Business + Marketing

Is Building an Associate Photo Team Right for You?

October 18, 2019

By Michelle Harris

© Laila Chanel Studios

Michelle Harris (center) with the associate team she has built over the years.

Let’s see if any of these scenarios ring true: You have you become so booked that you find yourself turning couples away. You leave interested, ideal clients with very little date options to chose from. You have a price point that has grown so high that you can’t serve as many as you would like, and while it hurts, you need to let couples go just because of budget.

It might be time to build an associate team for your wedding photography business! Answer these questions to see if that is the right move for you:

Are you someone who likes to work alone, or do you enjoy working on a team?

Do you enjoy teaching or does it irritate you to do so?

Can you handle the stress of someone working on your behalf?

Do you or someone on your team enjoy culling and/or editing?

Do you outsource your editing?

If you answered no to more than one of the questions above, then let’s revisit this option at another time. If you answered yes, let’s keep moving.

[10 Questions for Michelle Harris]


In order to have a successful associate team or company, you need to love being a part of a team and helping, encouraging, empowering and managing others. An excited team comes from an excited leader!


If teaching others is a passion of yours, then building a team is a great choice for you. As a leader, it is necessary and vital to come from a place of generosity and leave scarcity at the door. Your knowledge and education becomes theirs. The goal is to pour into them fully so that they can represent you and your business in the same light you would. This doesn’t mean sharing all of your insider business secrets, but it’s important to share things like shooting tips, posing ideas and other helpful hacks.

[What Does Your Creative Team Really Think of You?]


Building an associate team is not for the fearful. Trusting someone to work on your behalf is stressful and it takes work! You have your name on the line, and no matter what this person or people do, you are responsible for it. They could create perfect, magazine-worthy images, treat your clients with love and respect and blow your clients away, but there is a possibility that things could go wrong; they may even miss crucial, key moments such as the first kiss! (That, by the way, has happened to me once. Can you handle that???)


On the plus side, building a team means you can delegate to your advantage. I highly recommend bringing someone in who loves to cull, unless that’s you! I personally would rather do almost anything to avoid culling; it can take hours, so having someone to take this off of your plate is invaluable, even if you do love it. You could be booking more weddings instead of spending valuable time on that task.

I also recommend an outsource company. I currently use and love Evolve Edits. I have a premier membership with them that costs $199/month for unlimited edits on up to 800 photos per event. It saves me a ton of time and energy! This company does require you to have a one-year contract for the membership, but to me it’s worth every single penny.

If you have months where you don’t have weddings, the outsourcing company I highly recommend for editing is Photographer’s Edit. They are a pay-per-order company, they’re priced affordably and the team is phenomenal.

[A Handy Guide on Outsourcing Your Retouching]

Next month, we’ll get into the nitty-gritty and figure out how to fully structure your team. Hint: There are two different ways to do this successfully. We simply have to find the right one for you!

Until next time, hustlers, when we discuss how to build the brand around your associate photo team.

Michelle Harris is a destination wedding photographer and educator based in the Washington, D.C. area. She is the owner and lead photographer of M Harris Studios, owner of an associate photographer company Laila Chanel Studios, and the creator of the wedding photography conference Hustle in Heels.