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State of the Business - 2018 in Review by Zack Wussow

2018 is behind us, which means it’s time to look back.

CATCHING MY BREATH

2017 was a crazy year - not only my busiest year professionally but also pretty crazy personally. I got married and bought a house. So I’m happy to say 2018 was all around more sedate. Fewer weddings, spread out more evenly through the year, and no giant changes in my life. One tiny change though…

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A NEW FURRY FAMILY MEMBER

Heather and I adopted a stray kitten named Peach. She was and continues to be a handful but is adorable and endlessly entertaining. If you feel like you didn’t get enough cat photos this year, we sequestered all of ours on a separate Instagram account.

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EXPANDING HORIZONS

While weddings were down, I did more maternity photo sessions than ever before, and my first newborn sessions! I was hoping to expand this branch of my business this year, so seeing this grow is really nice, and 2019 is looking promising too.

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THE NUMBERS

WEDDINGS: 21 (DOWN 5 FROM 2017)

Like I said, a quieter year! And even more than it seems, as two of those were second shooting gigs, which are substantially easier. And the change didn’t even hurt my bottom line too much, as rising average prices made up some of the difference. This is actually a return to baseline of sorts, as I did 19 weddings in each of 2014, ‘15, and ‘16. I think ideally I’d sit somewhere between 2017 and 2018, maybe with even a few more second shooting jobs in there as well.

ENGAGEMENTS: 4 (DOWN 4 FROM 2017)

This is somewhat a deceptive number - I actually sold more than 4 engagements, in the form of included ones with weddings, that for various reasons never happened. In 2019 I’ll be making up for it with those couples as well as new ones. Going forward I’d like to get every couple to have an engagement session, as it’s a great way to get to know my couples.

OTHER PORTRAITS: 12 (UP 6 FROM 2017)

Babies! Specifically breaking this down, it was 4 family photo shoots, 2 headshot sessions, 4 maternity sessions, and 2 newborn sessions. I love doing these for several reasons - they are smaller and more relaxed than weddings, more evenly distributed year round, and a great way to keep working with my wedding couples as they go on to the next steps in their lives!

CORPORATE GIGS: 4 (DOWN 2 FROM 2017)

As in years past, this category could really be called “UConn Events”. Mostly the same ones as years past, and only down because a couple events didn’t happen this year. Always fun to help out my Alma Mater, though.

COMING OF AGE/MISC. EVENTS: 3 (UP 1 FROM 2017)

One bridal shower, and two events with the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury, where a friend of mine works. The museum is a tough spot since flash isn’t allowed in most rooms, but they are fun events none-the-less and feels like a great cause!

TOTAL: 44 (DOWN 4 FROM 2017)

A quieter year to be sure, but I really needed that after 2017!

OTHER STUFF

The one area 2018 wasn’t so restive was travel - beyond a travel packed yearbook season, I also took three bigger trips. Heather and I went to Florida in January to visit family, in April we went on our belated honeymoon to Bar Harbor, and over the summer we went on a work-related trip to Provincetown and to visit a friend who lives on Cape Cod. All very fun trips!

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I also rediscovered the joy of going to my local library in a big way - I read 68 books this year! (Gotta do something while resting up, right?) Highlights for me: Brain on Fire by Susan Cahalan, Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, and A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. I’m also really glad I read Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow but won’t sugar coat it - it’s a slog. It took me all year, dipping in periodically, to finish it.

COMING UP

2019 is a bit more up in the air than I would like so far. Feel free to fix that by recommending me to your friends and family! I am very much looking forward to photographing three weddings of dear friends next year, including one that will mean a mostly free vacation.

I do expect to see even more portrait, maternity, and newborn sessions which I am excited about!

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HAPPY NEW YEAR

I hope you have had a wonderful year, and that 2019 is even better!

Seven by Zack Wussow

June 14th is here, and Zack Wussow Media is officially another year older. When I walked into the Vernon Town Clerk's office to file a DBA back in 2011, I didn't really know what would come of it. I certainly didn't know that seven years, 120+ weddings, and tons of events and portraits later, this little business would still be taking care of me.

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Thank you all, because I could not do this without you. Here's to seven more years ahead!

Everything's Peachy by Zack Wussow

Heather and I are off for our belated honeymoon this week, so rather than a typical blog post, I'd like to introduce you to the newest member of the Zack Wussow Media family, Peach.

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She came to us underage and with every problem - ticks, lice, infections - you'd expect for a stray. My wife, who besides second shooting for me works at a vet office, brought her home for us to "foster till we find her a forever home", a delusion that lasted maybe 48 hours.

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She's already doing a lot better, and is growing like a weed. Our other cat, Enzo, is slowly coming around to the idea of having a little sister.

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We're going to miss her a lot while we're gone this week, but no doubt she will get tons of love at the vet office!

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Now, off to our honeymoon! See you next week.

New! Wooden USB Boxes for Weddings by Zack Wussow

My DVD packages haven't changed much in the last few years, and to judge from some of my couples coming up this year, a lot of people don't have ready access to dvd readers anyway, so it felt like it was about time for a change!

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I'm excited to announce that going forward all weddings will receive their finished photos on a beautiful USB drive in a decorative wooden box. 

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I've been delaying this until I could find a really quality product, and I think this is it. The wood is beautiful, the magnetic closures are snappy, and everything is really nicely put together.

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Any of my former couples who would like an upgrade? Just drop me a line and I will send you one out at cost.

For now, I'm still going to use DVDs for non-wedding jobs, though that may change depending on feedback.

