Posted on December 31, 2019
There are so many people I could think of right now that I should be listing to give my most humble appreciation for their assistance in the success of Ben Briones Studios in 2019. To be transparent it wasn’t our most profitable year but it was a major year of growth, partnership, lessons, and love and understanding for business. I went from renting an office / studio at Grindstone in Edinburg, Texas to purchasing a home in north McAllen and dedicating two rooms of the four to the business. There were some great losses as well in personnel, time and tons of money but I truly grew from the losses.
[The Thank You List]
Sara Yanez, Luis Reyes, Maria Dolores Alvarado, Roland Hernandez, Emiliano Peña, Xiomara Denisse Anzaldua, Jennifer Trevino, Jessica Musick, Joe Martinez, Ray Pedraza,
I took on a major role at my 8-5 job, which really affected my business. As the chief photographer of South Texas College, I have become more involved than before and I am on salary as well so basically I am always on duty. There are some benefits of it though. You can see the work I produce for STC on RGVison Magzine, at our website and on billboards across the Rio Grande Valley. With this newly upgraded position at the college it has taken a big chunk of my attention away from the business and to my clients who have been affected I am truly sorry. In 2020 I will be better at balancing both jobs for sure.
Here are few things I am proud of that I did or did not do in 2019. For the longest time I have been a huge advocate for Apple products when it comes to photography, but in mid-2019 I bought myself a powerful gaming PC to replace my iMac and Macbook Pro. I never thought I’d see the day where I would be using PC to run my photography business. In 2019 I also increased my studio photography work, which I am very proud of and really enjoy. 35mm film became a new thing in my arsenal as well, I even dedicated a page on my blog for my scans. Lastly, I resisted the whole Sony / Mirrorless crazy everyone and their mother was buying into, literally. I am happy to say I am still shooting and creating beautiful work with my Canon 6D of which I purchased in 2012. I did not need a mirrorless camera to “to take better photos”. I formed a great new partnership with Terry The Wedding Gal and that has been a long relationship way before 2019 but this year it really flourished.
New things I learned about running a photography business in 2019 were as follows; always pay your quarterly taxes on time, if not you will get fined big time. Lesson learned. Always backup your files three-fold because losing someones photos is emotionally and financially costly. I bought a Synology and stacked it with 16TBs and use Amazon Drive as well. Buying digital ads is the new and probably the only way to get new eyes on your brand, which lead to new prospects and clients. I thought I didn’t have to buy ads but I was wrong. Stop giving discounts! In 2020 I hope to give less discounts, unless you paying cash… Last thing I am going to say I learned was to take breaks or vacations. I tried my best to take Sunday’s off but as a workaholic it was very hard but I managed to have some free fun Sunday’s with no work. Hence the “Studio Closed” messages on my business Facebook timeline.
Price increases across the board for sure and no more discounts, unless you are paying cash. We can talk about that more in person. New gear for sure, although I love my beat up 6D, I am really wanting to minimize my gear list, so I am looking at some mirrorless camera like the Fujifilm XT-3, which I rented in 2019 to test out for various shoot types like portraits and architecture. Better communication and time management for the studio utilizing a CRM or business system. More days off and vacation. Been working my ass off since 2007 as a photographer, about time I take some vacations and go explore the world and photograph it.
With all that said I leave you with a SEE NEXT YEAR!
Posted on April 20, 2019
From shooting their engagement photos, to traveling with my team to Fredericksburg, Texas to document their wedding day, I have been photographing Britny and Ignacio’s special moments up to now. Being given the opportunity to once more be a part of another milestone in their lives by photographing their baby announcement was exciting!
Britny had great ideas. She wanted a theater as the location to shoot this announcement. We scouted around town and decided to use the Edinburg Municipal Auditorium and the Citrus Theater located down town Edinburg, Texas. Tell us how we did, these are our favorite shots.
Congratulations, Britny and Ignacio!
If you are interested in having us photograph your baby announcement please fill out the form below.
Posted on July 14, 2018
John and Michelle tied the knot on a beautiful summer day! The couple got married at the beautiful ballroom Arelis Celebration Hall located in Mission, Texas. The couple were surrounded with their family and friends as they ate, drank and laughed. Our favorite part was the sparklers during the couples dance but along with that special moment there were many more captured. Here are some of our favorite shots from this wedding.
Photo Credit: Roland Hernandez
If you are looking for a photographer to capture your special day you can fill out the form below. 🙂
Posted on April 23, 2017
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.
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.
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.
Posted on April 4, 2017
A week ago I received my newest addition to our video production equipment collection, the V3AH Video Tripod by 3Pod. The V3AH Anodized Aluminum Video Tripod has a 2-way Fluid Head and Quick-Release Plate, which makes it easier to swiftly move your camera from rig to rig.
The Tripod is super light as well weighing in at 9.2lbs for a sturdy tripod. It can hold up to 14.5lbs. This Tripod is for the traveling videographer or photographer doing small or medium commercial projects.
If you are interested in trying out this item mention this blog and get $5.00 OFF the 1 Day Rental.
If you’re interested in renting this item please fill out the contact form below.
Posted on April 4, 2017
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 reality. Every opportunity you get you try to build business.
Posted on January 2, 2017
Posted on May 1, 2014
Yesterday my friend Imanol Miranda reminded me of a question I posted in photography group we belong to called RGV Photoshoot Connect: When do you know if you have made it as a photographer?
Before I give my opinion on that question let’s Throw Back Thursday to the time we use to do photography for fun. Picture that first photo shoot you ever booked. Are you visualizing it? If you were like me you were probably asking your most prettiest friends to model for you. Remember putting the camera to your face and seeing endless possibilities? One, two, or three hours would fly by but you didn’t care because you were having fun. And don’t forget the hours spent in post processing contrasting the sh#% out of the shot because you wanted to show it off to your friends who would tell you your camera was the best and you would agree!
Those were the good’ol days!
Now we’re booking sessions left and right for both the pretty and the ugly. The possibilities have ended because every photographer and their mother have shot at so and so spot. The three-hour-for-fun photo shoots are now 30-minute mini sessions for ten-times the amount of money because our time and knowledge is now “valuable”. And if most of you haven’t outsourced your editing you’re probably still spending hours in Adobe Lightroom until your a$$ has gone numb.
So have we made it as photographers?
I’ll tell you this much…I freaking miss those days when you didn’t have think about paying taxes every time you pick up your camera to photograph a client. Creating a business is like birthing a hungry monster who never stops eating. But we’re making money doing what we love right? What’s that saying? “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”. Some of you are doing well for yourself. You have your own studio, you’re featured in magazines, and even traveling to shoot gigs. Still there’s some of you struggling who have a career job because photography does pull in enough cash. So who’s made it as a photographer; the full-timer or the part-time shooter? My opinion is both can claim to have made it! This why I say this.
You have made it when you learn to value free time and your passion over money!
Take this time to reevaluate your passion for photography. Sit down with a pen and paper and plan the next best thing for your brand. Approach a fellow photographer to talk shop. Share some your best work from the for-fun-days to remind you of why you picked up a camera in the first place. Take a Monday off to take your kids out to lunch at a park and take silly selfless with them. Time cannot be bought and we as photographers, know the importance of memories — so go out and make some.