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Running a Business

8 Questions to ask your wedding photographer before hiring them

Choosing a wedding photographer may be one of the most important decisions you make before your big day. You can even say it comes a close second to choosing the right groom! Soon after the wedding, people will forget what your dress looked like, or how the cake tasted and or how good (or bad) the food and wine was, or even what was said during the speeches. But if you could capture those details in a photograph – the emotions on the people’s faces, the laughter, the tears – you could be transported back to that special day and relive it all over again.

That is why hiring the right photographer is so important! Every wedding photographer is different in their own unique style of work, so it’s a good idea to find out what makes them tick. Here’s what you should ask when you set an appointment to meet with your potential wedding photographer.

  1. Why do you love photographing weddings?

Most photographers are emotional beings who will gladly share their life story with you. Find out what gets your photographer excited, and look out for the gleam in their eyes when they tell their story. All the better if you feel an instant connection with them! As for me, I love photographing weddings because I get to be part of a momentous, historical moment in someone’s life. It’s about helping couples remember the happiness they felt on their wedding day, especially after the cake has been eaten and the decorations have been taken down. I consider it a privileged to be part of creating someone’s visual family heirloom.

  1. How do you ensure excellence is top priority?

Photographers provide a service, not just a product, and the amount of monetary investment should reflect excellence. Does the photographer appear detailed in communicating with you? Is he/she efficient in replying emails or has the courtesy to return your call when it is missed? Does your photographer ask you details about you as a couple or even your family? Showing our clients that we care is a big part of what we do. We even care about such details like whether your parents are divorced, because it helps us know how to be sensitive when taking family portraits during a wedding. A good photographer would know how to ask you these details either through a questionnaire or an arranged meet up prior to the wedding day.

  1. Do you have a contract?

Always hire a professional photographer who has a written contract, informing you of his/her promises to you and also listing the deliverables that you are receiving as a result of hiring them. It is important for your peace of mind and it protects both parties if there are any disputes along the way.

  1. Do you photograph back-to-back weddings?

Some photographers accept full day wedding shoots on Saturday and Sunday, which goes without saying, is really tiring! There are incidences where photographers drive 2-4 hours after a full day’s wedding shoot to another location, just to start again in another 2 hours! Usually, it might not affect the first couple as much, but sometimes, the photographer could be so physically tired the next day, that performance is affected. Naturally, some photographers are built with more stamina than others, and this scenario doesn’t affect them. It’s good to find out because physical exhaustion leads to mistakes and carelessness, which could end up with sub-standard photos for you.

  1. What are your backup processes?

For the non-initiated, this could be a hard one. Still, it is important you ask some of these questions. Does the photographer carry extra camera gear to your wedding? Are they using cameras with dual memory card slots so that back ups are done in camera? What about situations when your photographer falls sick and cannot shoot the wedding? If your photographer is part of a team, finding a back up photographer might be easier. How about what happens after the wedding is photographed, are there also other back ups on multiple hard drives? How long do they keep your wedding photos backed up for? We have had incidences of couples coming back to us 5 years after their wedding because they lost their wedding photos, asking if we still had copies of their photos! So it does happen.

  1. Do you edit your photos?

This is a really important question as some photographers deliver images as they are shot while some only edit a small selection and deliver the rest to you unedited. Or some would edit the entire set of images so that it looks consistent with the images on their website. It is time consuming but reflects on the photographer’s pride In their work. Knowing this will help you manage your expectations and avoid disappointment when the photos are delivered.

  1. How do you make life easier for overseas clients?

Does your photographer have the ability to accept credit card payments without any extra surcharge? Doing international bank transfers can sometimes be costly due to foreign exchange charges. Are there online galleries or album proofing softwares that enable you to view the images before it is delivered to you physically?

  1. What is your standard delivery time frame?

In today’s social media savvy generation, images need to be shared instantly. So if your wedding photos take 4-6 months to be ready, the excitement to share these photos would die quite undeniably. Acceptable delivery time frames would be 1-3 months after the wedding is photographed as most photographers usually have an editing backlog. Naturally, if your photographer is able to deliver the photos much faster, imagine your excitement at getting your photos within 2 weeks of your wedding date!

So if you’re looking for a wedding photographer, do take all these into consideration. If you find one that ticks all your requirements, you’ll know that you are in good hands. Then, you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy the journey to saying “I do”.

Contact us to find out more about our wedding photography or videography packages.

We’re Hiring a Studio Manager

StoriesHiring-studiomanager

When I first started out my business as a photographer, I used to do everything. Handle enquiries, shoot, edit, deliveries… even handcrafting albums myself! That was 10 years ago, and thank God I have the entrepreneur husband who told me that I was foolish to take on everything myself. Now I have a team of wonderful people who are committed to the brand, love each other (I hope!) and who have taken a load off my back.

I am so grateful to have people to bounce off ideas with, celebrate when we score an international job, and lament to when the going gets tough. So now, we’re looking for someone to come alongside us as our Studio Manager / Personal Assistant. This could be a part time role (a few work hours on weekdays, occasionally on weekends) or a full time position if it is combined with multiple roles (eg social media manager, writer, videographer… you get the idea – surprise us with your superpowers!).

Job Scope

  1. Handling enquiries via phone, email, social media sites (Facebook, Instagram) and following up with potential enquiries.
  2. Work with our online systems and handle admin work like bookings, invoicing and issuing contracts. Be technologically savvy.
  3. Following up with clients on shoot requirements, payments, setting up meeting dates, handling their final deliverables and making sure we deliver on time.
  4. Dealing with back end vendors.
  5. Keeping Grace sane and up to date when her memory fails her (poor memory runs in her family, so she needs to write everything down or someone to remind her to do things!)
  6. Being the ‘face’ of Stories as the primary contact person other than Grace… so this is a huge role to fill!
  7. Other than Stories, handling other projects like assisting to manage our corporate enquiries, kombi rental and rental of studio space to external parties.

