Workflows with Charmi Patel-Peña

We speak with wedding photographer, Charmi Pena about the workflows in her photography business.

[00:00:00] Charmi Patel-Peña: This couple was really sweet and they wanted to include us in everything, right? So like, yes, we were shooting, but during off time they were like, well, we're hanging out in the bar, which means you should be hanging out in the bar. Like we're going to the pool, which means you should be going to the pool.

we are having an after party. You have to come to the after party. Workflows

[00:00:16] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: is a podcast about saving you time and money in your photography business. As a photographer and content Creator, who struggles with dyslexia, colorblindness, introversion, and anxiety stemming from years of being bullied as a child.

[00:00:30] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: Workflows have been my rock. I have workflows for every aspect of my life, and that's why I am so happy to bring you workflows a podcast presented by Imagen as a company dedicated to saving you time and money in your photography business, it makes sense to enhance and expand the conversation to all things workflow.

[00:00:51] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: Tune in and subscribe to hear stories, strategies, and tools that could be your rock. Hear from people just like you put the camera down for little connect the headphones and get to work with workflows. Get in on the conversation by joining the Imagen community today. Imagen the possibilities.

[00:01:14] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: Charming Pena is an Indian American photographer based in New Jersey, living with her husband, Patrick and two kids. The weddings that charming photographs are paced quickly and are full of organized chaos, just like her mind, but they also force her. To slow down as a fan of power tools. She likes to do home improvements in her spare time.

[00:01:36] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: She's also a big fan of her mom's PPO and recommends everyone finds a place to try this traditional Indian street food snack. Charming is the first Asian American female photographer to be sponsored by a leading camera manufac. Nikon. She's also one of the newest talents here at Imagen offering her incredible editing style for anyone to try and use in their photography business.

[00:02:04] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: So without further ado, here's my conversation with charming Pena

[00:02:13] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: HR. Hey Scott.

[00:02:17] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: how are you doing? I'm good.

[00:02:19] Charmi Patel-Peña: Yeah. Hanging out with my.

[00:02:22] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: you are hanging out with your notorious homies. yeah.

[00:02:27] Charmi Patel-Peña: I don't know if anyone could see them, but that's okay.

[00:02:29] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: yeah. Yeah. It's okay. so, so how are things going with, you know, weddings these days?

[00:02:35] Charmi Patel-Peña: You know, I had, think six or seven weddings in may and the first weekend of June and, they're all delivered.

[00:02:43] Charmi Patel-Peña: I had a five day wedding in Aruba and it was delivered before I left Aruba. So, you know, I'm good.

[00:02:52] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: we're gonna, we're gonna, we're gonna be talking about how that's even possible. so, so this is gonna be, this is gonna be great. This is gonna

[00:02:58] Charmi Patel-Peña: be really good for the record. I also went swimming in Aruba. I went to a couple dinners.

[00:03:06] Charmi Patel-Peña: I hung out.

[00:03:09] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: take advantage

[00:03:10] Charmi Patel-Peña: and I got work done. So. It's

[00:03:13] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: so good. Yeah, yeah, yeah. No better place than Aruba to get work done. Yeah.

[00:03:19] Charmi Patel-Peña: Yeah. Cuz it's like not on the hurricane path, you know, like it's one of the, one of the islands that hurricanes just don't go near. So it's like always beautiful. it's great.

[00:03:31] Charmi Patel-Peña: It's perfect.

[00:03:32] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: The people of Aruba have, have like cursed the island so that storms stay away. Yeah. Yeah. Basically that that's that's what's.

[00:03:42] Charmi Patel-Peña: They call it one happy island and it's a hundred percent accurate. Like it's the only place I've ever been to. Where if somebody sees you crossing the street or sees you waiting to cross the street, they don't care if there's a crosswalk or not.

[00:03:55] Charmi Patel-Peña: They're just like, yeah, I'll stop you go. that's so funny. Everyone's so. Yeah.

[00:04:03] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: Yeah. And then you come back to New Jersey and, and you get like the finger just from driving.

[00:04:10] Charmi Patel-Peña: how dare you only go 65 in this 50 mile per hour old. Yeah. Yeah. We're

[00:04:21] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: a lot life, life in other parts of the world, you. Very different. Yeah. Yeah. That's for sure. That's for sure. Yeah. okay, so, so we're gonna kick this off with, the first question I ask every single guest is what is one thing that you do for the photographic process in behind the camera, you know, that has, that has saved you time

[00:04:43] Charmi Patel-Peña: behind the

[00:04:43] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: camera.

[00:04:44] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: Yeah, it could be lighting. It could be.

