Mistakes of a Photographer – Ben Briones Studios

As a business owner without any formal education you tend to learn things the hard way. In my career as a professional photographer I have made many mistakes. This blog post is to share my experiences and how I was able to overcome those mistakes.

There are four important things as a business owner you must stay on top of to succeed, your finances, your products and services, the care of customer and yourself.  Those components are what spins the wheels to move your business forward. Unfortunately, if one is off balance it can bring you to a complete halt.

In the commercial photography industry the care for your customer ranks number one and the care taking of their data follows. As photographers we capture and archive precious one in a lifetime moments. We photograph valued objects and subjects. Then after all the photos have been taken we archive them and protect them because the y are images our clients value. You too should value them just as much as your client. You are the caretaker of that data.

This leads me to my first mistake.

LOSING DATA | HARD DRIVE CRASHES | MISPLACEMENT OF ASSETS 

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I waited nervously at a corner table of a busy Starbucks on a Wednesday night. I was missing church but I had to because what I was about to do was extremely important.

I kept looking out the window for my clients to arrive. Finally, I saw their call pull up and park. They walked in together looking a little worried but still greeted me with a smile. By this time my heart was pounding out of my chest. I first presented to them their large canvas prints that they loved. I wanted to bring them joy before I brought them sadness. Then the moment came.

“Mr. & Mrs. XZY I have very bad news.”, I said in a low tone. I turned my MacBook to them I had setup prior to them arriving and I showed them the very small collection of video and photos I had left from their wedding. A few months before the hard drive I had their images stored in crashed leaving no chances of a full recovery. A company named $300 Data Recovery sent me back all he could restore from the disk. Most images and videos were currpot and unusable.

Tears rolled down the newly wed couples eyes. Gloom and disbelief filled that little corner table of Starbucks. I felt dead to be honest. The god of electronic data storage should of taken me with that hard drive too. They asked if nothing else could he done. If we could send the drive to another company. Nearly 70% of their wedding night memories in photo and video were gone!

Then the bride asked the right that nailed my coffin shut… “Why didn’t you back our files up on another drive?” [insert internet troll insults here] She was right. How could I be so stupid?

I thought all hope was lost until my friend Mike Garcia texted me one day asking me if some files off his CF card were mine. I asked him to send me a photo of them and low-and-behold…they were the “lost” files. Mike had allowed me to borrow his camera and memory cards for that specific wedding and I guess since the event he hadn’t shot or formatted his card because many images and video clips that were missing or not recovered were still stored in that CF card. I quick rushed over to his home to get the files and triple back them up because I now had good news for my clients.

The first thing I did while driving to Mike’s was text the bride about the good news! Not all the files were able to be saved but thanks to Mike, we had at least 80% of her wedding files back! Act of God! But though we had found the majority of their wedding files I still took responsibility and refunded the bride and groom completely for the wedding video services. I owned up to my failure with my wallet.

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THE MORAL OF THE STORY

Photographers: Always backup your files immediately after a shoot or event or even during the actual shoot. If you do manage to fall into this predicament always own up to it and do not be afraid to talk to your client. Never avoid them and be as transparent about any issues that will affect their data or files. Try your hardest to fix the issue or create solutions that will balance out the issue at hand. If any issue requires you to refund the client be ready to do so and talk to the client about a re-payment plan.

Clients / Future Clients: Technology is not trustworthy and is always changing. Be aware that there will always be some type of hardware failure when dealing with computers, cameras, and memory storage media. I assure you that it’s very rare and can be avoided by proper storage data archiving practices. Know that I will always do my best to resolve the issue and will pay top dollar to restore, revive or recover any lost or corrupt data or files that belong to you. I understand that as your photographer you are entrusting me with the most beautiful and special moments in your life and I am beyond honored to be a part of. I will do my best to communicate with you in all aspects of our business relationship and outside of our business relationship. I, most importantly, want you to know that you can trust me. 

If you have gone through a similar situation as a photographer or a client and would like to talk in detail about the issue please fill the contact form below.

Inspire Others Through Your Career! – Ben Briones Studios 

I was photographing a career day a while back at the South Texas College Mid-Valley Campus in Weslaco, Texas, when some students came up to me to ask if their was a booth to find out more on how to become a professional photographer.

HOW AWESOME IS THAT? 

