For the past month or so Amber and I have been working on one of the most significant and far-reaching decisions we’ve ever made since starting this business. Throughout the whole process I’ve been trying to find an easy way to describe our partnership with Carla Ten Eyck Photography. Is it like a company merger? Is her company “buying us out”? Hmm… At 1am on my way home from one of our weddings this past weekend, the perfect representation popped into my head (which is how most of my ideas seem to happen).
We’re forming like VOLTRON baby! Yep, you heard right….we’re joining our individual strengths and forces together to form a super robot to defend the galaxy from evil
This is EXACTLY how it all went down at the C10 Studios headquarters!!
Ok well, we still have a long way to go before we’re able to maintain peace throughout the universe but this is a huge step in the right direction for Raw Photo Design. If you haven’t heard through the grapevine or seen on Facebook, numerous wedding forums, or twitter lately but we kind of suck at managing our business. The number of times I’ve heard the following sentence from a past client makes my stomach turn upside down and keeps me up at night trying to find a way to make things better: “Raw Photo was so awesome on the day of my wedding/boudoir/portrait/editorial/etc and I’m absolutely in love with all of my pictures…. but, it takes too long to get an email reply or phone call from them and it took a long time to get my pictures/album/disc/etc.”
Similar to most wedding photographers I started a photography business because I loved PHOTOGRAPHY. I loved working with people during their photo shoot or wedding day and capturing beautiful photographs of them. My single most favorite aspect of this job is witnessing the progression a person (or couple) goes through during a shoot… everyone always starts very nervous and insecure and somewhere in the middle of the process, they get comfortable… let their guard down, and the real them comes out…and that’s when I get to capture who they really are… You can almost see the exact moment it happens at every single session when you look at a series of photo thumbnails on your monitor. I can honestly work on anything photography related all night long without even noticing it’s 3am or that I haven’t left my desk in 6 hours. There’s no doubt it’s my passion and I can’t imagine doing anything else.
BUT, that has NOTHING to do with running a business. I’ll be the first to admit I am absolutely clueless when it comes to managing clients, employees, subcontractors, or anything else related to my business. It’s not because I haven’t done the work to learn how to properly do these things…trust me. I’ve read countless business books…some of them at least 5 times, attended numerous business workshops and seminars, downloaded every “management application” you can think of, etc. Conceptually I “know” what to do but just have no clue how to follow through with the processes and/or manage the people that I had implementing those processes.
Fast forward 5 years later to the beginning of October, 2012 and I had decided to shut Raw Photo Design down for good. I had been turning down new business for months explaining that I will no longer take new clients for the 2013 wedding season and focus all my attention on the weddings I had already booked for next year. I was stressed out beyond belief, hopeless, and defeated. Amber and I had done the best we could do with what we had and that was it. We were working like machines, day and night, and not a single client was happy. Being a typical man with too much pride, I hadn’t told anyone about our situation or my decision to dissolve the business; and being a typical woman who is way smarter than her typical man-husband, Amber had reached out to a number of close friends explaining our situation and asking for help.
Carla had been a close friend of ours for years and had seen us progress from our first wedding to our 100th wedding and has always been a huge help and inspiration since day one. She manages a well-oiled production MACHINE in Hartford. Sometimes I pull up to her driveway and I can hear the mechanical wheels turning, phones ringing off the hook, and production lines in full swing. Their customer service is incredible and a force to be reckoned with. It is pretty impressive to see and trust me…Amber and I did everything we could to implement the same system…in fact, Carla and I had first started meeting once a week a while back so that she could walk me through setting up the same system for Raw Photo. After 3 meetings or so it was pretty clear we were far beyond the point of no return and Carla presented me with a solution that her and Amber had been thought of and been working on….without me knowing!
It was an offer I could not refuse. Especially since the only other option was to throw in the towel. Starting today, the C10 Studio Management Team will be responsible for ALL of the client-related office tasks and back-end studio work for RAW Photo Design including all emails, phone calls, albums, production, and delivery of finished products. Now all RAW Photo Design clients will finally get what Amber and I had TRIED to provide and what they absolutely deserve more then anything: the same AMAZING customer service that C10 Studio Management Team of Dominique, Julie, Rebecca, Dave, Jazzy and Philitha have been providing for Carla and her associates for years!
Where does that leave Amber and myself? It leaves us focusing ALL of our attention, time, and resources on where they should be: the creative work. This is what we are good at, enjoy doing, and jump out of bed in the morning just thinking of it. It is why I started the business in the first place…THE PHOTOGRAPHY….NOT the business. I’m drooling just thinking about it, “You mean I get to do what I’ve always wanted to do and you will do the rest?” I swear it is Christmas a month early at the Langlois household and I just got the gift of photography for the first time in 4 years!
The finer details are being sent to existing clients as everyone is reading this but in a nutshell RAW Photo Design will still be OUR brand…same website, same look, same awesomeness. Zero portion of the photography, retouching, or awesome sauce that has defined the RAW Photo brand and style will change because Amber and myself will still be in charge of all of it. In fact, it will only improve and thrive now that we don’t have to spend so much time on what we suck at: business. We’ll finally get to spend all of our time and energy on the reason I started this business in the first place: photography.