[00:04:46] Charmi Patel-Peña: Yeah. Yeah. That's easy. That's easy. I'm sorry. I'm trying to get my, do not disturb because apparently I didn't do that. And I don't wanna just ding the whole time. a hundred percent lighting, where other people do and burn a lot. You'll almost never see me dodging and burning because nearly every image of mine, the lighting is super, super, super thought out.

lighting is also the first thing I chase versus backgrounds. I figure I can just cover ugly things up. Am I allowed to curse by the way? I won't. I was gonna say ugly something else. And then I was like, wait, I shouldn't do that. yeah, I figure I can like cover clutter and background some other way, but light is light and, and I need that to be perfect.

[00:05:26] Charmi Patel-Peña: And so. Yeah, lighting for sure is like always the first thing I think about, I actually had a panic moment at a wedding recently. So ceremony was inside. I had this one wall of gorgeous floor to ceiling windows. I had them open all the curtains and it was beautiful and the sun was out and the ceremony started and the photos were so good and so pretty.

[00:05:50] Charmi Patel-Peña: And then. and, and just for the record, because I don't like mixed lighting, I had the venue turn off like the ugly pot lights. Cause I didn't want pot lights plus side window. Right. I just wanted the natural light and it was so bright and beautiful that like, why not? So the venue had turned off all the pot lights and all the chandeliers and cuz of chandelier, weren't actually like nice.

[00:06:13] Charmi Patel-Peña: Anyway, they're like L E D chandelier. They were like purple. You know? So, so they had turned everything. and like 20 minutes into the ceremony, cuz it's a Hindu ceremony. It's very long. suddenly there was a monsoon outside with black clouds, lot of rain and in the ceremony room, suddenly like ISO 24,000.

and we had to change up our lighting like this. So we always have like a backup plan for our backup plan. And so we did that and everything's good and the photos are delivered and everybody's happy, but. But definitely lighting is like the first thing I think about in my early years, I used to be like, oh, I'll fix it later.

[00:06:50] Charmi Patel-Peña: And now I will fix it. Never. Yeah.

[00:06:54] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: It's, it's a good, good advice in itself to work with your venue, to turn off lighting that itself. Like most people wouldn't wouldn't have. the balls so to speak to, yeah. To, to do that to a venue, but, but, I know, I know you do .

[00:07:14] Charmi Patel-Peña: Yeah. My second shooters and my assistants think I'm crazy at first.

[00:07:18] Charmi Patel-Peña: And then they take back those lessons and they run with them. I always talk to the venue about lighting. I'm always like, you know, I, I, I have a really good relationship with one of the guys at this venue. It it's, typically a difficult place to. but as long as my guy is there, it's easier. But even if he's not there, I know what to ask.

[00:07:37] Charmi Patel-Peña: Right. I know what to, to say. And, and the venues always ask for my photos afterwards. So once I have one experience there, they know to trust me. And if I say the pot, light's gotta go then the pot light's gotta go. so, yeah. It's, that's great. It's good. I, I. Super involved in anything that's gonna affect lighting and photos.

[00:07:59] Charmi Patel-Peña: So one time, we're shooting a ceremony and there were three chandeliers inside of the setup and all three chandeliers had L E D bulbs, the kind that blink. And so in one photo they'd be on and in one photo they'd be off and in one photo they'd be half on and it drove me bonkers. And so that evening.

[00:08:23] Charmi Patel-Peña: I sent my assistant to home Depot to buy new bulbs and I replaced all the decorator bulbs. that's amazing. You can keep 'em. You're welcome. Stop it. and anyway, that decorator doesn't do that anymore. They don't use led well, at least when I'm working a wedding, they don't use led bulbs anymore.

[00:08:41] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: yeah, that's so good.

[00:08:43] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: That's so good. Make. yeah. You're, you're helping, you're helping the venue out. You're helping. I was saying I'm making you

[00:08:50] Charmi Patel-Peña: look good. So yeah, exactly.

[00:08:52] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: Cooperate. yeah, I like it. I like it. okay, so, so what is one thing now you do for your business that has either saved you time or money?

[00:09:01] Charmi Patel-Peña: Just, just like the biggest recent change, which now is not that recent it's like 10 months, almost a year that I've been using.

[00:09:09] Charmi Patel-Peña: Imagen is. changed my life.

[00:09:13] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: Like I was already, we're gonna get we're we're gonna get to editing. We're gonna get to editing. Yeah. But, but let's, let's stick with the other,

[00:09:19] Charmi Patel-Peña: other parts. Yeah. Cutting down. Cutting down. Weddings has definitely okay. Been good for business actually.

actually, yeah. So, so

[00:09:29] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: you go a couple months without doing any weddings on purpose. Yeah. So let's talk about how that has helped. Let's talk about first of. Share what you do because a lot of people probably don't know that you do this and, and please do share, well, they're all gonna

[00:09:46] Charmi Patel-Peña: fall their chair, cuz they're gonna think it's insane, but that's OK.

