Pass Premier Tour: Charlotte Stop.

I was originally hesitant to attend the Pass Premier tour in Charlotte for several reasons.  I didn’t know much about the program (and those teaser’s didn’t help, David Jay!) or the schedule planned for the show.  Honestly, I don’t know why, but at the time I wasn’t quite sold on David Jay, either.  Alright alright, I will admit that I didn’t know anything about the guy other than he was Jasmine Star’s wedding photographer and inspiration, and was naive enough to let a few other’s opinions influence me about an entrepreneur I didn’t know anything about.  This being said, I questioned if the tour was legit or simply a sales ploy to suck me into a product.  But hey, I love Jasmine, she is an honest and genuine person who actually cares about other photographers, and if she likes him, he must be a cool guy (he is a cool guy).  :) The $99 price tag seemed a little hefty, especially for a budding photographer who just quit her full-time job, not to mention the show was in Charlotte (down the street from my old apartment, wahhh!), a two and a half hour drive.  After much debating, I turned to fellow J*Jets John Payne and Tim King for help decision making.  Having attended, they both insisted that I go and I am incredibly thankful that I did.  After all, my photography business IS what I quit my job for, I could use a night of networking, meet some new friends, maybe help out some and second shoot, and when else would I be able to meet these industry professionals?  They are the ones paving the way for a new type of business model that I admire, I at least needed to go, shake their hand and say “Hi.  Thank you so much for the inspiration.  I just wanted to let you know that I will be up here one day helping people, too.  I’m Ashley.”  So I curled my hair and went.

It was 6 hours jam packed with amazing information, both heard and unheard to my little ears and filled with awesome local (and not so local!) photographers.  It did not disappoint, totally worth the money. (Not to mention all of the product discounts that are included, practically paid for itself!).  Doing things different scares people, but I’m all about it.  So go ahead, “join the cult”, “drink the kool-aid” if you dare.  ;)  From a business and people standpoint, I promise, it’s worth it.  And for the record, I formed my own opinion on David Jay.  And I kinda sorta love him.



If you didn't make it out, here are my favorite key points from the show. I swear I tried to keep this short and sweet but it just wasn’t happening.  There’s too much goodness, my poor moleskin was once again used & abused.


Promise Tangeman

That girl.  I like that girl.  In fact, that’s exactly what I told her when I went up to say hi.  She has style.  She has spunk.  She’s young and knows her stuff.  Her keynote presentation alone blew me away (so many cool design elements!) and her tips on branding and design were just what I needed to jumpstart a new website.  And I couldn’t get enough of her hair.  How does one pull off such a bouffant...flawlessly?!?!?



-Know who you are and what you focus on.  Focus on your strengths and let the other clutter go!

-Don’t always be on the defensive, doing what everyone else is doing.  Be a leader!  Do LESS than the competitor (what a refreshing thought! Not less WORK, but simply less.)

-Know your target market by creating a profile for them.

-Ask yourself:  What’s their name?  What do they look like?  What do they value in photography?


Style: (something this chick doesn’t lack!):

Embrace your personal style

-Create a personal profile.  Anything about you.  Then find images that connect with your description (think Jasmine Star’s “Life in the in between” website page).

-Wondering what your personal style is?  Check your laundry!  Everyday you are making a visual choice of how you are represented.

-Ask yourself:  “What colors are most in my closet?  Is there a consistent theme?  What are 3 words that describe my fashion style?

-Create an inspiration board.  (Cutting magazine clippings middle-school collage style helps!  I personally love to see my ideas and style develop via Pinterest.)



-On your website, find a way to confidently implement your focus and style in a creative way.  The key is for people to contact you based on your strengths.

-Be confident in your style and visually represent it on your website.

-Ask yourself:  How could I push my strengths forward?  How could I specialize in them?



Kevin Swan

Like the other speakers, I wasn’t on the up&up on Kevin Sawn, but I liked him!  Working for Adobe InDesign and Lightroom, he knows his stuff technically and motivationally.  His SWAT & KISS programs sounded awesome, simple, and affordable and his points on the value of slideshows and albums were something I hadn’t considered but I think implementing them will be a pivotal point in my business.  He’s loud, too, which made me feel not so self conscious.  ;)


-Specialists beat generalists.  (Pretty much the same tip that Jasmine Star gave me during lunch at Creative Live that made me decide to narrow my photography focus from food, interiors, babies and weddings to simply weddings and engagements.  She said “You’re doing too much.  You need to specialize in one or two things and go with it.”  I knew that I was stretching myself and having a difficult time perfecting one aspect of my work between so many focuses, but hearing an admired professional tell you the same is a kick in the behind!).

-Don’t loose impact, be Speedy Gonzalez:  Getting images and album designs to clients quickly is more important than perfecting the look of images.  We spend hours editing images for ourselves and for other photographers, not for the clients.  The client’s care about content, not the edits.  Every day that goes by our client’s lose the emotional connection, losing the image’s emotional impact and value. We are killing our profitability with the insane amount of time we spend staring at Photoshop and Lightroom. Create slideshows and album designs A.S.A.P.  (A tidbit Jasmine also noted on Creative Live is that when we take weeks and weeks to get images processed and edited, we know that we are not just working on one client’s session, we are doing other shoots, catching up on previous wedding photos, etc., but our client’s don’t know that.  They think we have been working on their images for the entire four weeks, thus they expect the grandest photos in the history of the world!  Grant it, the images may be award winning, but it’s important to manage a client’s expectations about our work and keep them excited about the final product and getting images to them quickly is the way to do that.)


