I get a lot of questions from photographers and love to help out whenever I can.

I am indebted to a few photographers...

who answered my questions and helped me out in numerous ways when I first started my business. So I definitely enjoy doing the same and helping others out. There are a number of ways that I am available to do this.

Find answers to common questions on the FAQs section of my resources for photographers. Also, check out the for photographers category on my blog for full posts on various topics of interest to photographers. If you don't find the answer to your question there, feel free to email me and you may hear the answer via a blog post in the future.

01. One-on-One Coaching

If you'd like further help developing your photography or business, we can set up a coaching session either in person, via Skype, or via old-fashioned telephone. I charge $150 for a one-hour session and we can cover any topics you'd like. Email me links to your work and/or website and I'll give you some feedback. Below is a testimonial from a photographer who has taken advantage of this service.

Email MJ to Set Up a Session >
“Hey there Melissa, I just wanted to say thanks for meeting
with me the other day...

I learned more in that short period of time with you than I have from anyone else in multiple hours of time.

Not to mention I enjoyed your company (and your WAY cute house!) Thanks for taking the time, and hopefully, maybe, possibly I'll get to come to your workshop next year. Give a hug to Dixie for me!”

- Nicki

02. Associate Photographer Program Coaching Package

If you are interested in possibly bringing associate photographers on to shoot for your brand and are seeking knowledge on how to build a successful program, I would love to help! Since 2012 I have been coaching established business owners on this very topic and I spoke at WPPI in 2014 on Developing a Successful Associate Photographer Program. I have packaged all this content up into what I believe is a great tool for any photographer seeking to expand their business in this way. My Associate Photographer Program Coaching Package includes:

A One-Hour Instructional Video
An instructional video of me sharing my story and EVERYTHING you need to know to build a successful associate photographer program. I'll share what I've learned, my profit, three keys required for success, and how I've dealt with issues that arise. My philosophy of teaching has always been very open book -- nothing is off-limits -- so I share it all in this one-hour video.

Three Downloadable PDFs Packed with Content
Two .pdfs with our complete pricing for each of our two budget ranges for associate weddings, and one 5-page .pdf containing all of our policies & procedures -- a manual of sorts -- which also serves as the agreement that all of our associate photographers sign.

A One-Hour Follow-Up Coaching Session
A follow-up 1-hour one-on-one coaching session with me over Skype or phone where I will answer any remaining questions you have or help you work through any issues that may arise.

While I would recommend the entire package, I am also making the 5-page Policies and Procedures Manual available as a stand alone product for $399. If you are interested in taking your business to the next level and possibly adding an additional stream of revenue to your brand, click below to sign up!

Policies & Procedures Manual $399 >
Entire Coaching Package $699 >

MJ2Day Workshop

Three times a year I teach a 2-day workshop geared toward professional or aspiring-professional photographers packed with info on photography and business-related topics. Click below to visit the MJ2Day website to find out more and invest in the future of your business.

Visit the Website >

+ Album Design Resources +

Making Your Album Workflow Profitable & Efficient

We all want our clients to walk away from their experience with us with a beautiful album that tells the story of their day. But let's be honest, the process of getting an album designed and proofed can be a hassle and is often riddled with headaches.

In my efforts to make my own album workflow profitable and efficient, I've come up with two resources to help out other photographers as well. I hope one of these can meet your needs!

Monthly Newsletter

I send out monthly e-newsletters with up to date info on what's new with Melissa Jill Photography -- including information for photographers. If you'd like to receive my monthly newsletter, please sign up!

+ FAQ +

I get a lot of emails & questions from other photographers so I thought I'd put my answers all in the same place!

