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

Miriam & Jario -Mission, Texas – Ben Briones Studios

This sweet couple are such dolls and I mean that in all honesty. They are such a good looking couple. We had a blast doing this photo session. Miriam is the younger sister to one of the my brides, Melody Rios Contreras. Beauty does run in the family. I have photographed Melody, their parents and now these two love birds. One of my favorite things as a photographer is becoming a “family photographer”. In the photography industry that is goal worth working hard towards.

The photo shoot took place at one of my favorite places; Memory Lane Photo Spot in Mission, Texas. It’s a beautiful 100 year old home that has an old country style setting with a variety of sections to capture different type of unique photos. I really love the simplicity of their outfits. The touch of the red heart shaped balloons was super cute as well. Even though I may not be their wedding photographer I still feel blessed to have documented this milestone.
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If you are celebrating a milestone in your life please fill the contact form below.

 

Mario & Celina E-session – Los Fresnos, Texas – Ben Briones Studios

This couple are totally meant for each other and what’s really special about them is how classic their love is. It’s as if you were reading a classic romance novel. Picture it, a writer meets a psychologist, and the array of intellect, charm and good looks create a spark and the result is evident in these photos.

I love how these photos turned out. The location was perfect. If you have never visited the Inn at Chachalaca Bend located in Los Fresnos, Texas I urge you to. It’s such a beautiful place. The two outfits the couple choose were perfect fit for both the indoor session and outdoor as well.

Mario and Celina I am beyond excited to photograph your wedding. It was a pleasure documenting your bridal shower Celina and conducting the engagement session as well but all the magic happens. Enjoy these sneak peeks.
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If you are interested in an engagement photo session please fill out the contact form below.

Celina Esparza Bridal Shower – Mission, Texas – Ben Briones Studios

Celina’s bridal shower was delightful! It took place at The Club at Cimarron in Mission – Sharyland area. The part was a breakfast / brunch event with very good food. The house was packed with family and friends excited for Celina and Mario’s wedding. I found myself enjoying myself very much documenting this special event.

The event was fun filled with games and lots of laughs. The whole party was planned and orchestrated by Celina’s wonderful sister. And as you can see from the photos it was such a beautiful turn out. I am more than excited for this wedding to come already!

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If you are having a bridal shower and would like it documented fill out the contact form below.

Adolfo Alanis – Boxer – Ben Briones Studios

After editing these awesome photos shot by Jessica Musick, an associate of my Studio, I can’t help but to be very happy with one a returning client and two the awesome work all my associates produce for my brand.

Trusting someone to go out and photograph YOUR client can be a scary thing. Delegating is a important factor to growth. It is also a important factor in building up your associates in giving them responsibility and ability to shine. For those who are looking into building a business that works best for you, never be afraid of trusting your associate shooters.

I will never take credit for the work my associates did, especially someone like miss Jessica Musick because she came into my brand as seasoned shooter. But I will take credit for the opportunity for growth in Jessica Musick’s photography career because I choose to completely trust her skill and ability to create quality art for my brand.

I present to you these intense portraits made by Jessica Musick for Ben Briones Studios.

You can view Jesscia’s personal work a Jessica Musick Photography.

 Photo Credit: Jessica Musick mcallen photographer commercial photography Adolfo Alanis boxer ben briones studios photography weslaco texas houston austin san antonio AlanisBoxer_WEB_BenBrionesStudios-9 AlanisBoxer_WEB_BenBrionesStudios-13 AlanisBoxer_WEB_BenBrionesStudios-24 AlanisBoxer_WEB_BenBrionesStudios-29 AlanisBoxer_WEB_BenBrionesStudios-32

 

If you would like to schedule a unique photo session please fill the contact form below.

Instagram; how to extend your brand!

As photographers, Instagram should be a must-have app on your mobile device! It really helps tame the urge to shoot because we now have an outlet to photography on the daily!

Now for the professional photographers who are looking to use Instagram for both pleasure and business; the thought process of posting images becomes much more strategic.

Can I make money from the images I post on Instagram?

To be honest there are very few business-minded photographers out there. You’re probably not concerned about capitalizing on “your passion”, but I’ll tell you this…if you’re not then you’re just a hobbyist, even if you charge.

To my professionals who do want to make a living off photography, here are some pointers on how to capitalize on Instagram through your art and personal images.

1. Become transparent or “real” via Instagram. People want to see who you are and what you’re really about. Post your art but also post some of your personal life. This matters because people do business with people, especially in our line of work. Client relationships are important to the service industry because the happy clients are the biggest promoters of your brand.

2. Build a following around your brand by using a unique hashtag that will filter your images for people to explore your brand on the platform. Encourage your clients and friends to use these hashtags on posts and reposts they upload about you on their account.

3. Create a call to action on the post you purposely upload to use for sales. Invite the viewer to your website or blog. Or to repost your image with a reward for doing so. The call to action doesn’t lead to a direct sale but it brings awareness to your brand or unique product.

4. Utilize the video capability of the application. Photography comes first nature to you but video will challenge you to be more creative and appealing to build a larger awareness to your photography. Make a behind the scenes video of a session or of you selling a unique service.

5. Reply to every single comment that is made on any of your posts regardless if pertains to your photography or not. This goes back to being real. People do business with people and as a photographer this matters a whole lot. A social media expert, Gary Vaynerchuck, in his book The Thank You Economy talks about how you need to give the one-to-one attention to your customer base, and in return they will buy your product.

Capitalizing on your passion via Instagram can and will lead to more sells but you just have to be consistent and strategic with how you use the app. 

If you would like to know more on how you can extend your brand on this platform, feel free to email me at ben@benbriones.com for a one-to-one training session.

Redundancy Saves You and Your Photos – Ben Briones Studios

One of the scariest things for a photographer is to have one of your hard drives crash!

This post will walk you through the steps I take in order to store and secure my personal data and client images for my photography business.

1. Wedding Night: Most people after their wedding night would most likely go get it on, but not me! I mean I do get busy…backing up files though. First thing I do is transfer all the data from my SD or CF cards on to my main drive for the year. Next I duplicate those backups to a sister drive. Now I have my data in two different hard drives in case one decides to call it quits.

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2. Wedding Night Round Two: After securing my data on two separate hard drives I then burn a DVD of the data. These disks will only contain the top images from the job. Because I am an over achiever and like to produce a same-night-blog from the wedding, I already have up to 20-50 of my clients’ top images edited and exported in 300dpi. So those images are the ones I usually burn on a disk as a back up to my back up when I first backed it up on wedding night round one.

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3. Up in the clouds: Newly weds always have this feeling of being in the clouds after their wedding night. Well guess what, smart photographers do too! To be more redundant I like to back up my files or more specifically culled images to my Dropbox account. This cloud service allows me to have another secure backup accessible from anywhere just in case my house blows up and all my hard drives go down with it.

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You have no excuse to be losing client or personal data anymore! Back that thing up, people!  

If you would like more detailed information on how to securely backup your images for your business please fill out the contact form below with specific questions on the subject.

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.

WARNING!

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.

THE LEGAL

  • 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.

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  • 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.

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

BRANDING

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  • 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.

FINANCIAL ORGANIZATION

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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.

CLOSING

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.

 

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

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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, 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.

Thank You!