Although everyone and their mother can become a photographer now-a-days, it’s still a great money making skill to have. I’ve been a career photographer for more than 7 years and it’s been extremely rewarding both financially and emotionally.

SHOOT SHOOT SHOOT

My career in photography has been perfect in my eyes. I have photographed United States presidents and presidents in the making. I have photographed small coffee shop concerts to big time hip hop artist like T.I. My photography career also spans from small backyard parties to $5,000 plus extravagant weddings. I have also worked for various magazines and newspapers and have been published nationally.

LEARN AND TEACH 

One important thing about inspiring others is for you too to be inspired. I am always constantly learning about new photography techniques, new business models, about new equipment. Secondly, you too must be open to teach others what you know. Sharing knowledge is part of inspiring others. In the photography world you have two types of photographers; those who share and those who don’t. The ones who do are the ones who often you find  running a successful business.

HONESTY 

The core value of a good photographer should be honesty and let me tell you why. If you are a bullshitter you will be found out. The camera never lies. You should hold yourself accountable for all your screw ups as well as your success because people are watching you. I will be the first to admit that I have lost client files, I have broken equipment that wasn’t mine and I have run out of money where I couldn’t pay my help… but I manned up to all of them and took care of those issues. If you go around lying about your work and what you do in photography the industry will expose you. 

FANS, FOLLOWERS AND CRITICS 

To those who follow my work and are fans and even to those who dislike me, I say to you, THANK YOU! In some way you have inspired me to grow as a photographer and business owner. If you’re on your journey in becoming a professional photographer always be aware of your fans, followers and clients and never forget about your critics too. There’s going to be a day when you will need to draw inspirtiarion from them! 

 Love what you do and you may inspire others!

Entrepreneur Rant 

 I always see a lot of people post about their “grind” or their “hustle” but their behavior doesn’t reflect that…they are just bullshitting. For those who know me, know my work ethic, and for those who don’t–maybe in their eyes I’m just a bullshitter too. I know how hard I work and my day-to-day reflects it. There are very few people I know who truly work as hard as me or even harder and I respect them for it. 

When it’s true “grind” and “hustle” your portraying it disrupts your whole being, it disrupts your family, it disrupts your love life, it disrupts your friendships, and definitely disrupts your peace. You’re always “on” constantly thinking, planning, executing and producing. Problem solving becomes your superpower. Execution of ideas go from goals to relality. Every oppurtunity you get you try to build business. 

It’s hard. It’s lonely. Being an entrepreneur is a 24/7 choice and I’ve made mine. Now, “Put that coffee down! Coffee is for closers only!” 

Austin Texas Photographer – Mount Bonnell – Ben Briones

#TBT

Years ago when I was attending the The University of Texas at Austin I conducted a had a photoshoot on top of Mount Bonnell for my client and she turned the camera on me and took these fun portraits.

I would always wear that leather hat that I bought at the City Wide Garage Sale hosted inside the Palmer Event Convention Center and those old roper boots with holes that I have had for years. You would never see me leave home without my Canon 5D (original).

Austin was good to me during my college years and I do miss it sometimes but right now I am building my brand in the Rio Grande Valley, Edinburg to be exact. Maybe one day once I am established here I will franchise in Austin but for now I travel up only when hired or to visit my friends.

If you are looking to get some photos done in Austin, Texas please feel free to contact me. We travel up at no cost. Click on the links below to see some of my work done in Austin.

FAMILY | ENGAGEMENT | GRADUATIONS

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If you’re interested in booking a photo shoot in Austin, Texas please fill out the contact form below.

Border Wall – RGV – Ben Briones

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In 2008 I was contracted by The Texas Observer to photograph some portraits of 2 people being affected by the then new border wall. The two people you see below were challenging the government because they lived on a property in Brownsville, Texas and Granjeno, Texas where the government had plans to build the border wall literally in their back yards. The two won the fight and the construction of the wall was pushed back about 50ft – 100ft from their property.

Here is the original article titled Holes in the Wall by Melissa del Bosque featuring my work:  https://www.texasobserver.org/2688-holes-in-the-wall/

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I hope to go back to photographing major issues happening in our community! It was an interesting assignment that I had privilege of photographing. It actually got picked up by many other publications outside of the Texas Observer.