  • Did you go to school for photography?
    I took photography classes in high school and college, but didn't get my degree in photography. I went to Azusa Pacific University and majored in philosophy and Christian Ministries, with a minor in math. I guess I thought of art as just a hobby at the time and didn't want to touch a business class with a ten-foot pole. But after college, I realized that I had to do something creative for a living in order to feel fulfilled and God directed me toward photography. It's the perfect job and I've learned so much about both photography and business along the way!
  • How long have you been shooting professionally?
    11 years!
  • Do you have a studio?
    Yes. It's located in Phoenix, Arizona in my home. I don't do any shooting here, but it's a great place to work everyday and meet with clients.
  • Do you have any employees?
    Yes. Alaine is my full-time office manager. She is so on top of things and makes my life so much easier!
  • Do you use an assistant at your weddings?
    Yes. I always bring a 2nd photographer AND a third assistant to help us with our equipment and download files in preparation for the slideshow at the reception. It's a team effort!
  • Do you have associate photographers?
    Yes! I have five associate photographers who shoot weddings for my business. Click here to find out more about each of them and to see some of their work!
  • Which camera would you recommend to someone who is wanting to get into photography?
    First of all, Canon and Nikon are the two best brands for professional cameras. I prefer Canon, but I know there are many great photographers out there who use Nikon. Basically, you need to choose one and stick with it. It's costly to change all your equipment over down the line. The Canon Rebel is a good start-up camera for anyone taking photography classes and wanting to start out with a good SLR in the $500 price range.  
    You might think that putting all your money into your camera and getting the best one you can afford is the way to go. But it's important to remember that lenses can be just as expensive as your camera, if not more. And lenses are actually a better investment over time than your camera body. Cameras are like computers--they get updated so quickly that as soon as you buy one, the new model is out and yours is outdated. But good lenses will last you a life-time. So I always recommend that people put the bulk of their money into purchasing good lenses rather than into a top-of-the-line camera. Look for a variety of lenses with a low f-stop. Oftentimes, the lenses that come with the body in a "camera kit" aren't great quality, so look into buying the body and lenses separately. The Canon 50mm 1.4 lens is a great lens for the money!

+ Gear +

In My Bag

I’m a Canon & Apple girl. Here's a list of everything in my bag:

Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 5D for backup, Canon 70-200 2.8 lens, Canon 50mm 1.2 lens, Canon 24mm 1.4 lens, 15mm 2.8 fish eye, 2 Canon 600EX-RT Speedlites, 2 Lumedyne HV Tinycycler Battery Packs, Light Stand with umbrella bracket and cold shoe, 60" convertible umbrella, Batteries galore, 48 GB worth of compact flash cards in 8 GB forms, and Mac Book Pro 17" laptop for showing slideshows at the reception.

I've done a number of reviews and educational posts related to how I use my equipment on my blog. You can find them here: 4-part Lens Series, 13-part Flash Series, Canon 50mm 1.2 review, Canon 70-200mm 2.8 IS review, Canon 24mm 1.4 review, and Canon 600EX-RT review.

I purchase all of my gear online from B&H Photo. They have super-competitive pricing and fast delivery. I'm an affiliate for B&H, which means that anytime someone clicks over from my site and purchases something there, I get a teeny-tiny (2%) commission. If you've found the free information on my site helpful to you in any way, I would greatly appreciate if you would use this link or any of the links from this page or my blog to B&H to purchase your gear. It won't cost you anything extra, but it will be a very sweet way to say "thank-you."

Workflow Resources

Over the course of 11 years, I have developed a very organized and efficient wedding workflow that offers my clients a high-end experience. All of my workflow forms and resources are available for purchase here, and are a great way to jump-start your way to an organized workflow or to take your current workflow and client experience to the next level.
Wedding Info Sheet
.pdf + Word .doc
This form is my "wedding day at-a-glance" form that I use to gather information about the client that I need to access all the time - contact information, wedding day timeline information and package information. I will grab this form when on the phone with a potential client and also during my initial client meetings. It is also my go-to form with all the info I need on the wedding day.
Buy Now Price: $29.99
Tips for Getting Your Best Wedding Images
I use my "Tips for Getting Your Best Wedding Images" to educate clients up front about a few simple things they can do during the planning stages of the wedding that will ultimately impact their photography. I include a physical copy of my tips in my new client kit that I give clients at initial client meetings. If we don't meet in person, I will email them a .pdf after they book.
Buy Now Price: $97.99
Wedding Workflow Checklist
.pdf + Word .doc
This workflow has been developed over the course of 10 years. It was much simpler when I began. It is fashioned with a high-end client in mind (paying an average of $8k-$10k/wedding). There are three main sections to the workflow. The top section is the pre-wedding workflow, the middle section is for equipment prep before the wedding day, and the last and largest section is post-wedding workflow. This workflow is managed by me and my full-time office manager. It is color coded so you can see which tasks each of us is responsible for.
Buy Now Price: $49.99
Wedding Contract
.pdf + Word .doc
My 2-page wedding contract has been reviewed by a lawyer and is a great starting point for any new photographer.
Buy Now Price: $39.99
Getting to Know You Questionnaire
I email this 4-page questionnaire - in a fillable .pdf format - to clients after they book. I love reading through it and getting to know my clients better! I use their answers for multiple purposes: to brainstorm unique and personalized ideas for their engagement shoot, to help my team get acquainted with them on the way to the wedding, and to help me write their story for their wedding blog post. It's so valuable!
Buy Now Price: $49.99
Final Details Questionnaire
.pdf + Word .doc
I email this 3-page form, in a fillable .pdf format, to my clients about a month before the wedding. I use it to get all of the final details I need before the wedding. It is helpful for finalizing the timeline and finding out which group portraits they are wanting. This form also includes a vendor contact list. It is important to get this information from the bride before the wedding so I can promptly blog and link to all the vendors involved. It is also handy for knowing which vendors to send photos to after the wedding.
Buy Now Price: $29.99
Album Revision Form
.pdf + Word .doc
I email this form to my clients once their initial album design, and all of their wedding image proofs, are online. Along with the email template we attach this to, it contains all of the information the client needs in order to make choices about their album and send us any revisions they may have. This form makes communication very clear, and carrying out the client's revisions simple.
Buy Now Price: $39.99
Client Experience Surveys
.pdf + Word .doc
Included here are three different sets of survey questions that we approach clients with at three different points in their client experience - after they book, about a month after the wedding, and after the album is delivered. These surveys are sent to the client through an online survey program called Emma. It is SO helpful to get feedback from clients on their experience - both for improving my business and for defining my brand.
Buy Now Price: $49.99
Email Templates
.pdf + Word .doc
Instead of putting my contact information and traditional "signature" in the signature section of my email program (under preferences), I save copies of emails that I use at different points of my workflow there so I can drop them into a new email as a template and customize them. I've included 14 of my most commonly used templates here - 11 for use with clients, and 3 for use with vendors. When paired with my Wedding Workflow Checklist and other workflow forms, these will really give you a good understanding of my workflow and the kind of client experience I strive to offer.
Buy Now Price: $97.99

