Welcome to Keeping it Candid – Wedding Photography Unfiltered for photographers who want to keep it real. I’m your host, Sandra Henderson, international wedding and family photographer and educator with a Marie Kondo-style approach to running a business – you know, keeping things simple and getting rid of anything that doesn’t bring you joy!
More importantly, I’m a strong enneagram 3w2 who is obsessed with tacos, and my love for travelling plus navigating chronic illness life are just two of the many things that drive my passion for all things systems, workflows, and beating burnout as a business owner.
Join me twice a month for a candid, behind-the-scenes look at what it’s really like working as a wedding photographer – where I’ll give you actionable steps to take your business to the next level. Absolutely no fluff here, friends! So grab your favourite notebook and pen, and let’s dive into this week’s episode.
Hey friends! Welcome back to another episode of keeping it candid! Depending on when you listen to this episode, it may have been Halloween last night – I dressed up like my *favourite* Disney character – Stitch from Lilo + Stitch! I was in a 6ft tall inflatable costume and it was seriously too much fun! The kids in my neighbourhood were so excited to give me high fives and hugs. I think it’s going to have to become an annual trick-or-treat tradition!
And now that it’s all over, it means it’s officially November and honestly, I don’t know how that happened. Wasn’t wedding season just getting started?!
If you’re anything like me, the end of the year brings a LOT of reflection about the good, the bad, and the ugly during busy season, what I loved, what changes I need to make, and how I can keep showing up to serve my clients while also setting boundaries to keep me happy and healthy – and one thing that’s really top-of-mind for me right now is Client Experience.
That’s why I’m SO excited for today’s guest!
My friend Katelyn Workman, a wedding photographer and educator based in the Virginia area, joined me to talk all about how creating a great client experience means more than just showing up and taking great photos. We talked about how important it is to build relationships with our clients, ways to add a little bit of fun throughout your time with them, and the kind of impact it has on your business in the long run.
Katelyn shared some amazing insight and ideas, so if you don’t already have your notebook and pen ready, hit pause and grab them because you’re not going to want to miss a thing!
Sandra: Thank you so much for joining, I’m so excited to have you on the podcast today, and it’s great to get a chance to chat with you outside of when we first met! Um, for everybody that doesn’t know, we were both at The Graceful Gathering conference back in June. It was the first chance that we had to meet, and you were lovely. You did the, like, I absolutely loved your, um, talk and all the tips that you gave for posing were absolutely amazing. So I’m so excited to have you here.
Katelyn: Thank you! I’m excited to be here!
Sandra: Oh, good. I’m so glad. Well, before we get started, why don’t you give us a little bit of information about who you are, what you do, and um, where we can find you online?
Katelyn: Sure. I am Katelyn Workman. Um, I live right on the border of Bluefield, West Virginia and Virginia. It’s like this tiny town, I say it’s kind of like Stars Hollow, um, no one’s ever heard of it! But um, yeah, so I have a two year old and then I have a 10 year old that we adopted through foster care, um, and she’s kind of why I started my business as a wedding photographer was to have more time with her. And, um, yeah, weddings are what I love so I was really excited to just get to share with you guys, um, some things that we do and some things that we love about, um, serving our clients!
Sandra: That’s awesome. I love that so much! I love hearing different, um, like family stories. Being a stepmom myself, I love talking to other step moms and adoptive moms and foster moms and like, just seeing how all the different family dynamics come together. It’s just so nice to see.
Katelyn: Yes! Well, I love sharing because I didn’t plan to be a wedding photographer, and sometimes I envy people who built their businesses before they had kids or who don’t have kids. But the truth is that I wouldn’t have a business if it weren’t for her. I bought – my husband bought my camera for me to take pictures of her, so that’s kind of how everything started.
Sandra: Oh, that’s so sweet. I love that. Um, so you mentioned that that was the reason why you started your business and what kind of like brought you to the point where you want to serve and create a great experience for your clients, and I’m so excited to dive into this topic of client experience more with you! Um, why do you think it’s so important to not just create (stammer) a great experience for your clients, but to also be super intentional about the things that you are doing with them?
