How I Grew My Wedding Photography Business

There are five main ways/areas that I used to grow my business, but there are many points in each area. So be prepared for a long loooooooooooong long post.

There is a lot of marketing and business fluff out there and most of it isn’t current. I try to stay current and do different things when I realize something isn’t working.

Here is what I have done this year to take my business from only getting $2k as of July 2018 to $23k by October 8, 2018. This totally sounds cheesy. We have all heard this kind of language right, but I literally have all of the numbers and names of my couples to prove it!

I wanted to make a comprehensive list of all the things I have done so far just so you get some idea of what it really takes to make a business successful.

Spoiler: It’s hard work. If you’re not down for that, then you may not really want your business to succeed. Not being harsh, just being honest. I worked eight hours a day over four months without a break to get to this point.

So here it is in all its glory:

Five Areas I work on to grow my business:

  1. Using the right resources and education
  2. Being strategic with my business
  3. Constantly shooting something even when I don’t have weddings
  4. Business 101
  5. Shifting and growing my business perspective



  1. My Favorite Resources (that changed the game for me):


        • Tailwind – Auto schedule and post to instagram and pinterest. (actually works)
        • Lightroom – Duh. But I used to edit only in photoshop. Face palm!
        • Photoshop – For cloning out things you don’t want in the background… and other awesome tools.
        • Blog Stomp – Optimize your photos so they don’t slow down your site. Google doesn’t like slow sites. It also creates really great album style combinations.
      • Honeybook – I honestly didn’t like it when I tried it. Then I got fully booked this coming summer (read: 25 couples) and then I realized I needed something. Mainly I need all of my files, timelines, emails, questionnaires and contracts in one spot and Honebook does it all. Want 50% off? Use my code here:
      • Google Sheets – To keep my crap organized. I keep my income in / out here.
      • Flo Themes for WordPress – Very pretty, but a pain in the butt to learn! I can help with that though.
      • Yoast – SEO plugin for WordPress – Just a nice guide to help make sure your blog posts are optimized.
      • Flickr – 1 tb free of online storage.
      • Word Swag (an app that allows you to put text over images. Very chic.
    • Unfold (an app that makes instagram stories look professional).

Audiobooks that changed my business perspective:


Crushing It – Gary Vee

Work Party – Jaclyn Johnson

Building a Story Brand – Donald Miller

The Obstacle is the way – Ryan Holiday

Ego is the Enemy – Ryan Holiday

Making Money is Killing Your Business – Chuck Blakeman

Start with Why – Simon Sinek

Braving the Wilderness – Brene Brown

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear – Elizabeth Gilbert

Present over Perfect – Shauna Niequist

How to Stop Feeling Like Shit – Andrea Owen

The Culture Code – Daniel Coyle


    1. Six Figure Photography
    2. Work Party Podcast by Jaclyn Johnson
    3. Side Hustle School
    4. Bokeh Podcast
    5. Goal Digger by Jenna Kutcher
    6. The Blogging Millionaire – SEO strategies
    7. The Bearded Tog
    8. The GaryVee Audio Experience


This one is a beast – so be prepared.

You can’t have all of your eggs in one basket my friend. Meaning – don’t just use Instagram and think you’re golden.

I asked people on Instagram if they use Facebook at all to reach couples and quite a few responses were essentially that they thought it was a waste of time. That is too bad for them because they’re missing out on ton’s of bookings.

I get so many brides through Facebook and through word of mouth on Facebook. Facebook Ad’s don’t hurt either.

Moral of the story, you shouldn’t neglect social media channels because you never know how it will help.

How does social media help me?

  • SEO: I write blog posts and post them to all my social media channels. The more people I get to click to that, the more I will rank on google searches for that post.
  • I can reach a broader audience. Some people found me on Facebook that would have never found me on Instagram. Twitter is where I like to post links to blog posts and you never know, I might get a wedding that way. Better to try than not try!
  • I have brides find me on Pinterest. Are you neglecting it? You’re missing out on SEO help as well as couples possibly seeing you.

Courtesy of SLR Lounge

2) My Strategies:


Strategy One: Meet as many people face to face as possible

 If you are behind the computer only, you will never grow your business. Look into second shooter Facebook groups and volunteer to second shoot when you don’t have a wedding or event going on. It is much better than sitting and getting no photos, and not networking.

