2019 Reflection – Ben Briones Studios

Ben Briones 2019 Thank You

[Reflections of 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,

[New Job, Less Time]

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.

[Things I Am Proud Of]

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]

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.

[2020, What’s New and What to Expect]

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!

Self Portraits – Ben Briones – 2008

Every photographer at one point takes a self portrait. I think this must of been my first self portrait since I purchased my first semi-pro DSLR camera in 2008 with my college fin aid money. After checking the metadata I saw that I shot this with my Canon EOS 20D. That stripe shirt use to be one of my all time favorite shirts to wear around that time. Memories! I think I am due for another self portrait session soon with another stripped shirt. 11.02.08_Ben Briones Self Portrait_MG_594411.02.08_Ben Briones Self Portrait_MG_595911.02.08_Ben Briones Self Portrait_MG_596011.02.08_Ben Briones Self Portrait_MG_5966

When Do You Know If You Have Made It As A Photographer?

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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.