Katelyn: Yes. Okay. So first of all, I have to throw this disclaimer out there that I don’t love taking pictures. That’s not what I’m super passionate about. It is connecting with our clients. Like I love people and I love getting to serve our couples, and so, that’s why, that’s why I love creating a great experience! But I think the number one reason is for your clients, obviously, because they deserve that. They deserve a great experience. Um, as wedding photographers, we have like such an important job because how we treat them on their wedding day and throughout their whole experience, like how they feel on their wedding day, they’re going to remember that when they look back at their pictures.
I remember that my wedding photographer was late! And um, she got there and I just felt super awkward. And we did a first look, and I hadn’t communicated with her at all beforehand. We didn’t do an engagement session, which was my fault, but we hadn’t communicated with her, didn’t feel comfortable with her, and during our first look, I just felt super awkward because I didn’t know like what to do or what to expect. And I just remember feeling stressed, and like when I look back at those particular pictures of our first look, I’m like, I know that we were awkward. We felt awkward. Um, and so I think your clients deserve to have an amazing experience and we’re asking them to invest a lot in us. So I think that as wedding photographers, we need to do a lot more than just show up and take their pictures and leave.
Sandra: I totally agree.
Katelyn: Yes. Um, and also trust is just so important. Like, I didn’t trust my photographer because I didn’t really know her. Um, and so if you start from the very, very beginning of their experience… So I think that your client experience starts from the minute that they inquire, really from the minute that they look at your website. They should feel welcome there. And, um, they should feel like it’s easy to talk to you from the very beginning, and you should be very intentional with how you communicate with them from the very, that very first step.
Um, and as you do that, you’re building their trust so that when you get to the wedding day, they already trust you and everything else. If there’s problems, nothing is stressful because you’ve already created that intentional client experience from the beginning.
Sandra: Yes, that’s so important ‘cause you and I both know anything can happen on a wedding day. There’s tons of things that are expected, tons of things that are unexpected. So it’s so important to be able to continue serving a great experience no matter what comes your way on the wedding day.
Katelyn: Yes, exactly. So I think that’s the first reason, is just your clients. They deserve that, obviously.
Katelyn: And then second, um, your business deserves that. Um, if you have a terrible experience, you’re not gonna have a business for very long. Um, I think that you need to stand out. It seems like everywhere you turn around there’s another wedding photographer. And so if you want to have a thriving business, then you need to have a reason for people to hire you, to choose you. And so that comes from your client experience. You wanna create connections with your couples so that when their friends are getting married, they say, “you have to have Katelyn Workman!” You know, you have to have this experience that I had. And just showing up and taking pictures and leaving is not going to create that, like, raving fan that you need to grow your business.
Um, I think that you’re, that word of mouth is your greatest tool, and having a great reputation is the most important part of growing your business and having a great client experience is the best way to do that, I think.
Sandra: Yes, I totally agree with you! In all honesty, I learned that lesso- lesson a little bit the hard way in earlier years of my business where I was just so burnt out because I was overworking myself and my priority was not in creating a great client experience, but just taking on as much business as I could.
And it ended up with, like, me returning galleries late and missing, you know, if someone submitted an order for an album or print, like missing something that was supposed to be included. All these little things that kind of just, like, cascaded, and it wasn’t the experience that I wanted my clients to have. It wasn’t the service that I wanted my business to be delivering, and it really just totally reframed my perspective on what the important part is.
And you had said earlier that your passion isn’t even necessarily in taking the photos, but in making, like making connections and making sure people are having a great experience. And I resonate with that so much cause I really do think that is such a key to the longevity of our businesses.
Katelyn: Yes, it all works together so well, ou know! If you serve your clients well, then they’ll bring more people to you just like them, and then you serve those people well and it’s just kind of a cycle. And I think that’s what causes businesses to last. I think if you’re doing what you were talking about and you’re trying to do way too much, you’re not serving them well and you’re not serving yourself well, so your business is not gonna last.
