As creative freelancers, it can be a lonely and isolating place running your own business. The Photo Report focuses on the art and business of photography with interviews of top photographers talking the journey the've been on to get where they are.
"If you're not good at running the business side of things, you are pretty much just spending a bunch of time in a hobby." - Sam Jacobson
How do you get to the next level?
Sam Jacobson will dive deep into this topic. Sam is a wedding sales expert. He guides pros in all fields and markets to get website visitors to become clients.
You will hear him share how you can go from a $6,500 price range to the $10,000 price range.
Also, Sam will teach you on how to answer client’s pricing questions.
Lastly, you will hear important information about the whole sales process and how to approach customers or clients that you are trying to sell to.
In this episode, Sam discusses
The importance of understanding a buyer’s journey stages
How to respond to pricing questions
Proven ways to make you stand out from competitors
One key to improving the buyer experience
How to take your business to the next level
Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality by Donald Miller
Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller
Building a StoryBrand with Donald Miller
The SPIN Selling Fieldbook: Practical Tools, Methods, Exercises, and Resources by Neil Rackham
CustomerCentric Selling by Michael Bosworth
Connect with Sam:
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/ideactionconsulting/
"Always evaluate your past in order to take steps towards your future" - Jenni Tyhe
How am I going to be profitable is an important question that gets overlooked often.
Jenni Thye tackles those big questions in today's episode.
Jenni is an Arizona based wedding planner. She has a background in pre-law, teaching, and event planning.
In this episode, Jenni discusses
- How she works as an event planner while taking her pre-law degree.
- Transitioning from being an educator to starting her own business.
- Jenni’s market research on wedding planning before starting her own business plan.
- Her anxiety about the idea of, “this one person who was a wedding planner”.
- Why she prefers having team members than working independently.
Follow Jenni Tyhe on Instagram: @imoni_events
Visit her website at http://imonievents.com/
"Your being successful at that thing, your failing at that thing, that's not who you are, whether you want it to be or not. You're a million other things" - Lance Nicoll
Have you ever tried to tackle the bigger questions about failure, success, and the journey to rise against the competition?
Lance Nicoll tackles those big questions in today's episode.
Lance is a New Orleans based wedding photographer. He has a background in teaching, graphic arts, and competitive wrestling.
In this episode, Lance discusses
- How he started as a graphic designer and as an educator and how he transitioned into photography.
- The struggle of booking gigs as a freelance photographer.
- Shooting for himself and what drives him as a photographer to create amazing images.
- Developing his brand and the search for his ideal client.
- His views on success and failure, and how it has changed over time.
Follow Lance Nicoll on Instagram: @lancenicoll
Visit his website at https://lancenicoll.com/
"My mother is my best friend. She is my hero. I strive every day to be more like her." - Nikki Santerre.
Nothing can compare to being a mother, and capturing that experience on film is not an easy task. Ever wondered how a professional does it?
In this episode, Nikki discusses her process of capturing the season of motherhood and her own experience as a mother.
Nikki is a Virginia based fine art/film hybrid photographer. She specializes in shooting weddings and portraits of mothers and their babies.
In this episode, Nikki talks about:
- How she got started with motherhood photoshoots after her own struggles with infertility.
- Her unique way of capturing the season of motherhood in her shoots
- Elevating her brand to the next level
- Co-founding The Hybrid Atelier, an educational platform for photographers who are interested in hybrid photography
- Nikki’s description of her ideal photography client
- The joys of being a mother and how she deals with the challenges it brings
- Balancing and loving being a photographer and a mother
Follow Nikki Santerre on Instagram: @nikkisanterre
Visit her website at https://nikkisanterre.com/
“When they are able to look at a photo of themselves, and they see something in that image, a reflection of themselves that they have never seen before, that is what inspires me to just literally go to work every single day.” - Chris J Evans
Ever wondered how professionals handle high volume wedding shoots and still deliver a unique experience to clients?
Chris J Evans will answer that, and more in today's episode.
With over a hundred wedding shoots every year, photographer Chris J Evans and his amazing crew have found their success in Maui, Hawaii. A fashion photographer and a former touring musician, Chris creates a unique experience for his wedding shoots.
In this episode, Chris J. Evans talks about
- Starting his company and growing his wedding photography business.
- The workflow and the art of managing his time to accommodate the high volume wedding shoots that his company does every year.
- Learn how being a musician has helped Chris present himself and the experience he brings as a wedding photographer.
- Chris discusses the challenges that come with the high volume wedding and how his crew helps him handle that.
- Discover how Chris established his style, look, and voice in the wedding photography world.
- Find out how Chris manages work-life balance amidst his tight work schedule.
- Chris talks about how building relationships with the community continues to inspire him and keeps him from burning out.
Follow Chris J. Evans on Instagram: @chrisjevansphoto
Visit his website at https://www.chrisjevans.com/
"If you don't push boundaries, you're going nowhere." - Wendy Laurel.
Have you ever wondered how experimental photography could boost your creativity and add a range of emotions on your photos?
Wonder no more, this episode Wendy will answer it for you.
As a Maui based photographer, she shoots for weddings, families, and local clients throughout Hawaii. Wendy expresses her creativity through experimental photography that she achieves over a variety of techniques that she discusses in detail on this episode.
In this episode, Wendy Laurel discusses
- How she uses experimental photography to heighten the emotion in her shots.
- Learn Wendy's methodology on how she delivers her clients’ expectations while adding in her own creative style
- Getting started with experimental photography through lomos, holgas, light leaks, cross processing, and film souping
- Find out the art of pushing boundaries to keep your shoots fresh
- Discover how to have fun and enjoy photography
Prepare to be inspired!
Follow Wendy Laurel on Instagram: @wendylaurel
Visit her website at https://www.wendylaurel.com/
I do not have a work life and a personal life. I have one life. - Sheri Salata
Have you felt like you wanted to be efficient, manage your time, structure your day, get things done, yet you don’t know how to make it come to fruition?
If so, you would want to listen to this entire episode with Laura Murray.
She is a photographer and a visual story teller based in Denver, Colorado. Laura is was trained in Mathematics prior to photography but have always had a desire for creativity.