1.Go to styled shoots! You will meet vendors and they can recommend you or at least tag you in their social media when you give them the photos you have taken.

2. Offer to take photos of other vendors for their social media / website. I did this for Lauren Miles and it was great because she took photos of me! It is just great to build a network and help others.

3. Go to networking events. Sometimes there are vendor meet-ups, workshops, and other events that will help you get that face to face interaction. Look hard for these.

4. If all else fails, go ahead and sponsor something for free to get people to come out. This could be a styled shoot or gathering!

5. DO WORK FOR FREE. It is much better to be constantly shooting something and getting better and always updating your feed than sitting at home, scrolling and wishing you were making amazing photos. When you do work for free, you build relationships and then referrals start. The universe gives back. This includes vendors, doing giveaways, trading with other vendors and doing some kind of event. ALSO – if you want to take photos as good as the photographers you admire, you have to practice practice practice! CLOSE THAT GAP.


The right way to collaborate:


  • PRO TIP: plan everything so that the other person/vendor literally only has to say yes or no:


“Hi x,


I really love your work! Your post on _____ gave me chills! I was so inspired that I put together a shoot. I have attached the mood board to this email and I have x,y,z vendors working with us on it. Everything is already planned so you literally have to show up! The address is below. The date is ——— but we have wiggle room for ———— too.


I would love to hear what you think and if you’d like to be on board! I can even come to you and pick up the supplies if that helps! (Plus I’ll have some Rose, hey!)


Thanks so much for your time! Keep rocking your fab work!


(Insert address, times, phone numbers and other helpful info)





The whole goal is to SHOW them you’re serious and not expecting them to have to carry the whole shoot but rather get something out of it. They also want to work with people who have their shit together. So leave a great first impression. My goal in my business is to serve others before I serve my business. The universe ultimately rewards me and it feels good to do good things for others, because guess what?…. No one else genuinely just does good things for others. It surprises people and gives a good first impression too. Just love on people and the universe will see it.

Strategy Two: Get people to my website, increase my website rankings so I show up in more searches!


INSTAGRAM: Keep my instagram feed consistent. This will be hard at first. I like to edit my photos with the same presets and tweak them a little bit depending on lighting. Keeping your feed consistent helps future couples see that what you deliver now you can deliver to them if they hire you. If your editing is all over the place, they don’t know what to expect from you. I like to do a dark photo, light photo. I edit all of my photos with the same kind of preset so they all have a cohesive feel. I use tailwind to post them at the highest traffic times and it suggests the best hashtags to get the most people to see it!

    • I also like to post consistently about life, photography, and editing photos to my insta stories. I try to do a live where I’m filming myself because… brides like to get to know their photographers! Remember, build the “Know / Like / Trust” in your audience.
    • What sucks is primarily photographers follow me and not many of my brides get me through instagram, but I still want to make sure I don’t neglect it.
    • I started using instagram to build connections. I reach out to other photographers and vendors for styled shoots that way, and I try to comment on as many peoples posts as possible (if I actually find it interesting. I am not going to be ingenuine and post and interact just to do it).

Get on instagram stories as much as possible! People want to know who you are more than you think they do. Remember the Know / Like / Trust principle. This seriously adds to and helps that.


FACEBOOK: I use this to tell stories and interact, ask questions AND get people to click to my blog! The more clicks to your website, the higher you rank on google searches (among) other things you need to do. I also try to put information there that couples might need, like how to get ahold of me, etc.

I use facebook ad’s and what is crazy is that I have started to get inquiries that way! Even if you don’t book from this, getting your name out there to your actual target market and getting more likes to your page will help boost you!

I just post a striking image or a picture of myself and say, “Hi, I’m Casi. I’m a wedding photographer in Oregon. Lets chat!” You have to keep it short otherwise it gets cut off.

I choose to target people who are “recently engaged 3 months, 6 months, 1 year.”

I use this same tactic to create ads on instagram too!


    1. WEBSITE: The most undervalued of them all. Couples use google to search for wedding photographers.
    2. You should make sure it is designed well and has some great photos of you. I traded photo sessions with another photographer I love, Lauren Miles Photo and that is how I got my photos for free!

