Benefits of Membership

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What If Your Primary Focus & Passion is NOT Wedding & Session Photography?

As an independent creative and photographer, chances are you know what it’s like to have to hustle to get work that will fund your focus and passion. I never thought I would be a wedding photographer; but I learned soon enough that there is a ton of work in this field and that at the very least I could become proficient enough to make an income while pursuing my passion projects – 10 years later I’m a full-time wedding photographer HA! Point being, it still takes time, effort and money to attract and book high-quality leads. This is precisely the role that Head & Heart plays for it’s member photographers.

True Membership Exclusivity

Regardless of your experience with professional/paid photography, you almost certainly have some experience with ‘listing’ or ‘directory’ sites that make all kinds of promises about exposure and increasing the amount of leads your receive. I’ve tried (and paid for) all of them over the years only to find that there are so many other photographers listed that you aren’t even seen unless you pay for some kind of exorbitant ‘prime time’ position of some sort – but even then, you don’t get nearly enough converting leads to justify the expense.

Head & Heart Photography started in Santa Barbara with three member photographers about 2 years ago – I’ve only added one additional photographer since then because I will not invite more member photographers to H&H without making sure that I can generate more than enough leads to justify the cost of membership.

My 10 years of experience in the Wedding & Photography Industry

I started out in wedding photography as an apprentice about 10 years ago by working with two different local Santa Barbara wedding photographers. The first photographer I apprenticed with was completely self-taught, and the second photographer I worked for was a top graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography. Just before I went on to pursue my own photography business, I was an associate photographer for a studio that they started and operated together. So while learning and developing my own craft, I had the benefit of experiencing the approach and methods of two photographers from opposite ends of the learning spectrum. I’ve lived in Santa Barbara since I was 18 years-old and have been photographing weddings and growing my network for the last 8 of those years – As a member of Head & Heart Photography you will have access to the benefits of years of my own networking and working with your local venues and vendors.

Visibility + Exposure

One of the most difficult things to create as a photographer in Santa Barbara is a strong web presence whereby your website/business shows up on the first page for relevant searches. This is an aspect of my business that I’ve invested a lot of time, effort (and money!) into over the past 8 years, and at this point Kiel Rucker Photography shows up organically on the first page for the most relevant photography searches on Google in Santa Barbara. H&H photography already has it’s own Yelp and a Wedding Wire accounts that will bring you paid exposure as part of your membership fee, and I will continue to seek out and form other partnerships that will increase exposure and generate leads for H&H Photography. I’ve also recently began a vendor referral program that incentivizes planners, organizers and coordinators to send us qualified leads by offering them a referral fee for any referred leads that end up booking.

Access to high quality leads

Thanks again to the strong web presence of my own wedding photography site, and to the connections I have with venues and vendors, I currently generate more leads than I can book on my own. And I also receive many leads from couples with budgets that are not sufficient to book one my packages. So in addition to leads generated organically via relevant searches and social media campaigns (H&H photography is also live on Instagram, Facebook & Pinterest), paid and professionally managed Facebook, Instagram and Ad-words campaigns, I also funnel the leads that I can’t take to member photographers of H&H Photography. The primary benefit of these leads being that I’ve likely already had contact with, and a developed, a good rapport with them before confidently and strongly referring them to H&H.

Opportunity to hone your craft while building your business

As I became more and more confident in my ability to photograph weddings, one of the most frustrating parts was not being able to photograph higher end weddings to improve the quality of my portfolio and body of work.  The best way to do this while you’re still working on building your reputation and booking higher quality leads is to second-shoot with photographers who are booking these weddings.  I personally have a good number of second shooting opportunities for qualified and experienced photographers, and I also receive requests from other local photographer friends of mine who need second photographers from time to time.  You will also have the opportunity to second shoot for other H&H photographers if you like, assuming you are available and willing.

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