Independence doesn’t have to be isolating.
Yesterday we spoke with two freelancers who have found a way to make their independent lives work together. Cassius and Jordana Wright have achieved much individually, but together they’re unstoppable.
The husband and wife photography team combined their backgrounds in art, theatre and business, and created Jordana Wright Photography, a full-service portrait & event photography company.
For the dynamic couple, maintaining a healthy and collaborative partnership is a huge part of their success. During our Google+ Hangout with them yesterday, they shared a number of invaluable tips with us. These 17 choice cuts are only the beginning, though! Be sure to watch the full video below!
On making a partnership work:
“Partnerships are a matter of respect and liking the person that you work with. You have to have a level of humility...any partnership is going to require that. You need to know what you’re good at and what you aren’t.”
“The secret to making a partnership work is the same as the one that makes the marriage work. It really helps if you like each other.”
On working as a photographer and cameras:
“In the photography industry, you see some weird stuff. You’ve just gotta roll with it and recover the best you can.”
“I like food photography because you get to eat it, which is way better than anything else.”
“I was looking for theater jobs but had always done photography as a hobby. When I realized that I was making more money taking headshots for my actor friends than anything else, I asked myself ‘Why am I trying to do anything else with my career?’”
“We get to go on vacation together and go see amazing places for ‘work’...if Jordana gets to go some place, I usually get to tag along and help. It’s a major bonus.”
“It’s not the camera. It’s the person using the camera. You can get as much from a point-and-shoot and a personal vision as some idiot with a Hasselblad. Work on the skills first and let the fun toys follow.”
“I’m a big fan of keeping my camera with me at all times, just in case.”
On dealing with clients:
“Keep clients happy. It’s a question of treating them like human beings and not being a diva. As a photographer, sometimes you need to let them be in control. Photographers can sometimes think too highly of themselves and push back on the people they’re working with. The important thing is to have a good time and a sense of humor so that you can walk away and have someone that you can go back to.”
“We try to approach every single individual and opportunity as a chance to show them why we’re the best choice for them. It’s not a matter of “Do you want what Jordana Wright photography has to offer you?” It’s a question of, “What can Jordana Wright Photography create for you that is exactly what you need?”
On using social media:
“Social media is hugely important for us. Most of our exciting business has come through Google+...There’s so much opportunity to put your personality into it.”
“Your average 15 year old that’s really media savvy can now create their own brand if they really focus on it. That ability to reach a larger audience is happening more easily and at a younger age...which gives people a longer period of time to pull off something like Justin Bieber did. Remember, he started on YouTube.”
“What we do is possible due to the connectivity that we have in this era...You can create these projects for yourself and adventures and get a lot of interest in them as long as people like what they see. That’s an opportunity for freelancers that’s never existed before.”
On selling your product and setting prices:
“A pretty good shot isn’t what people want to buy. It’s really important to keep track of what you’re putting out as your best work, because ideally, that’s going to change...As your business grows, and people’s expectations of you as a business person grow, your portfolio should reflect that, as your business reflects that.”
“My feeling is, my costs are my costs. You cost a certain amount and your time is not worth less than that.
“Some people are like, “You can take our pictures and use it for your portfolio. That’s a fair trade, right?” Well...no, because I can’t eat my portfolio.”
“You do compromise yourself as an artist. If a project will make me the connections that I need to make, but not provide me with as much money as I’d like, it’s totally worth it. Sometimes you eat ramen noodles because you do a project that was important enough to make it worthwhile.”
“Once you figure out your rates, you don’t necessarily want to put them on your website. It’s better for them to have to contact you and ask about your rates. That way, at the very least, you’re opening up a discussion with them.”
On work/life balance:
“As much as we focus on our work and schedule, part of that schedule is to ensure that we have some fun time.”
“When you choose the freelance lifestyle, you decide that the 9-5 thing probably isn’t gonna be your deal. There are ups and downs that come with that. But it’s important that you consider part of your job to plan decompression time into it.”
“If there’s a place we want to travel, we’ll start soliciting various companies or friends that we know in that area so that we can offset the costs of the trip. That’s what we work towards. A lot of times people reach out to us for business, but a lot of times, I reach out to other people.”
“The tax game completely changes when you’re a freelancer in the United States...it’s a huge pain in the butt...you have to be really careful and know what you’re doing...you need to find the right balance, find a tax attorney, or find an accountant that you like and that you trust to give good advice.”
On preparing for projects and staying motivated:
“When you’re preparing for projects, as much work as you can do in advance...do in advance! When you’re actively trying to create art, you don’t want to have to worry about the little things.”
“When you’re in the zone, stick with it. I believe in coffee while you work, I believe in wine while you work. Whatever motivates you, that’s cool. Everyone has a different thing.”
Cassius and Jordana's websites:
Jordana Wright Photography