Perry Vaile is a wildly talented photographer, who shoots mainly analog film, and has built a very successful business. She is the breadwinner of her family with a husband that cares for the children -and any of you who are parents know is one of the most exhausting and rewarding jobs out there - and we talk a bit about in this interview.
Perry talks about Branding and building her image and clientele. She's on the East Coast and I'm over on the west coast so it was a Skype interview. Not the normal for this channel but better than not having it.
I hope you enjoy and below is the transcript from the interview:
Braedon: 00:00 Well, Hey, welcome to the show. Perry, you are an awesome person. We met in person just a little bit ago in Canada at Engage, which was really fun and I've admired your work for a long time and just excited to have you on here to share your knowledge.
Perry Vaile: 00:15 Awesome. Well I'm so excited. I love to talk, so I'm ready.
Braedon: 00:19 Cool. For people that don't know a lot of your story, could you give, I mean you've, you have a little bit of a different background but maybe where you started out and then how you ended up getting into photography.
Perry Vaile: 00:31 Yeah. So, I grew up in a really small town in North Carolina, very rural. I'm all by myself. I have no siblings, so it's just me and my mom was always into photos - but like to an annoying level so I hated it and didn't want anything to do with it. And you know, basically I didn't have any visions of being a photographer to begin with. I was always focused on getting out of my little town and getting out of the not fun childhood situation I was in and just finding my way out. And so I immediately, as soon as I could, I went to college and I was like, I'm going to be an academic because that was like, that was my vision of what the, how to get out and how to do something great, you know. So I went to school and I got my Undergrad and my undergrad and master's in history and historic preservation and all along I've always had this pull, to photos, but I didn't want to acknowledge it because, you know, my mom was the crazy photo taker and it was so annoying.
Braedon: 01:29 Was she just like, just shooting photos around or was she like doing that for work?
Perry Vaile: 01:35 No, she shot. She has shot a wedding before, but she said it went terribly and I'm not surprised because she's a little bit of an anxious person. So, um, she always shot, you know, she's obviously shooting on film and I tried to play with their cameras and, and high school I was on the yearbook staff and I was taking the photos and even when I was going into history and trying to become a historian, I always was pulled to, I guess the visuals of history, which is why I focused on like historic preservation, which is like basically buildings and architecture in cities because I wasn't, I mean I liked being an academic, but I really wasn't until like the book and the words I was into the visuals, you know. I definitely stuck out in the history department. I will say it was just me and a lot of, you know, guys that only watched star wars and we didn't, I couldn't.
Perry Vaile: 02:26 I was like, I want to talk about stuff with people. Um, you know, and so, you know, photography I really focused on even my master's thesis was on early American photographers and I mean just very convoluted versions of what photography was and early history, but I was always drawn to it. And then I started shooting for fun and I had a girl basically message me. I had a blog early on about this is way before, it was like 2008 or 9 that I would take pictures on and I had a girl message me and basically say, oh, your photos are really beautiful when you pictures at my wedding. I was like, sure. And I like never really done that, you know, I'd taken my own pictures. So before that I actually was like, I'm going to reach out to people and see if I could shoot a wedding before that one.
Perry Vaile: 03:11 Like I need some experience. So I asked a girl I went to high school with and I said, hey, I saw you're engaged, you know, like on early days of facebook. And I said, and this is so terrible, somebody should never do this. But I was like, can I just show up and, you know, take pictures while your photographer is shooting. But she was like, oh no, you can just shoot it. Which, thank God, because how rude would that have been if I actually did. But. So she just asked me to show up and she paid me $300 and I was like 'Jack Pot!' I shot her wedding and it was just so thrilling is many things went wrong. Like I had never really even been to a wedding but my own. So I was trying to remember what parts of the day happened and I remember during the cake cutting I ran out of room on my memory and I had to delete a picture and then take a picture and like delete a picture. So I started off with a bang. I didn't really second shoot, I didn't do anything. I just threw myself into it and I honestly, I didn't really pursue it. It kind of came after me after that, you know, she shared a lot of pictures. I shot another one and it, I mean I shot like 20 weddings the first year I ever even started shooting. Now Mind you, I might've been charging $500 but I got a lot of experience really, really fast. So.
Braedon: 04:29 And that was in 2008 ish? Or....
Perry Vaile: 04:34 it was in 2012.
Braedon: 04:42 That's incredible. And so when looking at that then, when did you decide to leave the historian route and actually pursue photography and what was that like?
Perry Vaile: 04:54 You know, I think, I never..... It's one of those things where you want to be an actress or you want to do something that you really love and you never think you could get paid well to do it, you know? And I never had that as my goal. Um, I obviously spent a lot of time in school and I was almost persistent to the point. I was like, I'm not leaving this job because I went to school for it. Um, and so I worked for three years as a professional historian. You know, all the Nitty Gritty of nonprofit and all that goes with it. And I really honestly just, I didn't want to give it up. I thought for a long time I could do both. And I got to the point where I think the last year before I quit, I did 37 weddings and I was like, this isn't sustainable. Um, and you know, I honestly, I got enough money under contract for the next calendar year that it met my salary. And I was like, yeah, I don't need this. I need to just leave, you know, um, and nonprofit nonprofit isn't the best paying version of, you know, so I think when I just really started realizing that I didn't have to do that anymore, I still loved it. So I never left it for that reason. Um, but I mean, photography just took over. It became a monster of its own. So
Braedon: 06:07 when you were doing that year where you had 37, still working a full time job, I'm assuming most of that was local. Yeah,
Perry Vaile: 06:16 yeah, yeah. Or you know, I had a really flexible job. It was just me and my boss Gary, who was my bestie in those years, had no coworkers. I have so much personality and I had nobody to talk to you. Gary was really great and understanding, I don't think he ever knew it would take me away from the job or he might not have let me off early, um, but we, we worked together, you know, and so every now and then I would take off a little bit early on Friday or honestly I would just leave after work and dry run like long hours to get some of the distance because I've always really shot all over. Um, and I would drive five hours after work and then get there really late and then do the wedding the next day. So I kind of just made it work, which is exhausting, but I didn't have kids so it's not that exhausting.