In this episode you will discover:
The big WHY on creating Spark & Bound
Laura tells the power of writing your own personal manifesto
Why is it important to exercise your muscle of self-discipline
How can a creative like you win the day by following Laura’s approach
Great tips and resources that you can use to buy more time, strategize your day, and scale up your business
Follow Laura on Instagram: @lauramurray
Check out her website, you can go https://lauramurrayphotography.com/.
Spark & Bound: http://sparkandbound.com/
What does family photography mean?
In today's episode, Braedon sat down with Brooke Schultz, whose secret power is photographing love in an authentic way.
Whether it’s your wedding day or an ordinary day with your favorite souls in the world, Brooke would want nothing less than magic for you.
Today, she spoke about how to approach a lifestyle photo sessions.
Brooke also discussed how she helped family members to go through the challenge of having children in a photo shoot.
Lastly, she gets vulnerable and shared personal struggles and how she faced it.
Follow Brooke in Instagram: @brookebschultz
Check her website here.
Is social media a "necessary evil?" Is it bad for business? You will find the answer to these questions in today's episode.
Abby Jiu has had a passion for gorgeous imagery and creating art since before she can remember. But in 2009, she picked up a camera and hasn’t put it down since.
Lisa Ziesing has loved wedding photography long before she became the one creating it. She has been shooting film since her high schools days on the yearbook staff and hasn’t stopped since.
Together, they are a team from Abby Jiu Photography.
Listen as they both share how they promote each other.
Also, you will discover how they become under one brand.
Lastly, Abby and Lisa gave advice on how you overcome the feeling of being overwhelm.
Abby Jiu Photography
Abby Jiu Photogrpahy Instagram
Lisa Ziesing Instagram
Second time is a charm, that is why we are bringing back John Dolan in the podcast.
John Dolan has woven a career of advertising, editorial and fine art photography. He is a recognized leader in contemporary wedding photography. Wedding clients include magazine art directors and editors, as well as celebrity couples Will & Jada Smith, Ben & Christine Stiller, Kate Bosworth & Michael Polish, Bridget Moynahan & Andrew Frankel, and most recently, Gwyneth Paltrow & Brad Falchuk.
In today's episode, we dive deep on his recent blog post, Change Channels. He will share the reason what inspired him to write it.
You will hear John discuss the pure essence of what makes a picture great and acceptable.
Lastly, you will find out why John wanted to encourage you to stop trying to please other people.
Find more about John at:
Amanda Crean is an incredible photographer based out of Northern California. BUT, she hasn't always been there. Starting out her photo business here in the States, she met an Irish chap, got married and moved out to Ireland. There she started her photo business all over again. After having twins and moving back to the States, but in a different state from where she began, Amanda had to start her photo business all over again.
We talk about the stresses, the challenges, the obstacles and how she overcame then to the point of having a thriving business in one of the most competitive markets.
This is a great episode and would love to hear any thoughts or areas where you resonate!
Check out her work and follow her on IG - @amandacrean
Jacob is the man behind Brumley and Wells, as well as J Lambert Film. He has an incredibly successful wedding photography business but in this episode, we talk about his passion project. He has traveled numerous times to India and his photos on film are absolutely incredible.
Check out his IG and give him a follow: @jlambertfilm
or his wedding work: @brumleyandwells
This is a really good episode where we talk about the stresses of shooting at a really high end level. Jose is one of the Top photographers in the wedding industry, he also shoots commercially and has set the tone for most film shooting photographers in this industry.
Jose Villa - Website
Jose Villa - Instagram
Lisa Ashley of @theweddingartistsco gives us insights into the business of booking. She was a commercial photography rep for years when she crossed over to the wedding world with one of her photographers. Now she and the Wedding Artists Co are made up of photographers all over the country.
They offer artist management for highly creative individuals who are exceptional at their craft but feel they want a support team for their day-to-day operations. They handle their photographer's marketing, booking and handle the majority of the initial email communication with their clients to help get questions answered quickly and efficiently. This keeps the artists’ schedule free to focus on their creative gifts so their couples are happy and feel well taken care of throughout the entire booking process.
So with all that, she has some incredibly valuable insight and advice.
Stephanie started out as a photographer and has now been with an e-commerce company for several years, learning marketing strategies and she is passionate about them.
In this episode, Stephanie and Braedon chat through several marketing strategies that you can apply to your own business.
This episode is a special treat where we get to hear from Carrie Goldberg - wedding and travel editor for Bazaar.com.
We discuss trends in the industry, things to do, things not to do, elements that she looks for and how to stand out in a crowd.
We think you're going to love it. Big thanks to Carrie for taking the time to share with us.
For the membership deals Carrie talked about, you can go here - https://www.harpersbazaar.com/wedding/planning/a25760257/bazaar-bride-membership-details/
Follow her personal account: @carrielauren
This episode is with Photographer and Educator D'Arcy Benincosa.
We cover so much in regards to marketing, getting noticed in a noisy space, and doing the work you want to be doing.
We discuss creating your 'Marketing Magnet' and what that is
- Discovering your Greatness
- creating and managing a content calendar
- Giving the client what they want
- so much more
Check out D'arcy's work and content on https://darcybenincosa.com/
Go check out her podast as well - Play it Brave
Jasmine Star is a Bad Ass. This episode will hopefully kick you into gear to be your best self and go create the work you're meant to create.
We talk about so many things from self care to what it takes to hustle, have discipline and courage to get out there and do the work you were made to do.
Check her stuff out at http://jasminestar.com
Follow her on Instagram: http://instagram.com/jasminestar
She's also on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/officialjasminestar
This episode is about markeing - attracting your customers, how you get leads and how to get them to convert. It is a really good one!!
Here's the transcript:
Braedon: 00:14 Welcome to the photo report where we have conversations with top level of photographers and other people that create for a living in order to hear their stories of how they've done what they've done, the journeys they've taken to get there, and just the lessons they've learned along the way in order. So you can be inspired, challenge, and hopefully grow in your craft or be encouraged in your craft and get out there to create more good work. I'm Braedon Flynn, your host, and this episode is going to be a little fun one. I'm trying different things here and again, and this is one of those where I had a little something happen and we then I decided to get some voices from other people in the industry to chime in on what I'm talking about. So this is gonna be a good one. We're talking about marketing.
Braedon: 00:58 Before we get into the show, I want to tell you real quick about our sponsor film supply club. If you shoot film or you're interested in film, I love film. It is the best place to get it at the best prices than an amazing community of some of the top photographers in our industry. You can check it out at film supply.club/join now onto the show.
