Empower Your Client, Empower Yourself
So we're gonna dive right in and reach is going to talk about what everybody's gonna learn over the next several days and what we're gonna start with today, and I apologize for having notes, but I'm a little nervous. And people always tell you when you're nervous toe picture people in their underwear. But that kind of doesn't work for a big war photographer. That's kind of my normal. So anyway, so what? We're gonna be teaching you guys and sharing with you? Um, this three day workshop is, um, the whole The whole overlying premise is empowering your client, empowering yourself, connecting with your client, which is the most important thing the techniques that were going to be teaching you for shooting retouching Marketing can be applied to any type of photography, not just boudoir. Of course, I specialize in the door, but I've dabbled in everything. So these are things that you can apply if you are adding boudoir to your business or if it's something that you're going to be segueing int...
o, or if you're just starting out these this workshop is for everyone. Whether you're a beginner pro, whether you're a mom with a camera everyone says that with derision. I welcome the moms with the camera. I am a mom with a camera. I'm self taught. I had a full time job. All that stuff taught myself, You know, all these things that we're gonna be teaching you. Um we're so excited to be able to give people the opportunity to just get in there and do it. You don't have to suffer. All those years that I suffered through learning through trial and error. So, um, we could do the next. Okay, so we're gonna show you how we do what we dio. Rachel is gonna hit with retouching and shooting actual client situations. Then she's gonna talk about how she's really streamlined her processing. So the most important thing to us is spending time with our kids and being able to build a life that we designed. So we get to do the important things in life. And it's not just about being a slave to wages or to your job. We've specifically designed this life so we could live this way, and it took a long, hard slog to get here. It's really worth it on, but can be done and we're going to show you how we did it. And then you can hopefully apply that to your business and how you can move forward with that as well. And then we're gonna show you how we have an annual 16 your income, and that's gonna be with our marketing, how she shoots and the whole package put together. That's you. So when I say but war, I mean empowerment. So we already talked about this empowering your client, empowering yourself. So let me talk a little very quickly about the numbers. We thought that when we're coming to creativelive because we're both self taught, a lot of people will will think, Well, what do you know? So the best way we can show you what we know is our numbers. This is our last year's annual totals in sales, and you can't see it in the in the audience here. But you can see it at home. I'll show you. This is our actual authorized dot net from January 1st 2000 and 13 to December 31st 2013. This is my Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and discover my total sales. There's $329,000. That's just reborn. That's what we come to the table with. This is it can be done. You can do it. We've done it. And this is all self taught, Not not going to school to figure it out just the last decade. This is how we've done it. So starting out, I was a single mom and I was raising my son 40 hour job. 95. Um, I was feeling really unhappy, although I had all the things that I thought I was supposed to have a paycheck. I could rely on a four on Chaos building on a reliable job. It just bought a condo, but I was miserable. I was totally unhappy. Um, and I knew that my life needed to change, and I think that we all kind of get to that place where you feel like we want to be more creative. And I think that as artists, we all have that child inside us that wants to play, and that's really what art is. It's just about exploring and playing and working for me. Working in a corporate world. Pushing paper just didn't provide that opportunity. And when you're a single parent. Your you really have no time for yourself. So, um, I started teaching myself photography. I wasn't secure enough. Teoh, ask people to pose for me. So I started taking selfies before selfies were selfies. So you get That's a selfie. What a big difference to babies makes. I know, Um, so I would take pictures of myself. And when my son was asleep after I put him to bed and trying to teach myself about retouching like actually painting with a brush over the skin, you know, like, horrible, horrible photo shop. But everyone starts somewhere and lighting. I'd let this with a stack of paint cans with Home Depot floodlights clamped to the top like this far away from me. And I didn't know what an interval ometer was. So I would pose and then run to the camera and pushed the self timer and run back and pose. And, you know, so your call sweating after, like, three minutes. But, um, before we had a MySpace or Facebook, we had Friendster. So, um, my girlfriend started seeing the pictures that I was taking their like what? Some. So I would do their pictures and then their friends and, you know, because