Braedon: 07:02 You were married at the time? Yes. Yeah. Cool. When did y'all get married? In 2008.
Perry Vaile: 07:08 10 and I met him when I was 19, so I've been with him for 12 and a half years.
Braedon: 07:15 People can do some math and figure out how old you are.
Perry Vaile: 07:17 Hey. No, I know. Yeah, you add it up. It goes really fast and I met him on facebook too.
Braedon: 07:22 social media brought us together. If you guys could see pictures, they are quite the quite the couple tell you he would love hearing He gets plenty picture's taken of himself, that's for sure. Well, it's got a good person to do it. So I mean, what I really like to draw out of people, because you've, you've done since 2012 and just getting started in taking $500 a wedding or $300 a wedding go into right now you're, I would consider you one of the more successful photographers, you know, in the upper echelon and so what I like to sort of draw out, like what does that look like because I mean obviously transition. Totally. Yeah. How did it, how did it go from there to there? When did you start deciding like, oh I need to raise my rates and how do you do that? And because that's, that's a scary thing for people. I mean even even at the level that you and I are out to the go like, okay, I need to raise my rates. It's still scary, you know? So
Perry Vaile: 08:20 absolutely. You know, I think I've always been super intentional. I never left anything up to just, I mean other than photography coming and pulling me out of the shadows after I was in it, you know, I was very hyper focused on how to make it work. And I do remember in the early days, and I still am, I think I'm this weight. I was a proponent for what I called charging peanuts to begin with because I didn't feel like I should charge a lot more to begin with because I didn't have the experience, you know. Now with that said, I definitely think there's a line to that because I didn't charge peanuts for long. When I got that experience, my prices started going up right away and I would raise, you know, $200 a wedding. Because I mean at the time it was blowing my mind.
Perry Vaile: 09:03 I can get $800 or thousand dollars a wedding. But I didn't do it for a long, you know. Um, but I, I just felt like, you know, at the time it would maybe be disingenuous to charge a lot more and not have the experience because, you know, shit happens on wedding dates and experience, you know, to me now that's what my clients are paying for is all of the experience and the talent and stuff that I hone. So I started off the first 300 and then my second was 500. I might have stayed at $800 for a couple and then you know, 12. So I just kind of raised incrementally and really, I honestly have always based it on supply and demand. Even today, that's how I manage my prices because I mean I was a historian, I studied consumerism, like I really know how consumerism works and I didn't really understand any other theories beyond supply and demand.
Perry Vaile: 09:52 That's how business works, you know. So I basically, I would have a lot of people coming to me and I would feel comfortable raising my prices. I never raised him if I didn't have a lot of interests. But thankfully I feel like I've been really blessed to always have a lot of interest and I just raise it high enough that I don't scare that away. So actually for the last four, maybe four or five years, I've kept a running spreadsheet that I track every single month. How many bookings I have for the following year. So I could tell you this is November, let's say the end of October because I tracked by the last day, so by the end of October in 2018, 17, 16, 15, maybe 14. I know how many weddings, you know, both total contract but also numbers wise how many I had for the next season. And so that has allowed me because I can track it that well if I was low would be like Ooh, like I need to get a couple more to stay current and stay where I'm at.
Perry Vaile: 10:49 And you know, sometimes allow like a six hour wedding to get on the books or just to make sure that I'm sustaining it. And then the same goes if I was way over booking, that is when I'm like, okay, these prices are going up, you know, and I've never dropped him back down so I try to be really smart when I raised them because it's kind of, I don't know, that would be hard to the lesson prices so I just was really intention about how I tracked it. Um, and then I just raised it based on demand for the most part.
Braedon: 11:18 Totally. Yeah. And so I get all that, but just to break it down maybe for people who are listening and going - what does that look like? I guess I'm thinking about a lot of times you get an inquiry, you know, and they're going to say, hey, I like your work. What are your prices? you know, so are you. Because you sort of know what that is. Are you just changing your pricing as you're getting inquiries and sending those out or are you sending it out or how does that work for you?
Perry Vaile: 11:48 You know, honestly I get a lot of inquiries and I know that a lot of them aren't going to have the price point, but I also have a family and I do not have time to individually write up proposals. I know that maybe it's terrible. I just don't, I have a set price point and the only thing that really changes is so I have an online link that I'll send when somebody inquires or planners always have it so I can change it and then the planner will always have that current rate or if somebody inquired two months ago I can change that pricing, you know, because it's live and it's online, but it's basically a link and the only thing that changes is the travel, like a quote, a different travel or something like that. It's basically just all there and I don't have to worry about it.
Perry Vaile: 12:30 So when somebody comes to me and they've already seen my pricing and they want to talk, that's when I really can invest my time and that sort of thing. So, um, it's just really hard honestly to keep up with. And know who can afford, you know, like, cause I mean maybe only five percent of the people that inquire have the ability to pay, you know, the prices. So 95 percent of inquiries not able to pay was really hard to keep up. Yeah. So I just, I don't have that part of my workflow. I wait until they come back and say, well yeah, I got your pass your packet and I want to talk. And I know they've seen the prices so
Braedon: 13:04 got it. But I guess with that though, if you are increasing your prices based on supply and demand, I know you have your links or are you just like as you book a certain amount, then you're like, okay, I'm going to gradually bring it up now. The now the new inquiry that's now the new packet that's going out. Got It.