[00:09:51] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: Yeah. Share, share. Yeah. Share how that has helped your business, at, at the same time. Cuz by first hearing it, you're gonna think it's not gonna help your business, but

[00:09:59] Charmi Patel-Peña: no. So I do not shoot weddings anymore in July, August. November, December, January, or February, maybe March. I don't know about March yet.

and the, the strictest of those, the absolute strictest is July and August. that's really important to me that, you know, COVID gave me some insight into what I'm missing, on weekends in the summer. And. I'm done missing it. It's a lifestyle thing. I, I don't, I don't wanna miss all the memories that everyone, you know, not just my kids, but my parents and, mm-hmm, my cousins and my friends are making while I'm working.

[00:10:39] Charmi Patel-Peña: So July and August are super, super strict, do not work. and. The winter months or more because like, I don't like being cold so, so like, I don't wanna work if it's less than 40 degrees because it makes, it puts me in a bad mood. Can't fill from a cold cup. I mean, can't, can't pour from a cold cup. so, so yeah, so obviously when you make a decision that you're gonna not work certain.

[00:11:08] Charmi Patel-Peña: You need to really think out your pricing, you need to really think out, like, what do you wanna do? Cuz I can't just drop my income significantly. That's not realistic. Right. So cutting down forced me to examine my prices, boost them a ton and people still booked at the new prices. So clearly I was already underpriced.

and just be more selective in general. So like this wedding that I just shot in Aruba. I was technically already full for the year cuz I said I was only gonna do 12 weddings and I ended up taking two additional one was in Philadelphia with a couple that I super loved. And then the other one was this one and it was a referral.

[00:11:48] Charmi Patel-Peña: And typically these dates would book so, so far in advance, but because I was strict and because I only booked, you know, some. I had the weekends open when these inquiries came in for people who I was a really good personality fit for and their budget met my new pricing. Right. Mm-hmm so mm-hmm, I think leaving space in my calendar to say yes has changed also, like, you know, it, this might not be about money, but it definitely improves my business that I no longer have massive burnout.

[00:12:29] Charmi Patel-Peña: to be able to work with people I wanna work with to limit my weddings, to where I feel comfortable, and still happy. And then now, you know, I've also diversified a little bit cutting down. Weddings has forced me to diversify where my income comes from. And so I have also been doing like head shots and corporate things.

[00:12:50] Charmi Patel-Peña: And those things pay really, really well on a Tuesday when my kids are in school,

[00:12:54] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: you know? Yeah. And far less demanding than a wedding in some cases, far

[00:12:59] Charmi Patel-Peña: less demanding than a wedding. So, you know, I think cutting down has been so good for, let's say like, if you did break down my hourly income, it's higher than ever.

[00:13:12] Charmi Patel-Peña: My overall income has definitely stayed where I wanted to stay or potentially even gone. We'll we'll do the math at the end of the year. and, and I, a hundred percent have no regrets about it. I am gonna have a better lifestyle, not working the months. I don't wanna work. And then, you know, like even saying, like, I don't wanna work what it's cold.

[00:13:32] Charmi Patel-Peña: I refuse. I'm not doing it. Yeah. I just got an inquiry for February where I said I'm not gonna work. And so it's really easy for me to turn down weddings somewhere cold, but this bride's getting married in Laguna beach and. I I'll go to somewhere warm in February, let's go. Right, right. Yeah. All around, like business is better.

[00:13:51] Charmi Patel-Peña: My mood is better, which means my creativity is better.

[00:13:55] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: Yeah. Which is also, yeah. Being able to say, you know, like during the winter months in New Jersey, I'm not taking on Jersey weddings. I'm only taking on California weddings where I'm only taking on Aruba weddings. Yeah. It's a nice option to have . Yeah.

[00:14:07] Charmi Patel-Peña: Yeah. And it's all, it all has to make financial sense. Right? Yeah. It all has to make good business sense and. Forcing myself to say like, look, the first thing that needs to happen is I need to cut down and I'm not working these months. And then finding solutions to everything else it's doable. And I did it.

[00:14:26] Charmi Patel-Peña: Yeah.

[00:14:27] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: Yeah. so you, alluded to this before, and then I got you back to the business, other things so let's, let's, let's, let's move into editing. What is one thing that you do for editing that has saved you time?

[00:14:40] Charmi Patel-Peña: I call same day. I call every single thing the day that I shoot it. and I have had friends on friends argue with me that that's psychotic or that they could never do it.

and they're all wrong. They could easily do it. cuz I do it and I'm the laziest person you've ever met in your life. So if I can do it if I can do it, you can do it. So. Even if I have a wedding that's like, you know, 6:00 AM and I finish at 10:00 PM. I'm culling. chances are, if you have a wedding that starts at 6:00 AM and finishes at 10:00 PM, you have some sort of a break cards.

[00:15:19] Charmi Patel-Peña: These days are so flipping fast that if, you know, even if I only have an hour and a half break, which is, I have a longer break than that usually, but even if I only have an hour to break an hour and a half, which this weekend I did only have an hour and. mostly because I went swimming after the summer movie I still, I pop in my cards.

