Jasmine Star @ Creative Live Workshop

Jasmin Star is back at Creative Live for a workshop on "Building Your Wedding Photography Business." Here is some note from the workshop:

Why David Jay's website stood out:

  • Use a video intro.
  • Create an emotional connection via slide shows (no longer a viewer but also a participant)
  • Unique bio section.
  • I become invested in him personally.

On how to be good:

  • Practice
  • Do it again, again and again. It only makes you better.
  • If you ask why you are just not getting any better, then tell me how much you practice.
  • You need to understand what changes you are going to make.
  • Whatever you have, you have to make it work.
  • Open the manual and start from page 1.
  • Create a personalized curriculum.
  • Teach myself online:

  • you may not like where you are right now but you have come a long way and you like where you are going.

On second shooting

  • Create trust (trust is the currency on the web)
  • Offer feedback, start conversations, provide constructive criticism (when ask for)
  • How?

    • engage online forum.
    • comment on blog (people like to know that you like them)
    • write on their facebook fanpage.
    • talk back on twitter.
    • leverage your assets.

  • You are the anonymous support for that photographer.
  • You are the extension of his brand.
  • The only thing you have as a second shooter is your creditably.
  • Never cool to pass out your own business card.
  • They ask you to jump. You ask how high.
  • Don't stand in the same position as the first photographer.
  • We pick people based on how that person makes us feel.
  • Solid 1st shooters always looking for solid 2nd shooters.
  • There is no better way than to show your true color.

On why feeling bad: Comparison, Insecurity and Resistance.

  • everyone else [has everything that I don't have] (I need to make myself feel better before I can make my photos better)
  • Jealous and envious.
  • Our work is the by product of who we are.
  • Acknowledgment.

    • move on
    • help others
    • create a schedule

  • Book that she just read and highly recommends: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
  • It is not important to be the best. It is important to be difference.
  • You will never be good enough.
  • The minute you put yourself out there, the minute you grow.
  • Get uncomfortable.

Finding a photography mentor

  • The likelihood is none.
  • Why would someone teach you to drive him out of business.

On business financing

  • ~$3000

    • $1200 Canon 20D
    • $1400 24-70
    • $500 cool business cards

  • Rent to own.
  • First wedding was booked for $1500.
  • Profit went to saving for future gears.
  • Filing for a business license and tax id.
  • Sole proprietor.
  • Paying taxes.

On starting a business with my spouse

  • It takes a very different dynamic.
  • It doesn't mean that you married the wrong person.
  • I have built the Jasmine Star brand but we built the business together.
  • Have someone to believe in you even you don't believe in yourself.
  • I would rather you fail on doing something you love.
  • To him, my aspiration has no price tag.
  • His + her perspective (he was having a husband/wife conversation but I was having a 1st/2nd shooter conversation)
  • Create clearly defined roles.
  • Set clearly defined goals.
  • Set a schedule.
  • (from JD) be patient.
  • (from JD) assign project leaders.
  • (from JD) play to each strengths.


  • pages from magazines.
  • throwing up there on the wall with things I like.
  • Find those things.

On Posing

  • how to I attract my clients?
  • I don't pick my clients. My clients pick me.
  • I need to get better on interact with clients before I get paid for the shoot
  • Mental check-list

    • Check my ISO
    • Choose my aperture

  • I never invented a pose.
  • Copying is the best form of flattery.

How she learned to shoot manually

  • The "Magic settings:" f2.8 1/2500 ISO 100
  • Once I feel comfort with the camera settings, I can control the posing
  • Posing and shooting attract the client I want
  • if it is not your skill set, put it away until you get it.

Next dissecting the how:

  • how was the photo illuminated?
  • how was the photo captured?
  • how was the subject posed?
  • how did the photographer get them to pose that way?
  • how was the story told?

More on posing:

  • It's not the pose. It's the action to get to the pose.
  • If I have to make them more than twice, then I make them feel that they are doing it wrong.
  • The minute you can put them as ease, the minute you can get the good picture.
  • My business is 80% business and 20% photography
  • My goal for the engagement session is for them to have a good time.
  • My job is to make them look good.
  • It's my job to make them feel beautiful and empowered.
  • I am proud to stand by my work.

On booking the 1st wedding

  • I thought I would be starting at $3500 photographer
  • I don't want to be the bottom barrel photographer.
  • I want to be a mid-level photographer.
  • I place the value on the tangible.

On Contract:

  • Deposit is refundable. retainer fee is not.
  • It is a list of my expectation.

On Pricing:

  • Create a profitable business structure.
  • Understanding my fixed cost.