I didn't know them, I'd be like, Well, give me, like, honor bucks. And it just kept going until one day I realized, you know, I'm making a little bit of money here, like maybe this could be a career. And I completely fell in love with being a part of that transformation that women have when they you know they're nervous and do their make up and then they get a little excited. They're feeling pretty. They're feeling pampered. Then you're taking the pictures. It's like your girlfriends hanging out, and then you start showing them the pictures in the camera, and sometimes there's tears. And you just see that that self confidence in that joy. And it's just really that kind of like joy and that expression of love for themselves in an environment where it's okay where there's no judgement, because we do kind of live in that place where you know, the media pushes all of these images at us to buy everything like Why do you need 1/2 naked model posing, all sweaty with a handbag? You know, like these, these kind of sexualized images are always at us But yet it's not OK for us to be sexy. Then we were not respected. Or, you know, it's girl on girl crime, all kinds of stuff. So that's one of the coolest things through my journey from the very beginning. That really kind of hooked me. Was this incredible, like sense of sisterhood that I'd have with these women. And you were also at a point in your life where you needed that as well. From previous relationship. Correct? Exactly. Does, um before I knew it, sirens was born and sirens is what I call my clients. I, um, don't really follow photographers, but my hero is George Carol. And for those of you who don't know who he is, he is the old Hollywood forties photographer icon that did all of like the Greta Garbo and all that really like that were offered. Yeah, this is my work that I did in my garage. I had one piece of black velvet and those Home Depot lights. So getting to the point where I was I decided, Okay, I want to do this for a living. I mean, that was really scary. I knew that I had a paycheck coming in to feed my kid. So taking that leap into the unknown was terrifying for me, and I really struggled with Am I being a good parent? Is this the right thing? You know, if I'm gonna take this risk, this is something I'm gonna drag my kid through. That has no choice. And, um, I don't know if you guys had read my bio, but, um, I am a survivor of domestic violence, and the reason that I like to keep that in my bio is because that is the connection that I have, um, rooted in when you lose yourself under the boot of another person. Do we have tissue? Because this might happen Dusty in here the whole When I when I mentioned really loving that connection and seeing that transformation, allowing women an opportunity to heal themselves and love themselves has been my opportunity to heal myself and love myself, and it's something that never goes away. And no matter how much you love what you dio, when it becomes a job and you're busy, it becomes a job. It can start to you got. You could start getting burned out and you can start to disconnect with your passion and you know, every once in a while you make it a client that totally doesn't get it. And you know, you're trying to find a way to connect. And that's always where I go back. I always go back to that place where I was, where I started and it makes me. It centers me and makes me realize that everybody has a journey, even if on the off chance I can't relate to it. Everybody has a journey. Everybody has a story and they're trusting me with giving the facilitating this experience. So that's where the passion lies. Now becoming a professional photographer, You Then you have to have know what you're doing. My whole motto is fake it till you make it. I feel like I'm still doing it. I don't know if you guys notice, but I still feeling that, um, it's something that even though you have, you're panicking on the inside because why is this blurry? Are you know why? It's like you don't wanna be like, Why is this blur? Hold on a second like you don't want to share that energy. Your you know, your I'm gonna just move the light and we're gonna hit this from another angle, and then you're going to fix it and they don't know the energy you share is so important. So just keeping that confidence, even if you're not feeling totally confident while you're learning is so important and the next thing you know, it's almost like you're faking yourself out. The next thing you know, you're just confident. So fake it to make it is so important. Um, I decided I wanted to go ahead and do this, and I was gonna be a photographer. I was gonna do it for real. So I decided I was going to move back to L. A gravy. Most saturated city, probably in the world for a photographer to go to, and I uprooted my son, sold my condo and moved to L. A. And, um, I told myself that I would give myself one year, and I treated it like a job. So of obviously once you you know you want to be a photographer, you need to have a portfolio. So I was already doing boudoir, although I didn't know I was doing booed wear. And so I started shooting everything else was shooting weddings and head shots and kids and bam bam, lots of bands, all kinds of stuff. I was like doing everything. But the one thing