[00:15:39] Charmi Patel-Peña: I offload them onto my computer and then I call them right away. And the reason that I'm so much faster and why it's so helpful to my whole process is that I just shot it. I know what happened. I know the shots I took. I know what the good one is. I remember the moment I want. I call in reverse from the end of whatever shooting session it was till the beginning and I'm ruthless and I can go through and be done in like 40 minutes.

[00:16:16] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: It's interesting that you say you called from reverse. Can you, can you explain your reasoning for calling in reverse?

[00:16:21] Charmi Patel-Peña: Okay. So this is definitely like a photographer by photographer thing, but for me, I know that usually. , you know, I, I shoot in sets. Like I pick my composition and then I'm waiting for, a moment I'm waiting for the expression, the emotion, something to happen.

[00:16:40] Charmi Patel-Peña: I I'm waiting for what I want. And nearly always, as soon as I get it, I'm done. So my winner is always at the end of a set. And so when I used to call from the beginning to the end, I would pick one that was good enough. And then I'd get to the end and be like, ah, that's the one I wanted. And then I have to go back and unselect the one that was good enough when I started calling in reverse, you get the best one first and then you can quickly go through the rest, cuz you already got the best one.

[00:17:07] Charmi Patel-Peña: You don't need another one. Yeah. So for me knowing that like my best shot is gonna be at the end of a series culling in reverse saves me so much time. That's

[00:17:18] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: really interesting. Yeah, it makes sense too. Yeah. It could definitely being that, that being something that depends on the photographer. Yeah. and how they, and how they shoot, and how they shoot a hundred percent.

[00:17:28] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: Yeah. and when they have the experience for like weddings, like you do they know what's, what's about to happen? yeah, unless you're at my brother-in-law's wedding that just happened this weekend and which was in their front yard for the ceremony and the party in the back. our cousin who's in the air force, officiated the wedding.

[00:17:46] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: And my brother-in-law was doing his vows and couldn't get past the first like four words and he told, he told our cousin to punch him in the stomach.

[00:17:58] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: didn't see that coming. No, I wouldn't. Didn't see, nobody saw it coming, but you know what? so the photographer, I, I, I'm gonna be very surprised that the photographer caught that. wait,

[00:18:05] Charmi Patel-Peña: wait, because, but did the, did, did, did, did he do it, did he punch it?

[00:18:10] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: Yeah. so my, my brother-in-law my brother-in-law and I both train, in karate together.

[00:18:16] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: Okay. So he's used, he's used to getting punched in the stomach. Got it. Or, yeah. and then, our cousin is in the air force, actually trains in a different style of karate. he's also no longer living in New Jersey, but so he is somewhere else. But,so not only did he react fast and punch, but, it was a good punch.

[00:18:35] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: Enough enough that the next day we asked if he had a black and blue mark in his stomach. But so, I, I, you know, in this case, for example, for like going with you just said, I, I wonder if the photographer caught that moment, cause that's not an expected, you know, you don't expect something like that to happen.

[00:18:50] Charmi Patel-Peña: I mean, part of that though is, and I don't always follow my own rule, but for ceremonies, your camera needs to be to your face. Yeah. Yeah. Like at all, And I myself make the mistake all the time of like, I'll get the shot. And then I'm such an impatient bastard that I'll like Chimp the shot just to celebrate myself, which is so obnoxious

[00:19:18] Charmi Patel-Peña: and then something happens and I'm like, crap, I missed it. I was looking at my own picture. Like it's. I have to remind myself like you already, you either got it. Or you did it and you already took the photo. So like maybe you don't need immediate gratification.

[00:19:32] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: right. Yeah. Keep, keep going. Keep going, keep yeah.

[00:19:35] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: Keep telling yourself the yeah, yeah, yeah. so anyway, no, I'm gonna have to share the later, when we stop recording, I'm gonna have to share the video with you. Cause we do have a video of it. It's I need to see that it was good. all right. yeah, so that's really interesting. The calling reverse, I like that idea.

Same day calling is very, very smart as well. Cause it's top of mind. Yep. So we've talked about now, in camera, behind the camera type stuff, lighting, we've talked about business, we've talked about editing. What is one thing you do after a session that has increased business?

I now outsource my album sales completely.

[00:20:10] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: Wait, wait, wait. Okay. Outsource not your album design album. Correct.

okay. I have, Leah from storybook design company, who I send her, my photos. I send her my favorites, cuz I, I always separate, separate out batch of favorites for every client just cuz I think that's the ideal way for them to view their day.

[00:20:32] Charmi Patel-Peña: Everything else is bonus. Right? So, I send her my favorites. I send her the, the rest of them and then I, I tell her, you know, what size was included? How much the spreads are additional and she emails them sets up a zoom appointment. She shows them a design. She walks 'em through the process, you know, like I'm gonna make you a design and then you're gonna make some changes.

