Posted on April 19, 2014
So, why didn’t I?
The reason I didn’t drop out of school to pursue photography full-time was because a degree helps beyond school book knowledge. Ben Briones Studios would not be as successful as it has become without the experiences a college education gives you. It feels good to have a bachelors from a university ranked 22nd best in the United States and the 8th best public university and 30th among the words universities. Earning a degree period, should push you to become a better you. UT’s motto is ‘What Starts Here Changes The World’ and I truly believe I am doing just that.
Here are five ways my degree has helped me:
Posted on March 25, 2014
It is time to end our two-year relationship. There was a time when I really needed you but things have changed. When we first started our relationship I was super excited about you and all your qualities. What attracted me wasn’t only how innovative you were but also the free album building services, your very low credit card transaction rate of 1.5% and the great email marketing you offered my clients. But I was young and you were too — we grow, change, we also want different things and have new individual goals. I remember how extremely proud I was of having a pro-membership with you; I would tell everyone about you!
You know I always wanted to purchase canvas prints from you, but the prices were always too expensive. Now I get my canvas prints from someone else and the price difference is phenomenal. One of the main things that frustrated me about you was the difficulty of purchasing a digital download. My clients could not just download a full set of images straight from their galleries. The point that you were still offering CDs for $40+ was ridiculous in this era of the digital download.
It is obvious now that things are rocky between us and enough for me to downgrade to a starter account. My clients and I are demanding something you can’t offer and I have to look out for them myself. With its few ups and downs I can’t say I didn’t enjoy having you in my life — but it’s time to move on. Sincerely, Ben Briones.
To find out what Ben Briones Studios is using now for print products, canvases, and digital downloads. Please fill out the contact form below.
Posted on March 22, 2014
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, Inc.com for the latest on business systems and any questions I have on business basics. For accounting and taxes I go to irs.gov, 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, ZachandJody.com.
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.
Posted on March 17, 2014
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 MacMall.com.
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.
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.
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.
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.