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SmugMug Success Stories: Andi Grant Photography

The Romantic: A Wedding Pro’s Love Affair With “Events”


Name: Andi Grant
Position/Title: Owner
Name of Company: Andi Grant Photography
Location: Hampton Roads, VA
Market: Weddings, Engagements, Bridals, Boudoir
Bragworthy Factoid: Broke $100,000 in sales her first year as a pro
Website: andigrantphotography.com
SmugMugger since: 2007

Career Highlights…

  • Quitting her day job at 911 to do photography full-time
  • Shooting her first destination wedding (did three last year!)

Fave Features…

From alarms to ardor

Grant was raised in a photo-friendly household, often hanging out in her father’s dark room in their Long Island home. But she never thought she would make her living shooting real-life love stories. During her first career as a 911 dispatcher, she bought her first DSLR. “I was the one at church taking all the family pictures,” she says. “Even when all I had was a point-and-shoot they’d ask, because I always had a good eye. But my business escalated with better equipment.” She apprenticed to a local pro, eventually shooting six weddings under her mentor’s tutelage. A mere year later, she left her emergency job to pursue photography full-time. People told Grant she was crazy to quit her government job during the worst of the economic downturn. She took a chance anyway, initially accepting any work she could find—weddings, engagements, but also corporate gigs. “I started my business during the worst possible time,” she says. “But it didn’t matter because I still had my clients. People were still getting married.”

Happy wife, happy life

SmugMug’s focus on customer care frees up Grant to do what she does best—keep brides happy. “I can only think of two or three instances where clients had issues with images,” she says, explaining a smudge that wasn’t and a so-so color-to-B/W conversion early in her career. “SmugMug emailed me immediately. They were so quick to react. They even offered to help with the unedited file, which I thought was amazing. At first the lack of a phone number was frustrating, but only once did someone have to call me—and the [hero] called me from his house!” Grant appreciates that SmugMug’s attention to detail matches her own. “I’m a perfectionist. Details are everything,” she insists. SmugMug’s proof delay feature helps Grant maintain her high standards. “I love proof delay because I do very little editing to my proofing galleries — none for boudoir,” she says. “So when a client orders an image I then have the opportunity to make sure it’s perfect. I especially like to be sure their cropping is correct.”

Powering her through events

Calling SmugMug’s Events feature “a dream come true,” Grant explains that she uses the tool in a number of ways to streamline her business. “Before, after my brides chose their favorite images, I’d have to go in manually and download each file. That was such a pain. Now I go into an event, download all and the client has a separate folder to work with for her event.” Grant uses the separate gallery function for all types of events, from weddings to engagements to boudoir sessions. “It’s especially convenient to build the gallery before the wedding to have the link,” she points out. “You can get the link from the event guest gallery, go over to Moo cards, [get] QR codes business cards, and make it super high-tech for your clients’ guests to link to the gallery.” Grant suggests having URL cards available for smartphone-less guests, and saving assets like extra engagement photos to hand out at weddings as stealth promotional material. “It’s a great way to get more people seeing your images.” She also suggests that colleagues who use email marketing take advantage of event-linked mandatory guest login to send newsletters and coupons.

More features to love

SmugMug archiving is Grant’s saving grace. Citing an example of a bride who emailed Grant the night before her second anniversary with a fatal computer crash in which she lost all her wedding images, Grant explains that she was able to resurrect the bride’s memories in a mere five minutes. “Most photographers would need to dig up the external hard drive and burn them a new disk. Instead, I went into her galleries, used the Download All feature and emailed her the link to her four galleries zipped into an easy-to-open file. I have a deep sense of security knowing my images are nicely organized and stored,” she says. The self-proclaimed perfectionist is also grateful for the seamless design integration between her site and SmugMug’s ordering, sharing and back-up functions. “SmugMug has done a great job over the years making customization very easy,” she says, expressing pleasure that her own storefront and SmugMug site match exactly. “I’m thankful to have my cute look on SmugMug and it was super affordable.”

It’s a family affair

Admirers have called Grant’s work “traditional,” a label that used to amuse her until she began to grasp the implicit compliment. “It’s interesting because I don’t come from a classical photography background,” she says. “Now I want to be considered timeless. My images are very clear—sharp, well-exposed images that are not over-manipulated. Very organic. People see that and like it. So many wedding photos are worked over to give them that contemporary vibe, but that can take away from the image itself.” Grant is assisted at shoots by her daughter Zoe, a photographer in her own right building a specialty in pets. “It’s wonderful having someone who knows everything I want and need. She’s amazing to work with and she’s my comic relief. When I shoot a wide angle, she gets in nice and close, so we have different images of the same thing.”

Want to read more SmugMug Success Stories? Look here!

  1. June 6, 2012 at 10:26 am

    $100,000 in sales in her first year. Hats off!

    • June 6, 2012 at 10:45 am

      that’s ridiculous. i totally do not believe this article. especially the amount made in first year. who buys images with yellow tint to it? if this is what hampton roads invests in then we need to move and do so fast. either that or people don’t know what it is to have amazing pictures to keep for the rest of their lives.

      • June 6, 2012 at 11:01 am

        I thought about that too, then believed the possibilities after I looked at the website and saw the rates charged for wedding shoots. Maybe that’s where some of the figure comes from. Then families and friends order copies of prints to top it up.

      • Khristina
        June 6, 2012 at 11:04 am

        You need to take the time to actually check out Andi’s work. She has her own editing style as many of us do. But the proof is in the pudding – Andi is awesome and her clients love her and come back again and again – and they refer to her. She’s doing something right! I say – MORE POWER TO YOU ANDI!