[00:20:54] Charmi Patel-Peña: You'll make some decisions. and she does all the album sales and, she good at it and I don't want to, so that's

[00:21:05] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: really interesting.

[00:21:06] Charmi Patel-Peña: Yeah. And. She's better at it than me. So, you know, like I can't toot my own horn well, and be like, you can't delete this photo. Can you like, it's just so good. like what a jerk I would sound like, but Leah can say that.

[00:21:24] Charmi Patel-Peña: All right. Like Leah can say, char did a great job. Like you're gonna have trouble cutting down these photos and. and, and she kills it and, and they get, you know, it's to their benefit too. They get these beautiful books that tell their story and are lovely and yeah, Leah's on it. So that has been great for our business and great for my life.

[00:21:48] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: So they're also, she's also laying out the album after the sale and ordering the album and handling the whole,

[00:21:56] Charmi Patel-Peña: she doesn't order the album. Okay. I'll order it and drop, ship it to them. but she does everything from the design part, through the appointment, through the upgrade, through the math of how much to charge them.

[00:22:08] Charmi Patel-Peña: Mm-hmm like she, she just does, the only parts I have to do is send her photos. And then, once she emails me, I invoice the client and order the book

[00:22:18] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: that is, so I knew that outsourced album design was a thing I didn't realize outsourced. Like I. Is a, is a thing. Yeah. Yeah. that's a, I learned something new today.

[00:22:30] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: Thank you. Yeah,

[00:22:32] Charmi Patel-Peña: she is life altering because as much as I, you know, I use Fundy, she uses Fundy to like put our albums together. Right. And as easy and simple as that is to put them together, the sales process else process is really where it's at. And, and because I don't have time for that, I, you know, I would have album designs floating in the wind for two.

[00:22:54] Charmi Patel-Peña: Where I gave them their design and they just haven't made any decisions. And that was frustrating. And then they'd make some decisions like right around Thanksgiving and be like, can we have it by Christmas? No.

[00:23:10] Charmi Patel-Peña: Right. I'm I, so you've sitting on it for four months, right? Four months. Some people are like sitting on it for three years and then they're like, can we get it? No, no, you can't. right. But with her, that doesn't happen with her. It's. the process is streamlined. You have your deadlines, you have a meeting with her and then it's over and everyone gets their book super timely fashion.

[00:23:33] Charmi Patel-Peña: Yeah.

[00:23:33] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: That's incredible. That's incredible. Yeah. What is one thing that you are struggling with right now in your photography business? Is it something that a magic could help with share it with the other Imageners in the Imagen community? Okay. So now's the point of the show where I'm gonna ask you to look.

your photography business from a 30,000 foot view down. And if you can please share an outlined breakdown of your workflow from lead to delivery.

[00:24:04] Charmi Patel-Peña: Ooh mm-hmm okay. So someone emails me. I ignore it.

[00:24:15] Charmi Patel-Peña: sorry. That's just truth. I don't wanna pretend. I am just amazing at that. I'm not, at some point within seven days I will respond. I used to have someone do that.

[00:24:29] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: I think that's reasonable. I, I think that's reasonable. I do. Okay.

I mean, I use superhuman for my emails now and that's actually helped a ton.

I know it's weird to pay $30 a month to like, you know, have some, have a email host, but it, it is really like intuitively clicky fast. And so that's helped a lot for me to keep some version of inbox, zero sometimes. but you know, I get a lead eventually I'll respond to it. And, what I tell them in there is what I do is send them a butt ton of galleries, full galleries, like.

[00:25:01] Charmi Patel-Peña: I don't want anybody to call me and talk to me without really knowing my work inside out, because I charge a lot of money and I want you to know what the value is for what I charge before you even wanna get on the phone, because maybe your budget is $5,000 less than I charge, but maybe those galleries will make it worth it to you, or maybe you'll see it and be.

[00:25:25] Charmi Patel-Peña: Yeah, there's no way, like I'm not, it's not worth it to me. And then you can save me time cuz then I'll have to talk to you on the phone. so once they have like my general pricing and they have these full galleries that I insist, they look through, if they want to get on the phone, we'll get on the phone and, and and they'll call me and we'll.

[00:25:44] Charmi Patel-Peña: I am interviewing them as much as they're interviewing me, cuz I wanna make sure that I want to be at their wedding. Yes mm-hmm and especially if they're swimming

[00:25:53] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: involved, .

[00:25:55] Charmi Patel-Peña: Yeah. and after that we hang up, I tell them, you know, if you have any questions, like I know there's a lot of stakeholders in planning, weddings, you know, you're my, I remind them that they are my contact.

[00:26:09] Charmi Patel-Peña: So that's my way of saying, don't have your mom call me cuz I don't want Dr. cuz that's a red flag for me and we will not be working together. I just think it's really important to have like your touchpoint people at weddings and have that be the couple because that's who you have to be around all day long.

