Ben Chrisman of Chrisman Studios and King and Fields Studios is one of the most well-known wedding photographers in the world. Coming into this interview, I was expecting to be wowed with stories of amazing places, couples and images while digging for actionable business ideas you can implement into your wedding photography business.
Instead, the interview took off and stayed on an entirely different track with the focus on how to build a successful portrait photography studio. It turns out, Ben and his team have to work as hard as everyone else to attract great clients who want to spend money on great photography.
With the birth of their baby, galavanting the world to shoot amazing weddings has taken back seat as Ben and Erin work hard to build and sustain a profitable studio based family photography business.
When you do portraiture, it's not like a wedding where someone's actively trying to find a photographer and is willing to spend thousands of dollars for it. – Ben Chrisman
Ben started as the high school yearbook photographer. In his senior year, the yearbook staff asked why he wanted to be a photographer.
He was quoted as saying, “Because I want to be close to the action.”
Since then, he's never wanted to be anything other than a documentary shooter and he went to work for a newspaper as a staff photographer.
After leaving his job there, he became a wedding photographer to show the world that wedding photos could be edgy, sexy, funny, honest and full of life, and could stand alone as works of art.
His business has grown to be a collective of four photographers and one videographer. Between the five of them, they speak six different languages and have photographed in 23 countries.
Six years ago, he was quoted as saying, “I am terrified before each wedding that I won’t live up to people’s expectations.”
At the same time, he said, when asked about the reason for his success, “It takes a lot more work to be nice to people all the time, but I can’t think of a single thing that has made a bigger impact than that.”
As you can see by this intro, I was expecting a wedding photography focus for this interview. Instead, I think the change of topic presented a bunch more takeaways.
Here’s some more of what we cover in the interview:
- Why Ben still gets nervous before any shoot
- The importance of knowing your client prior to any shoot to deliver meaningful images
- Studio shooting with families, Ben's approach
- A snapshot of how Ben's business works today
- A few things that made the biggest difference in Ben's business
- What is “Story within the family” and how does it affect every family portrait session?
- Capturing the different sides and facets of life for your portrait clients
- Why phone calls before the shoot make all the difference to every shoot
- How to cope when in a tough situation with the dad in a portrait shoot or prior to the shoot
- Portrait package inclusions and average sales at the King and Fields Studios
- Networking with a local business and how it benefits Ben's photography business
- Great advice on teaming up with the right local business to help build your photography business
- Why Ben focuses more on questioning clients than talking about what he and his studio offer
- What excites Ben when he picks up his camera today?
- Why it takes so much more time when shooting in a documentary style – for weddings or portraits
- How Ben started and works effectively with his team at Chrisman Studios
- When is the right time to start outsourcing for your photography business?
- Suggestions from Ben on which tasks you need to outsource first
- What clients are really looking for from a photographer today
- Things every photographer in business needs to improve
What’s on Offer for Premium Members
If you’re a premium member, you should have received an email with links to your version of this interview – the full length and more revealing version where you hear the absolute best tips and advice from every guest.
If you’re on the fence about becoming a premium member, join with the $1 trial today and get access to the FULL interviews each week, get access to an amazing back catalogue of interviews and ALL future interviews delivered automatically to your phone or tablet.
We want to find those families who value what we do, but more importantly, we've got to give them value. We've got to give them a reason to come to us every year. – Ben Chrisman
Plus special member-only interviews.
You'll also receive access to the members-only Secret Facebook Group where you can connect with other Premium Members and interview guests to help, support and motivate you to take ideas you hear in each episode and put them into action. There are also FB live video tutorials, role-play interviews and special live interviews happening in the group.
You will not find more friendly, more motivated, caring and sharing photographers online.
Joining a Mastermind Group (encouraged by Andrew) has been incredibly valuable and fun, I look forward to connecting with my group members every week. Jina Zheng, Premium Member and Melbourne Children photographer.
And that's not all… you get a set of steak knives… I'm kidding!
Seriously though, that's not all. In addition to everything above, you'll get access to and instructions on forming or joining a MasterMind Group with other premium members. These groups are super motivating, make you accountable and build friendships with other pro photographers with similar motives to you – to build a more successful photography business.
What is your big takeaway?
Following this interview, I’d love to know if you're taking anything away from what Ben shared. Is there something you heard that excited or motivated you to the point where you thought, yeah, I'm going to do that! If so, let me know by leaving your thoughts in the comments below, let me know what your takeaways were, what you plan to implement in your business as a result of what you heard in today's episode.
The sales that don't go well, the design consuls that don't go well, are never the fault of the client. It's always our fault for not doing a good enough job quoting them on the phone call. – Ben Chrisman
If you have any questions that I missed, a specific question you’d like to ask Ben or if you just want to say thanks for coming on the show, feel free to add them in the comments area below.
iTunes Reviews and Shout-outs
Each week I check for any new iTunes reviews and it's always a buzz to receive these… for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, it's confirmation that I'm on the right track with the interviews and that they really are helping you improve your photography business. That's awesome!
Secondly, iTunes is the biggest search engine when it comes to podcasts and it's your reviews and ratings that help other photographers find PhotoBizX. More listeners mean more interviews and ultimately a better show.
If you have left a review in the past, thank you!
If you haven't and you'd like to, head to https://photobizx.com/itunes and you can leave some honest feedback and a rating which will help both me and the show and I'll be sure to thank you on the show and add a link to your website or blog if you let me know the URL of your website and your name.
Alternatively, if you've left a review for PhotoBizX and are looking for more backlinks to help your SEO, leave a review for the new Photography Xperiment Podcast and email me your keywords or keyword phrase and where you'd like me to link to.