Zach & Jody Gray

I had never heard this couple speak but after hearing their story, I am a fan!  Their relationship and “belief in marriage” is the crux of their business, but what I admired most about them is once they found out the “secrets to success” they didn’t hoard them.  They wanted to share them with everyone.  And great secrets, they are!


-”Be in the people business serving photos”, not vice versa.  Don’t let your business be just about the photos.  Aim to establish a relationship and provide an amazing experience.  A different, enjoyable experience.

-”You can do anything with your business if you are driven, passionate, and get the right information.”-Zach Gray

-Make your business about building relationships.  The best advertisement is a client who has had a great experience.

-Put yourself out there on your website, blog and Facebook.  People connect with other people, not arbitrary businesses.  Make it personal.

-When building your website, have something that makes you stand out.  Images aren’t enough.  The average bride can’t tell the difference between photos and photographers.  A good image vs. a great image.  Truth be told, what photographer’s images AREN’T good?  Show them how their day will be amazing, even better, with you there!

-Just an F.Y.I.:  There are OVER a 100 BILLION uploaded photos on Facebook.  It’s a powerful marketing tool.  Use it.  Watch this video.

-Simplicity sells.  Too many options make brides shut down.  (I can attest to this!).  Don’t overwhelm them with a gazillion pricing, print and “extras” options.

-Once you have booked a client, don’t just check out.  Nurture the relationship up to the wedding date!  Send little reminders, sweet thoughts (i.e. a handwritten card, gift card for a leisurely “non-wedding” day, etc.).  The wedding day is about the couple and they needed to be reminded of that sometimes.  It’s about them.  It’s not always about your business, and it is more important to be thoughtful and caring than busy business gal.  It’s encouraging and shows that you care.

-On the wedding day, it’s about them, not us.  Be sure to serve your client’s all day.  A great wedding day experience is invaluable for both them and you.

-It’s never a bad idea to send thank you’s and small gifts to past clients who you love or continue to refer you!  Your client’s and their experience with you is. your. business!  (Jasmine once noted that a good experience = good thoughts about the photos, even before a client has seen them.  The same goes for a bad experience (a client will relate negative emotions even to the most amazing, award winning image if they didn’t enjoy their day.  I have experienced both sides being a photographer and I client and can attest to this rule!  It’s not just about the photos!  Hard to remember sometimes, I know, but the crux of a successful referral based business).

-Hard to juggle all of these clients, past, present, and potential!  Invest in a studio management system like pixify or shootQ.

-Don’t get overwhelmed in building your business.  “Always remember that the future comes one day at a time.”-Dean Acheson


David Jay & Pass Premier

My preconceived notions were wrong.  This guy isn’t merely a sales person.  He’s a visionary who sees ways to make things better.  Potential for positive change; he reacts to it.  Seriously.  Humorous, soft spoken, and humble, the enthusiasm he has for helping others is apparent.  He genuinely cares, you can see it in his eyes.  He’s shaking up the industry, doing things differently, and I applaud him for that.  It takes courage and know-how, and he’s just the guy to do it.  After meeting David Jay, I think I’m in photographer love (I have an ongoing list of my photographer lovers, fyi).  So in love that I felt the urge to deliver my favorite salted caramel brownies to the crew after the show.  They’re my “go-to” for legit brownie points.  I hope you shared, DJ!  If you have the chance, I encourage you to go to the Pass tour.  He’s got a great product going on, I can’t wait to watch it explode!


The scoop on Pass:


-To eliminate the hassle of DVDs (it’s the future, duhhh.)

-To create an optimal client viewing experience that is branded and EASY (as opposed to DVDs viewed on a computer)

-To eliminate photos being posted online with photographer’s credits or the branding experience.

-To give client’s a simple, beautiful way to view and share their images


What it is:

-An online “cloud” based host site.

-AND there is an AP for it!  :)

-Easily (drag and drop) photos into galleries then email, Facebook, tag client’s, friends, etc.

-Create slideshows

-Photos are viewed by clients in beautiful branded galleries, not via pain in the butt DVDs or windows media player (but PASS can make DVDs from your galleries and mail them to your clients for no extra charge).

-Easily post image(s) and galleries to Facebook.  Galleries that are BRANDED and bring the client back to YOUR website, not your lab’s website (i.e. Pictage or SmugMug).

-Photos are secure in cloud gallery and hosted by Pass Premier for a year.  The option is there for Pass to keep them longer if desired.

-Only $29 per gallery!

-You don’t need a Showit account to use it!  (But currently Pass is only available to those who attended the Pass tour).



-Option to create a Facebook photo album (that is branded with links to your site) directly from Pass.

-Option to create prints (although that is not their objective)

-More awesome things, I am sure!




“You are the same today as you’ll be in five years except for two things: the books you read and the people you meet.”-Charlie Jones.  All of the speakers referenced books and quotes that I found incredibly powerful.  Looks like I will have a busy summer!

Summer Reading List:


Today We Are Rich

22 Immutable Laws of Marketing

How to Win Friends and Influence People

Getting Things Done

40 Days to the Work You Love



Since I was too busy yakin' the entire time (see proof below), I didn't get any shots.  Below photos from Bryan Altizer via the Charlotte Pass Premier site.



Oh look!  Me talking.  That's something new.



I told David Jay that while at Creative Live I sniffed Jasmine's hair (true story).  I had to do something equally as fabulous (errr, creepy may be the better word....) so I asked if I could PRETEND kiss his cheek.  He totally leaned into it.  J*JETS: AWKKKKWARRRDDDD (cue the gang sign).  ;)