+ Tips & Tricks +

When I started my business in 2003, I had never taken a business class in my life...

I looked on the business majors at college with pity, thinking they must live very boring lives. Me, well I was living it up in the philosophy department. Yep, I know. Super-cool. Tons of exciting action there. Most photographers -- me included -- start their businesses out of a love for photography, not for business. Photography is what most photographers are passionate about. And as well we should be. As a client, I wouldn't want to entrust a photographer with the most important moments of my life unless they displayed a great deal of passion for their work.

But as we all quickly learn after jumping feet first into the small business photography world, we are forced to spend the majority of our time working on our businesses -- at least 80% of our time -- vs. only getting to spend 20% of our hours at most, on photography. Either that, or we're stubbornly out shooting constantly and wondering why no one is hiring us and our businesses are tanking.

Thankfully, just as quickly as I realized how vital business is to the success of my photography, I also realized that I really enjoyed it. I attended workshops and conferences, read business books and sought out mentors and coaches who were further along the path of business than I was. I devoured knowledge about how to build a successful business and I quickly found I had a new passion.

Eleven years later, I can confidently say that I enjoy the business side of what I do as much or even more than the photography side. I love to talk business with other photographers and I love to see young photographers ignite their passion for their businesses at my workshops. But I know that many photographers out there continue to struggle with the business end of things. Because they're wired as artists and not as business owners, they struggle to enjoy the business side and don't give it the attention it deserves and desperately needs.
If you find yourself in this boat -- there is hope! I have developed a series on my blog full of free info and tips for organizing and systematizing your workflow. And when I say "workflow," I don't mean it in the narrow sense of post-processing. I mean the entire customer experience and set-up of our businesses.

In this series I share what has worked for me in bite-sized pieces and leave you with action points to implement each month.

Fun homework, if you will :). Click below to get started!

Outsourcing Partners

Our studio shoots between 30-50 weddings per year, and we have partnered with some amazing companies to make different steps in our workflow profitable and efficient. We couldn't offer the exceptional turn-around time and service that we are known for without these valuable partners.

+ Blog Collage Templates +

I really LOVE being able to combine images together to really show off details and images that have a similar theme.

Many of you have asked me over the years how I create the image collages that you see regularly on my blog. Click here to see some examples on the blog. The great news is that you can now purchase my blog collage templates!!

For $99 I'm selling 34 templates and each template combines between 2 and 16 images, so you have endless possibilities when blogging! The templates are layered .psd files and your purchase comes with a .pdf with step-by-step instructions on how to use them most efficiently -- including how to customize them to fit your blog. Watch a video demonstration of how easy they are to use! If you click on the "buy now" button below, you will be able to pay through PayPal and download your templates immediately. So you can start using them for blogging today!

Watch the Video Demo >

Buy Now Price: $99