Let's Meet Heather Benge of Styled Shoots Across America
In my opinion, every single wedding professional should be producing or involved in at least
4 styled shoots PER YEAR
... it's the best way to CONTROL your creativity, push yourself, and put 'out there' more of what you want to attract ... aside from building relationships and getting to know professionals in your area better, it also gives you 'getting featured' goodies and beautiful images to pretty up your website with!
When I was the editor of Style Unveiled way back when, I produced 'styled shoot challenges' with my paying members and they were always so much fun ... so when I ran into Styled Shoots Across America on Instagram I sort of freaked out a bit ... SUCH A GREAT IDEA!!!! I reached out to Heather Benge, founder of Styled Shoots Across America, and luckily she agreed to come on The Editor's Touch and do a little Q&A ... she also shared some eye-candy from some of the shoots that they have produced, which I have scattered throughout the rest of this post!
If you had to choose to give one of these up: social media or business relationships - which one would you keep and why?
I would keep Social Media only because this particular project focuses on working with other creatives in the wedding industry instead of booking potential brides/couples. I love the relationships I have with vendors but for SSAA, wedding professionals are our clients and social media gives us a bigger reach to the vast number of creatives out there!
What do you feel was the most important choice you made during your first year of launching Styled Shoots Across America?
To be Fast & Furious. Styled Shoots Across America started out as a personal project of mine to do a styled shoot in all 50 states. No timeframe, just to do it. I didn't realize how many people would fall in love with this and join in on our journey which has lead us to doing shoots in a different state almost every week. I feel like we have gained some great traction by trying to get to all the states in a quick time frame - we have a momentum going and I'm so excited to see where it takes us (I mean, after the states comes the world - right?)
Have you been affected by the most recent Instagram algorithm updates? In what way?:
Yes. I think we all have in some way or another. One day a picture will get 1000+ likes and the next day a picture will get 100 likes - what gives? Same amount of followers, stunning picture, less engagement. Regardless, we learn to adapt and realize that your success or the quality of your work isn't based on the number of likes you get. Easier said than done. I know.
What is your biggest worry or frustration as a business owner right now and what motivates you to push through anyway?
Copycats. It is so frustrating to see people who take your ideas and try to make them their own. I think in any industry though this will always happen and our reaction or what we do is what makes us better. We have to remember that no one can steal our passion or our drive and that is what makes my company stand out. You can copy my ideas, you can steal my work but you can take away my passion.
Tell me about your 2 biggest achievements as a business owner over the life of your company - and what makes those 2 stand out?
Oh man, this is a tough one! I got a call from a London based international magazine one day letting me know they were featuring me as one of the Top 50 wedding planners in the world. I was in a lineup with Mindy Weiss & Colin Cowie. I cried in my car. Seeing your work (and yourself - I mean my picture was in a major magazine in every Barnes & Noble in the world) be recognized is such an amazing feeling. I would have to say my biggest achievement though is having the thousands of wedding professionals who support me and have joined in on this big Styled Shoots Across America adventure. It has been such an honor to meet THOUSANDS of amazing individuals across the country and to see the people who "follow" me online face to face is so amazing. Without them, this company would still just be an idea. Bonus - I hosted my own conference (#SSAAConference) after only being on this journey for 10 months and 150 attendees from 3 countries attended - that was a pretty freaking big achievement for me as well!