Wonder how these photographers get to the top? They learned how to use SEO. I am currently working on this with Catalina Jean over at SEO is Fun. She always ranks on the first page of every “portland wedding photographer” search. SEO is something that takes time but you really really need to learn it if you value having your business succeed.


LINK TO Catalina Jean for SEO mentoring:


  1. Set up a website.
  2. Have a blog page on it.
  3. Post consistently to it.
  4. Use keywords strategically. Like in your blog post header, if you are blogging about an elopement on the beach in Oregon, write something like: “Oregon Coast Elopement” because brides will search that term. Who knows, maybe you’ll rank up for that!
  5. Don’t stuff your posts with keywords because google thinks you’re trying to cheat. When it comes to SEO, don’t cheat, it will hurt you.

SEO Resources for free:

  1. The Blogging Millionaire Podcast (Lame name, but actually has insanely useful tips). The best episode is: Pillar Four of the 4 Pillars of Blogging Success. Link –
  2. MOZ – A company in Seattle that helps businesses improve their SEO. They have great articles that are super useful.



Set up your website (make sure you can blog on it too)

Set up a GOOGLE MY BUSINESS account

Set up GOOGLE ANALYTICS on your website to start tracking how you’re ranking

 PINTEREST: I use tailwind to post images from my website to Pinterest. Brides use Pinterest to plan and dream about their wedding. Now, they may not book you as a result, but if they click from Pinterest to your site…. Bingo! You have more clicks and then you rank higher on google searches! BOOM!

3) Why you need to be shooting something when you don’t have weddings


You need to be shooting something on the weekends you don’t have a wedding. Styled shoots, your friends. Whoever.

Why? Because if you don’t have constant and new work coming in and going on your social and on your website, people will assume you’re not successful and not really dedicated. Not to be frank, but you don’t want anyone to assume anything about you other than you are passionate about what you do. So, what can you do about this?


    • Shoot friends and family for free. Not only will this keep you current, but they will share with others on their social media, you will be able to try new things in a safe environment, and you will be able to have new content for your social media.
    • Pay to be a part of, or make your own styled shoot. Same reasoning as above. You can also learn from other vendors and network.
  • Offer to second shoot for free. Not only this is great experience, but you can connect with successful vendors and learn from your lead photographer. I am not too proud to say that I can’t learn anything. There are many photographers that I would love to second shoot from so I can change up my game.

Benefits of this:

  • You will grow your network of referral sources. If someone posts how great the photos are that you took, you’re tapping into their social network.
  • You might also meet people who might want to collaborate with you or have you shoot something you’ve been dreaming about.
  • You become a better photographer. I am always growing my list of things I want to try. Want to be in demand? Be a cutting edge photographer and try new things, become better, learn.

4) Business 101

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer or CPA. This is just what I do, so take it with a grain of salt!


  • Put 30% of each check into an account and pay it to the IRS quarterly (every three months)


  • You gotta pay them! Ask your CPA to help you out with making sure you get all the deductions including for a home office, gas to and from meetings with clients or shoots, and other costs associated.


    • I use quickbooks and it’s like $10 a month and also has an app on my phone that tracks my mileage. It is SO good.
    • I set up a credit card that is dedicated ONLY to business expenses and a separate checking account that is only for receiving money for my business and associated payments, like payments from friends on styled shoots, etc. Then I hook those up to quickbooks and it is literally cake doing taxes.
    • I also print out all of my purchases. Like receipts from things I buy online. Like a preset for example, even if I purchase it from someone and pay them via venmo, I will print out that transaction, file it away, and also send a digital copy to quickbooks and they have a digital receipt.


    • So I make fillable PDF’s using adobe acrobat and I can send them to clients as well. This only works if you have the Adobe creative cloud subscription. This is free and means I don’t have to pay for DocuSign!
    • Make sure you have this in place to protect yourself from people who may want to take you for a ride.
  • It also allows clients to know what to expect from you and clear expectations on what you are delivering.


How I think about tackling taxes.

    • 30% of every wedding should go into a savings to pay for taxes. You gotta pay it anyway, might as well just do it.
    • Amy is an awesome CPA and has amazing resources if you have NO IDEA where to start.