that was that was the only constant was the boudoir was my photographing women, and I shot about 5 to 7 sessions a week. Sometimes, sometimes, yeah, and I would just I would have my ads on Craigslist, and if people weren't hiring me, I was going on my space doing trade. And I was I was reaching out to regular girls saying, Hey, I I love your look. Do you wanna have some fun? Let's play You want, like a makeover And I went through a shot. A bunch of Pennant Modell's than L A. Well, let me jump in. There was a resurgence, and I'm sure everybody knows a pin up in the early aughts. I guess you would say early thousands. And Rachel was one of the only female photographers in Los Angeles shooting it. Andi started shooting models like Dana Deluxe and Sabina Kelly, and so she was fairly influential and helpful in in launching that, but then realized, I think, and I'm stealing her thunder that This wasn't her direction, um, with where she was going with boudoir and with sirens as well. And that's kind of how you said Wade. And yeah, I don't think it's like a conscious choice. I think you know, when you feel what you're meant to do, it's just something you feel. It's not something that you're telling yourself isn't a conversation. You're really having a rebel. It's just it is. It's like a revelation, like you're in there doing it and you're you. You take a moment like I'm having Fine, like, this is awesome, you know? And I was not had fun and other stuff, too, but it didn't have didn't carry that meaning for me. And I think for me, coming from from the history that I have, I needed that so much. And I think that you know that something that, um something that you depend on as a human being as you evolve, you have the tools that are helpful for you to be a better human being and to have that sense for me. I feel awesome when I'm in the service of others. So having this this gift, which I do believe it's a gift is the way that I feel I can have that reciprocal relationship. What drives you? This is what drives me. These are my kids and everything that I dio is for these three human beings right here. And when you're putting together a business and when you're teaching yourself and you don't know what you're doing and you're going through trial and error and all these things, it's really easy to get discouraged, especially with boudoir photography, because I don't You know, you have, um, suggestive imagery and implied nudity and pretty much every type of photography. However, for some reason, if you put the word boudoir on it, somehow it it gets shuffled down on the tier of respect. So there are things that you're gonna face that you're like. Maybe I shouldn't be doing this that make you feel like maybe this isn't the path. Don't listen to those people. I'm just here to tell you, just walk away. Don't give it your energy. People that are small minded, you don't have time for it. People that she would wear. I believe our progressive thinkers, and I believe I have a very strong sense of self and our building strong sense of so because you have to have courage to do it. So don't give up on that and be hungry. So whatever you're faced with, know that your what? What drives you for me? It's It's my kids. What drives you? Figure out what drives you, center it, hold that inside. And when things start to get hard, you start to get burnout. Go back ground yourself, connect with that. Another thing that has been really good for me is I compete only with myself. I think that the landscape of, um, just the photography world in general is changing. I think it's becoming more supportive, especially with awesome things like creative live starting out. I didn't have that experience. Um, I felt like relationships with other photographers involved a lot of, like critique and ego, and it was just and have time for that. It just what I wanted. I wanted to feel good. I want my work to be about empowerment. I wanted my relationships. You know, when you're everybody's busy in their life, but especially when you're single parent, you know, the little free time, Precious little free time I had. I wanted to have positive interactions with people. So, um, I really just kind of put my nose to the grindstone and just competed with myself. And I watched you know what? What? My clients ordering what images they love. So that was what I competed with, and I would try. I tried really hard. Teoh, Um, make sure that I was making the client happy and with boudoir photography in particular be careful with that, because with retouching, sometimes people want you to be a complete and total wizard. And as you get better with Photoshopped, the more they're gonna want, like, shave me like a turkey, you know, like, you know, take off every, you know, wrinkle. I had one lady asked me to put someone else's hands on her like her hands. So what I recommend when you're doing this thing this whole solidifying with yourself and with your drive and with your passion, is also figure out where you know, for you what you're offering where you're going to take that. Because once you start doing more for people than you get locked into it. So it's been a bit of a of a journey for me having to dial back on it and just don't put yourself through that. So, um, when you're when you're create, this