Perry Vaile: 13:19 Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. For sure. It's really simple. I don't make it complicated. Don't have time.
Braedon: 13:25 That's great. Yeah. Well I make everything in my life complicated.
Perry Vaile: 13:30 It's some wonderful, amazing proposal for every great wedding.
Braedon: 13:33 I try to. I mean, I try to not give out pricing initially because I like, I like to, and I facetime with all my couples because most of them are from all over the country or world, you know, which I'm sure same is with you, but I sort of want the chance to like one chore, like Lay on a little bit of charm. And then also I like to. Because, you know, I feel like that's my biggest selling point is being able to really convey, hey, this is, this is my personality, what I bring to the table. And I mean, you know, I tell brides all the time, I was like, listen, I'm going to be basically your maid of honor. You know, I'm one of the bridesmaids and your maid of honor's can be jealous because like, you know, you'll see me more than you'll see the groom, you know, that sort of stuff. I think it's different being an ECA guy versus a girl and you know, there's pros and cons.
Perry Vaile: 14:18 I think you're so right. And I honestly, I think that is a, you know, a reason for some of my success because I'm like, you, like, I love people I want to talk to, you know, I want to spend time with them, um, and one way that I've found to do that because I think I just personally pick and choose what I'll spend my time on. if I'm struggling and I need some bookings and I'll get, I'll get real up in their face making friends. Um, but I feel like a lot of people thankfully have felt like they know me when they're contacting you because I do spend a lot of time on instagram and instagram stories, you know, sharing who I am and I think that anybody that checks in, you know, they can see any of the highlights and stuff. And that helps maybe to do a little bit of that for me.
Perry Vaile: 14:59 You know, across like anybody who's looking. So I don't have to individualize it. So I think that really has helped me, you know, showing personality, especially on social media. And I do have some videos on my website that are a little bit of, like frequently asked questions, but it's like me talking like I'm talking to you. So I think maybe that helps that out a little bit. And um, and you know, honestly, once, once they kind of passed that litmus test of like they can, they can afford it, you know, I don't, I just feel bad because I hate telling somebody a price when they get so excited and they get to know me and they're like, oh, we love you, let's do it. And then I'm like, Oh, here are the prices. And they're like, oh dear God, like this is not....I just felt bad doing that. But I guess there's certainly a way if you do that a few times, you can get them to change their prices.
Braedon: 15:49 Yeah. And I guess for me, I like to sort of see if this is a couple that I really connect with because what I've found for me is that's what's life giving is when it's a couple of the venue, the, you know, the environment, their friends, that sort of stuff from shooting weddings for so many years. And that's what actually energizes me. So I really want to, like, if this is a couple I want to try to, like, they, if I just sent my prices, I think they might not have had the conversation. So I generally try to have the conversation so I can try to talk them into being like, Hey, actually I think it's, here's why I think you should spend a couple thousand dollars more than your budget is allowing or people are actually putting in money on top of what their parents are committing so that they can have me, you know, those sorts of things.
Perry Vaile: 16:33 Great. I think it definitely helps, you know. I think for awhile I probably, I don't know, I think, you know, at this point in my life, not necessarily my career, I'm at this point in my life, I have two kids and I have a family and I really got really where I want to be. I mean I'm certainly, if I worked harder I could get hired, but I, I put, I put my focus on other things and I think for a while I certainly spent the time. Now I do still sometimes send out voice messages to texts, you know, if I get a great inquiry and I'll just send a text message out with a voice message or even sometimes a video, I'll just sell selfie videos, something just to get like a little slice of personality to them without like a lot of extra backward.
Perry Vaile: 17:13 And sometimes you can get an idea of somebody can afford the price point just by the inquiry, you know, like the location or the plant or things like that, you know. Um, but, you know, I'm going to be honest because I think maybe I do it differently than you and that I honestly show up to wedding days. It's not uncommon to show up and I don't know what they look like. I don't know anything about them. I've never had a conversation with them and that used to terrify me, but I've had so many amazing experiences where I just am able to get them to open up immediately. And um, and so it's, it's not uncommon. Like I do that fairly often, you know? now I have some clients that they just have that desire to connect and I'm all about it. Like I have some clients that we text all the time.
Perry Vaile: 18:03 We're messaging like, I mean honestly, I haven't clients after the fact we go, we've been on rafting trips, we've been on vacations together. So I definitely connect if they want it, you know, but I have a lot of times, you know, planners will come to me cold asking for a date and I say, yeah, I'm available. And they say, great client. Once you send the contract. And I never communicate with the client now I know, I know. Ideally I want to be friends, but I guess I don't have to. And at this point in my life I'm kind of like, I'm okay because, you know, it's a lot of time and that you do and I want to do it if they want it. But I definitely have some clients that are amazing and warm and pay well and are okay not knowing any more than that, which is kind of a double edge sword because I have the other clients who need to know everything about me and my family and stuff. But I like it. I think it balances well.
Braedon: 19:00 And then, so can you talk about just having a family and how that's changed things and being a mom and how I'd love to even hear how it works with your husband and because I know he's a stay at home dad and
Perry Vaile: 19:15 he always used to joke in the early days, you know, when I was making my big $500 wedding checks, he always used to joke that someday he was going to be a 'kept man' and that he was, I mean, it was just a long running thing. We'd always teased because even when I met him when I was 19, he was an older man. He was six years older, but at 19 that's a big difference. Um, and so he always joked, you know, but he was the one making the money at the time. He was the one having a full time job and I was in school. Um, and it's funny because somewhere along the line the universe just flipped us, you know. And um, I was pregnant with my first daughter and he worked, he didn't do a ton because I started to make good money, which is always awkward to say, but I make great money, and so I was like, what's the point of having paying somebody to watch the kids?