Sandra: Exactly. It definitely all comes full circle that if you are giving that great client experience and you’re getting great feedback, you’re feeling confident, you’re excited, and then you’re able to just like keep going. And the same goes for the negative side of that too. So I personally am much happier and my clients are much happier now that we’re focusing on the more positive side of that cycle.
Katelyn: Yes haha
Sandra: Um, what kind of impact do you think making this intentional client experience has made on your business?
Katelyn: I think that – I know that it is why I have a business. Um, I wouldn’t have clients referring their friends to me if I didn’t have this very intentional client experience, and I don’t think that I would be fulfilled. Like I said, I, I do love being a photographer, but if I was just taking their pictures and didn’t even really know their names or know anything about them, I just don’t think I would be fulfilled. Um, I am super extroverted. I’m a seven on the Enneagram if you guys know about that, and I just love people, and so it’s just so much more fulfilling to me that I have real connections. You know, I have brides who, I took their pictures three years ago and they’re like sending me their baby pictures, you know? Um, or like coming back for family pictures and, you know, coming back to our cookout at our house and things like that. And so I just think that… Um, not only is it growing my business in that way, but it is fulfilling me as a person.
Sandra: Yeah. That’s so amazing. I love that. Was there anything unexpected, that kind of like surprised you along the way as you started perfecting your client experience?
Katelyn: Yes. So I have noticed recently, in paying attention to, um, just conversations that I’m having with other photographers, is a lot of times I’m hearing like of these bad experiences and you know, well, what did you do if you had a difficult groom? Or, what would you do in this situation? Or, like, people just telling horror stories and I don’t have those. Um, I had one negative experience in the very beginning, um, before I did all of these things, right. Um, but since I have been so intentional with marketing to the right clients and just serving them well from the very beginning to the end, I just don’t have bad experiences because I’m making them feel comfortable, so I don’t have those “bad grooms” because they feel great and they’re having fun. So they’ll do whatever I ask them to because they trust me. Um, and I just think that there’s that mutual respect and trust that, um, just creates a, a great experience for both of us.
Sandra: Yeah, absolutely. That’s so important to have that mutual respect. It goes along to say that, like that client experience, it does have to do with respecting our clients, their time, the money that they’re spending and things like that, but it really does go both ways. And I’m always about looking for like, things that are mutually beneficial. It’s, it, it makes it a lot easier to like keep up with them and make them a part of your system when you’re getting something and not just constantly pouring out of yourself.
Katelyn: Yes, it all works together.
Sandra: Yeah, for sure. Um, so what are some of the – your favourite parts of the experience that you’ve created for your clients? Are there any like specific things that you get really excited about once you’ve booked them throughout your time together?
Katelyn: Um, gifting haha because my love language is gifts. Um..
Sandra: Me too!
Katelyn: And so you don’t have. That doesn’t, it’s not true for everyone. Um, I think you have to look at like who you are as a person and how you can serve them well.
But I love giving gifts and so we give gifts throughout the whole process and I keep adding more things haha and I maybe don’t need to do all that I do. Um, but even things like, I’ll send out a little, I just started eating this this year where I send out a little self care box like a month before the wedding to the bride and it just has like little, like, bath bombs and things like that because I was noticing I did a lot in the beginning and then a lot, you know, during the wedding day, but I didn’t have like a connection point kind of in between their engagement session and their wedding so I started sending that just to kind of remind them like, I’m here and I love you and I’m taking care of you and you deserve a little bit of a break. Um, so I love doing that. And then I have just started doing album reveals in my house! And I love hosting.
We have a very tiny house that is a hundred years old haha lots of character, so it’s nothing fancy, but I love just how intimate that is to just like, have them in my house and, like, make them a charcuterie board and like really get to be the, be with them through that. Um, and we do have a lot of couples that travel, so if they are not able to come in, then I’ll send them a, like a charcuterie in a box type thing for them to still have a special moment when they view their pictures for the first time in their house. Because I had found that I was doing all of these things that were so intentional, and then after the wedding day, I would send a link in an email that they might get while they’re like, at targets scrolling through!
So now I tell them exactly when it’s gonna be and I send them that little gift, or I have them over that way that they, they get to still have an experience when they see their pictures too.