is what I'm side and label it first. But that's when you're creating your brand. So be very careful. You know, when you're when you have your website up, then that's your portfolio. Your website is your portfolio. Um, it's so important to have to be honest about what they're going to get. So that way you're not getting yourself into becoming a slave to client expectation and never, ever stopped learning. And the most important thing I've learned as a self taught photographer is how lucky I am to have been self taught because I was not put in any kind of box by education telling me You have to do it this way and you can't do it that way. I mean, the way that I shoot. If you look at everything probably like really techie, people are gonna tell me I'm doing everything wrong, but it forced me to create, and I it was it was fun. So I have that thing about me that I've never I've never had hindered where I go in to shoot, and it's like and it's like an adventure. It's fun and push it. You can grill a shoot, see where you can, you know, mix the light, and it's awesome. And we What other career can you know? You do that with photography is just is such a blessing. And I think when you get to the point where you're like OK, I know everything I think that you deny yourself that, um, adventure that that evolving. And you know, that child inside you that wants to play. So I don't think that ever goes away for an artist. Okay, so how I work, So of course we were talked about it before. Family first and foremost. Um, I know that for me. Boudoir photography. I'm locked in. I mean, this is how I feed my family. We do not have any secondary income, so, you know, sometimes you hear people will, you know, if you're not having fun, don't do it anymore. It was not gonna go. Well, I'm just gonna be a dentist now. You mean, and I have been out of of any other profession for so long. I don't even know what that would look like for me. So for me, how I can make my business How Aiken design my life To make my business and my life awesome. Maximum back to mind time with my kids. And I know that boudoir Zaveri Nation market. So for me and moving to Portland, Oregon, to raise my kids, I knew that I would have to travel if I wouldn't wanted to make a sustainable business. They're like having just doing boudoir in one location for me wasn't gonna work, So I chose to start. I chose to take it on the road. Um, I travel Teoh, and right now we dio New York, Atlanta, Hawaii, New York, Honolulu, Boston, Austin that rhymes. Um, D c Portland, Um San Francisco Francisco Phoenix. Um, I think that's on the plate. That's all on the docket. I go, He doesn't. He stays home with the kids. I am Mr Ma Roosters in the hen house. Mr. Mom, when I'm shooting um, so then, when travel, I went through the whole adventure within you hotels versus private rentals. Right now I only shoot in private luxury vacation rentals, and I only use Airbnb, um, hotels. They're expensive, and I had a nightmare happened where I had I always disclose what ideo I know a lot of boudoir photographers, don't I dio? I think it's, Ah, liability thing. And also I demand respect as a professional. There's nothing that I'm doing that's wrong. It's non commercial. I'm not selling it to a magazine, so I don't see why someone's personal perception of what I do should hinder me being a client or customer. But you know, that does come into play. I've had a disclosure acceptance letter from the hotel and then had them try to shut me down during my event. So that experience, I no longer use hotels. I like the private homes you disclosed. They say, Okay, you don't see them, they don't come bug you. There's nobody. You're you've got the place. It's your place for that weekend. I really like that privacy. I mean, some people like the sutra Montes of a hotel, the bar in room service and all that. Personally, I'm not fancy. I don't need that stuff. Um, I over anything else, enjoy the privacy. So the way that I do it now, I was I was upto like at one point I was doing, like, 26 weekends a year, and it was nuts. Right now, I'm about one event a month, and I do a Saturday into Sunday and I do clients a day. Um, I have one makeup artist. Some people, um, like to have make up artists if they travel in each city, because then you you know you don't have to pay for their travel. Personally, I value my emotional state, so I don't want to be stressing. Is this this make a part's gonna show up, You know, I prefer just to have the one makeup artist, and, um, I do no hassle sessions, and what I mean by that is I'm like a mullet. I'm, like, all business in the front and all party in the back, so clients have to go through a process with me. I am very long winded. I have my policy, and I have, you know, f a Q. All this stuff that I provide to a client before they book, and it's very, very stern like, you know, wording you would see on a contractor like, you know, on your telephone bill, you know, there's absolutely no warm and fuzzy in it. It goes over all the legality, all the things I expect from them, all the things they can expect from me that does scare some people off. And that's okay, because that's not my client. So once they book and then they, uh, they signed a release saying Yes, I have read the policy and I agree to