Perry Vaile: 20:00 So it was a funny situation to be the one that I'm like, okay, well I'll travel and I'll make the money and you stay home with the kids. Like it just felt weird, right? Because it's not a typical dad thing, but he's a great husband and he's, he's cool with that. So that's good. Um, but yeah, it was an interesting transition and even now I'm so used to the fact that he's a stay at home dad and he does the grocery shopping and he does the tasks for the house and takes care of the kids and takes one to preschool and he does all of that stuff. And I'm the one in the office, like, could you bring me this? You know, like, I literally did that before we started the pocast, you know, and it's, it works so great for us.
Perry Vail: 20:41 I think it's an interesting thing. It's hard sometimes to be a mom or you know, feel like I'm one that's supposed to be the parent, the main caregiver and the lover and the snuggler of all the kids. And I'm like, Mommy's working. Mama's got a job to do. So, I think having a family, having a husband is wonderful, but it is a different experience than having a family. A spouse is different than children but a lot, we know this and I think having kids, I, I had a point where I had to decide, how much do I want to dedicate to time with the family and how, what do I want to give up in terms of success to do this? And I think everybody has a different answer for that, but for me, I was like, they're only little for this really brief time.
Perry Vaile: 21:27 I'm not going to have that many two kids and we're done. So I was like, I just, you know, I'm where I'm at and where I need to be. I have a great career. My husband's staying at home, I'm just gonna I'm going to allow this to, to relax a little bit and I'm going to take a little bit of pressure off of business and work in terms of overworking or doing a ton of stuff just so that I can have time to really focus on these years. Now those kids are in school and I'm going to turn this thing back into overdrive, but to me, that's where I put my values at this stage of my life. And I'm really grateful because I'm able to do that and able to make the decision to say, you know what, I'm taking a lot of weddings. I want to take one or two less this year. I want to take a couple of last because I don't want to be traveling so much, which I do. But it's, it's an everyday balance. Sometimes I suck at balance, you know?
Braedon: 22:19 Yeah, I think that's such an interesting and difficult topic because I think there's a lot of misconstrued ideas of what that should be and I mean there's, there's so much just even looking at your marriage and you're working in that, it's like there's a lot of role reversals or, or there's a lot like I live in southern California where cost of living is ridiculous, you know, and so a lot of our, I have a lot of friends in the wedding industry, a lot of wedding, the wives or wedding planners and florists, and the husbands are there also, it's like the double jobs and so there's, there's all of these situations where it's like who should be doing what and there's almost an expectation for everybody to be doing everything and it's really, it's not possible to do everything really well.
Braedon: 23:07 And so I think what happens, there's so many internal battles that happen of feeling like I should be doing this, but I'm doing that or I should be doing that and I should be doing, you know. I have two questions based on that. One would be for your husband, just socially, culturally, does he, how does he feel about being stayed home Dad? Does. I mean I understand like you can look at it ideally be like, oh this is awesome, but socially does he like how does he going out and being like, oh yeah, you know, I'm a stay at home dad, my wife is the breadwinner. Like that's, that's one question. And then the other one would be how is the mental challenge for you of making those decisions around like family and life and balance all the answers to those questions. Come on, bring it
Perry Vaile: 23:55 First and foremost. I think being a stay at home dad is a role reversal because it, it's like the original feminine tasks of cooking every night. Like I had to cook once this week because my husband went out to do something but she doesn't do often. And I was like, how do you do this, like I felt like the quintessential bachelor, because I haven't been doing it. So I think honestly a big part has to do with who he is as a person because I'm sure there's a lot of different dads that would have handled that differently. Um, but he's, he's a great guy. One of the reasons I actually met him on facebook because I did a search on facebook for my perfect man back when it was for the universities and I did a search and I chose a major.
Perry Vaile: 24:35 I was just thinking of like a hypothetical man and I chose a major for a guy I thought would be kind, which was I think it was like family and consumer services. I was like, I mean, a guy that's going to focus on families, it's got to be a good guy, you know? and so I had searched him on facebook and I found them he was handsome and I was like, you know, when after him the way I do things and so, you know, he is that kind of guy. He started working and family services and he works with people with disabilities before he quit his job, you know, um, and so I think that he is naturally inclined to being good at those tasks. But socially for them, I don't think he likes certain parts of it because, you know, we moved into our neighborhood and we're talking to new neighbors and they don't look at me, they're looking at him and they're like, so what do you do?
Perry Vaile: 25:17 And it was just such a reminder because all talking to him, like, you know, I was a housewife, you know, and it was such a reminder of the fact, like all our friends, this is how we live our life. But I was like, Oh man, that's right. This is different, you know, especially where you live versus a little more. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. I'm in the deep south out here. We're in rural North Carolina. Like, it's not that common. And so I think that, you know, some days I think there's no overarching answer that because some days he is like, I hit the lottery. Like I'm seeing home with my kids. He's got hobbies, like he's living the life that I'd tell him he's on vacation, but he's got to watch kids. So let's be careful. This is not vacation, right.
Perry Vaile: 26:00 Kill me if I had described it that way he won't watch it. It's not because I spend plenty of time with them too. But I mean, you know, there's so much free time that he does get per step and I think he's very, he loves that because we both, we both had careers where we were given all of our time, nine to five to another person and you know, and doing other difficult tasks and having the kind of freedom that it least setting your own schedule gives you. He loves to work out. He's very into triathlons and stuff. So he has a lot of freedom for that. But then there are certainly are days where I'm like, 'bye', I'm going to go to a party and it's work and thanks for watching the kids. And I don't think he likes that, you know?