Braedon: 01:21 So I'm going to tell you a little story that happened a few weeks ago and it was a lesson that I taught to my kids and I thought, hey, this could be a good little intro to the podcast and here it is...
Braedon: 01:34 So my family has been planning to have a garage sale for a long time. My wife started listening to or watching the tidy up show on Netflix and if you haven't, I decided to watch it with her. And so we've been tidying up the house and getting rid of stuff and instead of just going to goodwill was like, hey, let's have a little garage sale. We've got some good things. My wife's got some cute clothes and so we did, but it basically at happened, been a very rainy season and every weekend that I had available, basically it was raining. That was on a Saturday. And so finally looking at the weather report, we've got a Saturday coming up and it is, we're going to have the garage sale, we're going to do it. And but that day, so Friday it's raining. Friday night it's raining, but it's supposed to be sunny Saturday morning.
Braedon: 02:23 And so we're doing it, we're doing it. And so 6:00 AM rolls around. I get up, I set up the whole, you know, driveway for the garage. I've got everything laid out, tables is displayed, ready to go by seven 15 seven 30 we had had one car drive by our house. That's great to live in a nice quiet neighborhood when you've got kids out playing, but when you have a garage sale, not the best thing. And so it was like, we have so many, there's, it's busy streets all around us. It's like, all right, we, and I actually like weeks ago, for the first time, we're going to try to do the garage sale. I had signs made, they just weren't up. And I was like, oh, well why don't I had my wife, man, the station and I went out and I put out signs everywhere, like all on the main busy streets and all of a sudden cars started flooding to our street.
Braedon: 03:20 And so I thought, oh my gosh, I've been studying marketing for so long. I have been reading so many books. I've been looking, I've been researching how to grow a company. And all of it talks about what is your, what is your marketing funnel? How do you get then and a marketing funnel for just you visual people out there to think of a funnel. And if you're talking about it in a strategy for a business, like let's say you are trying to sell film to photographers, just hypothetically speaking. And with that. So you're trying to find it and you've got your ah, your warm audience of people, you know, but for people that you don't know, you're trying to get them in your funnel. And so people can run ads, you can do different thi
Mike Larson has been shooting weddings for years, from having a big associate studio to winding that down after realizing the toll that took on his life and family. We go really deep on philosophy, self care, thoughtfullness, family, and so much more. It is a good one packed with solid take aways.
Check his work here - http://mikelarson.com
Or follow him on Instagram: @mikelarson
Follow us at: @thephotoreport.com
or the blog: http://thephotoreport.com
We talk a lot about a lot in this podcast but the main thesis is a conversation surrounding putting your business on hold and then what it takes to ramp it back up to where it was and then beyond. It's a good one and hope you love the episode.
Check out Twah on Instagram: @twahphotography
Or her website: http://twahdaugherty.com
Really honored to have Sylvie Gil on the show who has been shooting weddings for 20 years at a very high end level. She has a background in fashion and commercial photography and gives some really great advice to photographers trying to make it in the biz.
Check out her work - https://www.sylviegilphotography.com/
And her workshops - http:sylviegilworkshops.com
Below is the transcription of the episode:
Sylvie Gil: 01:11 Hi Braedon, how are you doing?
Braedon Flynn: 01:13 So good. Well, hey, you have a wealth of knowledge and for those of you that don't know Sylvie, she teaches amazing workshops in France where she's from. But I want to sort of just dig into a little bit of your story and I've got a lot of other stuff I want to ask you. But could you, for people, I know you have a background in fashion, commercial photography and then got into weddings, but can you talk, we don't have to go into like depth of when you first started, but maybe like starting out in commercial photography, then how you ended up in weddings and what that transition was like. Yeah.
Sylvie Gil: 01:42 Yeah. So I wanted to be, I basically wanted to be an artist, but I wanted it to be an artist that is um, you know, doing well financially, find a way to just like make the art, you know, just a good financial experience so, and make money. So I went and studied, um, advertising in Paris and uh, I became an account executive. So I learned how to sell a product and had to create campaigns and things like that. And then I came to America and I was really bored with the advertising end of things. So I started working as a commercial photographer and I shot campaigns for, for fashion in studio. And that was going really well until I got pregnant. And when I got pregnant, you know, as if you look at it, most of the fashion photographers are males. It's very difficult to be a female photographer in fashion because your work, these super long hours and you can never be a mom.
Sylvie Gil: 02:35 So, and then I had a friend and in the fashion studio that I was working at, I had a friend who was, who was photographing weddings and she showed me this beautiful book of wedding photographs and this was in the early nineties and he was wearing black and white photographs of wedding. There was just super gorgeous. And I, and you know, I'm a sucker for anything romantic. And I was like, wow, I just want to try that out. So I, uh, actually had a friend was getting married in Napa and I shot their wedding and that's how it all started. And I loved it. And this was 20 years ago,
Braedon Flynn: 03:07 20 years ago. So it went from, so let's say shooting that first wedding, because I think a lot of people listening are wanting to end up in photography. You're doing that full time, getting that first job versus then getting, you know, more jobs. And how did, how did that end up happening? Like where you'd now started having a wedding business?
Sylvie Gil: 03:26 Well, so I did the first wedding. I was fortunate enough that I was able to use the internet. So I created a website immediately, which was in the very beginning of it. This was the early nineties. And I think that was probably one of the first, you know, like people that I knew what a website and uh, the wedding got picked up by a magazine in Canada and uh, they actually created a story with me and a couple of other photographers just based off like one or two weddings I had shot. And then the phone started ringing from there and I just set up the business, you know, hired some help immediately and just created a brand. And which is different today than it was back then. And just, I remember the first year I shot about, 25 weddings. Isn't that crazy? Yeah, that's amazing. And I know the first year and then I went on shooting about 30 weddings for probably like 15 years, 20 years, 15 years. And then I kind of slowed down a little bit after that. But basically, yeah, most of my weekends, spring, summer and fall, we're s
Shaun is the co-founder of Kiss Books. Having been a photographer for 15years, photographing over 500 weddings, he has a lot of insight into what it takes to run a successful photography business. Out of that, he started Kiss Books, a high end album company to help serve his fellow photographers. In this interview, Shaun shares advice on how to sell and upsell by casting a vision and setting expectations.