it. And at that point, if they have questions, they talked to Shawn, and I don't talk to them at all until I meet them at this the day of their sessions that the first time I talked to them, um, they bring their own wardrobe, they bring in a props. They want toe, they want to bring. Um, I know a lot of boudoir photographers offer Ah, wardrobe. I personally think that that's like a hygiene issue. I never kind of embraced that. That's all I will say about that and why it works when I'm not on the road, I'm home with my kids, so I work, you know, nine in the morning until 11 at night, two days in a row, 26 clients and weekend. That's a lot of work, but that I'm home for three weeks, four weeks, sometimes five weeks. And yes, I may be what editing. But if my kids want a hug, I'm there. They just come up and give me a hug. And that's something that I think like everyone so far has been reacting to you about is everyone's like they seem so down to earth and a riel. And I think that that's something that's really respectable is that you guys have been able to, like, open up and really share everything about your business here. And we really appreciate, like, you know, everyone in the chat room is loving what you're done. So awesome. I I appreciate that because I think that, you know, you get to a point where you're doing what you're doing and you have this passion. And like I said, you know, being a photographer, it's a journey. And I feel like now my journey is just taking me on this new path, and I have this new passion for teaching. So it's like it's just it's really cool, like, I don't know if you can tell that I kind of like what I'm talking about, right? So I just wanted to share with you. What? Because you talked about what? What drives you? And so we asked people at home what drives them to kind of just see what their what their reactions are. Just want to share some of those with you. Oliver Best. What drives me? I want to capture intricate moments, beautiful images or creating a Zen. One aspect of what I do is mythology. German fantasy Portrait's. There is a lot of photo shop and post production people. What else do we have people talking about? We have Layla, I lows says. What drives me My beginning drive was people telling me I would amount to nothing all my life. Then one day I picked up the camera about three years ago, in my whole center changed. I'm so hungry for knowledge and progression. It's like a drug. It's fantastic. It's a good one. Absolutely, absolutely. I just I also really appreciate that this is a very different model, very different business model than what I've seen and what is out there. So I think people are really interested to know why it works, and how do you make it work because it's not something you see every day. Yeah, and I'm for the first time. Um, I've been, like, teaching in different ways for the last two years. But for the first time, I'm making my, um, events schedule available for people. It's in the bonus material for people that purchase. You'll get my actual schedule to see how it shoot so many people in a day. So long hours bring him on. I'm not afraid of hard work. I think that, you know, I'm all about work hard, play hard. I think that if you work really hard when you're passionate about what you do, it's not even really like you're working. You know, it's like you're you're into it. You're into what you dio And, um when you when you go and you travel and you do shoot all those people in one weekend, you're in, you're out. You're done than your home for me. I'm a home body. I like to go right home right after my kids were still really little. But, you know, they're sure if as time goes on, I might want to, like, maybe like, in New York and stay a couple extra days and kind of see the city. So it does provide that opportunity for those people that have that travel bug that you can kind of stay and make it a little a little extended vacation after you work. So because Sean is the one that does all the client correspondents before the event, I'm gonna have him talk a little bit about this part about the client anticipation. Well, yes. So Rachel on will have her in a different city, maybe once a year, sometimes twice Washington D C twice And what that helps us in marketing both for the current event that we're marketing or the 16 months from now is it's a limited time. She's only gonna be here for these two days. Here's we've got four spots left, and that helps that helps clients really get on board. Really, I need to do this. I've been following her for three years and I've always meant to do it. And she coming to d. C. I should do this right now and then for those who I can't do it right now, but I see you're back in October. Then I'll book for October as well. So the the having her in a limited capacity in each city really helps us in our marketing with, um, with clients Well done. Thanks for that. Um and like it says, it creates that exclusive exclusivity. So it makes me if you seem really fancy because they can't just don't have access to me all the time. You know, she's only comes New York once a year. When should I book? And so that kind of, like, lights that fire And then, you know, well, she sells out pretty early. So other people are booking and, you know, so kind of like