We were lucky to catch up with FRANKIE G recently and have shared our conversation below.
Hi FRANKIE, thanks for joining us today. What do you think it takes to be successful?
Let’s start with success isn’t going to look the same for every business owner. Before you begin your business, ask yourself what do I want my success to look like. Most new entrepreneurs, want to make money, have time off for the family or to travel etc. But what ends up happening is early on we take on too much, spend too much time on the business while our personal lives fall to the wayside. So what do I think it takes to be successful? Finding YOUR OWN definition of success and building habits and workflows that allow for that kind of success. Along with your own individual success, you will need patience. No one comes up with an idea and 6 months later is making six figures. That’s not how it works. Slow progression is good progression. Becoming an expert at your craft, being a resource to your client and having fun along the wall will get your far in your career. Trying to be the haire will only cause fatigue, burnout and overall failure. And lastly I think having a strong support system in place will lead to success, you cannot do it alone. For me, my husband, family and industry friends are my biggest support system. My husband never questions if my creative career will bring enough money to support our life, my family helps with childcare when we need it and my industry friends provide community, friendship, and advice that I will never take for granted.
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your back background and context?
I have been a photographer since I was in middle school with my first point and shoot camera. In high school starting my sophomore year(after practically failing sewing class my freshman year) I took photography classes, where we learned film and digital photography, as well as photoshop and Lightroom. I used all of my high school graduation money and bought my first DSLR before heading to college Cal State Fullerton to pursue a degree in PhotoCommunications(basically photography journalism). While In college I took grad photos for friends and started to take family and engagement photos when I would come back home. I interned at a wedding photography company and learned so much about weddings and the back end of business, from there I knew I wanted to pursue this type of photography over working for a newspaper.
After college I got married and got a part time job working in customer service while taking photos in my off time. After 2 years of hustling and working most evenings and weekends I quit that job and went full time with photography in 2018. It was terrifying but I was smart and saved a years worth of salary to make sure I could cover all my business and life expenses if the business was slow, it never got slow. My business grew and grew and I am still photographing clients and friends of clients that I was shooting when I first started. My clients have always been so loyal and I think it’s because I truly try and get to know them, follow them on social media and give them a fun experience time and time again.
Over the years I have learned that I need to be a resource for clients. They don’t go to photoshoots everyday. They are normal people who are looking to us photographers to guide them. During the beginning days of Covid in 2020 I created so many guide. All of my wedding clients get a client experience guide that walks them through the whole wedding day, what my process it and what to expect. I send them engagement session prep guide that gives insight on when and where to schedule their session as well as what to wear and how to make the session unique. I also send a locations guide and outfit pinterest board to my family clients so they don’t have to go through the stress of where to go and what colors match etc.
What sets me apart from other photographers is my clients come back again and again and again and they refer all their friends. So many times I have shot a wedding of one couple and I will know 2-3 couples attending because I shot their wedding. When I see past clients at weddings, it makes my heart so happy and it makes me feel like whatever it is that I’m doing, I’m doing it right. I also believe serving the couples and their families will get you very far. Go above and beyond to make them feel heard, don’t ignore their wedding day jitters, calm them and be confident in your decision making. There was one wedding I shot during a torrential downpour, after the first look. The ceremony got moved into the reception space and I had to take family photos in a little conference room. No one never knew I was freaking out inside. I had no idea how I was going to give this couple what they expected from their wedding day with the horrible rain but they didn’t know that, and they didn’t need to know that. If you’re freaking out as the photographer, they will freak out. So in situations where there’s chaos and nerves, be the calm in the storm, your clients will be at ease if you are.
I also always make a point to ask the moms of the couples if I can take any special photo for them, whether that be a group shot of them and their friends or a 1980’s cheesy cake cutting photo, whatever it is, they will notice if you do it and they will tell all their friends who also have kids who will be getting married soon.
I am most proud of my reviews. My clients are seriously the best at writing reviews. Every single one is just the best. And there’s a common thread throughout them all, it’s that I made them feel comfortable in front of the camera and that working with me was easy. That’s what I want. That’s all I could ever ask for.
Have you ever had to pivot?
When I had my daughter(who is now a toddler) I had to make really big changes. I couldn’t spend 8+ hours a day sitting at my computer editing and answering emails. I have a virtual assistant now who handles little things like pinterest posts and big things like blogging. I also have hired a babysitter to come for a few hours 2 days a week. Starting my workday at 8am instead of 3-4pm when my husband gets home is crucial to getting focused and deep work in. I also no longer work at night unless I absolutely want to. In addition to my VA, I no longer edit my own weddings, I edit about 50-100+ of the images and then it goes off to an editor. Not spending hours and hours editing has saved my back, wrist and life a lot of stress. It is a huge weight lifted off my shoulder and now I feel like I can shoot more and make more money! Lastly I have a cleaning lady that comes once a month, well because frankly, I don’t want to spend the hour and a half of my daughters nap time cleaning. If you’re a mom, you get it. So don’t be afraid to outsource!
Can you open up about a time when you had a really close call with the business?
I photographed a birth for a friend of mine and before I left the hospital I took my memory cards out of my camera and placed them in a little coin purse and placed that inside my bigger crossbody bag, while walking to the parking lot they fell out. I didn’t realize I didn’t have them until the following morning when I tried to upload the cards. I was panicking, freaking out, tearing my house and car apart looking for them. I ended up driving back to the hospital where THANK GOD, a doctor found them and brought them to the front desk. That was a moment I will never ever ever forget.