Here are the latest iTunes reviews:
A No-Brainer for Photographers
In iTunes by Calgary Family Photographer, Alison Lapczuk from Canada on December 6, 2018
Andrew Hellmich goes above and beyond, time and again, to ask the business questions that we all wish we could ask.
This podcast is full of actionable advice from all sorts of working photographers.
The value I get from this far outweighs the cost.
The corresponding FB group is one of the best groups I am involved with, even though I am more of a lurker than an active participant.
I've been listening for the past couple of years and will continue to listen in. Keep up the great work, Andrew!
Brilliant podcast with actionable steps for photographers!
In iTunes by Essex Wedding, Portrait & Pet Photographer, Lindsey at LNZPHOTO from the UK on December 2, 2018
Andrew asks and answers the questions that always crop up in my mind!
This podcast is packed full of amazing interviews from so many industry experts, there’s something new to learn with each episode!
The last thing I want to do is talk about myself ever. – Ben Chrisman
Free installation and customisation of your ManyChat Messenger Bot Flow
Messenger marketing is becoming another tool successful photographers are utilising in their businesses – from elaborate automated sequences to help filter the freebie hunters from genuine client to simple options to make communicating between you and your target clients, easier and less resistant than ever before.
If you've heard either of the interviews with Iain Sim, who is leading the charge on bot automation for photographers, you'll have a good understanding of just how powerful messenger bots can be when combined with a Facebook Ad strategy.
Seeing the power and functionality of messenger bots, Iain developed a course for photographers to get up and running fast with their own bot sequences at http://www.nicechatletsbook.com.
Scores of PhotoBizX listeners and other photographers have already completed the training and have working bots as part of their websites and Facebook Ad campaigns.
NOW it's even easier!
My eldest son, Matthew was looking for a project/work while on university holidays over the Christmas period. He's studying computing science at UTS in Sydney.
I introduced him to Iain's course, Messenger Bots, Many Chat, flows, sequences and how photographers can utilise this powerful tool. He devoured everything he could get his hands on and is ready to offer you his help to get started with messenger bots in your photography business… FREE (for you).
Purchase Iain's course at http://nicechatletsbook.com/pbx and Matthew will install a flow that most suits your business or upcoming Facebook Ad Campaign AND work one on one with you to customise the bot sequence for you.
The small issue with installing a ready-made flow/sequence is it still needs to be customised to suit the language you use, your images, pricing, gifs, emojis and the way you communicate with your clients. The more personalised your approach, the more the bot feels like a real person – the real you – when your prospective clients interact with your bot.
You'll also want to add tags to your subscribers to know where they came from, what kind of photography they are interested in, where they're based, etc.
Yes, you can do all this yourself and it's especially easy once you work through Ian's course.
The idea of having Mattie do the initial setup just speeds up the whole process and working with him one on one while screen sharing means you get up and running faster than ever.
You will still have access to Iain's course and can learn everything as you go. This is just a simple way to fast-track your setup to get you going in no time.
How is this possible? Basically, I'm paying Matthew to make your life easier and to help you get going with what I see as one of the big things you'll want to be utilising in your business asap.
If you have any questions, comment below or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you purchase the course, let me know and Matthew will be in touch to help get you started fast.
Already purchased the course?
If you've already purchased the Messenger marketing For Photographers Course from Iain and would like Matthew to help you set up and implement your first flow/sequence, hang tight as Iain will be in touch with you with a special offer.
PhotoBizX Episode Reviews – The Biggest PBX Team Project EVER
The episode review project was released and confirmed in the Members Area a few months ago with overwhelming support and the commitment from over 60 listeners.
The plan was for each member to select and review a single episode – I'll take care of the rest.
Anyone who gets involved and helps out will receive a PDF containing ALL the episode reviews.
Unfortunately, not everyone who committed to the project has followed through. At this stage, I have a bunch of episode reviews done but am hoping to get more “in the bag” to make this one of the most valuable assets from the interviews – a guide to easily find the topics you're looking for and having the actionable content available at your fingertips.
If you're a member and still want to get involved, check out the email coming your way this week and follow the instructions to get started.
The instructions are on the Google sheet – click on the tab in the bottom left.
Only pick one episode and add your details to claim it.
You'll see Andrea MacLeod has claimed more than one – ignore those episodes, she has been helping behind the scenes.
Any questions, post below or email me – email@example.com
Any member who contributes will have access to the completed PDF with all reviewed episodes FREE.
Thanks so much to anyone who can help with this BIG project.
Episode #300 is Coming Up! And the focus is YOU!
With episode 300 fast approaching, the plan is to do something different and make the episode about you.
I'd love for you to record one thing you've implemented, taken away, used or shaped to suit you in your business as a result of what you've heard on the podcast. It can be anything!
Record yourself on any app – your phone in a quiet room is perfect.
Email your audio file (.mp3 is easiest) to firstname.lastname@example.org and in the email, let me know your URL and the anchor text you'd like me to use to link to you from that episodes show notes.
With your anchor text, to keep this simple, let's go with your location and the genre of photography you specialise in.
Attach .mp3 file
Anchor Text: Central Coast wedding photographer
Which will become: Central Coast wedding photographer
Any questions, post in the comments below, in the members FB Group or email me directly.
Let's make episode 300 one to remember and all about you and what you've learnt and used from the interviews you've heard.
Links to people, places and things mentioned in this episode:
Thanks again for listening and big thanks to Ben for sharing his thoughts on business, attracting more of the perfect photography clients, making better bookings and generally running a terrific portrait photography business by focussing clients and their experience above anything else.
A lot of times photographers get really tied up on having everything be perfect, and that's not really what people are after. – Ben Chrisman
If you have any suggestions, comments or questions about this episode, please be sure to leave them below in the comment section of this post, and if you liked the episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the bottom of the post!
That’s it for me this week, hope everything is going well for you in life and business!
Thanks and speak soon