 

 

Graduation Celebration | Lora Lee Martinez | My Best Friend

Sometimes I miss my best friend but I know she’s enjoying her new life over in Virgina with her awesome boyfriend Tony aka TheLaoTieGuy! I was going through my blog drafts a few nights ago and I came across this draft and decided to write about this experience.

Lora graduated that day with her masters and she had planned to double up the celebration with her good friend Alessandra. Back in the day I use to carry my DSLR everywhere but now I rarely take it anywhere but this time around it was a milestone so I brought it out and captured these great memories. Today I look back at them and I am very proud to call Lora Lee Martinez my best friend.

Enjoy! IMG_8385IMG_8425IMG_8430IMG_8440IMG_8453IMG_8465IMG_8472IMG_8502IMG_8517

2017 Resolution – Ben Briones Studios

LogoWorking harder than ever in 2017. I’m ready to take on any challenges that arise. I have been in business for over 7 years now and there’s nothing I haven’t experienced. Running a business has been one of the most challenging tasks I have ever had to face.
 
I’ve seen brides shed tears over their beautiful moments we captured and I’ve seen brides shed tears because one of our hard drives crashed losing her most of her wedding files. It’s a tough job! My favorite quote to tell people who visit me at my office is “Don’t ever become a photographer!”.
 
To all my future clients and current clients tonight I vow to do my very best that my own being can handle, to do my best with the technology at hand and its limitations, and to do my very best providing solutions to any mistakes or incidents that do occur this year. I’m human and this is a human driven business.
 
Thank you all for your constant support. Special thanks to my close coworkers and contractors who I consider part of the Ben Briones Studios Family; Jess Musick, Stephanie Rios, Felicia Sepulveda, Veronica Briones, Luis Reyes, Maria Dolores Alvarado, Sara Yanez, Roland Hernandez. Let’s make 2017 memorable!
 
Ben Briones

Stephanie Rios – Professional Photographer – Ben Briones Studios

There comes a time in your life when you have to ask for help! It is inevitable because as much as we think we could do everything and anything, truly, we can’t. And after we receive help it usually customary to thank that person. Today, I thank you Stephanie Rios!

crm-images_08-18-16_stc-203-copyMerriam-Webster’s dictionary defines help as the following: to give assistance or support to. Allow me to be the first to admit that I constantly need help and thus call one people for assistance. Mrs. Stephanie has become one of those people who has become my go to for support because she’s simply amazing.

Stephanie Rios is a wonderful mother, a gracious wife, a trusty worthy friend, an amazing sister, and ambitious and talented photographer.

I often refer to Steph as my shooting partner because the relationship is beyond a paycheck. I got to witness Stephanie walk down the isle as her wedding videographer. I got to witness Stephanie carry her beautiful son for nine months and document that milestone in her life. And I cannot forget about her husband, whom I have come to love equally, because to be 100% honest, Mr. Carlos Rios is badass. [Excuse my french.]
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Stephanie has helped me on numerous events, photo shoots, photo booths, and everything photography related. She’s extremely talented. She has an eye for detail. She has personality to become a super-star photographer. And I support it all. I support her ambition so much that I will defend her against anyone who tries to discredit her or worst not give her any credit for the skilled photography she provides anyone who hires her.

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This morning my friend Steph posted a  genuine question on a photography forum on Facebook called South Texas Photo & Video Community on how to approach photographer’s she second shoots with for credit on photos they share that she shot. For those familiar with forums you know it can get rowdy, and mainly by the know-it-alls [me included]. Well the question sprouted a healthy debate and insightful  opinionated information. [my two cents included]

The simple solution that I proposed to this type of issue is for the hiring photographer to create and have all second shooters / freelancers sign an agreement. Within this contract  the hiring photographer should include the verbiage and clarify the expectations,  responsibilities, and  intellectual property privileges of the second shooter. Sadly, none to very little photographers do this at all. I don’t blame them though, business knowledge is not that common in the photography industry. Many don’t take the time to see their brand as a business and that later become issues. [please read business books photographers]

A while back Stephanie and I did establish an agreement on how we will handle credit and images she has taken for my brand. And far from it do I ever not credit for her the help she provides me. I go beyond and link my clients to her personal brand; Stephanie Rios Photography because she’s worthy of praise.