How to get your business license:

  • You must register as an LLC with the state of Oregon. The main differences are how you will pay taxes and how you’re legally protected. I would talk with your CPA about this.



Business Insurance:

  • You also need this to get business insurance which is critical. I pay $30 a month through farmers insurance and I am covered up to 1 million. You really need this. Say someone steals your gear, you’re covered, or if someone sues you, you’re covered. It is worth the piece of mind.




I keep it simple. I track everything by this: CASH IN & CASH OUT. Look at my actual spreadsheet:

I also save all of my receipts and print them out and keep a digital copy of everything! That way I can send this and my receipts to my CPA.


I try to invest money back into my business. This year, I spent $7000 on education, styled shoots, logo design, lenses, my website, more education, mentoring, a new laptop, creative cloud, etc. Because I won’t be able to get those high end couples if I am not operating at 100% and the best version of me.


THE CRITICAL POINT: I won’t spend more than I am making. If I only make $7000, I will only invest $7000 into my business because I still need to live!

5) Perspective Shift

How did I know when to start charging for my work and when the call myself a professional?


I think one of the biggest questions we ask ourselves is when to call ourselves professional, even though there is no one giving out certificates saying you’re a professional. I think the best way to really gauge this is when you feel like you have accomplished your goals of capturing work that resembles the work of photographers you admire for one, and secondly, when you are consistently getting bookings. That is when I felt like I could finally call myself a professional. I had the workflows down, had my LLC set up, my work reflected the kinds of photos I wanted to take, and I really started to take myself seriously.  I look at people admire and their work and I work my butt off to try and find how to get my work to that level. For me, it included getting the right gear and especially getting the right lenses.

If your work isn’t good. If you can see huge differences in the quality of your photographs and those you look up to. If there is something truly missing and you know it isn’t up to par, then how can you expect to charge people for your services. Make sure your basic service, the photos that you create, are insane and at that level that you want to be. That is when you can really start thinking about working on everything else. If your basics are covered and covered really well, then that is time to move on to trying to promote and build your business.

When I first started, I read this article by Jasmine Star and knew I needed the gear she had to level up my game. The link to that post is here:


Now I have my own wedding photography gear post talking about the gear I use and why:


I’m sure we all know that, but there are points in our lives when you question how good you are. I definitely think that there is a gap between the quality of my own photos and Duke Moose for example. The key here is to create the perfect situation in which I could create photos that have that quality. I look at the lighting, the scene, the couple, what are they wearing, what kind of gear am I using. All of that needs to be added to your equation. You can’t get magical photos if you’re shooting in noon day sun. Be aware that it takes much more than just shooting with a good camera to get great photos. My problem was that I wanted to wait for the right couple with the high-end wedding hire me so I could take those beautiful photos. You can’t wait for that to happen, you need a situation in which you get some good photos. One of the things you can do to make this happen is a styled shoot. This can be as simple as getting your friends to dress up in a tux and dress you rent from Rent The Runway, or paying to be a part of a styled shoot. Either way, if you have nothing in your portfolio, I strongly suggest that you do this.  

Remember, if you keep doing the same thing expecting different results, you’ll never get anywhere. So if you’re waiting for that ideal client and that ideal situation to happen, it won’t happen. You have to make the ideal situation. 

Your primary focus should be on creating a product that your ideal client wants. So until you get to that point, looking at marketing and strategy isn’t really worth your time. Now, don’t get me wrong, getting experience is critical, but charging clients at ton of money for a product that isn’t at the level that you want to be isn’t going to be the best idea.

We can’t approach our work with the mindset that we can create photograph with the least amount of effort and get the most benefit from it. What I mean by that is to not go to a wedding with the mindset that you’re just going to do some pointing and shooting and not really put much thought into it. You must think that each photograph should be captured beautifully and thoughtfully for each moment for the couple or their family. You should also have the mindset that  each wedding is going to be better than the last. It’s important to think about how are we getting better with each click, rather than how many dollar signs we can rack up.

Manytimes new photographers jump into this without wanting to learn the techniques or put in the effort, but instead they just want the magic that comes out of it. I totally get it. I was obsessed with beautiful images at the beginning of my career, and I’m not saying I am an expert, but I was well aware that my images fell short of my idols, and I didn’t charge the same as them.



