*This is a paid post from an APW Sponsor*
I try not to make a big deal of the fact that APW Associate Editor Maddie is also the powerhouse behind Hart & Sol Photography West (in California, and now everywhere)—mostly because Hart & Sol West is 100% Maddie’s project, and I have nothing to do with it. I mean, girlfriend even pays cash money for her APW sponsorship just because Hart & Sol West is a separate thing. But the fact is, Hart & Sol Maddie is still the same Maddie, and this February, Maddie and I spent a week straight traveling around the country together for my book tour, staying in hotel rooms, and talking late into the night. And, the thing is, small business development is one of my number one passions. So if you’re close to me and you have a business, I’ve probably spent some time pretending I was making strategy decisions for your gig, and I probably have some secret ideas. So… Maddie and I would stay up late, she’d start talking about her business, and I’d be too tired to edit my thoughts properly, so I’d tell her I had a COUPLE of ideas. Then…. Whoops! So, Maddie played it cool, went home and thought about things, and then this spring, she made about a million changes to her business, which I’m so phenomenally thrilled to get to tell you about today.
I’m going to let Maddie tell you about her business at length, but first let me give you the greatest hits. Maddie decided to commit to a No Bullshit Pricing Philosophy with Hart & Sol West. She was tired of having to negotiate minute pricing issues with clients (and knew clients hated it too). So she’s now offering two pricing plans: One for All Of California ($2,900, all-inclusive), and one for Everywhere Else in the US ($3,600, all-inclusive). Period. Done. She also decided that she really really was passionate about shooting Plus Sized (and every sized) women and making them feel stunning, so she’s focusing her business on that. Don’t feel like wedding media is representing you or is wanting to make you feel gorgeous? Bring in Maddie. She’s on your team. So enough of me, here is Maddie on what she’s learned from you.
Most of the folks who have been reading APW for a while have probably already heard me yammer on about why this community means so much to me. APW was where I planned my wedding, then where I learned how to define my marriage, then APW made it possible for me to build my business, and now APW is where I make my business thrive and also where I’m growing and sharing my stories.
So rather than make everyone suffer through another of my love letters to readers, I thought I’d take an opportunity to talk a little bit about some of the ways that my business has been built on APW reader philosophies. Because if there’s one thing I love about working with APW readers, it’s that you guys constantly remind me what is actually important on a wedding day and not what the WIC tells me is important.
The first, and probably most obvious (although, really, reading some photography advice out there, maybe isn’t so obvious) is that you. are. enough. So many photographers are incredibly talented at their craft. Their images are perfect. They look like something out of a magazine. But what I’ve slowly realized is that those perfect images are the result of meticulously planned shots, ones that require brides and grooms to take time out of an authentic moment in order to produce an image that is technically more perfect. I don’t do that. Yes, I care about your photos (duh), but not to the extent that I will alter the way you experience your day. As far as I’m concerned, your emotions, your people, and you are what makes an image perfect.
The second thing that APW couples have helped me realize, is that weddings are complicated enough on their own. You don’t need me to show up at our first meeting armed with a thousand different promotional pamphlets explaining my three-tiered pricing system and why you need to get the add-ons. I have two packages. One includes all-day shooting with digital negatives for weddings in California, and the other includes the same coverage but for weddings outside of California. I don’t think that hiring a vendor should require the same amount of prep as the SATs.
Another thing is the beast that has become engagement shoots. When I first started in this industry, I was all about the pretty. My motto was, “Let’s find a field or some cool graffiti and take pictures there!” And while that can be fun, now I’m all about keeping things close to home. So when I do engagement shoots, or anything related to you as a couple, I like for it to be a reflection of who you really are. This means that we usually do engagement sessions at home, where you, ya know, spend your time and actually live and stuff. I’m wildly romantic about the idea of being 8o-years-old and reflecting on the apartment you lived in when you were engaged. And I think that the way you eat breakfast together speaks way more about who you are as a couple than staring deep in to each other’s eyes. (You might remember the photos I took of Meg and David. Well, I also took some pictures of them eating breakfast, but Meg won’t put those online… because as I was saying, eating breakfast together is too damn romantic for the world to see. You can’t say that about photos in front of graffiti.)
The last thing is something that I always knew, but that I’ve realized I need to be talking about more. And that’s the idea that everyone deserves awesome photos. I recently started a side business doing boudoir photography for women that focuses on representing our real bodies (not the hyper-photoshopped Maxim style photos we’re fed everywhere else), and the response I’ve gotten from the few sessions I’ve done has made me realize that the photography industry doesn’t come close to representing the vast diversity of women that exist in the world. And this unfortunate truth extends to weddings as well. (And granted, my portfolio is sometimes guilty of this too, but I’m working on it!)
I am committed to making sure that just because you don’t look like the brides and grooms featured on the popular wedding-porn wedding blogs, that doesn’t mean that you don’t get gorgeous photos too. So plus-sized brides, brides of color, barefoot and pregnant brides, same-sex brides, I want to photograph the sh*t out of your wedding. I really do. And I don’t care if you bought your dress from David’s Bridal or Nordstrom and that you have no details and are getting married at your mom’s house (Just kidding. I do care. I think your wedding sounds awesome.); it’s not my job to judge you or your wedding, and the last thing I expect is perfection anyway. I just want to make you happy and then document your fabulous face.
So, I know you all already adore Maddie, and obviously, I can’t speak highly enough of her. So couples every single place in California, everywhere in the US, and everyone who doesn’t look like the media representation of the Wedding Couple… oh yeah… and the rest of you too? Maddie and Hart & Sol West is your girl. I literally Can Not Wait to see the pictures.