Perry Vaile: 26:41 and it's a constant kind of balance. He'll try to go out to movies with friends I think just purposely to add something of his own to go do. So we're always trying to do things. I do try to bring them on trips so that it's not just that I'm living a glamorous life, you know, like, um, he chose it. He actually was my second shooter for years and years before children. So he gets to choose the weddings he wants to second shoot on, which is always like Hawaii and like, you know, like he's always like, those are the ones that I want to come to. And so it's great because, we have somebody like grandmas to watch the kids and he'll travel with me and shoot a little bit, but he always does shoot those weddings and he's like, oh, that's right. This isn't all fun. And Games like this is hard work, you know, so I think it's always a balance. Some days he hates it, some days he thinks it's the best thing in the world. Um, it's just different and honestly he's comfortable in his masculinity. I mean, I think that helps. Having to manage babies and little girls especially. You may just do little girls with Tutus and stuff. Um, and I just think that he's a great person for that. So it works out well.
Braedon: 27:48 And then what about for you with the balance of being a mom and then also working - obviously sounds like you love it, but do you have the internal battles and struggles and feeling like you're not, you know, it's like feeling like you're not there enough and you should be. And then how do you, It sounds like you're also very intentional, so how have you structured that? So you're okay with it?
Perry Vaile: 28:12 Yeah, you know, I think that it is really hard, especially in. I always come back to that some days when I'm super stressed out, but he stressed out with children things, you know, like the kids are sick and I'm like, but I have this issue, you know, with work or something. And I'm like, but Oh, you know, you're not making, you don't have to worry about signing a contract or something. This is a different kind of weight, you know, because I feel a lot of times like I have the family wait because I'm the mother and I'm the, you know, like we can be on this phone call right now and I very well could have a three year old running here because she fell and hit her head. You know, like I don't get off from the family because my office is in my home too.
Perry Vaile: 28:47 So I'm like Gosh, I have both of these things that I am having to be what feels like a hundred percent responsible for it. Because you know, fathers are great and fathers are amazing and have their own role. But there is a spot for a mother. That little girls especially like feeling always need at very inopportune times, you know, so, um, it's stressful, you know, but I, I have the perspective at least and you know, coming from a background where we didn't have a lot of money, I didn't have any privilege really other than smart parents, you know, I will say they were intelligent. But beyond that, like I see now I'm really grateful I think for, for the stress of having a lot of business, you know, so I never really tried it. I'm never like, oh, this sucks, you know, these clients are tiring or have so much work to do because I'm like, God, how fricking lucky that I have this problem, you know?
Perry Vaile: 29:36 So I think, I think having perspective really helps mentally balanced the stress of me having to manage everything financially. Um, I like to save, you know, so I, I have a savings account and I just have goals that I want to meet for that, which I think helps my stress go down. So that way if the Israeli stressful financially, but I'm like, oh, that's okay. I have a savings account. Like that's what it's for, is to relieve some of this stress, you know, and then I pull out for something like that. So that helps me a lot. Um, and then what was the, what was the follow up? What was the second part of that? Do you remember it?
Braedon: 30:09 Yeah, I think it was just more that, that mental game of how you, how you go. It was more because you're intentional, like how do you structure the, your sort of work life balance because obviously working out of the house too, it's easy to constantly be working and it's easy to not turn off and then it's also hard to separate with your family knowing that it's work time versus like present time.
Perry Vaile: 30:31 Yeah, for sure. And I think, you know, especially in the busy season, I travel every weekend which means I leave on Fridays, sometimes Thursdays depending on how far away it is or something. And I don't get home until Sunday but I've been working and my husband I get home and he's like, oh, you're, you know, your health with the babies. And I'm like oh no, but it's Monday. And so I have to get back in, um, and so I think like, we all know that Mondays here at home in my office, those are work days. I don't really try to schedule anything because I really, when I have to get back in from traveling, I have to catch back up on stuff. So Mondays are a way that I separate that's like usually protected. Um, but honestly I tried for awhile to have certain hours, you know, like it's like, oh, I'm going to have hours and I respect people that can keep ours, but I just don't because sometimes I'm bored and I want to work at 11:00 PM, you know, or there's nothing good on Netflix.
Perry Vaile: 31:22 And I'm like, oh, I might as well edit it, you know, so I don't have hourly boundaries at all. I think I just have like personal lines with how much time I want to spend with my kids and you know, and that sort of thing. So I think I just mentally, everyday try to readjust. You know, some days I'm feeling extra guilty and I'm like, you know what? Like I just blow off work for the day, you know, not a never a wedding. We're talking like office work, you know, um, and I, I take my kid out and we go do something fun or we take trips and stuff like that. So I think it's always just a constant check in and I try not to beat myself up because there are some times of the year where I'm a frigging awesome mom, like we're doing so much bone graft, you know, like, so. And then I'm a really awesome business owner and I, I think there are some weeks where I'm just a business owner and I'm trying to be mom as much as I can in the evenings before they go down to sleep or something. And I just try to give myself some grace to know that in the long run that's going to balance out. But there's no, there's no schedule there. My answer is I have no schedule. I just overarching on the macro sense, I try to make it work out. So
Braedon: 32:29 yeah. And I think that is really. It sounds like your husband is okay with that. And He is good with that, you know, so I, that is amazing because that can be the situation where, you know, you're feeling torn and that's the other person feels like you're working too much and you never turn off. And I'm speaking from my own experience
Perry Vaile: 32:51 for sure. Yeah. I think um, and there's definitely times where he'll check me, you know, I say I check myself, but there's definitely times where he's like, yeah, so you're wrong about how you're balancing that, you know, or something like that. Um, you know, my husband always tries to get it. He likes his, like outlet is like a workout every day when the girls nap. So, I mean I think you have to listen to your spouse or your partner if you are managing a family to listen to where they're at mentally too, because you might be in two different places. Like I might think I'm doing awesome. And he's like, yeah, no, this is stressful. You need to help out for this day or you know, or something like that. So I think listening and, and that's the beauty of these jobs is that we really do have the ability to change things up if we need to, which is like mind blowingly cool, right.
