“I love my job.” You might see many wedding colleagues tweeting or facebooking this every weekend. Sweet.

Yeah, they love it because they have a consistent business, wonderful clients and bottom line well-paying jobs.

You don’t have that?

Let’s see what they are doing that you are not.

Building a service-based business isn’t easy. Passion is only partial to business success. If Mark Zuckerberg never had Eduardo Severin (cofounder and initial CFO) to have the seed money or Sean Parker’s vision, then Facebook would still be Face Mash (just a fun idea).

Would you like to also tweet every weekend how wonderful your job is? Of course you would. Let’s see how “The Social Network” did it.

the social network

Note: potential spoilers

#1 – An Idea Is Just An Idea…

In the movie, the Harvard Winklevoss twins accused Zuckerberg of stealing their idea for Facebook. Zuckerberg shot back, “If you guys were the inventors of Facebook, you would have invented Facebook.” An idea is just an idea until executed.

So if you’re still on the fence about diving in, do it. When I shot my very first wedding (good thing it was a friend’s), I was reading the DSLR’s instruction manual the night before. No guts, no glory. Right? In the end, I did pretty well!

#2 – Investment

Without Severin’s seed money of $1,000 for servers, Facebook would have never got off the ground. Without angel investors from PayPal billionaire Peter Thiel ($500,000) and others, Facebook would never become the international icon it is now (currently worth $6.5 billion).

I don’t care how great a concept is, investment is necessary. The moment I decided to make wedding photography a business, I sold my Rebel XT (+$700) and dipped into my savings and bought two Canon 20D’s and a couple of “L” lenses (-$5,000). Was I freaked out? Heck yes.

#3 – Startup Culture

Zuckerberg recruited his first couple of programmers through a drinking game – hack into servers all while having annoying window popups (oh and lots of shots). Eventually, he moved to California and continued this culture until angel investors came and provided him a corporate office.

You might have a home studio where you meet clients. That’s all that room is supposed to do. Don’t have your kid’s toys lying around or pets running amuck. The room should have one goal only – close deals.

#4 – 3,000 Pound Marlin vs. 14 Trout

“This is our generation!” exclaimed Parker. Will you be known for fishing the 3,000 pound marlin or 14 trout?

In our industry, a marlin is a wedding while a trout can be a baby, landscape, maternity, or senior gig. If you want to leave a mark, the newspapers (figurative speech) should only be talking about your marlin catches.

It’s okay to catch trout too, but do it strategically. I talked about it in another article, “So You Want to Photograph Weddings, Pets… and Anything that Pays. I Might Have a Solution.

#5 – Your Latest Review

Zuckerberg’s character has a meltdown when Severin froze all of the financial accounts. Zuckerberg’s fear was that the servers would turn off and that would be the talk of the town (or world in his case).

“The Internet isn’t written in pencil, it’s written in pen,” Zuckerberg’s ex-girlfriend said after she was defaced on his blog.

One negative review will be extremely hard to erase. Equally speaking, one positive review will generate a lot more referrals. Treat every wedding as if it was your only wedding.

#6 – Business, Like Fashion, Is Always Evolving

While in their Harvard dorm, Severin asked Zuckerberg when Facebook would be done. Facebook, like fashion, “is never finished,” Zuckerberg responded.

I mentioned in a previous article “that marketing is sociology. And as culture and tastes evolve, so does marketing…” In the last four years I have been in this industry, I have seen constant evolution – trash the dress, day after sessions, boudoir… What’s next? Don’t know. Just have to be watchful.

#7 – Added and Most Important – Contracts

Contracts, contracts, contracts… I’ve been screwed too many times, even this year by this industry, so protect yourself.


Zuckerberg is only successful because of the team working with him to promote the Facebook vision. Unfortunately, as small business owners, you might not have that luxury.

I will do my best to help your business and marketing end with every blog post 🙂

If you like this article, I encourage you to share it with a Retweet or Facebook share! Like always, I would love to hear your thoughts via comments below.

Your Facebook friend,

Lawrence Chan

P.S. I really enjoyed “The Social Network” and the strategies and tactics they used to make it what it is. I can’t wait until they make a movie on Google!