Sandra: I love that so much. That’s so sweet to have them over and like make a little charcuterie board and things like that. I love that.
Katelyn: Yeah! And it’s the same, it’s like so fulfilling for both because you get to see that they love their pictures, you know? Cause they get busy. They may not remember to say like, Oh I loved this one, or whatever. But you get to see like them crying at their pictures and it’s so special.
Sandra: Oh, I love that because yeah, I’m not sure if you feel this way as well, but if I send out a gallery and I don’t hear back, they could love their photos, but I instantly assume that they hate them.
Katelyn: You think they hate every single one!
Sandra: Yeah, exactly! Like that must be the only reason why they didn’t reply.
Sandra: Um, and you mentioned that you do a cookout – I would love to hear more about that!
Katelyn: Yes. Okay, so we are not very consistent with it haha ‘cause um, it’s been covid in the past two years and like last year we had to cancel and things like that. Um, but it’s just, we like have them come over to our house and hang out and it’s very casual, very laid back, but it’s just a chance for them to come and hang out and like our kids are there, and, um, just because our couples really do feel like family by the end of the experience and so we love to just continue creating those connection points.
Sandra: Oh, that’s so nice. That must be so much fun to get a chance to reconnect with people.
Katelyn: Yes, and it’s fun too because like a lot of our clients know each other because, you know, we’ve done sisters weddings and friends weddings and all that, so yeah, it’s really fun.
Sandra: Oh, that’s so awesome! All right, so I’ve got – I saved a big question for the last one. Um, but, would you say that you have any advice for newer photographers in the industry, or even photographers who are just looking to up-level their client experience, on like, where is the best place to get started?
Katelyn: Yes, this is a great question. I like to have a practical application when you listen to a podcast because I think sometimes when I’m listening, I listen to people ramble and then I’m like, Okay, well what do I do? Um, so here’s your practical tip. If you haven’t been listening this whole time, um, I think you need to make just a, a workflow, make a checklist. Um, so I have one that we can include in the show notes, I think!
Katelyn: Yes. Okay. It’s just my wedding workflow. Um, just so you guys can kind of see an example, and this starts with, like, respond to inquiry and goes all the way down to like send an anniversary card and has every single step in between. Um, and I have found that this helps because there are so many little steps. If you don’t have your workflow like written out as a checklist for every couple, um, then you can forget things and you know, I was sometimes forgetting to send their welcome box or I was sometimes forgetting to, um, you know, send a follow up email or whatever.
Um, so I think just even if you don’t use mine, just create a very simple workflow that you can… that’s just manageable for every couple. Um, so if you don’t think that you have time to send a gift every single month, don’t put that on your workflow. But just start with something small. Like, you know what, I love – words of affirmation is my love language, so I would love to write a sweet note to my couples a month before their wedding. Um, so put that on your workflow. But just make a simple checklist that you can really follow through with every couple.
Sandra: That’s so, so great and yes, I will definitely make sure to include the link to your download so if you are listening and you wanna grab that, make sure you head over to my website and hit the show notes so that you can grab a copy because it will definitely be amazing if the, uh, talk that I saw Katelyn give at The Graceful Gathering is any like, I don’t know what the word is I’m looking for… Notion, of how it’s going to be, it’s gonna be amazing!
Katelyn: Oh, you’re so sweet!
Sandra: Awesome. Well, before we wrap things up, do you have any final thoughts that you’d like to mention or anything that you have coming up that you would love to share about?
Katelyn: Um, Yes, I have something really exciting. Um, since this is a podcast for wedding photographers, I would love to share it, um, that I am hosting a retreat, um, in March! So if you guys want details, um, all of my information will be linked. Um, or you can just go to my website, katelynworkmanphotography.com, and there’s like a little popup you can put, um, to be on my email list.
But – I’m really excited because one of the things that I love about events is just creating connections with other business owners and other photographers. I think that, um, client experience is a great way to sustain your business, but so is having connections with people because we can’t do it alone. And so that’s the whole part behind the retreat is just a chance to come together. It’s gonna be really intimate and encourage each other and have accountability, and it’s gonna be amazing! So yes, if you guys want information on that, just go to the website and thank you for letting me share about!
