Inspire Speaker: Ben Schaefer


In this series of blog posts we are introducing people who are speaking at and attending Inspire 2014. Today we’d like to introduce you to Ben Schaefer of Avenna Studios who will be leading a session Weds afternoon called Better, Faster, Stronger Lightroom Processing

Ben Schaefer


The American ideal promotes the concepts of individualism, fierce competition and capitalism, and a common misconception is that the wedding photography industry plays by the same rules. In my experience, however, just the opposite is true.

I think that collaboration with “competitors” is the way to success and happiness in our world.

Referral networks are a powerful component in the wedding photography business, and only the egotistical and insecure (wow, that sounds mean) overlook the advantages of making friends out of photographers in their market. Luckily this concept seems to have been embraced in New England more than in other areas... probably due to events like Inspire! Over 60% of my new business comes from photographer referrals. That is HUGE.

I think building strong networks works best when photographers all have a similar style. They do not have to have the same price point, as not all clients will have the same budget, but often they will desire certain key style elements. For example, if a client is looking at photojournalistic photographers, you probably will not be able to successfully refer them to a super traditional photographer who focuses on portraits. There are always exception to this rule, but for the greatest success rate, in my experience, strive to create a network built on similarities in style and customer service.

Additional benefits can come from sharing pricing structures and brainstorming business practices. Sharing and comparing the inner workings of businesses takes trust but can produce amazing results when a group is willing to collaborate together.

Building a network of other trusted professionals also really helps when you find yourself in a jam. If you break your leg and can’t shoot a wedding, it is always a great comfort to have a group of people there who are willing to help out.

Dare I also mention the ability to VENT! I would die many times over without being able to talk with colleagues that can identify with me and lend an ear.

A heartfelt thanks to everyone I know and will come to know!

Images below courtesy of Zac Wolf and his DangerBooth!