Perry Vaile: 33:38 Because like if you're working a nine to five and your husband or your spouse is like, yeah, you don't work as much or like, well, sorry, it's a nine to five, you know. So I think um, you know, we just try to balance it in and he, thankfully we've been together long enough, especially through weddings that he gets. It's like an accountant's busy season. Like he knows, like right now I shot six weddings and seven portraits in the last month. So between like October eighth in today, I shot six weddings and six months. So it's crazy right now, but you know, he's given a little bit of grace there too. So
Braedon: 34:11 yeah, it's, I, I, I think that there's a lot of conversation. Why, why I'm asking the question is there's a lot of conversation just in general about balance and everyone's seeking balance. And I, I've come, I think I came out of a place maybe like three years ago where I was like crashing because I, I was so mentally trying to be balanced, you know, and it's, and it's not. And the realization that I've come to us in true balance isn't actually possible. And the trick really in a lot of it, which it sounds like you're good at is intentionality and, and communication and building structure. I mean, when you're single, if I was single, I would be working all day long and I, you know, I have a lot of projects going on and I would have even more and I'd probably be traveling more, but with the family and with the kids wanting to be a good dad, wanting to be, you know, I, my wife doesn't work, she's a stay at home mom.
Braedon: 35:08 We're more of that typical role. Um, but you know, it's a lot of weight to be supporting the whole family, which, you know, but then also like wanting to be a good dad, wanting to be showing up, wanting to make sure that she's not exhausted. Yeah. So it's, but, but feeling like you can do all of that, well at the same time doesn't work, but it's more so being 100 percent where you are when you're there versus like being here and being regretting that you're not there versus, you know, and then when you're, you're 100 percent working when you were with the kids, you're 100 percent with the kids, you put your phone away and you're present, you know. So those are the things that I've had to learn and then also give myself grace
Perry Vaile: 35:45 with that. Absolutely. And I think that, you know, my family was so I guess I always wanted a family, but I didn't know how it would, how much I would enjoy it, you know, and I think, and maybe I caught onto that really quickly because it changes when you're the one carrying the babies, you know, your brain, the good Lord changes your brain to really make you focus on those things. You know, thankfully I never survive adolescence, you know, but um, you know, I think it's something that I realized quickly once I had children that I was going to change because I think before I had them I was like, no, I'm a bad ass. Like I don't need, I don't need them. I can't even balance, you know, like I'll, I'll make everybody happy. Um, and I, I mean for me because I was pregnant and like I said, I do think it probably changes the mother's brain chemistry faster than it does the father's, um, you know, I knew that, that my priorities would change and everybody actually said that to me.
Perry Vaile: 36:41 I remember being kind of annoyed as a, as a really good, I'm a big go getter, kind of a person that so many people would say like, oh, but your priorities are going to change. And I remember thinking, you know what you say that, like that's a bad thing. But I was a workaholic. I was obsessive. I mean like to a detriment, you know, like it was just a very kind of like, um, addictive personality I think. And I was like, you know, if something is so powerful that it can come in and, and change my mindset that work is not the end all be all and I don't need to focus on that. Please let it because I could feel that I had this addiction to work and I was so focused and hyper hyper just tuned in to what I could do to improve my business, you know, to an obsessive level.
Perry Vaile: 37:26 But they were right clearly. And I was. So I was like, I really hope that kids will do that. But I wasn't in the mindset before I had him that they would, you know. And so when I had children and they do change it, I'm like, oh, like this is what I need it. Like just for my own personality, you know, I don't need to be more sharpened and more focused on work because I'm just naturally really aggressive in that way. I needed something to straighten me out personally, you know? And, and that, to me, that's what family really and especially children has done is it's kind of just brought me down to a normal socially acceptable level of work, um, and it helped me to kind of reevaluate and think it will be forever, you know, I think certainly when my kids are in school that I'll probably have a tendency to like crank back up, you know, um, but I'm okay with that.
Perry Vaile: 38:12 And so I'm really happy about the Phase I'm in. I'm trying to enjoy it. Um, and, and I think so far I'm doing a good job at it, but I think that's because my level of valuation is probably very low, you know, they're alive. They know I love them for all our houses going, you know, we have our house paid for it, you know. So like I think that um, I think just having the perspective on, on, on how lucky we are to have every situation that we're speaking about, you know, really helps it to not be, you know, too unbalanced for most part.
Braedon: 38:44 Do you limit the amount of weddings that you shoot and do you have a number that you try to stick to?
Perry Vaile: 38:49 You know, I think no I did 27 this year, which is stupid. I always say that I would really love to be between 18 and 20. I feel like that's just like the sweet spot and maybe not financially because I always want more money, but in terms of like I want to work a lot. I don't want to do a couple weddings here. I want to do, I want to work a lot because I like it. I think you and I are similar in that way. so I think I start really evaluating the weddings after about 22 and trying to say like, oh this is a nice one. Because I do take last minute weddings a lot, you know, like this is a nice last minute wedding to get some income and we're going to go on a trip, you know, something like that. And so, and I do, I take them on for that reason and it was always after 22, I will say it's a little bit more of a family discussion on like, Hey, like do I got time to do the extra, what could we use this money for? Where could it go, you know, so it's a little bit more intentional after that point.