[00:26:24] Charmi Patel-Peña: And so for me, that's really important. That's not necessarily the case for every photographer. Some photographers love talking to family. I'm just not normal. not before the. so I, I kind of leave it in the ether at that point. they can book or not book. I do not follow up with clients ever. either you want me, or you don't want me, I'm not gonna chase anybody.

[00:26:43] Charmi Patel-Peña: Yeah. and then if they book send them a contract through Tove, they book it, send me a deposit. I'll tell them, you know, if you want my opinions on wedding stuff, color. Locations hit me up. I'm available. Like once you book me, I'm a resource for you for lots of things a month before I'll reach out to them and say, Hey, where's your, where's your list of portraits.

[00:27:08] Charmi Patel-Peña: I need that ASAP because for the ceremonies that I shoot, they wanna do a lot of photos right after the ceremony. For example, this weekend, the bride gave me a list of 76 groups. And then I had to go to her room and be like, Hey, we're not doing 76 groups and we cut it down to 20 . Whoa. that's a lot, but she was really, yeah, but she was really busy the month before, but usually, you know, a month before is when I want that list.

[00:27:32] Charmi Patel-Peña: So I can tell you if it's realistic, mm-hmm then I go shoot the wedding. And, I call the same day and I will send things off to Imagen if I finish. And I always finish, I finish calling the ceremony portion of the. before the reception, I will send off that part of the catalog to Imagen, get it back, pick like my 20 favorites, and airdrop them to my phone so that I can send them to the couple and like share them on Instagram.

[00:28:02] Charmi Patel-Peña: Right. and then I'll go shoot the reception, do the same thing that night. I'm still in bed by like midnight and. and then I'll give it a final review potentially Monday, unless I'm traveling, in which case I'll do it Sunday. and then I'll upload it. And if the client chose expedited delivery, then they'll get it within a couple days.

[00:28:22] Charmi Patel-Peña: And if they didn't, then they'll get it, you know, probably around the two week mark, just so that cuz I have a lot going on. It's not, it's not like I'm, you know, sitting on them. It's just, I have no. I'm not in a rush to upload them and perfect everything and make sure that like make a delivery appointment unless they paid for expedited delivery.

[00:28:45] Charmi Patel-Peña: Right. I can hang out with my kids instead.

[00:28:47] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: Right? Yeah. Everything that comes after sharing the digitals, the digital gallery with them is like a lot of more face to face type things. And a lot more like, like the album stuff you now you have to worry. You know, getting that ball rolling. Well,

[00:29:00] Charmi Patel-Peña: I don't do that, so right.

[00:29:03] Charmi Patel-Peña: But I do do, I do make my clients zoom with me for their delivery. That's good. Mostly cuz I'm a needy artist. and I need to see their reaction. So, so obviously like if they have expedited delivery, then we'll make that appointment for that week. If they don't then we'll make it for like the following week or the week after, depending on what my schedule looks like.

[00:29:28] Charmi Patel-Peña: and we will go through all of the photos. I set aside as my favorites on zoom. We'll like relive the day together, which sounds crazy to people, but it's extremely good business to have your clients be really happy with you. And remember you as like a sparkling part of their day. Yeah. So that leaves like a really positive impression on them.

[00:29:51] Charmi Patel-Peña: It also leaves a positive impression on me because. Happy that I did good work for them. and then that night I will email Leah all the information about their album, let them know during the zoom appointment that Leah will be emailing them and Leah takes over from there. And then I just wait until my invoice update comes in from Leah.

I invoice the couple order. Their book usually drop ship it, cuz I don't wanna ship it again. and and that's it. And then I'm done. I close their thing in to and call it a day.

[00:30:22] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: Nice. yeah, there was one, one thing that, I, I should have asked when you were talking about the, your, calling process.

[00:30:29] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: Yeah. But I just thought about it while you were talking now, when you do these four day weddings, for example. Yeah. Right. Are you calling and sending your edits out or your photos to Imagen. For each day individually, or are you waiting for those to be four day wedding done then sent daily.

[00:30:50] Charmi Patel-Peña: So interesting.

[00:30:51] Charmi Patel-Peña: Go into photo mechanic, call everything, move my selects into a folder. Then they go into Lightroom. only my select. So I call this is where we're talking about because I, sometimes you think you think that everything, you know, everybody knows and then like you say something and people are. What are you talking about?

[00:31:08] Charmi Patel-Peña: So when I call, I call in not out. So I only tag keepers. I don't have a rating system. You are either a winner or you are a loser. And if you are a loser, you do not get a tag at all. So only winners get a tag. So when I call in reverse, I star everything that I want to. . and then I take my keepers and I move them into a select folder.

[00:31:38] Charmi Patel-Peña: They leave the raw folder and, only the selects get loaded into Lightroom. And then every, if it's a four day wedding, then after every event, not even necessarily at the end of every day, because some events, some days have two events. so at the end of every event, I send it off to Imagen. And then, I'm usually.