There are two:

1) Treat it like a business and 2) Close the gap.



If you want your business to be successful, you have to treat it like a business, not a hobby. You have to do what it takes including getting out from behind the computer, spending money to make money, and giving things away for free for sake of building relationships.


The buzzword is “building community” what the freak does that mean?

    • Doing what you’re doing now -> meeting other people face to face and helping one another.
    • Giving something to someone for free helping them out. I started by paying entirely for a styled shoot and asking vendors to come and get photos for free and I asked other photographers too. They got some goods and now they know and trust me.
  • You can’t do much from behind the computer. It’s just a tool to help build face to face interactions.


If you see everyone going to the left, you should go to the right. Anything you can think of that might help you, just try it. There is no harm in trying everything to build your business.



This applies to where you want your business to be, your editing, how much money you want to make, etc.


I tell my students my story. I admired Jasmine Star and her dreamy light and airy photographs. My $300 camera and kit lens couldn’t take nearly as nice of photographs as her. There was the gap! My photos compared to hers.


What did I do? I figured out and listed what I needed to do to get my photos to look like her. I researched, I read everything she wrote, and lucky for me, she blogged about her gear. The first thing I did was buy a 50 mm 1.8 lens and it changed everything. There were many more times that I felt like I fell short of where I wanted to be. Including editing style.


I definitely understand this. I try to help my students with the same thing. They come with an example photo and we work to find the right way to edit to get their photos to the point that they want it and learn why. I literally will place my photo next to a photo of someone I admire and look at each detail. What do their greens look like? How can I alter them in a way that will give me the exact tones? How are their images so bright? How are the skin tones so creamy? I work on one thing at a time and finally get to where I want to be.


If you don’t take time to place where you are with where you want to be and list those little details, you will never know which steps you will need to start taking to close that gap.

What no one tells you about Branding

Branding is this mystical creature that no one really has an answer on how to do right. Well it’s because branding is about showing the world the true essence of what you’re selling and who you are. So the real work starts with digging deep. Branding is the feelings and ideas people have about you as soon as your name is mentioned. What are the words and thoughts you want them to have? Gear your work toward that. Find a way to make your images, text, colors, everything match that vision. 


Don’t like the sound of that? Tough. Seriously! Not trying to be a jerk, but if you want your business to succeed, you have to do hard work right?


One of the best investments ($49) that I recommend to everyone who doesn’t have a clue where to start is with Athena and Cameron and their branding toolkit. DO IT COMPLETELY. They have videos and an entire packet. I bought it and it was GOOD. Seriously. This is one thing you should start with. Everything else will fall into place as a result.




The other thing is your logo. Yep that is a whole beast. I personally am such a perfectionist that I decided to not make my own and instead am paying Sam from Ink and Laurel to make mine. I cannot wait to see what she does. Take a look at her work here:


If you can’t afford someone to make yours, I recommend going to or to and purchasing a pre-made one. Don’t get your logo until you do the work about what you want your brand to represent. Remember, it should really be a reflection of you and your personality.


As far as branding goes, I think the one rule that everyone should follow is branding consistency. This means to try and use the same fonts, colors and logo throughout all of your social media, on your website, your business card, etc. INCLUDING the way you edit your photos.


WHAT?! Yep I said it. Your instagram feed should be consistent with the way you edit your photos. Which also means that you need to look into how you’re editing your photos. Your clients come to you because they like the way your images look. If they see that your editing is all over the place, they can’t be sure that the photo quality they see is what they will get. This is critical. It is a subconscious thing that clients do and you want to be able to control that first impression. So, do the hard work and find your editing style. It has taken me three years to figure out so if you can’t seem to get it right, don’t give up. It does take time. I have talked with amazing photographers and they have said the same thing.


Some of the best advice that I got was from a workshop with Alex Mari and she said to make a list of all of the lighting conditions you shoot in. That could be hard light, foggy, direct sun, indoor, etc. and then make a preset for each one. You need to make sure the look and feel are similar in each. This will save you time and also keep your photo style consistent no matter the lighting scenario. This sounds tough, but it’s true. You have to go through the fire to be able to really know your editing style. 

I certainly hope this helps. As I learn more, I will add more to it. Let me know what you want to know and what questions you have! I would love to add more to this list!

XO – Casi