Based in Kingman, AZ, just outside of Las Vegas, NV, Jo and Jason Marino are a wife and husband photography duo that began their career capturing countless weddings and portraits, before opening a second brand for schools and sports leagues. They are established educators that have presented at ImagingUSA, WPPI, and several other conferences and workshops numerous times over the years. They’re also avid PhotoDay users.
After taking a step back from hustle culture, the Marinos now pride themselves on providing quality, creative images with an elevated customer experience. With the help of PhotoDay, they’ve doubled their AOV in just a few months and are able to spend more time with their family, traveling, and away from their desks. Jason says, “It’s like a lifestyle company. For us, it’s huge.”
How Strada Studios Started
Jason and Jo founded Strada Studios in 2017, but Jo was capturing portraits and weddings long before the two met in 2005. Coming from a background in art and graphic design, Jason began assisting Jo and helping as a second photographer until 2009 when they officially joined forces to start their wedding company. They quickly grew to capturing 20-25 high-end weddings a year. The Marinos traveled the world focusing on luxe and international weddings and portrait work.
“In 2016, we just realized we were going to miss a lot of what was going on with our kids and with their sports. So we decided we needed to switch things up to be home more. At the time, we were going to conferences and educating [while photographing weddings]. We decided to go into portrait and in-person sales with portraiture.”
After being frustrated with the quality of their own kids’ school sports photos, they decided to dip their toes into the volume photography industry. They went straight to the local schools in their town, showed them what they could do better—and were quickly able to convince almost every local school to get on board.
Jason reflects, “I still had a [separate career], even though we were doing all that other stuff, and I said, ‘You know what, let’s see if we can get a couple more schools, and I’ll just stop working [the day job]. And that’s what we did. Our portrait business blew up right around the same time.” They have since expanded their volume business to neighboring cities, including several schools in Las Vegas.
After the Marinos transitioned out of weddings and into portrait and volume work, they realized it didn’t always have to be about working harder and harder to “get bigger and bigger.” Jason says, “We try to work when we want. For many, many years, in the education space, we talked a lot about making money, but through the client experience—how you can elevate your revenue and elevate your client experience and how it all goes hand in hand.
Within the past year or so, Jo and I both started thinking, ‘Hey, let’s stop trying to get bigger and bigger. Let’s kind of just cruise and kick back and be happy with where we’re at.’ So now I talk a lot about mental health and wellness and how important that is for a successful company.”
This mental shift was a big turning point for them and their company and is ultimately what led them to PhotoDay.
Saving Time (and money) with PhotoDay
Jason and Jo’s renewed focus on responsible growth and mental health aligns with PhotoDay’s mission to streamline workflows, save time, and improve customer experience. They first heard about PhotoDay through one of our partner labs, Bay Photo. It began with a simple conversation with their lab, which led to a consultation call, and a quick sign-up.
Jason shares, “I wanted to be able to grow a little bit, but I was sick of entering orders, QR codes, and all the [frustrations] that go with it. So when I realized that PhotoDay could get rid of all that, we decided to try it out. So we just jumped in and did it.”
How have PhotoDay’s tools helped them on their mission to streamline and save time? “We have our time [back] and don’t have to pay someone to enter orders and do everything that comes along with it. So we’re actually saving money by [using PhotoDay].”
“It’s incredible what we’re able to do, and we’re not working any harder. We’re working less hard, and providing a slightly better experience than your average volume photographer probably does.”
Historically, volume photography has a bad reputation: clunky workflows, tiring days, and creative restrictions. “Coming from the luxe wedding and portraiture side of things, exceptional lighting and composition are important to us. There isn’t a ton of storytelling in sports portraits, but we always want to light them in a really unique, technical way that pushes us creatively and blows parents’ minds.”
Before PhotoDay they didn’t have the time to do these types of creative things on-site, since they were more concerned about ensuring the correct data was captured, order forms were turned in, and money was collected. “It was a massive bummer just going through the motions. Most of our time was spent on administrative duties, and not being creatives. Ultimately we want to have fun doing what we love, and we want our clients to say ‘Wow, how did they do this?’ PhotoDay has given us that.“
All About the Experience
Volume photographers not selling online have to stay focused on being efficient on location at picture day, leaving the rest of their tasks stagnant and frustrating. This leads to education in the volume space often centering around “How many leagues and schools can you get? How many heads can you shoot a year? How many photographers can you hire? How fast can you photograph one subject?” But none of these goals directly translate into a positive customer experience.
“I think that’s almost how we’ve found a way to find a balance between our portrait business—which is very client-centric and upscale—but still be able to have speed and efficiency. PhotoDay allows us to do that. So we are taking a little more time with the kids, doing a few more poses, and letting them have fun. And it’s costing us very little…we’re actually going faster now because we’re not dealing with paperwork and QR codes.”
“Our revenue per person practically doubled.”
With PhotoDay, Strada Studios made $52,000 in August from 5 schools. In September, between schools and leagues, they made over $60,000. They are excited to share that the Dashboard app has been chiming and the PD100s have been flowing.
Since modern technology and trends are always evolving, selling online means maintaining flexibility to change with new tech and rules to make sure your strategy will always get you out in front. Using an image-first selling platform like PhotoDay encourages photographers to improve season over season, which is made easier than ever with the analytics and data at your fingertips.
Jason says their next steps are to work on better communication and connection with their customers. Since the online sales cycle differs drastically from offline, paper form sales, we’ve done the research, prepared the data, and are always available to help our studios one-on-one.
PhotoDay’s customer success team helps analyze your galleries and sales, offers strategic suggestions, and helps you implement them. Our team is also always working on updates to streamline the process, optimize our tools, and ultimately improve customer conversion rates.
Jason Marino’s Favorite PhotoDay Features
- “My favorite part is what we don’t have to do. Order entry. I love that we get to set it and forget it (who wants a PhotoDay-branded slow cooker?). Basically, Jo and I upload the pictures and go live our life. We get to go on the road, see our kids play sports, take trips—whatever we’re doing. We’re not strapped to our desks at all. We can just move about the world and work from anywhere. The best part? We’re making money, all while we are doing everyday fun things, not even thinking about work.”
- Speaking of money…“My Dashboard App just chimed during this interview! You get trained to hear that cha-ching go off. I used to stare at it every time, but now I look at it once every couple of hours. It’s only because we’re already used to making such great money with PhotoDay. We got used to it!”
- “[PhotoDay] gives us more time to implement better customer service directly one-on-one with our clients because we’re not spending all of our time strapped to a desk. Every time a customer calls with a question, we’re able to give them our full attention—and people are thrilled because of it. We’re freeing up our time from data entry to give it to the customer service side.
Many thanks to Jason for sharing their story and PhotoDay experience! You can connect with Jason and Jo on Facebook—Strada Studios and Imagine Photography— and on Instagram—@imaginephotoaz.