Below is the transcript of the interview with timestamps:
Braedon Flynn: 00:00 Welcome to the photo report where we have conversations with top level photographers and other people that create for a living to hear stories about how they do what they do, how they've done, what they've done, struggles along the way in a way that hopefully inspires, encourages and gets you to go out there and create more work. And this episode was with Shaun Gordon who is one of the founders of kiss books, which is a high end album company and we hear the story about how he goes from being a photographer to launching this company, which is now a significantly sized company. And we talk a lot about being, you know, when you're in business, you have product and you're. And as a photographer you are a service. You're basically selling your time for dollars. And so we have a conversation about how do you take the things that you're already doing and then make more money through sales and doing it in a way that's just really great.
Braedon Flynn: 00:44 So we actually recorded this live and so if you want to watch the video, you can go to the photo report dot Com. And see it there, or search youtube for the artist report and then type in his books. I'm sure it'll show up that way, but I hope you love this conversation as much as I enjoyed having it. Before we get into the show, want to tell you real quick about our sponsor film supply club. If you shoot film or you're interested in film, I love film. It is the best place to get it at the best prices than an amazing community of some of the top photographers in our industry. You can check it out at film supply.club/join now onto the show. Thanks. Thompson being here and after getting into that, can you just give a little intro on the sort of how you got to where you are to give people that don't know you a little bit idea?
Shaun Gordon: 01:30 Sure. Yeah. I was a photographer for about 15 years, a shot around 500 weddings. I'm mostly based out of Orange County and up traveling to 10 for, for that and I'm just saw this gap in the industry and cofounded kiss books because of this space that was like I loved, I, you know, she didn't over 60 weddings a year for a few years, which is kind of crazy. But the amount of albums that I was selling, it just became such a bottleneck in my business and it was basically at a point where it was like, it has to be easier than this at some point. And so having chosen the album makers that were in the history at the time, we kind of made our version of kiss and then decided like this is something I think that we can do on our own.
Shaun Gordon: 02:17 And created a system, a very simple way to get to the product and we launched kiss about 11 years ago now. So her dad and what like with, with that though.
Braedon Flynn: 02:30 So how did you transition from photography to then launching a thing to them becoming a thing where now you are just doing that?
Shaun Gordon: 02:38 Yeah, I love creative entrepreneurs and having been one for a long time, I was raised by an entrepreneur that knew the business side of things, so that was one thing that I loved and learned from my dad and um, understood what it meant to hustle, you know, shooting that amount of weddings and things like that made sense during that season. But also knowing that like I loved entrepreneurs as a whole and how could we create a space where we can all thrive together. I saw a lot of friends kind of like come in the industry and go out of the industry because of the business side.
Shaun Gordon: 03:10 It wasn't
This episode is a little different. Perry ask Braedon about how he handles his client inquiries and the two of them talk through the ways each of them approach, respond and aim to book leads coming their way.
Lexi Clifford is the founder of Belle Lumiere Magazine which supports and features film photographers from all different genres. We talk about her journey, why she started the magazine, and how she balances family and work.
John Dolan is best known for finding the in-between, unplanned moments that make real people look beautiful and beautiful people look real.
John has woven a career of advertising, editorial and fine art photography. He is a recognized leader in contemporary wedding photography. Wedding clients include magazine art directors and editors, as well as celebrity couples Will & Jada Smith, Ben & Christine Stiller, Kate Bosworth & Michael Polish, Bridget Moynahan & Andrew Frankel, and most recently, Gwyneth Paltrow & Brad Falchuk.
The modern wedding has become so much about the photographs and John takes an approach that is more about the wedding and less about the shot list. He photographs as things happen vs curating and cultivating what wouldn’t otherwise be there.
This is a great interview and hope you like it.
And here’s the transcript from the conversation with John and Braedon:
Braedon Flynn: 00:01 John, thanks so much for coming on the show and sharing your wisdom and all that and stoked to have you here. Awesome. Well, for people that don't know you as well, can you just give a slight background as to, I mean where you are in your photo journey and how you got there.
John Dolan: 00:22 I've been in the game for a long time. I was thinking about last night. It's the only job I've ever had since I was 15 years old. Uh, so I've never had a full time job. I've never had a paycheck from somebody besides myself. So I've had 30 years freelance in New York and I started out as a magazine photographer and slipped my way into weddings in the early days of the nineties and I've always had an ambition to keep weddings as part of my business but not let them be the whole business. So I've balanced magazine work, ad work and weddings for 30 years.
Braedon Flynn: 01:09 I think a lot of people either. I know a lot of commercial photographers that have just recently started getting into weddings because I know when I first started getting into weddings who was sort of like, oh, that's cute, you shoot weddings, and it was almost. It was really frowned upon to shoot weddings. Have you found that to be the case coming from both worlds?
John Dolan: 01:31 Certainly when I started, weddings were the lowest form of photography, even I remember being at a party with a lot of journalists back in the nineties and people were talking about doing projects in Nicaragua or Bosnia and they turned to me and said, what are you doing? I've been shooting weddings and they all kind of frowned at me for a second. And I said, well, I just thought will smith wedding. I shot Ben Stiller's and, they started handing out business cards. Do you need a second?
John Dolan: 02:08 But it was, it was a great moment because I realized that I wasn't ashamed of doing it and I was doing it my way. And also in the nineties it was wide open. There was a very small group of us who embraced wedding as photographers rather than as wedding photographers. When you come to it with that attitude that you're. I really thought of myself as somebody who was fascinated by weddings rather than by the wedding industry. I just wanted to tell the stories that I saw in front of me and and dive deep into them as if I was shooting a magazine story. So it was almost that I was naive to the ways of the wedding industry. That was a real help. Sometimes being being an amateur is a help and I feel for people who are starting these days because the wedding industry is so strong and they're so many great photographers who are. I'm making a really good living, doing big time wedding photography, but in a funny way. It was much more innocent to a movement. We were rejecting the cheesy stuff with the eighties and just doing our thing in the nineties, so it's a tricky time now.
Braedon Flynn: 03:38 We'll get into that in a second, but I'd still love to go back to just going from being a journalist and then going to shooting people like will smith and Ben Stiller. How, how did that end up coming about? Like
Jeremy Chou is an award winning photographer specializing in destination weddings. He's shoots commercially as well, educates, hosts workshops and has resources for photographers which you can find on his site.