So, if you think you are up for the challenge and have the qualities that will make us super duper efficient, please apply here. Do state if you are interested in a full time / part time role. We look forward to hearing from you.

Reflections: Photography as a Lifestyle and Business

It’s 2am and I lie awake in bed, one of those nights where my thoughts lead me to my work, life and my general state of happiness as a person. It’s been 10 years since I started this journey as a photographer, and in these past 10 years, I’ve explored many areas of photography – from travel to documentary, posed portraits vs candid photography, learnt about studio and natural light, thought about diversifying my work to get various sources of income, and then thought about finding my niche so that I can get the type of clients that I really like.. Lately, I’ve been thinking about how to grow my team, spending more time with my family yet running this business that I love and thinking about my retirement plan when my body is too weak to shoot.

These past 10 years, I’ve also felt insecurities as a photographer – not knowing if I am on the right path, feeling envy when others are successful, worried about how to move forward in this business.

How I wish there was a blueprint in running a successful photography business.

Many of the lessons I learnt while running this business was built on trial and error. I have swayed to the left and to the right over the years, and now, I think it’s time to go back to the start.

What drew me to photography in the first place?

I just love capturing life. 

People intrigue me. Everyone is so different and yet, the human emotions of love, joy or sadness connect us. I love photographing human connections – that moment when a child looks trustingly at his mother, when the father of the bride cries as his little daughter is finally getting married, that laughter shared between life-long friends.

This thought comes through again and again – keep doing what you love and you’ll excel in it. But it also takes a lot of work. On days when I am not shooting, I am trying to learn something new – reading about ways to improve my business, looking at Pinterest to find new inspiration, signing up for workshops  and trying out different genres of photography just to upskill myself.

So 10 years on, I am still learning and doing what I love. It’s what keeps me going.

GT1_916120160501 - Steamboat Makan-21

5 Business Lessons as a Photographer

businesslessons-photographerIt’s amazingly my 9th year of running my photography business, officially as a Sdn Bhd / Private Limited (those freelance days were too carefree to count!). It’s a Monday today, and all my staff are not in the office, as we usually take the Mondays off after a weekend wedding shoot to rest and recuperate. I decided to stay home and do some work here too, in between cuddles with my 15 month old son who is growing up too quickly.

On days like these, I take time to think about the business and how we can grow moving forward. Being a natural worrier by nature, it takes extra effort on my part to surrender my business to God and trust Him to bring it forward. Ever since the GST was implemented last year and everyone cut down on their spending, the economic situation has been down. Together with my entrepreneur husband, we’ve diversified our businesses and also made hard decisions to focus when the time is needed.

I don’t consider myself an expert, but here are some thoughts that I have gathered in my years as a full time photographer and mother running a business:

ONE. Outsource – As an artist, one of the pain points I had was actually running the business. I hated doing anything related to accounting (though I did go through some years of basic accounting in school). I know of many photographers who have done jobs but failed to send invoices, only to realise a few months later, that they didn’t get paid for it. So I suggest finding people who are really good at what they do, pay them to do it, and then you can focus on the parts that you love, creating art!

TWO. Marketing is Everything – One of the first things my husband wisely said to me when I first started out… “You can have a website, but if no one can find it, then you’ve already failed in your marketing.” For me, the easiest way to start marketing myself was through my blog and Facebook. I set aside a budget so that I can boost posts when needed. I also started networking with people who are not already in my own usual social circle, like meeting new mothers at playgroups. Start small, start somewhere.

THREE. Don’t Put Yourself Down – There will be days when you feel down. It will come. You will doubt yourself and wonder why you ever started a business in the first place. Just keep your head up, and try to be as optimistic as you can. Pray. Talk to more people. Keep on blogging. Think of new ideas. Don’t give up too quickly.

FOUR. Innovate – Since there are obviously so many photographers in the market, I have to think of ways to innovate my business. How can I be remembered? What can I do that is different from the rest? Can I think of new ways to do old things? One thing I started doing in recent years was approaching baby stores to sell my photography packages to new mothers. I received quite a few enquiries and sales through this method, which was great!

FIVE. Take Time Off – When you run your own business, it’s pretty much on your mind 24 hours a day. I find it really hard switching off, and sometimes catch myself rambling about some random work issue to my husband before  I doze off at night. It’s ok to take a break once in a while and recharge your creativity. When you feel tired physically, just do something totally different the next day. Read a new book. Exercise or travel. Cuddle with your kids. I find that when I am recharged this way, I am a much better person, which eventually leads me to become a better photographer.

20150925_FAMILY_PORTRAITS_ALEX_GRACE_115Alex and Grace while on holiday in Bali. 

Merry Christmas from all at Integricity

The past few weeks have been filled with wedding and family shoots as everyone takes advantage of the holiday season to get some portraits done or get married! I have so many photos to share from the past few months but sadly, have been delayed in getting them posted online. 2015 has been a good year for us despite the implementation of the GST affecting everyone’s spending. Together with the team, we have photographed 45 wedding couples and 101 families. I thank God for an amazing team as always, spear headed by the ever awesome key people at Stories… Weiming, Jamie and Chi Yin. Not forgetting others like Diane, Nigel, Johan, Delvin, Choo Cherk and our latest intern, Hui En.

Do view our Facebook or Vimeo page for the latest updates in our work! In the meantime, our group of companies, Integricity, wishes everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

MerryChristmasIntegricity2015

By the way, have a look at some really cool DIY Christmas gift ideas in a jar at this site! Have a great holiday, everyone!