[00:32:00] Charmi Patel-Peña: I'm usually also sending like, Imagen back the, what do you call it?

[00:32:05] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: Final edits. The

[00:32:06] Charmi Patel-Peña: fine tunes. Yeah, the, the final fine tunes. Mm-hmm before I do the next grouping.

[00:32:11] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: Okay, cool. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Uh,there's there's a lot that go, they get to goes into those long weddings. so, so I, you know, it's, it's interesting how, like, your, your typical wedding workflow could be completely different for something.

[00:32:28] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: Not lays at four days, but there's multiple things going on each day. Yeah. It's just a lot of complicated stuff to get organized.

[00:32:36] Charmi Patel-Peña: Yep. Multiple events each day. I have, I mean, I have a really specific folder system now, like, each couple's folder is named partner one plus partner two. Then when you go into the folder, there's sub folders and sub folders will be raw.

[00:32:52] Charmi Patel-Peña: And videos because I have started taking vertical videos so that I can use them for reals mm-hmm . and then, everything gets dumped into raw, but raw is separated by event. So it will say day one, but then it'll say the type of event. So like day one, Mandy day two, Holly, but also day two sungi. So like these different events that I'm doing also get their own like sub folder.

[00:33:18] Charmi Patel-Peña: And then select have identical folders. and then when everything is exported, it goes into a, for print folder. So it'll say for print, and then it'll say day one, this event, day two, this event day two, that event. and then I'll have a separate folder within, for print that says photographer's favorites.

[00:33:35] Charmi Patel-Peña: And that is a pull from each of those folders. My favorite image. And that's how it gets uploaded to my galleries as well.

[00:33:46] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: That's so interesting. yeah. Yeah. I think, I think that I'll make a pretty interesting blog post too. I might have to nerd

[00:33:53] Charmi Patel-Peña: nerdy backup system.

[00:33:55] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: I like it. I, I, that's totally something that I would do.

[00:34:00] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: To stay, to stay extremely organized. It's totally something that I would do. I mean, eh, that's the whole point of this, of this show is to talk about this nerdy stuff. So I love it. I love it.

[00:34:11] Charmi Patel-Peña: perfect. I'm a big old nerd.

[00:34:14] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: Yeah.

[00:34:16] Charmi Patel-Peña: lives in that folder too. For the record. You're light the Lightroom. Yeah. I do a separate Lightroom catalog for every wedding and that Lightroom catalog also lives in the main folder.

[00:34:28] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: Yeah. It's a good idea, especially for what you're doing. Makes sense. Yeah. okay. So, what does the future of AI in photography look like to you?

[00:34:43] Charmi Patel-Peña: I mean, I never thought I never thought we'd be where we are now. So I am loathed to pretend that I have any idea what could be coming next. I could not have imagined someone actually told me it was scary that there's a version of me in the cloud now. they said that I'm a lot of human being and I'm probably a lot of computer too.

[00:35:05] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: I love it. That's so funny.

yeah, I, I don't know. I know that like AI cuing is a, a thing, but for me, the color is the. You know, like the color is my voice, right? The editing is my voice, but it is an easier to understand and duplicate part of my voice, the color is my voice, you know, deciding which expression is the one I want people to feel.

[00:35:34] Charmi Patel-Peña: I'm not sure AI has got me there, but that's okay. That's me. That's not everybody. There's a lot of people who. I think would be thrilled, but mm-hmm , I don't know. I don't know. I'm low to guess where AI is going. I, like I said, I never thought we'd be here and it has completely changed my life so

[00:35:54] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: well, so, so, so let's, let's talk about that now.

yeah. How did ImagenAI how did Imagen, man? See, I'm even still screwing this up because we're officially now called. Imagen not ImagenAI yeah. New branding, but yeah. How did Imagen impact your.

[00:36:12] Charmi Patel-Peña: so last year. So I, you know, historically for the last seven, eight years I've been shooting for 16. I've been shooting 30 plus weddings a year.

[00:36:21] Charmi Patel-Peña: Like my max was like 32 Indian weddings. These are multi-day weddings. So we're talking about like the equivalent of like a hundred, five American weddings a year and I'm the primary shooter at all of my. Until this year I have one associated with, so that was rough in general. But last year I had to do 27 multi-day weddings in 22 weeks.