This episode's going to be a little different than our typical episodes. Usually I'm interviewing top photographers and trying to draw out some of the story of where they've been, how they've got there, the business behind their art and all that sort of stuff, but I also wanted to start just I guess giving some input or advice and little shorter clips that are in the interview format where it's just me talking and this is going to be one of those episodes.
I would say that being your own boss is incredible and the dream that everyone should want. And I actually don't think it's for everyone and wanted to just. Yeah, talk about that a little bit and was listening to a podcast by Tim Ferriss and also listened to a lot of Seth Godin.
Here's the article from Seth:
The world’s worst boss
That would be you.
Even if you’re not self-employed, your boss is you. You manage your career, your day, your responses. You manage how you sell your services and your education and the way you talk to yourself.
Odds are, you’re doing it poorly.
If you had a manager that talked to you the way you talked to you, you’d quit. If you had a boss that wasted as much of your time as you do, they’d fire her. If an organization developed its employees as poorly as you are developing yourself, it would soon go under.
I’m amazed at how often people choose to fail when they go out on their own or when they end up in one of those rare jobs that encourages one to set an agenda and manage themselves. Faced with the freedom to excel, they falter and hesitate and stall and ultimately punt.
We are surprised when someone self-directed arrives on the scene. Someone who figures out a way to work from home and then turns that into a two-year journey, laptop in hand, as they explore the world while doing their job. We are shocked that someone uses evenings and weekends to get a second education or start a useful new side business. And we’re envious when we encounter someone who has managed to bootstrap themselves into happiness, as if that’s rare or even uncalled for.
There are few good books on being a good manager. Fewer still on managing yourself. It’s hard to think of a more essential thing to learn.
Perry Vaile is a wildly talented photographer, who shoots mainly analog film, and has built a very successful business. She is the breadwinner of her family with a husband that cares for the children -and any of you who are parents know is one of the most exhausting and rewarding jobs out there - and we talk a bit about in this interview.
Perry talks about Branding and building her image and clientele. She's on the East Coast and I'm over on the west coast so it was a Skype interview. Not the normal for this channel but better than not having it.
I hope you enjoy and below is the transcript from the interview:
Braedon: 00:00 Well, Hey, welcome to the show. Perry, you are an awesome person. We met in person just a little bit ago in Canada at Engage, which was really fun and I've admired your work for a long time and just excited to have you on here to share your knowledge.
Perry Vaile: 00:15 Awesome. Well I'm so excited. I love to talk, so I'm ready.
Braedon: 00:19 Cool. For people that don't know a lot of your story, could you give, I mean you've, you have a little bit of a different background but maybe where you started out and then how you ended up getting into photography.
Perry Vaile: 00:31 Yeah. So, I grew up in a really small town in North Carolina, very rural. I'm all by myself. I have no siblings, so it's just me and my mom was always into photos - but like to an annoying level so I hated it and didn't want anything to do with it. And you know, basically I didn't have any visions of being a photographer to begin with. I was always focused on getting out of my little town and getting out of the not fun childhood situation I was in and just finding my way out. And so I immediately, as soon as I could, I went to college and I was like, I'm going to be an academic because that was like, that was my vision of what the, how to get out and how to do something great, you know. So I went to school and I got my Undergrad and my undergrad and master's in history and historic preservation and all along I've always had this pull, to photos, but I didn't want to acknowledge it because, you know, my mom was the crazy photo taker and it was so annoying.
Braedon: 01:29 Was she just like, just shooting photos around or was she like doing that for work?
Perry Vaile: 01:35 No, she shot. She has shot a wedding before, but she said it went terribly and I'm not surprised because she's a little bit of an anxious person. So, um, she always shot, you know, she's obviously shooting on film and I tried to play with their cameras and, and high school I was on the yearbook staff and I was taking the photos and even when I was going into history and trying to become a historian, I always was pulled to, I guess the visuals of history, which is why I focused on like historic preservation, which is like basically buildings and architecture in cities because I wasn't, I mean I liked being an academic, but I really wasn't until like the book and the words I was into the visuals, you know. I definitely stuck out in the history department. I will say it was just me and a lot of, you know, guys that only watched star wars and we didn't, I couldn't.
Perry Vaile: 02:26 I was like, I want to talk about stuff with people. Um, you know, and so, you know, photography I really focused on even my master's thesis was on early American photographers and I mean just very convoluted versions of what photography was and early history, but I was always drawn to it. And then I started shooting for fun and I had a girl basically message me. I had a blog early on about this is way before, it was like 2008 or 9 that I would take pictures on and I had a girl message me and basically say, oh, your photos are really beautiful when you pictures at my wedding. I was like, sure. And I like never really done that, you know, I'd taken my own pictures. So before that I actually was like, I'm going to reach out to people and see if I could shoot a wedding before that one.
Brian Greenberg is the owner of Richard Photo Lab - one of the top film photography labs in the world. He has talked with and counseled many photographers and in this interview, we dig into the recurring issues he sees and advice he gives to help build a better creative business.
Erich McVey is one of the more sought after and well-followed photographers in the wedding industry. He's a true artist, a film shooter and a good businessman. We hear his story, his approach to hustle and how he got where he is today. We hope you love this episode.
Nancy Ray is a photographer who has done an incredible job of building a team around her so her whole business isn't resting solely on herself. She has a team of other shooters, she runs educational courses, and built a team around the post-production of her work.
In this episode, Nancy talks through how she hires and what she has done to make her team so successful.
Braedon, typically our host gets the table flipped on him in an interview he did for the Bokeh Podcast. In this episode, he talks about his various side projects, managing family + a destination photo business and shooting at a high-end level of weddings and events.
Eric Kelley is a top level wedding photographer shooting some of the highest end weddings with the best planners out there. In this conversation, Eric and Braedon talk through Eric almost burning totally out and what he did and has been doing to recover and get some gas back in his tank.
Share a little bit about your history of photography and how you got into where you are and doing what you're doing?
Yeah. So, I always tell people that I kind of became a photographer on accident. When I started my business, I didn't actually think I was starting a business. So at the time I was a teacher, I used to teach kindergarten, I was honestly just kind of struggling to make it on a teacher's salary I was single at the time and Seattle is an expensive place and I was fresh out of graduate school and had all these bills and so I started doing photography on the side kind of to supplement my income and within three years of deciding that was going to do that to supplement my income, it kind of took over and I decided to quit my teaching job and launch SantaCon photography and so that's how I got started.
