If you’ve been working in our local wedding community for long, you’ve probably come across Whitney and Jordan from Flat 4 Photography and Photo Booth. They have an amazing reputation with vendors and brides alike and are a shining example of how to build a strong business using modern tools, hard work and good old fashioned customer service. I was thrilled when they agreed to continue our Business Profile series because I know we can all learn a lot from them!
Name: Whitney + Jordan Tampien
Business: Flat 4 Photography & Photo Booth
When did you start your business?
The photography side of our business started in the fall of 2009 and the Photo Booth started up in early 2010 (and we just launched our new product, the InstaBOOTH, in 2014!)
Why did you start your business?
It started out with a love of photography and then we kind of got addicted to finding new niches in our local event industry and seeing how far we could run with them. And, ultimately, there is something to be said about working for yourself! (Whitney has been doing Flat 4 full-time for almost a year, while Jordan still works a day job that he loves in addition to helping out with our business.)
What was your biggest struggle your first year in business?
There were many, but probably the biggest struggle was getting too busy too fast before we really even knew the direction we wanted our business to go. When I (Whitney) started doing photography, I honestly saw it as a way to pay for my lattes at Starbucks every morning… The next thing we knew, photography and the Photo Booth became a second full-time job and we barely had time to catch up on the smaller facets of our business, like a good website, quality business cards, etc. because we both had other full-time jobs as well.
How did you overcome that struggle?
I’m not sure that you ever really feel like you’re completely caught up when you’re running your own business, but I think the biggest thing has been learning to prioritize and also realizing that it’s okay to say no to additional business (gasp) if it means keeping your sanity and giving your existing clients your best work.
What was your biggest source of growth?
As cliché as it sounds, word of mouth has helped grow our business more than anything else. That’s not as easy at is sounds though; we have worked really hard to develop a stellar reputation with clients and other vendors in our industry, which has resulted in countless people passing our name along to their friends, family, and clients.
On average, how many hours a week do you work on your business?
This is a tough question to answer because every single week running this business is completely different! During busy season when we are up to our ears in shooting weddings, editing photos, and coordinating Photo Booth events, it is easily a 60-hour work week. But there are certainly weeks during our slower time of year when it’s a 20-hour-a-week job. Regardless of the time of year though, there is ALWAYS something to keep us busy with this business!
What is the best social media site for your business?
Facebook, hands down. It’s easy, free, and people are on it every day. It’s really a no-brainer! We have done some creative giveaways and promos to get more followers over the years, and we are proud to say we are almost to 1,500 fans. And we’re lucky that many of the vendors we’ve built relationships with will share our status updates to create an even bigger advertising network!
What practical tools do you recommend to other business owners?
We like to keep things simple and organized around here. For us, our lives are scheduled on our iPhones! We have also recently gotten into using Square for our credit card payments in addition to PayPal, which is super convenient and has really reasonable rates. (If you’ve never used Square, it’s a free device that plugs into your phone and lets you swipe credit cards on the go. Or you can take credit card payments over the phone.)
Best advice for someone wanting to start a wedding business?
1) Be nice and be personable. This job is ultimately not about you. You have to be able to deal with EVERYONE in a calm and positive way, including frantic mothers-of-the-bride and drunk groomsmen. If you can’t do that and be nice while doing it, you should probably choose a different industry. 2) Answer emails quickly. We have gotten countless photography and Photo Booth jobs because we simply responded quickly to clients. No joke. 3) Don’t quit your day job…yet. Build up your business before you make it your full-time gig. 4) Realize that it’s not as glamorous as you might think it is (is any job really as glamorous as it appears?) It’s not going to be as easy as it looks, but if you’re willing to put in the time and energy, it will be worth it. At the end of the day, it’s pretty dang cool to witness the most special and intimate moments of peoples’ lives (and get paid to do it!)
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to be interviewed about your business!