What better way to kick off the 2010 DigiLabs Photographer of the Month than sitting down to talk the owners of This Modern Life Photographers? Husband and wife duo Kevin and Jessica Bergthold epitomize the modern photographer with style, experience and personality. Kevin not only has a degree from Brooks Institute of Photography but also years of experience in the industry. Jessica is fully committed, has years of experience and has ample energy for both (even shooting two weeks prior to the birth of their daughter!). Kevin & Jessica were recently awarded the Best of the Knot 2010 and have been awarded by the Wedding Photojournalist association multiple times…some would say fully ‘accoladed’.
When I say Jessica has ample energy this is really truth. Yeck, she even took my sales job away from me at the 2008 WPPI! Although I had chatted with Kevin a couple times my first ‘live’ experience with the Bergthold’s was at the WPPI. There was a stylish couple standing at the edge of our booth (late rfound out it was Jessica and Kevin) looking at the coffee table books.. Another female photographer walked up and was inquiring about our web service offering. The next thing I know, Jessica was telling this photographer about the benefits and the money they made using our interface. She did all the selling for me! No, I didn’t twist her arm…she was just volunteering their experience, I swear.
Last year we had the pleasure of sponsoring one of their Mile High Photographer meetings and attended their (annual I hope) Mile High Photographers Book Show & Tell. Who knows what 2010 has for the Bergtholds and I this year? Mile High Photographer meetings? Candle light dinners? Or maybe babysitting their daughter at WPPI?
Okay, enough of my gypsy predictions, here is a little more about This Modern Life Photographers through my Q&A session with Kevin:
Tell us a little more about your personal style: It’s candid, spontaneous and collaborative. We work in the same venues a lot but don’t have any specific formula – everyone is different and we tailor our work to their personalities. Also, I tend to shoot lots of wide angle and Jesse shoots closer in, so we complement each other with different views.
You said you shoot in a lot in the same venues. What inspires you to try something different? Our clients and their fabulous events. It’s all about what’s going on with the couple and at the wedding, not necessarily the venue itself. We’re photojournalists, with an eye for the special moments, good light and details. We love weddings that reflect the couple’s style.
We also include engagement photos in our packages. This is a great way to get to know your clients, understand their story, and prepare for their big day.
What is the gear that you think is essential to doing what you do? We’re Canon shooters with the usual suspects. 5d MK II, zooms, primes, pocket wizards. Editing is done on Macs with PS CS4 and Bridge. Not only do we use DigiLabs for online proofing, but we also have a home studio with a projector to show clients their pictures in person. This has been a great tool for us. People tend to buy more when we give them a a personal ‘viewing’ of their big day.
With so many new studios popping up these days how does your studio set itself apart from the multitude of NEW photographers out there? We don’t run from competition or discourage new photographers at all. In fact, this year we’ve added an associate photographer to pick up more weddings. We also offer their services at different price points. This is a great way to get more business in a challenging economy. We have the ability to work with ANY bride & groom or family.
Interviewers Notes: This Modern Life Photographers includes an engagement session with EVERY wedding. Not only is this a good way to get to know your clients, but a great upsell for a small investment (of time). By spending 1-2 hours you, not only can offer engagement photo prints, but sign in books, etc. Also a couple feels like they are getting value when comparing photographers because they get both an engagement shoot and wedding coverage.
Now a two part question:
A. How are you changing your business to incorporate selling the high res images? We include digital files in our packages. We thought about this and charge more so that we don’t have to count on tons of sales after the wedding. That said, we do hold the disk until their album is delivered. That way we give them what they want, but still get online sales from family members after the event.
B. How are you changing your business to incorporate social networking tools (like facebook)? Jessica is our master of social media. She’s great with networking, and has played a huge part in putting together a photographers group in Denver called Mile High Photographers. This gives us a good overview of the industry and local trends/changes in the business without having to travel all over the US for conventions and tradeshows.
How does Digilabs help your business? We use DigiLabs coffee table books and online web services. For the web services I love getting the Digilabs order confirmation emails. Even when I am on a shoot or hosting a slideshow in our Studio with clients I know Digilabs is helping my business. It saves me time and they just make it easy to grow my business.
Okay PLEASE help me out, what is your craziest Bridezilla or craziest customer story? We’ve been lucky, or we just end up with clients who are mellow and comfortable with us. All of our couples have been great to work with. We’ve seen things go wrong at weddings, and try to be part of the solution so the bride doesn’t have to stress.
Interviewer Notes: Is this just some urban myth, like the Loch Ness Monster or Bigfoot? Is the Bridezilla becoming some sort of rare mythical or extinct creature?
Best Advice to give to other photographers? Be yourself. At first I thought I had to be more formal and business-like. But once I relaxed everything got easier.
And there it is.. first DigiLabs Photographer of the Month in the new year. If you want to keep up to date on what’s going on with Kevin and Jessica check out This Modern Life Photographers’ Blog, follow them on Twitter or become their fan on Facebook.