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Photographers who are reading this I challenge you to credit your second shooters or assistants after your next photo related job. Give thanks publicly. Post your favorite shot they snapped for your brand. Take a behind the scene of them passionately grabbing capturing a moment. Take even further and share their personal portfolio so that your clients can see that you hire top quality talent.

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If you are looking to hire a photographer for your next event or photo shoot I recommend you a talented photography by the name of Stephanie Rios.


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Stephanie Rios Photographer 
Owner / Photographer
Weddings | Portraits | Children
(956) 313-1741
stephanievalencia7@gmail.com

Ruben Lowing – Valley LED Solutions – Ben Briones Studios

Spontaneous Late Night Portrait

On Monday night our church called a general assembly and that day a fellow church brother, Ruben Lowing, needed a ride to and from church. Mr. Ruben is a character. He has so many interesting stories. This man has was a United States Navy Seal, a Navy Boxer, a realtor in California, a finance advisor, and know the owner of a successful LED lighting business known as Valley LED Solutions.

Well that Monday night on our ride back home from the church meeting he asked If I was interested in seeing some of this LED products at a local freight company in Pharr, Texas. I agreed to check them out and when we arrived Ruben got off the car and started taking photos with his cell phone. I sat in the car watching him happily take photos of his product and some of himself. As I watched this unfold sitting in my car I began thinking, “You’re a photographer with professional camera gear in your car. Why don’t you help him out?”

Ruben came back into the car and I asked him, “Would you like for me to take a portrait of you with my camera?” He responded, “I forgot who I was in the car with.” We both stepped out of the car and I grabbed my Canon 6D and an 85mm and went to work. Breaking that barrier of laziness was the result of this nice simple late night spontaneous portrait of Mr. Ruben Lowing proud owner of Valley LED Solutions.

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Ruben is the owner of Valley LED Solutions, which services residential and commercial LED lighting around the Rio Grande Valley.

Ruben Lowing
Valley Led Solutions
956-255-0061
http://www.valleyledsolutions.com
ruben.lowing@valleyledsolutions.com

 

Alejandra Avila – ENHS Graduate – 2011

#flashbackfriday

Ale has a spirit that is unmatched, a personality that is a addicting and a warmth to her soul that is has been passed down to her by her beautiful mother. For those who know Ale you know how animated she is, how contagious her laughter and how strong this beautiful young lady has grown to be. Ale and I became friends back in 2010 through mutual acquaintances and after serving her and her family through my business I don’t feel less than family with her. Truly special thanks to her mother for making me feel like a part of their family.

We barely knew each other at this photo shoot to be honest but she trusted me and I trusted her and these images were the results. From what I knew about Ale was that she was the most spirited Edinburg North High School Cougar on campus. She as also very popular and honestly talked to everyone and anyone. Another thing that brought us closer was our mutual love for photography. In her parents home; Ale’s room was completely covered in photograph she took from the floor the the ceiling. Anyone with that passion for documenting memories is on my top list!

Ale and I have a special bond but I truly cherish the bond her mother and I built in result of of this photo shoot. I write this with a heavy heart but Mrs. Marisela Avila with The Lord now and I know her family misses her dearly and I miss her as well. Sometimes I think Mrs. Avila and I became better friends than Ale and I ever did; no hard feelings Ale but you’re mom is awesome.

I really think I pushed my creativeness in this photo shoot. Special thanks for my shooting partner Lori Alaniz and Mrs. Avila for assisting. Without a doubt these have to be one of my best graduation photo set that I have done in all of my career. If I could title this body of work it would read; Mama’s Pride. 

Photo Credit: Lori Alaniz, Ben Briones2011-05-22_Ale Escobedo_PRINT_BBP-3_FB2011-05-22_Ale Escobedo_PRINT_BBP-6_FB2011-05-22_Ale Escobedo_PRINT_BBP-17_FB2011-05-22_Ale Escobedo_PRINT_BBP-24_FB2011-05-22_Ale Escobedo_PRINT_BBP-30_FB2011-05-22_Ale Escobedo_PRINT_BBP-41_FB2011-05-22_Ale Escobedo_PRINT_BBP-58_FB2011-05-22_Ale Escobedo_PRINT_BBP-74_FB2011-05-22_Ale Escobedo_PRINT_BBP-81_FB

If you are celebrating a milestone and would like a quote for our services please fill the contact form below.