For people that maybe are in a place where they're doing photography on the side and wanting to be in a place where they are able to support themselves as a photographer, how long do you feel like that took you to be able to quit your teaching job and just be a photographer?
Yeah that's a great question and honestly it's a question I get all the time, so for me what helped me was I decided that I needed to be able to replace that salary so I was a full-time teacher and when photography really started working for me I went to part-time teaching and then before I could really go full-time photography, I wanted to make sure that I could consistently make my full-time teaching salary through photography and so once I got to that point where it was pretty consistent. I was like okay let's do this and that's when I decided to go for it, and you know, it was a little bit rocky so I think I made so many of the mistakes that so many photographers make when they get started and trying to you know chase what's on trend or do what they think that they should do them but the beginning of my career was a little bit rocky. So I would say it was probably it was probably six or seven years into it before I really kind of found my groove and it became what it is today. I was figuring out what I was doing in those early years but financially I was always able to make that teacher salary and you know teacher salary so it wasn't a super high goal.
With just even starting out with photography though and starting to get gigs how did you go from not really having gigs and deciding like I want to start shooting photos to then all of a sudden you know being able to start booking stuff and was it did you start out shooting families is that how you started out?
No. I kind of lucked out in some ways so when I decided to do this, this all this all started for me in 1999 and I had this group of friends and my friend Ginger was the first to get married in our group and the first to get pregnant in our group and you know is that it was the s and we were all still kind of reeling from that great Annie Leibovitz shot of Demi Moore right that kind of launched the Eternity photography industry and so I had always done photography on the side it was something that I just love to do. We had a dark room in my house growing up you know so it was something that I always did I just never thought of it as a career and but when Ginger got pregnant I said you know what we should totally do one of those like Demi Moore photos you know and so we did so we took off all her clothes and did the dramatic Demi Moore pose and we got one gorgeous photo and she was the one actually it came to me because you know all my friends I was living in Seattle in the 90’s all my friends worked in like the dot-com world and then I was this teacher who would go out you know with all these people who worked in the dot-com world and they'd all be ordering steaks and wine and I'd be like a glass of water and a side salad please and so they kind of knew where I was financially and so it was my friend Ginger who said you know I lo
Braedon: So, Daniel with your background and customer service what can you say what company that was you were working with or what's what industry and what did you learn there that you've been able to apply to your business you might not have.
Daniel: Sure, I studied finance in college and then I did a few a few jobs right out of school before landing at, my last company was called E-vestment. It was a software company but we worked with in the investment industry and I started in the client service world. So, my job was to, me and my teammates were to essentially be the front line of defense for any of our clients or vendors that were calling our company and you know had problems or whatever they needed help with, we were that first line of defense. So, we learned a lot of tactics on, you know how to quickly identify problems and get out ahead of them and of course keeping the mood light if someone was upset just being able to really carry them through whatever their issue was, all the way to the finish and making sure that they left with a better feeling towards our company than when they were coming in. And it was a really fun environment, it was a very young team, we all got along really well and our bosses were very hands-on in a good way and so I learned a lot in that that space and I've transitioned from that role to a more of a product management role. So, then my communication became less reactive, at that company and more proactive. So, I was doing more reaching out on my end talking to customers who are using our product and just identifying, you know how they were using it, why they were using it and then even if they weren't having problems identifying where problems could end up showing themselves down the road and things like that. So, I'm also very outgoing, I think in my just my personality and so I enjoyed being able to constantly interact with people and then I also got a lot a lot of interaction with our sales team. So, there's a lot of relationship building and things like that. So I think that aspect of it just transfer directly right over this you know when a bride and her groom, when they're signing up and becoming clients of ours, you know you beginning a very long relationship in a lot of cases, you know a year I guess on average you could say eight months and through that time there's a lot of touch points along the way and so why can't I said we like to be very proactive with our clients and so you like to identify things ahead of time and get out of a head of those and just make sure that their experiences is just flawless you know they don't, they don't ever have to think about what's happening on our end, you know we're carrying them through that and everything that I learned in that role I think just transferred very well right over to what we're doing now.
Braedon: Yeah that's great.
Anna: We very much have different strengths and it plays very well in our business. Daniel is very, he's incredible with people and so outgoing and great with Excel sheets and all that fun stuff that creatives don't necessarily well quite as much so I'm really grateful to have them as a teammate.
Braedon: Those traits don't usually go together. The spreadsheets plus extroverted. That's amazing that you have both those.
Daniel: Yeah it is fun. It’s fun being there together especially even so I did an engagement session when previously it would just be Anna and you know the bride and groom. Now we're there when we're moving from location or in between shots or something and there's that moment of conversation that kind of has the opportunity to unfold. Now that we're both there, Anna, I kind of can free it up to be a little more creative in thinking about what we're gonna do next. We've already done planning but she can do a little bit more thinking internally and I can be interacting with the bride and groom and you know just keeping the conversation fun and nice and easy going and so they're just contin
This interview with Max Wanger goes into his background and start in photography. How he fell into shooting weddings but then strategically curated his brand and style. Max and Braedon discuss the transition from weddings to commercial work, balancing work, life and family, and how he stays creatively motivated.
Dane Sanders is a business coach for independent creatives and photographers, an author, a photographer, and founder of The GoBe Collective, which he started to help creatives increase the value they are bringing into the world.
In this conversation Dane has with Braedon, they talk through common mistakes small businesses and photographers make. They go over what it takes to run a successful and sustainable business, balancing (or un-balancing) family and work, and some efficiency tools Dane uses and suggests.
Life is too short. If you want to make a mark, you can't be lazy.
Balance is actually not what to strive for, it's being present where you are with what you're doing. Intentionality is key.
We highly suggest you check out The GoBe Collective and listen to Dane's Podcast called Converge - you can also subscribe in iTunes or whatever podcast player you use.
Find out more about Dane at Fast Track Photographer and if you're interested in exploring his coaching programs, go to Fastermind Coaching
JonPaul Douglass is a Los Angeles based commercial photographer and director.
He spoke at Connecting Things, a gathering of creatives, designers, photographers and artists on the topic of your Creative Identity.
