Marketing for Authenticity in Wedding and Portrait Photography

November 10, 2020

By Jacqueline Tobin

Tash Haynes is a busy woman. She might be most known for being one half of Ike and Tash, a Seattle-based wedding and portrait photography business that she runs with her husband. She also writes about motherhood, entrepreneurship and more on her blog Wisdom & Courage, named after her daughters. And Haynes is a photo and business educator, speaking about how to build an authentic business at conferences and workshops like Rangefinder’s very own WPPI. Recently, she and Ike were tapped to join Rangefinder and WPPI’s newly formed Advisory Board.

She took the time to take part in 10 Questions, our conversation series that most recently featured photographers and educators Kesha Lambert (also a new RF/WPPI board member), Pye Jirsa (of SLR Lounge) and Daniel Kudish (of Image Salon). Here, Haynes spoke about the landscape of the industry post-pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as how she’s forging a path for herself as an influencer.

1. Have you pivoted your business since the start of the pandemic?

I would say, yes, we have pivoted our business a bit, but I think it was naturally already heading in that direction and that COVID-19 just catapulted it further. Prior to the pandemic, Ike was already doing YouTube and had launched a Patreon that was photography education based. I launched a blog last fall and started dabbling in influencer marketing. When COVID-19 hit, we jumped head first into those passion projects and allowed them to lead us through the year. When we were able to start shooting again, we added content creation sessions to our lineup of services we provided, and that has been helpful despite what has been going on around us. 

2. When did you change your name from Latasha to Tash, and what spurred it?

Early in our photography journey, I went by Latasha. When we rebranded our businesses from “Latasha Haynes Photography” to “Ike and Tash,” we fully leaned into our nicknames and requested to be known as Ike and Tash to establish and remain consistent across all platforms.

3. What about your motivation behind the name of your blog, Wisdom & Courage?

My blog Wisdom & Courage was completely and totally inspired by my first two daughters, Wisdom (age 8) and Courage-Kairos (age 1). I wanted to create a place where I could document our family stories and journey, and so Wisdom & Courage the blog is a place where I share stories of both “wisdom and courage” and Wisdom and Courage, and it’s been a beautiful endeavor that I am wildly proud of. 

[Read: Six-Figure Wedding Photography—Double Your Bookings with Strategic Blogging]

4. One of your blog posts addressed how to continue to the “Amplify Melanated Voices” movement and to support Black influencers. What kind of change have you observed in the months following the onset of that conscious effort from brands and influencers?

Honestly, in the months following the “Amplify” movement, I haven’t seen much change and that pains me to say. It’s hurtful and really has caused damage to a lot of Black women creators because it created this hope that things would be better and change and just really has left a lot to be desired, as well as a lot of disappointment. I think most of us were cautiously optimistic, but it was a trend, and trends come and go… So we just keep showing up and screaming and hoping that people will hear us. I think what it did do though, for Black influencers, is empower us to use our voices honestly and to keep telling our stories. So that is what I keep trying to do.  

[Read: Decolonizing the Photo Industry—Why, How and Where We Can Begin]

5. You had been writing about topics like the difference between diversity and inclusion before the more widespread awakening to it and related issues in 2020. What kind of support did you find was the most meaningful?

I have been screaming about the issue of diversity and inclusion in our industry for the last 11 years. It was the heart behind every move and choice I made in photography. I wanted so badly to shift the conversation, bring awareness, make a change and for a long time, well, for most of the time that I chose to fight that fight, it felt that my effort fell flat. I don’t think it’s about me, though. I don’t think it’s about how long I have been saying things or waiting. I think it’s more important to focus on the fact that people are awake and to add my effort to those who are now carrying the torch. I love seeing people wake up to it, but it means absolutely nothing without action. I won’t celebrate until it’s fair across the board and is no longer this issue we have to discuss. 

6. What’s the best and most challenging part about being in business with your spouse?

The most challenging part used to feel like never having my “own” thing that was just mine. Pretty selfish, but it’s how I felt for so long. As I have grown and matured, I realize our approach to photography and image creation is so different that even though we are partnered, we still are our own people, and it’s been nice to shine in our own areas. The best part? All of it. I never have to defend the love I have or the decisions I make. Ike is always going to do his best to add to whatever we are doing and make it great, and vice versa. 

7. What is the most important advice to impart on an emerging photographer trying to forge their business in the industry today?

The most important advice I would have for someone who is breaking into photography is to start with the sucky stuff first. Learn how to run a business. Get your papers in order. Pay your taxes. Set up your accounts. There will always be time for editing, shooting and image creation, because we love that stuff, but the difference between surviving and thriving is understanding how to run a photography business and make real money from it, and 80 percent of this business is just that: the sucky stuff. 

[Read: Six-Figure Wedding Photography—Becoming a Money-Managing Master]

8. What are some of the key steps you took to be doing sponsored ads and posts on social media?

I think really understanding your message and refining it. Being and staying consistent and authentic and going after it with the mindset of serving your audience and without expecting anything in return. I think that’s the perfect combination to find success in content marketing. 

9. What do you hope to do to grow your brand in 2021 and beyond?

Well, we have a new daughter on the way, so we are excited to add her to the mix, but really just refining our message and building businesses that work for us, versus us working for them. Being able to show up in the ways in which we like and to continue to create in ways that add value to our life and our family. I think that’s what we are after. The goal is to maintain the freedom we have built all these years. 

10. What is something that few people know about you?

That I am highly educated, and if I went back to school for my next degree, I would be Dr. Haynes.