INTERVIEW WITH Ruthie Allen of RUTH EILEEN PHOTOGRAPHY | Boston, Massachusetts
Hi Ruthie! Thanks for taking some time to share a little bit about yourself as well as how you run your successful photography business! First off tell us a little about yourself! Are you married? Any children?
Thanks so much for having me Heidi! I am married. Chris and I celebrated our second anniversary this past October. We don’t have any children but we have plenty of nieces & nephews that keep us busy!
For women I think it’s particularly hard to balance family life and work life…..How do you keep your marriage strong from the stresses of your business life?
Chris and I both feel that having a Christ centered marriage is what keeps it strong. We also make sure we take one night out of the week to “hang out”, just the two of us! Whether its grabbing dinner somewhere or just going for a drive, we always make a point to have “us” time!
How long have you been in the photography business, and what do you specialize in most?
I have been in business for 2 years. I specialize in wedding photography. I do other kinds of photography too but newly engaged couples are my favorite to work with! I love being able to capture weddings. The engagement period and wedding day is one of the most important times in a couple’s life.
What have you learned is the most important aspect of running a successful photography business?
I think the most important aspect is being able to relate well with your clients and being genuinely interested in who they are and what makes their relationship unique and special. This deeper relationship with my clients allows me to capture them for who they truly are and reflect that in their images. In turn my clients are more pleased with their experience with my business and with their finished products and are more likely to refer me to friends!
What are you most proud of as a business woman? What is something you might do differently with your business if you could go back in time and do it again?
I am most proud that I was able to keep my business afloat even after moving across country. My husband and I just relocated to Boston, Massachusetts in August. I had almost a year to prepare for the move. I knew I wanted to keep my business and keep doing what I loved, so I spent those months networking & marketing myself as a Boston wedding photographer. It was the most beneficial thing I could have done for my business to succeed in a new city. Literally a week after we moved to Boston I had the opportunity to 2nd shoot with another photographer in the area and that whole next month I was booked to 2nd shoot with multiple photographers. Within 4 months of living in Boston I had shot my first 2 weddings in the new city.
I wish I would have listed out my goals for my business on paper instead of just keep them inside my head. Ha! I wish I wouldn’t have been scared to push myself to achieve those goals or dreams I had hidden away in my heart. It wasn’t until last year at my first photography workshop (Branches & Light) that I first put on paper a small list of goals I wanted to achieve last year. That list I made pushed me this past year to be better and to set out to achieve those goals.
When you were first starting out, what were your top three things you did in business to bring in clients?
1) I offered special promotions or discounts.
2) I created a Facebook page for my business. This allowed me to tag clients in photos so their friends could see their pictures. Which in turn, led to their friends booking. Gotta love Facebook!
3) Referrals from other photographers that I 2nd shot for. It’s so important to network with photographers in your area.
Talk to us about pricing. Lots of photographers don’t have a clue where to begin on this matter. How do you put a value on your art, time & find that balance of what you should charge? Any tips?
Ah pricing. The dreaded question. Ha! Probably a lot of photographers would cringe if they heard how I priced myself at the beginning. When I first launched my business I only had 2 years of learning experience and it was all self taught. I met with 2 professional photographers to talk through questions I had. I also soaked up any photography book, blog or forum I could get my hands on. (I loved being able to do what I loved to do and that was taking pictures.) I priced myself at the beginning so that I would get booked, not just to make a lot of money. After about 6 months of being in business and multiple photographers telling me I needed to raise my prices I finally did. I had a lot of fears but I knew that if I wanted to work full-time doing what I love most I would eventually have to raise my prices. I also knew that if I wanted people to view me as a professional photographer I had to take that step and charge like a professional. A great tool to get you started on pricing is Stacy Reeves Pricing Guide which helped me a lot!
What is something you think women in the industry should NOT do?
Don’t compare yourself to others in the industry. Don’t do it! Be confident with who you are as a person and photographer. This is something that I have focused on in 2011. Figuring out what I want my business to look like and the style I want to portray through my images. Comparing yourself to others just hinders you from becoming GREAT!
Great advice! A few more questions for ya….. What do you shoot with? How about a favorite lens?
I shoot canon… 5D & 5D mark ii. My favorite lens is my 24mm 1.4L. I love me some wide angle shots!
What are three things you can’t live without to keep you organized?
1) Get it Together kit from Millie Hollomon – I bought it last year and it hugely affected the way I organize my business… It is AHmazing!
2) iCal – I am an Apple junkie and I totally couldn’t live without the ability to sink all my devices and especially iCal.
3) ShootQ - I just signed up in December and am already seeing the benefits of it… yay for staying organized!
And finally, what are three pieces of advice or things that you have experienced you can give business owners who want to better themselves & their businesses?
Specifically for wedding photographers, don’t give up! You are going to be frustrated and ask yourself multiple times why you got into this industry but always remember what first made you fall in love with weddings!Set goals for yourself personally & professionally. Seeing your goals written out can be scary but it’s so rewarding when you start crossing things off your list!Network! Become friends with others in the industry. Learn from each other, push each other to be better photographers.
Thank you for taking time to share some business wisdom with everyone this week Ruthie!
Heidi, thank you so much for asking me to be apart of this! I had so much fun!
If you readers love this series, leave your comments below! I’m sure Ruthie would love to hear your thoughts as well!!
Much Love ~Heidi