Braedon: 39:43 Is it more like squeeze in another one in October or is it like the one in November, you know, or something
Perry Vaile: 39:49 like my husband, if it's like off season or just like do it, like who cares, you know, I mean I have a wedding every month. I don't think I have one in February, but I have a wedding every month for like the foreseeable future. Like they're just spread out, which I love. Um, but yeah, I mean I always take them at their off season or off days or week days. I'm always, I'm always hustling, you know, to get those extra weddings in versus portraits. I try not to take portraits.
Braedon: 40:15 What. So what, what does hustle look like for you? Like, how do you feel like you're getting your work? Is it, it sounds like initially it all just sort of came to you, but do you feel like you're hustling to still get work or is it just sorta coming in or what? I think
Perry Vaile: 40:27 I, I think it's kind of like tending the garden, you know, like sometimes you get out there and you're days this happened so quick and easy. But if you really thought about the work that went into it, you know, uh, you know, so I, I really constantly in fostering connections with um, you know, with planners, with vendors, um, I love to share my imagery with vendors, which I think a lot of times then they're sharing it and so then it's just, you know, a lot of people are seeing it on social media and stuff like that. So, you know, when I get down to over 25 or something, honestly I will give discounts if somebody is like, he might weddings in six or eight weeks and I'm like, what's your budget? Like I can do that. Yeah, I mean it's astounding. I don't do a lot of them, but I certainly think maybe two to three to two or three year where they are getting crazy deals, you know, like because I am, I'm just like, Hey, like this is where we want to get a little bit more money.
Perry Vaile: 41:18 So I do hustle, you know, I get the bulk of my weddings and very last minute, you know, within I do get weddings, like within two months out or something like that. I'll give great deals for that, you know, and to me that's, that's how I hustle is I feel like I do have a really steady stream of inquiries and it's up me to decide what price point I want to accept those inquiries. So I'm not having to necessarily hustle for people to be interested, but I'm hustling to convince them to raise their price point or to, you know, get somebody. I had people change dates a lot. I always feel like that's part of the like conversation. I'm like, Oh, I'm not available, but if you'd move it to the next day I will give you a friggin amazing deal because, you know, I know I'm like in a city and I can do double headers or something like that.
Perry Vaile: 42:00 So to me I think it's always knowing where I'm at financially and being really um, you know, not afraid to address topics of price with clients. Like I can talk about anything. I don't phone calls, don't scare me with clients. I will talk budget all day, you know. Um, and I think to telling clients like, you know, hey, this is just being open about my price point, but especially when I'm giving those last minute deals, you know, being open about pricing and not being like. So, you know, just let me know if it works. I'm like, so what, what is your budget? And then I don't necessarily, I will say this, the way that I do those, like I guess the last two or three I add onto a year that our last minute or something, I don't necessarily give them a price, you know, of what I'm going to offer.
Perry Vaile: 42:46 I will say, what is your price point? And, and they could say something crazy low and I'll be like, I could give you two hours, you know, like, so I don't give them a price. I ask what their budget is because I want them to be honest, you know, I don't want them to ever try to undercut. And then sometimes I'll be like, well, I mean I could give you a couple of hours, you know, or something like that. And then sometimes they'll actually increase because I think a lot of times they undercut those anyways. They've hit you. Those parents are giving them a budget and they just have no idea. They're just pulling numbers out of the hat because it sounds like a lot of money for sure. Yeah. So, so I think not being afraid to really aggressively go after those with enthusiasm and, and you know, sometimes I think I do open up the conversation, um, because I like to think that my personality is a selling point to, you know, my images.
Perry Vaile: 43:35 I think pull them in the door and get them really interested in me. And then I like to sell them on me as a person and sometimes selling them on me as a person is giving them a comparison of what the alternatives are, you know. And so I'll say, you know, please go out there. I will tell my clients I'm like, please go ask for five galleries from any photographer you're considering. And I'm sure other photographers hate me for that. Like, you know, but they should be able to do, you know, I give five galleries as soon as somebody is, is really interested in. I mean I can give them 10 for 20, you know, and I always almost to like, it's like I'm playing a poker game with the other photographer that they're considering, you know, and I'm like, Hey, like, I mean I feel like I've got the skill, I'm going to show them all my cards and I'll tell him you need to know the experience, you know, I'll tell them to go after an ass things. And I. So I think maybe putting a little bit of that idea into the client's head about what they're considering. And not just saying your pictures are pretty, but like, so were the other person's in, they're half the price, you know? I saw myself, but I also sell the what if on if they didn't choose me,
Braedon: 44:40 you know, and there's something to say that people don't understand the experience, you know, and there's a lot of like the instagram world where people have a lot of followers, but it's really easy to post one good photo versus being able to consistently shoot at this sort of level. But then also like your photographer runs your day, you know. So there's that element of, you know, being able to bring that expertise which only comes from experience and you know, personality too.
Perry Vaile: 45:06 Yeah, right. I know we can just talk about how great we are. Um, yeah, you know, I think that's true. And I definitely try to use it as a weapon in my arsenal of getting clients over to me and stuff. And I'll always be like, you know, well, whoever you choose, just make sure you love 'em and you know, like, I'll definitely put it in their heads, but they're like, oh, that's right. And just kind of opening them up, opening them up to that, the idea that there's more than just the photos, you know, and like that's one of the reasons I send all the galleries because, you know, I truly am certain this as a narcissistic tendency, but I, I truly think that my galleries are just as beautiful as my instagram and my website. I'm will met sometimes. I'm like, oh, there's so many pretty things that nobody ever gets to see, you know, because I just don't have time. Um, and I, and I think maybe having that confidence in my work that's not visible, I think maybe just even the confidence that that gives helps clients to, to get that it's worth the investment or something like that. You know? So.