As you listen to JonPaul talk, you can really see how his personality comes through in his work and has done a good job himself cultivating his style, leaving his thumbprint the images he makes.
He's funny, quirky and smart - and you can see that in his photos. This lecture is great, challenging, and will get you thinking about your creative identity.
"Cover bands have never changed the world. Don't be a cover band" - Todd Henry
Elan of RPL: tell us a little bit about yourself, your story, how you got started all that good stuff
Sylvie Gil: It was a pure accident, how did that happen again. I was a fashion photographer in San Francisco and i shot a wedding for a friend and the wedding got published in a magazine in Canada and I don’t know if it exists still, I think it does
Elan of RPL: What is the name of the magazine?
Sylvie Gil: Brides something rather no it was called brides its Canadian magazine, but anyways after that the phone started ringing, I was like no am a fashion photographer just don’t know much about wedding but I was also pregnant and if anybody can name me a fashion photographer and made a career out of it while they had children. I will give you the rest of the [1:16] because it simply doesn’t exist like when you a fashion photographer it’s really difficult you have a family that make you work 20 hours per day they can’t sense you are pregnancy they think you gonna hurt yourself, it’s a very difficult career to have as a parent so I thought maybe the weddings is the thing to do as a mum. Then I went and trained with a bunch of local photographers enough to 3 years of training and I let the word out and first year I shot fifteen weddings
Elan of RPL: What year was that?
A long time ago, over thirty years don’t wanna talk numbers.
Elan of RPL: Am over thirty years
Stop talking numbers that was a while ago I can’t remember
Elan of RPL: So you mentioned briefly that you were a fashion photographer, how do you get started in photography like what sparked the passion that you wanted to be a photographer.
That was another accident, I was actually in college for business I started marketing in business in college in Paris and came to America to travel around and I loved California I mean who doesn’t like California and I picked up my camera actually my… okay. Any parents here raise your hand. This is something you gonna remember, when I was fourteen my dad told me you should be a photographer and I was like are you crazy that am gonna be starving for the rest of my life that am gonna be an artist will just never work. He even had me visit a photography college in Paris and I was like there is no way I was gonna be a wedding photographer so guess what whatever you think your kids are gonna be its gonna turn out that way because the parents know better, they do.
Elan of RPL: It’s interesting coz actually the parents are always trying to talk you out of a career in photography.
Sylvie Gil: No
Elan of RPL: Like get an education and then you can try this
Sylvie Gil: No they are crazy in my family we are all artist so we are not, so I came here with a business degree and my father snuck a camera in my pockets and I took a tonne of photos while travelling across the USA and then I actually ended up at [3:14] with a black and white picture I took somewhere in US as most promising female photographer and I could barely speak English. It was really interesting so then I thought maybe I should pursue this photography thing and then I took a few classes am pretty much self-taught. I didn’t take a lot of classes I didn’t go to a lot of photography schools am pretty much self-taught
Elan of RPL: So how did that kind of work your way into the fashion?
Sylvie Gil: So I started knocking around in san Francisco on fashion studios because I love fashion and then this woman had me started sweeping floors and ordering lunches and was really using chilling and then I worked really hard at that position so I could climb up the ladders. When it comes to work and career I really believe in taking your time.
Elan of RPL: Sure
Sylvie Gil: I know now it’s a whole lots of concepts. So basically I went to auction in a lot of studios in san fransisco and started at the bottom like didn’t know much about anything. I really started sweeping floors and ordering lunches and then I became the fifth assistant and then the fourth assistant and then climb my way up to first as
Jose Villa is one of, or if not THEE, most known and sought after wedding photographer in the industry. Jose talks about his journey getting there and lessons he's learned along the way.
Elan Cohen: Let's start Jose. Take us take us all on your journey. How did your career start?
Jose Villa: Yeah, well I see some familiar faces so I'm sure you guys are going to probably like, I heard this before. I've been photographing weddings for about fifteen years or so, I'm formally trained, I went to Brooks Institute of photography. I grew up in Central, I guess coastal California and I grew up on a ranch and this is actually kind of fun being here because, like you know, it actually does feel like we're a little bit outside for a second. I love the outdoors. I normally or usually in most cases photographed outdoor weddings, vineyard weddings, private homes that kind of stuff. That's just where I'm most comfortable, that is where I grew up. So I, you know I want to, I just, I want to shoot in places that make me feel good. I'm not going to place myself in situations that I don't feel good in so I make it easy for myself and that's how I've been able to build my brand, is to just be you know photographing in areas that feel good to me, that I know I have full control in. Doesn't mean I don't photograph ballroom weddings, of course I do. But yeah I know for sure I mean I think, so that's a little bit about my background. I photograph roughly about thirty, thirty-five weddings a year. I used to shoot sixty weddings a year. I first started shooting weddings back when I think the average wedding photographer was maybe charging eighteen hundred dollars in my area. The first wedding I ever shot was four hundred dollars and I've always shot film, so I actually paid for the wedding, I paid for them. You know I see some nods over here, I know, but you know, you got to start somewhere and the beautiful thing today that we live in, you know of course this social media world and you need to take that to, you know, take that and run with it because honestly like for me Instagram is my portfolio. Would you guys raise your hand if you think that's true. Yeah everybody should be.
Elan Cohen: Remember how weird it was when you told us that you had just booked your first wedding from Instagram how like everybody was like whoa?
Jose Villa: I know that was like probably two and a half years ago maybe now. But about a year and a half ago a client called me and she said I had already booked her wedding and she said hey I'm really interested in hiring a floral designer, one of the best in California or anywhere, who do you recommend? And so she said don't send me their websites, send me their Instagram and I thought wow, like people aren't even going to people's vendors websites anymore. I mean maybe they are some are of course, but mostly they want to see Instagram and we all know that. I mean I see a lot of really young faces here and I think it's sort of for us, the younger well not, I'm getting older now but a lot of younger people here, you're using that platform and you should be. And what I always say to you is only show what you want in return. Do not show images that you don't absolutely love because if you do show those images you're going to get that in return. It's just going to happen. I'll tell you a really quick story, I have tons of stories but one of the funniest stories I think for me starting out was going through photography school we were trained to photograph everything from literally cars to buildings to children to, and you photograph everything. And the reason you do is because that's how you're going to fall in love with whatever it is that you're going to do for your career. And I remember at the time I used to go to [Sainta Barbara], I used to go to this really great Mexican restaurant and they had the best shrimp burritos. They put like you know zucchini in there and like mushrooms and like sour cream was amazing. So I rem
2016 was a fun year, we like all that, is about updating new brands and so, we launched that and then also, kindof took the time to take some personal work and really kindof organize that into just a place that would all the, to be able to sell prints of those in a way that was easy and organized. And showcased it, that was even like more work for us. I think I've talked to several of you, that everyone said oh somebody wanna buy one (1) of our prints, and you know. Okay now, how do I? What size do I do it? How expensive is that? How do I get it to you? And it's actually more work to actually fulfill that order, that when it's a final print like that, if you don't go through all the process. So we finally took the time and did that.