    • $200 outsourcing (1000 images x $0.20)
    • $45 Average price per wedding for bookkeeping
    • $40 Average gas per wedding
    • $35 Average price per wedding for online proofing
    • $32 shipping hard drive
    • $20 disc, stationary, postage, etc.
    • $372 per wedding
    • $1128 profit per wedding

  • after booking 3 weddings, raised prices to $1800, fixed cost stayed the same
    $1128 -> $1428
  • after booking 6 weddings, raised prices to $2100, fixed cost stayed the same
    $1428 -> $1728
  • after booking 21 weddings,
    profit $3000
  • my clients want the accessibility to the images, not the disc.
  • I gave the disc but I charged for it
  • Her initial packages:

    • 10 hours, 2 shooter, engagement session, disc of images: $1500
    • 10 hours, 2 shooter, engagement session: $1000.

  • Post my collections starting at:...
  • Average now is $9500 to $10500, which includes a disc and album.

Other interesting quotes:

  • I can do more with my 20D and 1.4 than you P mode.
  • In the old days, we were craving pictures on stones.
  • It takes 9 months to have a baby.
  • I shot an orange tree like nobody shoots an orange tree.
  • I am worth it, worth it, worth it.
  • We try to sell an educated service to un-educated audiences.
  • The only big difference is you.
  • I am only a competition if I act like a competition.
  • Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.
  • I don't know which way is up.
  • Risk the dream because the dream changes.
  • Our photos are the reflection of who we are.
  • Play the T-ball game as you are playing the World Series.
  • I do thing wrong but I make it work.
  • if I am in a bad place, then I will approach the wedding in a bad way.
  • I am not a believer in talking in anger.
  • Talk to the window.
  • Name brand raisin theory. This can be applied to the business.
  • Where I see his [JD's] goals, I see where his heart is.
  • You make this work or go back the easy route.
  • I don't pick my clients, my clients pick me.
  • I sound like a 12 years old at the Hannah Montana concert.
  • What the gift card from chili's represented is trust.
  • They hurt you once, fine. they hurt you twice, it's your fault.
  • My camera is speaking Japanese and I am speaking English.
  • Get people to trust her.
  • Out shoot, out run, out hustle.
  • Educate as we shoot.
  • Under promise and over deliver.
  • My will power is that of a 5 year-old.
  • It is not important to be the best. It is important to be difference.
  • You will never be good enough.
  • the minute you put yourself outside that the minute you grow.
  • If you are not uncomfortable, you are not working hard enough.
  • If my true color is not what they want on the wedding day, fine.
  • Be 100% of yourself, you will move forward.
  • It was a posing disaster. It was like Simon says.
  • Next thing I know she is a broken chopstick.
  • The computer matches me up with my twin sister.
  • Talk it out - you don't know how dumb you sound until you say it.
  • J. Crew doesn't sell clothes. They sell life style.
  • We are not selling photos. We are selling the idea of the wedding day.
  • I did the dip. Dip baby dip.
  • If you want to get to a different level, you shoot wider than f5.6.
  • I never used skin retouching.
  • I don't talk trash. It is what it is.
  • Repel or connect.
  • If I don't see it, it does not exist. I am too busy being me.
  • The haters drive me to be better, so sometimes they're okay.
  • I wanted that wedding more than LA gear pump shoes.
  • I paid for my photos. I don't want a homy hook up.
  • Happy wife. Happy life.
  • I should have say something cool, but Yahoo...
  • The people who waited for me are the best clients.
  • You don't know until you are out there.
  • Be confident of who you are. Own it.
  • (On haters) You come to my blog. You subscribe to my twitter feed. If you don't like it, then stop.
  • 2010 is about taking the mould and breaking it.
  • I try to be funny but it doesn't work all the time.
  • I am clearly a hot mess trying to figure out what's going on.
  • I don't pick my clients, my clients pick me.
  • Everyone should be a server, it makes you better.
  • If you are not in a constant state of being the 1st shooter, then you are not ready to be a 1st shooter.
  • They are buying the experience. They are buying the trust.
  • This is definitely not the right way. This is my way. It maybe not your way. Do what you do..
  • Taking what you have and make it work.
  • Learn the best man's name like you best friend.
  • I don't book my weddings more than a year in advance.
  • The minute you can put them at ease, the minute the picture they look comfortable.
  • I want to be a photographer, I don't want to be a lightroom editor.
  • Back then I called them packages. now I called them collections.
  • I push you because I love you.
  • Am I talking trash? Am I throwing it out?
  • Maximum no. of people see the album: 10 - 20 people. Average no of friends on facebook:350. That's 350 potential clients
  • I never want to be the business for running 4x6 prints.
  • If you like it, awesome. If you don't like it, equally awesome.
  • Your house burned down, that's ok. Your images are in the cloud.
  • Powerful marketing: it should not be me telling how great I am. It should be someone else telling how great you are.
  • People smell desperation. People smell good wills.
  • It's happy hour somewhere.
  • Go with the punches, wedding day is not going to be perfect.
  • They are going to hire you because they like you.
  • I am a firm believer to play up to my strength.
  • I want to make you feel something about me.
  • My love language is email.

Links for her previous workshop are here and here.