6, 15, 52, 54, 55
Fully onboard with photography as a career, Revilla picked up steam rapidly. "In my first year I did six weddings, then 15, then 52 the next year, and 54 last year," he says. "By the end of 2007, I will have shot 55. Each year I've been able to raise my fee, build an even more solid business, and keep a balance with career and personal life." What's the secret? Marketing. This is an area where the studio invests. "You can't make money without spending it," he says. Surprisingly, he's found most of his peers don't market much.
The cornerstone of his promotion is a liveBooks website-a front door for the studio. "It's come to the point where we don't always have the luxury of meeting brides, due to the distance," Revilla explains. "Many grew up in San Antonio and now either live elsewhere and come home to get married, or hire us for a destination wedding. The website presents what we do in great detail."
Revilla also points to his blog. "I'm always surprised when I show up for a wedding and a guest tells me how much they love it," he says. He's currently showing slideshows of the previous week's wedding. It's definitely increased the amount of inquiries and bookings.
Other things Revilla does to win customers include submitting images to magazines and working bridal fairs. "Most photographers hate bridal fairs, but to me they're exciting and give me a chance to network and meet potential clients face-to-face," he says.
The Marcus Revilla Photography studio is a 1,800-square-foot domain in a historic district of San Antonio. The inside opens with a reception area that provides potential clients with a tease into what they can expect. "We create a comfort zone and ambience that immediately puts them at ease," Revilla says. "That space is decked out with a killer sound system and giant TV for presentations. When imagery and music come together, it can be a powerful selling tool." He adds that the studio is in the midst of installing a new Apple TV system for client slideshows.
In addition to the meet-and-greet, the studio maintains areas for studio photography, plus hair and makeup. Revilla works side by side with three album designers and part-time assistants. Booking appointments, confirming necessary dates and locations, and basic daily accounting are doled out to the team, while Revilla logs a majority of the photography and nearly all of the editing.
"Our editing process, which is still being perfected, begins immediately the day after the wedding," says Revilla. His software of choice: Adobe Bridge CS3 and Photoshop CS3 with Actions from Jeff Ascough and Kevin Kubota. "I make sure the week's wedding is online and available for viewing the next week," he says. "We use PickPic for our shopping cart, which presents the proofs online in an extremely clean and professional manner." [We've had the best experience with Troy and Rebecca Widner from PickPic; their customer service is way beyond the industry norm.]
After client images go online, a proof book is uploaded to White House Custom Colour. This is followed by one more thorough in-house inspection, and then the album is mailed to the couple. The time span from wedding day to proof book is roughly 30 days. "We make sure the couple doesn't wait for their images," says Revilla. "We like albums from Zookbinders, La-vie, and Finao."
Revilla says that, after the customer, archiving of digital assets is the most important thing in his studio: "It all starts with making immediate copies as images are downloaded, and then again right after the initial edit. We back up to at least two DVDs and external hard drives. iView MediaPro is used for image management."
Revilla has taken on a look that's all his own. "My influences come from Vogue and W, as well as from hallmark wedding photojournalism styling-I love fashion, art, and documentaries," he says.
"All genres change, and this change allows a photographer to constantly create a unique look," he continues. "When you devote yourself to one style, you become unaware of what is out there."
He likens his sense of style to that of the iconic Bruce Lee. "When asked about his style, Lee responded, ‘My style? The art of style without style.'"
For more of Revilla's Images, visit www.marcusrevilla.com