[00:36:52] Charmi Patel-Peña: And, I was so burned out that my body, like my actual body. Decided to revolt. And I started getting August 17th last year, I started getting hives, full body hives, like scalp to the souls of my feet, to the palms of my hands. I mean, I looked like, I looked like the moon. How many craters were, it was bad.

it was debilitating and I shot weddings through it where couples would be like, do you need to, do you need to go? Like. you look scary. anyway, all that to say somewhere around the time that the hives started, because it was just too late when I found ImagenAI it. Imagine not,

[00:37:42] Charmi Patel-Peña: it was too late. yeah, like I, I was, I was too far in and I was already burned out when I found it, but it's kind of good. If I hadn't been, I probably wouldn't have tried it . but I saw it on Instagram and I was like, what is this gonna hurt? I'm gonna send out ImagenAI's I'm gonna see what it does. So I sent Imagen 8,000 ImagenAI's and the first wedding that I sent it, I was blown away.

[00:38:07] Charmi Patel-Peña: I was like, no way, is this, how can this be real? And it wasn't perfect. Mm-hmm . , you know, I've heard people say like, oh, you know, 90% of the way may as well be 0% of the way disagree. 90% of my ImagenAI's were a hundred percent of the way, like 10% of my Imageners needed a little tweaking to get to their final destination.

but the majority were like already done. And the, and if there was a need for tweaking, it was a global need. So it was like, oh, well, like all the ceremony photos are equally one third, too. Cool. That's an easy fix. So it changed my life. my attitude. helped you heal. Yeah. I, I still had to get on medication for the hives cuz it was just too far gone.

but you know, my hives are a hundred percent like stress and anxiety related and. I can feel that that is different situation this year. Like all of my, for a wedding I shoot in Aruba where literally I am not only like, this couple was really sweet and they wanted to include us in everything. Right? So like, yes, we were shooting, but during off time they were like, well, we're hanging out in the bar, which means you should be hanging out in the bar.

[00:39:28] Charmi Patel-Peña: Like we're going to the pool, which means you should be going in the pool. we are having an after party. You have to come to the after party. We were very much included as part of the family during this wedding for me to have this wedding done by noon on Sunday when I was shooting until 10:00 PM on Saturday, that means this week, other than hanging out with you right now, I'm just chilling with my kids.

[00:39:53] Charmi Patel-Peña: like that's thing. I'm yeah. I'm gonna go on a date night with my husband. I'm gonna clean the house a little bit. It's gonna, it's gonna allow me to like, Yeah, I don't have to obsess this week. I, I always imagine that, like, when people talk about a four hour work week, that that was like a hundred percent impossible for us.

[00:40:14] Charmi Patel-Peña: It's not. That's great. Yeah. ,

[00:40:18] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: that's so cool. where are you going? Where are you going for your, for your date night?

[00:40:22] Charmi Patel-Peña: I don't know, we might go to where we, you and I went to lunch agricul.

[00:40:26] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: nice hope. Hopefully they all

[00:40:27] Charmi Patel-Peña: those crackers. We, I mean, I was supposed to go see Justin Neber from the front row on Friday and he just postponed that concert.

[00:40:34] Charmi Patel-Peña: So,

[00:40:36] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: sorry to hear that

[00:40:38] Charmi Patel-Peña: you don't care. You don't like him. oh, but I do.

[00:40:43] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: I don't think I could sing out Justin or say the words from a Justin Bieber song. If, if I wanted

[00:40:48] Charmi Patel-Peña: to. Even if you don't like any music of his, I'm gonna need you to look up the song ghost, watch the video and listen to the song. It's beautiful.

[00:40:56] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: You know, I, I will say I have the utmost respect for him because he came from, from his, like his origin story. Right. It's a, it's a pretty interesting one. So I have the utmost respect for him. I just don't care for

[00:41:07] Charmi Patel-Peña: his music, but listen to ghost anyway. Thank

[00:41:10] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: you. Okay. I will, I will. Okay. Where can listeners learn more about you connect with you and of course see your incredible photography.


[00:41:22] Charmi Patel-Peña: I'm charming Pena on all platforms on Instagram, Twitter, although Twitter is really not about photography, so maybe don't go there. but Instagram is, I do a lot of like, like today I'm doing before and afters. I do a. Ask me anything. I talk a lot about just my process in general, my thought process, you know, in life and photography.

[00:41:44] Charmi Patel-Peña: So prepare yourself for that. I'm a whole human being, not just a photographer.

I've even been doing outfit of the day lately. And like there were, the bride's friends from this wedding were like, we need links to all your looks. It was really cute. So, so yeah, my Instagram is definitely where to find me where I'm more most present, but definitely expect a good mix of charming as a human being.

[00:42:09] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: Nice. Thanks for, for chatting with me and hanging out. Of

[00:42:13] Charmi Patel-Peña: course. Thanks for

[00:42:14] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: having me talk soon. Thank you. Charming for that awesome conversation and all the insights into your workflows and your photography business. And thank you everybody for listening until next time you have been listening to workflows presented by Imagen to hear more from workflows and to find a link to our guest.

[00:42:33] Scott Wyden Kivowitz: Please go to Be a part of the conversation by joining the Imagen community at And be sure to subscribe to the podcast on apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Thank you for tuning in until next time.

Workflows with Charmi Patel-Peña
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