This is part one in The Photo Life Blog Series, True Life: I’m Married to My Business Partner. This series will explore how husband and wife photography teams find success when their business and personal lives collide.
Jeff and I are big believers in closed systems. By sticking to this kind of internal organization within our business, we’ve been able to avoid contention and frustration on several levels – business and personal.
What do I mean by closed systems?
A closed system means that our roles in the business are completely separate from each other, and we don’t have to rely or wait on each other to get a job done.
For example, I am in charge of the blog for our business, so that means that I edit the images that go on the blog, I write the posts, I schedule the blog calendar, I promote the posts via social media, and I approve anything that relates to the blog.
In fact, my job title is Chief Deputy of the Blogosphere and Blogosphere Relations. (It makes me feel super official.)
This kind of autonomy means that I don’t ever have to rely on my husband in order to do my job well. I don’t have to pester, nag, or generally harass him over job tasks, which builds an atmosphere of trust, confidence, and faith in the office. We avoid tons of fights this way – BUH-LEIVE me. I don’t have to wait on him, and he doesn’t have to wait on me. We just get stuff done.
By the way, I had to learn how to color correct our images in order to manage the blog, so don’t be afraid to learn new skills in order to close a system. Jeff was the person that was naturally skilled at editing and image management, but if we were going to close the blog system, I had to step out of my natural skill zone early on and take over a new role of photo editor, which is a role that I hold to this day (and yes, that role is a closed system too).
Many times, the biggest objection that I hear from married photographers when I talk about closed systems is that learning a brand new skill set (like editing) in order to close a system will take too much work and will be time consuming. My answer? Stop making excuses. You’re a business owner. If you’re in this for the long haul, then you need to do whatever it takes to build an efficient, flexible internal structure that will be able to expand along with your workload.
So maybe closing a system doesn’t mean that one person has to learn how to edit, but one person will have to learn how to write for the blog. Or perhaps it means that you need to rethink the blog so that it doesn’t focus on writing, but focuses only on images.
There are a lot of ways to get creative when it comes to separating your job roles, so don’t feel like you have to structure your business exactly how we do. We’ve just found that a big part of our success – both in our business and in our marriage – has been closing our systems. And the best part about keeping functions so isolated? If you decide hire employees or outsource a certain piece of your business, each job role detaches itself so easily that you’ll be amazed.
Written by Erin Youngren
Jeff and Erin Youngren are international wedding and lifestyle photographers running one of the fastest growing boutique studios in the competitive Southern California market. Although based in San Diego, their deeply emotional style and passionate partnership has taken them from the streets of San Francisco to the canals of Venice to the family suburbs of Chicago to photograph extraordinary weddings and incredible couples. As leaders in the photographic community, they are passionate about helping other photographers build viable, authentic businesses, while building a photography community built on integrity and honest leadership.