because now you don’t have to struggle explaining to your accountant that the $40 charge at Red Lobster was for a client, and not for a date with your girlfriend.

Number Two: You have be good at tracking, and we’re talking numbers here, not zombies like the bad-ace Daryl Dixon from The Walking Dead. Although, you might end up looking like a walker if you wait last minute to organize those numbers  (like I did).
The first day I saw my accountant I was sporting a fresh black button-up with off-white corduroys. The next day, I rolled up my sleeves and half-assed an obnoxious green tie so he wouldn’t notice I was wearing the same clothes from the day before. I slept at my office that night because the method of tracking I did on my income and expenses wasn’t the right one, obviously. I had the correct numbers, correct sums and I had the categories, but not in the form the accountant needed them. So, if you don’t want to make this same mistake, make sure you have the following categories tracked and summed up:
Contract labor, utilities, rent, phone and internet, tax-deductible meals, etc. Everyone will have different categories, but make sure you track the ones you spent the most on each month. At the end of the each month you need to have a sum of each important category,  so that at end of the year you can create a profit and loss statement.
Track those numbers!

Número Tres: Learn about business. You will not understand what you are doing if you do not educate yourself on business. Here is a list of websites you can go to,  ask questions and educate yourself to be able to do the previous two tips. I go to, for the latest on business systems and any questions I have on business basics. For accounting and taxes I go to, yes –the most boring website on earth — but it has all the answers to anything related to taxes. Lastly, for more personal photographer-to-photographer information I visit Nashville’s finest,

The reason I am paying $2071 more in taxes this year as compared to the $800 I had to pay last year,  is because I have educated myself in business and therefore, made a bigger profit. I have taken learning about business very seriously and you should, too.  You are not just a photographer, you are now businessmen and businesswomen.

If you are interested in sitting down with me to help you review your business and give you one-on-one advice on  business growth. please fill out the contact form below.

Thank You!


Are you digitally unorganized?

ben briones studios

Lacie Drives – Ben Briones Studios

I am going to give you a few pointers on how to organize your Raw and JPEG photos in your external had drives. Now remember this is my method of organizing my clients’ images in my hard drives. It may not work for you, but if you plan on taking your photo business to the next level it is key to have your images organized. If things start getting chaotic in your drives or computer, your business will hurt.

Let’s get started!

TIP 1: When you first buy your hard drive make sure you buy it with enough memory to last you for one year. Remember you will be shooting lots of sessions, events and maybe video. I would play it safe and go for a 2TB Drive. I personally like using Lacie drives and… I buy them refurbished from
Once you set up your drive on your computer do the following: create one folder and name it for the year you will be using it for.


Digitally Unorganized 1 Ben Briones Studios

TIP 2: Within that folder you are going to want to create 12 new folders and name each one for the month in this manner: 1_January_2013.
Naming them with the number first will automatically set them in chronological order. This will also help you look up events faster because you will be able to see the month, and find the folder you are looking for. It’s also very helpful if clients do not purchase their digital files from you upon signing, but do so later on. With this method, you’ll have them safely stored and well organized — which makes it a piece of cake to produce those digital files for them.

Digitally Unorganized 2 Ben Briones Studios

Digitally Unorganized 2 Ben Briones Studios

TIP 3: Now that you have your folders setup by month you can began transferring in folders from your events and sessions. For my business I like to title the event folders in a particular manner: I put the the year first, then the month, the date and then the name of the event followed by the name or initials of my business, for example, 2013-01-20_Adam & Emily Wedding_BenBrionesStudios. This style of labeling helps me recall the exact date of the event plus the name of the client and what type of event it was. You may wonder, how is this super long name helpful?  Well lets say your client’s parents contact you five months after the wedding and they’d like to purchase some prints or parent album. First of all you will not likely recognize them, so when they start asking you about their kid’s photos you can ask them, “What year and month was the event?” And with just the year and date alone you can narrow your search in seconds and get those orders started for your clients. Trust me this has happened before and it will happen to you. Earlier this month I had a client from 2012 call me asking for her daughter’s Quinceañera photos. I was able to access my 2012 drive and find them very easily.

Digitally Unorganized 3 Ben Briones Studios

Digitally Unorganized 3 Ben Briones Studios

TIP 4: As I mentioned at the beginning, this is what works best for my business but it may benefit or inspire you as well. My last TIP for organizing your digital images on external drives is to divide the Raw or Original images into their own folder. The PRINT files are the high-resolution JPEGs and any behind the scene images you might have taken of yourself or your second shooters working. I like doing this because it keeps my Raw files all in one place, so if I ever need to go back and re-edit or look for a replacement photo I know where to look. I have had issues where a bride remembered I took three shots of her at a certain location. In the JPEG I gave her she didn’t like her smile that much, but recalled I taking others. So, to please my client I went back to my Raw files to find the outtakes of that. Other components were not good for production, but her smile was perfect. I was able to Photoshop the smile from the outtake on to the shot she liked.

Ever since 2009, I have been posting behind the scene images of myself or my team working. Clients love it, they get to see us at work and other photographers get to see how we work. I always make it a point to take behind the scene images at a session or event — I make a folder for them and upload them to our Facebook page. The PRINT folder is where the final product is stored. I use the word, PRINT in the title so I know those are the high-resolution images that can be printed from sizes of 30×30 or less. This makes it easier for my clients to understand when they received them, because both the folder and the images have the same title and they know the photos are printable.

Digitally Unorganized 4 Ben Briones Studios

Digitally Unorganized 4 Ben Briones Studios

How to web optimize your images for social media.

ben briones studios

ben briones studios

Ben Briones StudiosOptimizing your image for the web is very important when you are creating an online portfolio on a Facebook page. Here are the steps on how to optimize an image for the web using Adobe Photoshop.

  1. Open your image using your Adobe Photoshop application.
  2. Resize the image by going to IMAGE > IMAGE SIZE from the menu bar and resize your image to 900 pixels in height and click OK.
  3. Go to FILE > SAVE FOR WEB & DEVICES. Make sure you choose the JPEG option and 100% on the quality. The OPTIMIZED check-box should be checked off.

Those are the basic steps to optimize an image for the web using an Adobe Photoshop application.