Sandra: Oh, of course. Yes, guys. Definitely go and check that out. I love a good like conference and retreat. The, the value that you get out of building community and just being in the same space with people who just get it is so, so invaluable and something that I wish that I had taken advantage of sooner in my business, but better late than never and I take it for like everything that it’s worth now!
Katelyn: Yes, I agree. I see the people who are not lasting in their businesses are people who work alone, um, because they get, you just get burned out and it, you can’t do everything by yourself.
Sandra: Yeah. It’s so, so true. Awesome. Well, I cannot wait to see how this retreat grows, I’m so excited for you and thank you so much again for being here! This was absolutely amazing and we’ll definitely have to have you back on the podcast in the future.
Katelyn: Yeah. Thanks so much.
Ok – can we talk about how great that interview was? I love that Katelyn is so invested in building relationships with her clients that continue beyond the actual taking of photos. How fun does her annual cookout sound?! I’m already married but I may need to find a way to become a KWP bride so I can score an invite for the next one!
I’ve been wanting to plan a big gathering for my clients for a couple of years now but thanks to the pandemic, that plan has been put on hold. Maybe next year though?! It’s my ten-year business anniversary so I’m thinking it might be perfect way to celebrate!
I also couldn’t agree more with Katelyn when she talked about how your client’s experience isn’t just about the time they’re directly interacting with you. Client experience really starts from the second someone lands on your website and has the ability to continue indefinitely into the future.
One thing that goes a long way in the very beginning of your client experience that I think gets overlooked more often than not is taking the time to make sure your text you’re including can actually be read.
If you are using a lot of script and cursive fonts, or if you’re using small lettering, it can be really difficult for so many people to read. I wear glasses, but my eyesight is really not that bad. I can see and read without my glasses on. But still, I can’t tell you how often I land on a website or even see a social media post where I have to strain to read what’s written. It’s recommended that you use at least a 16pt font when you’re including text online. It might seem large to you, the majority of us have grown up using software where the standard default size is an 11 or 12pt font, so ya, at first, it is going to seem big in comparison. But as always, we have to remember, there are all different types of people in the world and what might seem large to you may be small in comparison to someone with limited vision or who someone who is neurodivergent.
Building an inclusive business is SO important, and that goes beyond making sure the LGBTQ and BIPOC communities are represented. Which, don’t get me wrong, is super important. But a truly inclusive business considers all different types of people, which means making sure people of all abilities are able to access your services as well.
If you’re like me and already building a to-do list of things to work on during off-season, I encourage you to do a deep dive into your website and see what tweaks you can make to ensure every potential client feels welcome and has a great experience before they even have a chance to connect with you.
Then, have a little fun with it, and if it feels authentic to you, start incorporating some things like gifts and gatherings into your client’s experience along the way. Start building relationships with your clients so they start to feel more like friends, and you’ll definitely start to see a shift in how happy they are and how often they refer their own friends and family your way too!
Thanks so much for listening to Keeping It Candid: Wedding Photography Unfiltered with Sandra Henderson! You can find full show notes from today’s episode at simplysandrayvonne.ca/keepingitcandid. In the meantime – let’s connect! You can find me on Instagram @simplysandrayvonne, and on Facebook in the Wedding Photography Unfiltered community! If you’re loving this podcast, I’d be so honoured if you’d go ahead and hit that subscribe button and leave me a review!
Until next time!
Katelyn Workman Photography
Website | www.katelynworkmanphotography.com
IG | @katelynworkmanphotography
TikTok | @katelyneworkman
Create Retreat | https://katelynworkmanphotography.com/createretreat
Freebie | How To Book More Clients For Free https://katelynworkmanphotography.com/bookmoreclients
Katelyn is a wedding photographer and educator from a small town on the border of West Virginia and Virginia! She started taking pictures of her foster daughter just for fun, and is now a full-time wedding photographer, educator, and – she adopted her daughter! Don’t forget to check out the Create Retreat, coming this spring!
November 1, 2022