Q: We learned that together, but it's a lot harder than just starting the print)
A: Yeah, yeah. This is a very nice man here. We put him through a lot in 2016.
Q: No. You guys are fine, you taught us some stuffs, so that's great. What would be something that if you could look back to when you started shooting, a bit of advice that you wish someone had given you.
Q: So, part of what we've been talking about this year, so much is really the business behind what we're doing, and specifically you know we say fine art photography maybe, maybe six years ago, everyone would say no, I'm a photo journalistic photographer, and then it was fine art photographer, even now that may have been over used. Kindof like you know, organic, well then it was on every single food package, well then it doesn't really mean anything anymore. So, I think really just getting back to the business, and really taking the time to come up with the vision for your business, and more specifically for your life. Because if you just start doing and your goal is to go to the next wedding, to take the prettiest next picture, and you know to get on that magazine, and get on that blog, and you know, becomes the rat race, and you're kind of in it and then maybe years go by and you go, is this exactly where I wanted to be? Am I working towards the objective, towards the vision that I want for my life? And so really just being more strategic about that, and thinking about what you want your life to look like, and I mean really like, where is that, what are you doing everyday? Are you home on the weekends? Are you on a plane three days a week? What does that life look like? Because maybe you're kindof running in the wrong direction and wasting a lot of energy to chase after something that you don't even really want at the end of the day. And I think it is easy to get caught up in kindof what other people are doing, and what they have, and kind of go oh that looks amazing, I want that. But when you really sit to think about it, and go oh well that means we have to pack a bag on Thursdays and say goodbye to their kids. And they come home on Monday, and you know they're not there for that. And they miss Johnny’s soccer game, or whatever that may be, is that really you know necessarily what you want? So just kindof figure those things out and making sure it, there's a trajectory and a strategy to get there.
Q: So you've mentioned that 2017 for you is kindof the year of the business, and kindof peeling back layers. Have there been anything so far that you, that's been brought to your attention, and you're like oh my God how did I miss that?
A: Like twenty things.
Q: Okay so.
Q: Oh, give us one of them that would help some of the people sitting here listening.
A: Yeah. Even in, so I'm really into, at the moment especially just being more productive, and being my award of the year is intentional. So just really, just being intentional about, and that comes down to that what do you wanna be in five (5) years. What you wanna be when you're eighty. And so instead of just spinning the wheels to be intentional, and that, it boils down to what to get out of this week, what do I want to get out of this day. So it’s...
Welcome to the Photo Report Podcast where we talk to top-level Pro Photographers about the business behind their craft, their journeys to get them, where they are and the lessons they've learned along the way.
This is Season 2 of the Photo Report; but Season 1 for the Podcast portion of things, you can go online to thephotoreport.com to see past video interviews as well as the videos from this season. And season 3 is already in the works but what we have for this season is a couple of handfuls of talks by Photographers, Bloggers, Editors at the Richard Photo Lab Booth that was held at W PPI conference out in Vegas; they're packed full of valuable info of what basically you wouldn't get unless you attended one of their workshops.
So, we're really excited to share these talks with you and think you're going to love them as well. During this season of the Photo Report, the interviews are hosted by Alan Cohen from Richard Photo Lab, episode one is with French Photographer, Greg Fink; his work is stunning but the insight in this talk, coming from a business background and 10 years plus working in the marketing department of a massive US company is incredibly helpful in thinking through the intentional strategy he has in his Photo Business.
Hopefully, you can take some of these lessons and apply them to your own business before we get into this episode though, this podcast is brought to you by Film Supply Club; it's partly the reason why it took so long to get these WPPI videos live because I spent the first half of the year launching it but Film Supply Club is the best place for you to get film, if you're a film shooting photographer; it's a member based community where once a member you get access to discounted prices on film and other photo related products and services like Richard Photo Lab, Cloud Spot, Lens Pro To Go, Bench Accounting and a lot more to come. But ultimately, it's here to strengthen our Photography Community and save you all as much cash as possible. Now, onto the show…
Host - Elan Cohen of Richard Photo Lab: Greg Fink, sexy and handsome French Photographer, featured on Style Me Pretty and on Wedding Sparrow, named as Harper’s Bizarre Wedding Photogs of the year 2016.
Elan Cohen: So, tell us a little bit about your story, how you got into photography.
Greg Fink: So, basically I've always been a photographer, I got my first camera in the hand when I was 12, I was lucky enough to have a dark home at home when I was a kid because my dad just loved that so he taught me how to process my negatives, how to do my prints. So, I've always done that but then my parents told me that I should get a real job so I went to Business School and I worked 10 years for Procter & Gamble as a Marketing Manager in Paris and I was kind of very sad in that life. So, I started shooting Wedding 7 years ago when I was still working another job, first for friends, then friends of friends and all of a sudden you realize you can have a market. So, I quit my job 3 years ago so I've been full-time since.
Elan Cohen: I always tell this story to people that are just starting out; I was really impressed when we first started working together I remember you wanted to do the Book Project and the way you went about it was completely different than other clients do, where you told me this is my budget for the book, this is what I'm looking for, how many books can I get? As opposed to most people who will say: “Okay I need a hundred of this book” and then we give them the price. So, I thought that was really impressive, can you kind of explain a little- talk a little bit about how your prior experience in business has helped your photography business?
Greg Fink: Yeah, so my prior experience in business really helps on a daily basis; whether it is branding or accounting, managing a P&L, everything and you need to realize that 70% of Photographers- Wedding Photographers are going to be out of the market in 3 y