Braedon: 46:06 Absolutely. And so shifting gears just a little bit and then I won't take too much more of your time. Brandon and you, I know you're, you've got a great brand. And um, can you talk about how that plays into it? And. Yeah,
Perry Vaile: 46:20 I think I've always loved branding so I've always done my own websites, my own brands, like I've never had anybody else do it because I was probably a little bit too type A, like even when somebody would do something, like I don't like it, I could do that or you know. Um, so I've always loved branding in that way and I always looked at it like, you know, there was a point in my photography career when I was first starting and I was like, who am I as a photographer, you know, the big philosophical like am I moody? And I light. And at that point, you know, I don't even when I. So I started shooting, I didn't do weddings, do thousand 12, but I was shooting in like 2009, like portrait, you know, little things. But I really didn't know. I had to figure it out.
Perry Vaile: 46:58 And I started realizing what I was drawn to and what I was shooting most was, you know, certainly more of an editorial. I tried the doc, the super documentary, you know, like leave the coke can and the Bra and the table and shoot it and I just couldn't handle it, you know, and to me that extends to my rant, you know, so to me I said okay, well if I want to shoot in a way that I can continue to do and sustain it, even if I do love other people's work that is totally different from mine and I think they're phenomenal, I just can't do it and sustain it. And so I looked branding the same way, you know, there are some brands, you know, especially like the lighter in the, like the super airy and light delicate and minimal. And I'm like, oh my God, it's so pretty.
Perry Vaile: 47:41 But then I'm like, I cannot do that, you know, like, I love vibrant and I love bold and extra, you know, like if my instagram handle could just be extra, I would have chosen it. So I think that finding the kind of client that I could serve best, even if it wasn't the one that I would have liked, said, oh, this is the one that is the coolest or the prettiest. I've really fallen in love with the client that I think values, you know, color and vibrancy. And um, and, and once I said, you know, I want clients, I like what I like because that's really all I can make. Um, I've started finding clients that were a little bit more eclectic or Redo different things and that's, that's really where I would, you know, get excited, you know, you spoke earlier to like meeting them and finding that connection is really what made your heart sing.
Perry Vaile: 48:37 And I think really finding interesting people and interesting situations and stories. Like you don't even know half the stories because I'm not going to share everybody's like family story on my instagram. But I just really love that. And I think that the brand that I've set up, which is for me personally because it's how I am, is colorful and competent and vibrant. I really try to speak to that, that woman's specifically because I am very female centric in my branding ivy, but guys seem to like it to. But I really try to speak to the woman that would see me and say, man, I wish I could be that girl's friend. And I think, you know, at least in terms of stylistically and personality wise, being really open to the kind of clients that some people don't even want. So I say that because I really love type a clients and I mean I wish I could have on my website for type a people, you know, because I feel like there's a missing.
Perry Vaile: 49:28 There's a gap out there where a lot of photographers are like, Ooh, red flags, you know, these clients are very specific about what they want. They're very like giving you like specific specifications of what they expect. And I'm like, look, I'm so type A, I know how to speak their language, you know? And so trying to brand myself towards clients that expect a lot, um, and I'm okay with that and I'm like, look, you expect a lot. I'm the girl for you. Like, I get you, you know, like I have girls sometimes and they're like, "I just don't want to fat arms", I don't want to fat arms. And instead of being like, Ugh, she's gonna be a mess to photograph. I'm like, oh girl, no me either, like I know how to help you, you know? So I think finding a way to find clients that I would genuinely enjoy being around has really helped me and using branding and, and not just, you know, the stylistic branding, which I think it is really similar to my personality.
Perry Vaile: 50:18 A lot of people say my website looks like my personality, which I like. But I think just people that temperament wise, you know, like we work well together even if it's not stylistically has been such an amazing thing because I love it. You know, I just love watching their story. Even if a client's not going to bring me into their story personally, because sometimes like I said, I have clients I don't know, you know, I'm like, it's so great to meet you and we become friends, but I don't know anything about them and I don't talk to him after, I really love watching them as an outsider and being able to be that close to them, you know, these amazing, intriguing people. Um, that's what I like. Even if they're not going to be my best friend, I'm just like the little girl, frat row. Like, this is really cool. You're really cool, you know? So that's what I love and I feel really grateful that I've gotten a lot of that and so I just continue to kind of go towards that direction because I think I'm really good at surpassing those kinds of people's expectations and that's good business because they refer to this other cool friends that have high expectations. So yeah.
Braedon: 51:23 Well I love that. Thanks so much for sharing everything. I know you're speaking somewhere coming up. Can you talk about that? And we have people want to come see you and then where can people find your work and all that jazz?
Perry Vaile: 51:35 It's going to be next May. I know they haven't, they're going to release a little bit more information this week, but so next day in Asheville, I'm a speaking at the Hybrid Co conference, which I'm really excited about, because I do love talking. So, um, I'm really excited about that and I know they're going to announce a little bit more later this week, so they're going to have all the information there. But any chance I can get, I really try to find a place to, to speak up in chat because, you know, for so long I worked with Gary, Sweet Gary, you know, and it was just us. And I really feel like the community of photographers and stuff, like there are coworkers now and we kind of had this big world of it and I really just loved kind of broadening my base of basically friends. So that's what I'm really doing is making friends in Nashville with. I would go to them,
Braedon: 52:20 love that. Well, if you're interested in learning about film and Shooting Photography and mixing in digital as well, that's what the Hybrid co does. Check that out. And then your instagram and websites. Just @PerryVaile.
Perry Vaile: 52:32 Yeah, it's all Perry Vaile. I tried to make it real simple. Easy to follow.
Braedon: 52:37 Thanks so much for just sharing your time, your knowledge, and you are an awesome person.
Perry Vaile: 52:42 Keep at it. Thank you. I had so much fun, so I appreciate it.
Braedon: 52:45 Cool. Thanks.
Hope you loved it!