Biggest Lessons for Building a Photography Associate Team

Biggest Lesson for Associate Team

Claire Hunt

May 17, 2024

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Have you wanted to build a photography associate team so that you can stop trading your time for income?

I am so excited because this is the first Snapshots episode on All Angles Photography Podcast! The Snapshots series was created to answer your biggest business questions, and today, we are diving into a question about photography associate teams. This question was submitted by Cassie. She asked, “What’s the biggest lesson you learned through having an associate team?” 

I started my associate team in 2022. It truly has been one of the most rewarding ways I have scaled. There are definitely lessons that have come with it, and it’s something I teach in-depth inside of my mentorship program Scale It, but today, I plan to share some positive lessons I’ve learned, as well as some not-so-great lessons.

As the lead photographer, you still have a lot of responsibilty

I did not realize that even though I was not the one having to go and actually photograph the wedding or the session, there was still a significant amount of work involved in managing an associate team. As the lead photographer, the responsibility still falls on your shoulders. 

Let’s rewind to the very beginning of 2022. When I started my team, I hired only one photographer and there was a lot of training that year. It truly is such a huge part of your business that you’re handing off to someone. It can be quite terrifying, especially for something as important as a wedding day. It’s tied to your brand and your name. You want to make sure you are giving the same kind of luxury experience to your couples. 

So, I ended up training her throughout 2022. I was only booking her for 2023 at this point because even though I wanted to build and scale in this way, I knew I still wanted to shoot my own weddings as well. 

What I didn’t realize when I was booking for her in 2023 was that even though I wasn’t the one shooting, there was still a lot of work I needed to be involved in. As the lead photographer, the pre and post-work falls on you. 

I still felt like I was doing double-headers sometimes

To be honest, many of the weekends when I was shooting a Friday wedding and she was shooting a Saturday wedding, it still felt like I was doing a doubleheader. I still had double to deliver when it came to the sneak peeks and even the final gallery. 

If you’ve been around here for a while, you know that I outsource many things. This includes editing, but I still go through every single image and put the finishing touches on them. I want to make sure my eyes are giving each one the stamp of approval. 

I definitely would not want to have a team if I didn’t have an editor or outsource other things. For example, I have an admin assistant who keeps me up to date on all of my workflow actions. It helps to ensure my client experience is always moving along without being the one actually sending the emails. Those things are so important and I wouldn’t want to have additional bookings or a team if I didn’t have those people to outsource to. 

Spacing out the bookings 

The biggest lesson I learned was that I wished my bookings were spaced out a bit more from her bookings. It felt like all of the deadlines were approaching at the same time. That can be a lot at one time, especially during those busy seasons. 

If you want to add an associate team to your business, keep in mind the deadlines and the workload. Remember that does fall on you as the lead photographer. Also, you want to think about what your capacity is. You need to be sure you have the ability to serve everyone – your team, your photographers, and your couples without running yourself into the ground. 

Remember, the whole purpose of scaling your business is to have a better work/life balance.

It brought in more revenue 

Adding a team in 2022 allowed me to bring in $52K more in revenue for 2023. About $30K of that was profit. All of this was without ever having to leave my house to shoot. Think about that for a moment. How awesome would it be to be able to scale back and take fewer bookings for yourself while still making a profit doing the behind-the-scenes work AND paying your team well?

It was wonderful! There were times I knew my couples were out there being served by my team photographer. It gave me the opportunity to go on a date night with my husband or do something around the house. 

These positive lessons I learned were so worth it for me. I was able to trade less of my time and to know everyone was still having a great experience. 

There’s a lot that goes into building an associate team 

There’s so much more that goes into building an associate team including when to hire, finding the right people, choosing independent contractors vs. employees, keeping everything legally legit, and even just down to the marketing and conveyancing the value of your team so that your clients are excited to work with them. 

While there is so much that goes into having an associate team, I know it’s so worth it if it’s aligned for you and where you’re at in your business. 

Join the waitlist for Scale It 

As I mentioned, this is something I teach in-depth inside of Scale It. While I’m not currently enrolling, doors will open again in November 2024. If scaling is something you’re interested in, I invite you to put your name and email on the waitlist. You can expect to receive bonuses, discounts, exclusive offerings, and maybe some education from me filtering into your inbox every now and again until November 2024. 

Ultimately, Scale It is for you if you want to learn how to stop trading your time for income, have more of a work/life balance, and scale in ways that feel fulfilling so you can have more time to enjoy the things you love while also building your business and allowing it to run on autopilot. 

I absolutely love talking about these lessons I’ve learned. My hope is that it will help you avoid some of the common mistakes and pitfalls that I’ve made in my own business so you can scale in a way that feels easy because that’s what it’s all about, my friend. 

In this episode, we cover:

  • Snapshots question: What was the biggest lesson you learned through having an associate team?
  • The work that’s still on you as the lead photographer 
  • How bringing on a team can ultimately bring in more revenue 
  • Getting your time back to do more of what you love 
  • Learn more about Scale It and join the waitlist – Doors open November 2024

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