      • JLB
        June 6, 2012 at 3:29 pm

        Dude, you’re crazy, or (more likely) a jealous troll. Andi’s work is awesome. The yellow tint— it’s like you looked at an Ansel Adams and wondered why anyone would buy images with so much black and white— such an immature criticism. But let’s consider the “yellow tint.” I think you’re talking about the softness and natural light that she incorporates into many of her photos– that makes people look good (important to clients on wedding days). Andi is a smart businesswoman to make her clients look good– which is part of why she’s featured here as a success. You remind me of my Granddad, who couldn’t believe that anyone would pay a hairdresser $100 to get “blond streaks” on her head. SO out of touch. Oh, and I’m just an acquaintance of Andi’s. I’m not rushing to her defense for personal reasons, even though I like her. I just respect her work.

      • March 10, 2013 at 7:06 pm

        Totally possible. I finally left my day job last May, and grossed almost $90k last year… referring away a lot of possible revenue from genres I don’t want to shoot. GROSS is always the key word though :)

      • Laura
        March 10, 2013 at 7:20 pm

        Wow. How horrible to be so cruel. I would hate for your work to be criticized the way you are criticizing this photographer. Could this perhaps be a case of the green eyed monster coming out?

    • HMR
      June 6, 2012 at 11:15 am

      Curious by what you mean with the yellow tint? Are you talking about the classic creamy look? If so, TONS of people buy that! It’s quite the trend right now. Clearly you’re not a photographer, or at least a creative one.

  2. HMR
    June 6, 2012 at 11:15 am

    Curious by what you mean with the yellow tint? Are you talking about the classic creamy look? If so, TONS of people buy that! It’s quite the trend right now. Clearly you’re not a photographer, or at least a creative one.

  3. Barbara Reger
    June 6, 2012 at 11:24 am

    I would like to reply to the negative comment left for Andi grant she has been my friend for 20 years I think she is absolutely an amazing photographer the amount of money she makes is absolutely true she does at least 20 weddings in the summer and is booked up years in advance so I don’t know what photos you’re looking at because everything I see that she does is absolutely amazing oh and I like to add that her 16-year-old daughter it’s probably making more money than you because she’s amazing as well!!!

    • Barbara Reger
      June 6, 2012 at 6:35 pm

      OMG zoe I know you’re going to be 18 next week sorry about that Love it juicy fruit!!!

  4. KB
    June 6, 2012 at 11:29 am

    Amazing! Love your look :)

  5. J.D. Nehring
    June 6, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Andi Grant is an amazing photographer. She has a keen eye and always gets the perfect shot. I believe her photos speak for themselves – stunning!

  6. Luke Barton
    June 6, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    Here is a fact.. you don’t become a full time anything without being good at it, and having good business ethics and good business sense. As a start up DJ business owner, i know the rigors of making business happen… NOTICE, 100,000 in sales… NOT 100,000 in profit.. It costs ALOT of money in equipment, insurance, living expenses, self employment tax etc… to run your own business. So before you focus on a small detail like ‘yellow tint’ and make a wildly inappropriate criticism about her work, consider all the things its taken her to get here and show a lil respect. You would want the same if the roles were reversed.. Plus, it is incredibly easy to be a critic from the safety of a computer desk.. Dare you say something like that to your friends faces? much less a stranger?

    Kudos to you Andi, for being a pioneer in an economically untamed time.. You rock, and serve as inspiration and model to those aspiring to do the same!

  7. Rhonda forbes
    June 7, 2012 at 5:04 am

    Andi, keep up the great work!! You have proved to have followed your dream and shows in your success. I was fortunate to have worked with you at 911. May God keep blessing you and your family

  8. June 7, 2012 at 6:43 am

    For anyone interested in site customization, Andi’s has removed the SmugMug footer from all pages. That’s not supposed to be allowed. Interesting.

    • Ann, SmugMug Support
      June 7, 2012 at 7:48 pm

      Andi is a long time SmugMug customer, and was with us for the brief period of time that Pro accounts had the option to remove the SmugMug footer. When that policy changed, we did grandfather the accounts that had removed it.

  9. Sonja
    June 7, 2012 at 10:54 am

    Wow! Some people can be so cruel in the face of seeing someone applauded for their success. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had Andi take boudoir photos of me. I can attest to her professionalism, and her abilities. I was very nervous about how the images would turn out, and much to my pleasure, they turned out beautifully and I had a difficult time narrowing my choices down to 40 images for the book I bought for my husband. I’ve also admired her wedding, engagement, and beloved sessions. She is talented, and has a unique perspective.

  10. June 7, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    Well done Andy you deserve it!
    Lot of love
    Kitty

  11. June 9, 2012 at 7:10 am

    I find peer criticism to be almost always self serving by the critic, especially in the arts.
    You see some of that here.

  12. June 12, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Andi, you’re all right.. Don’t listen to the detractors….

  13. June 18, 2012 at 9:44 am

    I had the awesome honor of second shooting for Andi in June of 2011 out in Monterey, CA (actually the couple in wedding #2 on this blog post, though I did not stay around for that portion of the post-wedding shoot). Andi has an awesome personality, great shooting style and amazing creative eye. She’s really good with her external flash and great at sharing tips. I’d gladly shoot with her again anytime!

  14. March 10, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    FANTASTIC, LOVELOVELOVE… YOU KEEP GIVING YOUR CLIENTS LOVE AND THEY DO KEEP COMING BACK. LIFE IS GOOD AND GOD IS GREAT….

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