Couples Choice 2018 by Zack Wussow

I just noticed that I was awarded a Wedding Wire Couples Choice award again this year!

As I think I said last year, these awards are a pretty commercial thing and given out a bit indiscriminately.

That said, it is a reflection of the truly amazingly kind reviews my clients have left me, and for those I am always grateful. It means so much to me that people take the time to share their experiences. They mean more to me than a thousand Wedding Wire awards.

Thank you!

State of the Business - 2017 in Review by Zack Wussow

It's time again. Every December, I like to take a moment and look back at the year gone by. 

BIGGER AND BIGGER STILL

2017 was Zack Wussow Media's best and busiest year so far. I said the same thing last year and the year before that, which is all very exciting of course! The biggest change was in weddings - more on that to come.

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Busy Year

Beside work, this was a huge year for me personally. I got married in April, and bought a house in August! Needless to say, it made for a very exciting and hectic year!

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Very Busy Fall

As with the past four years, I spent my weeks September-December taking yearbook photos all over New England, and most weekends at weddings, editing weddings, and booking more weddings. As in previous years, more couple chose to move their weddings into autumn. In September, I had eight!

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Which brings us to the exciting bit...

THE NUMBERS

WEDDINGS: 26 (UP 7 FROM 2016/2015/2014)

I felt so busy this year, but it wasn't until recently I actually tallied up all the weddings and just... Wow. That's an extra third more weddings. Which is very exciting! Lots of you lovely people have been passing my name around and it's showing.

It's also an odd position to be in, though, because until people start getting married in the winter, this is close to the max I can realistically do. Something I will have to think about going forward.

My career total now comes to 117 weddings!

ENGAGEMENTS: 8 (SAME AS 2016)

As with last year, the majority of my engagements were sold as part of wedding packages. I'm still really glad that it's becoming a popular option - its great getting to meet and work with couples before the big day, and I really enjoy doing portraits.

OTHER PORTRAITS: 6 (UP 1 FROM 2016)

This includes headshots, maternity photos, and family photos. Headshots are down 1, family photos up 2, and maternity unchanged. 

I've been making an effort to expand this part of the business, especially the maternity side. Unfortunately, I tracked down a lot of maternity folks this fall... and pregnancies take 9 months. So expect to see lots of spring maternity sessions on the blog. Can't wait!

As before, a lot of return customers this year.

CORPORATE GIGS: 6 (DOWN 2 FROM 2016)

This includes product photography and events. Or did, last year, when I did some product photography. It's a field I've never been particular excited about, but worked with some family friends on. This year we dropped it altogether.

Corporate events, meanwhile, are great. Very similar to weddings, but lower stakes and spread more evenly through the year. If memory serves, this year I did exactly the same events as last year, which is great. If they wanted I'd happily book for the next decade!

COMING OF AGE/MISC. EVENTS: 2 (DOWN 3 FROM 2016)

I can't say this section makes me especially happy. I did no coming of age ceremonies this year. That's something I would like to do more of, but I admit I'm at something of a disadvantage. I don't personally come from a culture that celebrates any big coming of age events, so I'm a bit in the dark when it comes to where people find their photographers, what they are looking for, what they expect to pay, etc. We will see where it goes next year.

The misc. events category was, as usual, an odd assortment - one wedding rehearsal (a substitute for package engagement session), and the other a first birthday party. Though perhaps I should count that as a coming of age event!

TOTAL: 48 (UP 3 FROM 2016)

I love how much this number hides the actual change in my workload. Since I traded four little jobs for weddings and then added another three weddings. It was a crazy year. 

OTHER STUFF

I drove about 13,000 miles for work this year, split about 70/30 between my yearbook season and everything else. Because naturally the year I have eight weddings in September is also the year I have mostly out-of-town and out-of-state schools! Luckily, I also bought a new car this year before most of the travel, so I got to travel in the relative luxury of a Subaru Imprezza. (I do genuinely love that car!)

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I also flew to Chicago for a wedding, which was an amazing trip and supplants North Carolina as the furthest place I've traveled for a wedding. (If you want me to travel to your wedding, drop me a line, we will make it work!)

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My wife, Heather, was my second shooter for eleven(!) weddings this year, up four from last year. It's really fun having her along, and it helps pay our mortgage, which is important me to.

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I also read 45 books, and watched 83 movies. If I had to pick the best of those that came out this year, I'd probably recommend Thor: Ragnarok and Turtles All The Way Down by John Green respectively (if you like to get your recommendations from wedding photographers). Also, it appears I neither watched nor read anything about photography or photographers. Oops. 

COMING UP

Next year's looking pretty good so far - I've booked around fourteen weddings, a fair number of engagements and events, and have hopefully lined up a handful of maternity sessions.

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January actually has my first wedding, a trip to Florida (pleasure, not business), and the eagerly anticipated moment when I am totally caught up on editing for the first time since mid-August.

I'm sure this spring will bring a fair amount of work on the new house, and Heather and I are trying to, finally, get away for our honeymoon sometime around the one year mark.

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I might take a week off as I start to update my portfolio here on the site, but otherwise we'll be back to regular blog posts soon. Hope you had a great holiday season, and a very happy New Year!

Happy Holidays! by Zack Wussow

From myself, my wife Heather, and our mostly tolerant cat Enzo...

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Thank you all for another wonderful year. I hope wherever you are, and however you're celebrating this holiday season, you're having as much fun as I did putting together our Christmas cards this year. 

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Back next week with the State of the Business!