creates that kind of like velvet rope, Like people are coming into someone who knows their stuff, you know they are. But obviously when you have your big business model creating that without actually having to say it and you're you're just providing that experience through the whole thing is just something from start to finish that is just being laid out for them and travels fun. And you have for me I tend to get bored really easily. So I think for me a studio would probably be unless I had ah, lot of money to be able to switch it up a lot. I think a studio for me would get old really quickly. What I really enjoy about travel is I enjoy. I really enjoy going around to the different areas of the country and getting Teoh interact with different people. Like I love Southern women. I love the New Yorkers. Everyone kind of has their from their own little area. They have their own little way about them, so that's a lot of fun. And also, every every venue I go to is different. So, you know, it's always knew and then there's not. There's also that look for me. It might stress something. There's a little bit of stress, but for me, when I go into a venue and I don't really know what I'm going to see, I mean, I've seen pictures, but you don't really know until you get there. That, to me, is exciting, you know? So I know I'm gonna move this around. I do that. I think the lights gonna come out from here. So, like, I walk around a venue when I get there for like, an hour and I just in my head and I'm just putting sets together and then I'm shooting every nook and cranny of that space that entire weekend with every client to try to give her something different to tell a story rather than. Okay, we're gonna be on it Black backdrop now, and we're gonna have you over here on this air mattress now, you know. So it's it's amore organic, comfortable feeling when you're actually in the home as opposed Teoh in a studio, in my opinion, and there's no studio upkeep, so you don't have to deal with rent utilities. Then I don't really know what the legality is. I know people with good where they always like to drink. People always bring, um, a little liquid courage when you're when you're traveling. I don't think that you have the same kind of liability if they're doing it in a studio. But of course, that would be a question for a lawyer. But it's something that has been a perfect part for me as well as, um, being able Teoh have access to more people. So when you're in a studio in one place, you've got your locals, but then it's like, Well, yeah, you got travel in so you know, the people that for me, being able Teoh have my work be available and affordable for more than just people with a lot of extra money to burn is really important to me. So, having having that opportunity, Teoh, will this bird or photographers coming into town? And you know, I don't have to go to her. I've really wanted I saw her work three years ago. Now she's coming to my city. That's that's really funny. They come in with that energy like I'm so glad you're here. I've been following you this, so that's that's a lot of fun before, before you move on, there's a lot of people asking about this being the traveling photographer regional and how how did you get started doing that? Were you specifically green? Lemon says, When did you start traveling in the scope of your work? Did you already have a name for yourself? And I think we're going to talk more about this later. But a lot of people are asking How do you find clients when they're not in the city that you live? Right? Right. Um, in 2007 I realized that to have this be a viable business, that we could retire on, I would need to travel, and I didn't want to shoot anything else. I mean, I enjoy people, but I particularly don't like being peed on by babies. Little kids. 10. I like when I when I tell someone to do something like them to do it, I don't have the patience for them to, you know, meltdown. So boudoir is perfect for May, um, And when I realized that travel would be the way that to make that happen, I started Teoh talk to my husband about the possibility of him coming on in a more full time aspect. I'm really good with concepts like, I get these like ideas, and Shawn's really good. It kind of ferreting out how to make it happen. So he's really good getting in there in the details and how to kind of shape it into, like, something tangible. Um, so he when he came in, um, he started doing some test Facebook ads, and I was like, I don't know if I want to spend that money on Facebook like, you know, I'm thinking about buying diapers, you know, we had to old babies, so he's like No, this is gonna work. And so when he came in and started and took care of the marketing, that's really when things started to go. But I I've ever since the beginning have kind of I had this, like, amazing, weird cult following. So I've had this this group of followers who were, like, really, really loyal to me, and they love to talk about me. And so I would even that even though I started travelling in 2007 I already had people around the country that knew about me from their friend in L. A or their friend in Portland or whatever. And then those people would like my fan page and then their friends, so it really just became kind of like a sisterhood online.