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Build a High Volume Senior Photography Business

Lesson 1 of 39

Introduction and Overview

Matthew The Body Kemmetmueller

Build a High Volume Senior Photography Business

Matthew The Body Kemmetmueller

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Lesson Info

1. Introduction and Overview


Lesson Info

Introduction and Overview

How's everyone doing uh all right well I'm super excited to be here and before I start I'd like to give you guys like just a little fun fact did you guys know that there's actually twelve hasa blad cameras at this moment on the surface of the moon fact they were left there because they needed to make mohr space to bring back rock samples so the end of this workshop if you learn nothing else you now know that there are twelve possible our cameras on the service of the moon at this very moment I've succeeded as an educator so so I always like to know when I watch creative lie of course is that kind of like to know what's gonna happen in all of the segments before I start I just like to get a heads up so I can kind of prepare myself so what I'm gonna learn? So in this segment I'm going to tell you guys a little bit about me in my studio I tell you guys sixteen things that every successful studio I know has done or is currently doing and we're going over three things that if you're saying ...

these you absolutely need my help if you say any of these three things this course is for you and I know that russ what was just talking about how this studio are about how this course is going to be on high volume high school seniors I really we are volume studio by default if you do eight hundred ninety five sessions here, your high volume studio but I don't use that word in my branding we don't push ourselves is a high volume studio we don't sell that as our experience were studio that does sessions for our clients, we create wonderful images for them, but we just do a lot more than a than other studios and by doing the volume that we do, we set up our business on structures and systems that are really make it easy to do this much work. So even though this is being sold as a high volume studio workshop, I want you to know that maybe your goal isn't to do eight hundred ninety five sessions, maybe that just sounds like like an impossible daunte the task I'm going to show you it's not, but even if you only want to do one hundred a year two hundred a year there's going to be things in this workshop that we're going to go over that are going to make you more profitable that are going to make this work a lot easier for you guys to do so I'm excited to share this with you like I said, you guys can absolutely do this, I'm going to give you the structure of what you need to run a high volume business I'm gonna walk you through all of the steps that we do we're going to go through everything and the world's changing so fast, especially with this industry that if you are not growing you're dying growth is movement if you're stagnant if your business isn't evolving, you're dying and so I think it's important to go through this and show you guys the steps that you need to take to focus on growing your business the first things like you're watching creative live, exciting no s o I mean, obviously you're here because you want to experience growth you want to develop this business and there's going to be a lot of things that we go through beyond just this like encourage you to keep watching creative lives encourage you to goto national conventions, find a mentor, keep focused on your you said you are in school right now I mean that's awesome I applaud you for not being someone who's just like I want to be a photographer where's the camera but you're doing the steps that you need you're setting yourself up for success, which is really, really important because we're going to go through this a lot troubles chorus but uh to think that this is just going to come easy is pretty naive and talent and being able to take great pictures is not is not all you need, I'm sure that we're gonna go through we're going to show you guys how to run this and you can do it like I said, like, this is absolutely something that everyone can do, the steps that I'm doing are one hundred percent duplicate herbal, but they don't just come free like if you're going to run a small business, understand that we're all going to be small business owners, right? Even at eight hundred ninety five sessions, and I'm still a small business owner. So much of me is my business, like I have to put myself there in my small business is a representation of me and it's important that if you're going to do these these steps it's not gonna work if you aren't doing it with a thought process of excellence were we're going to be excellent in our business, we're going to run a profitable business, we're going to give our clients an amazing experience. I'm not I'm still going to be a husband, I'm still me a mother, I'm still going to be a friend, but I'm going to give my my customers an amazing experience. I'm gonna take pride in my business, I'm going to show up early to my shoot's going to go the extra mile for my clients, I'm gonna turn my product out early, and these are things that show. These are just the things that you do is a successful businessman or take pride in your work and I can give you all these steps but if we don't focus on the fact that we're trying to please our customers and trying to give our people in amazing experience it's not gonna work you're going to end up failing anyways in the volume doesn't like how much you do really doesn't matter with all these steps like I was saying earlier if you're gonna do fifty sessions a year and you do it this way I guarantee you're gonna make more money I guarantee you're gonna have a better home life all right so I wanted to start by talking about elusive are elusive arts abboud wall line we started in two thousand eleven and we started may of two thousand eleven we did sixty eight sessions are first year which was pretty good not a ton but it's pretty good last year we did four hundred uh now I know you guys are like why are we talking about boudoir photography because we are talking about this is a high school seniors oh here's a picture for you guys so go check out the website elusive our dotcom no I'm sure that you're like what what's this what does this have to do with it? Well truth be told this is I want to show you guys that I've started from the ground up nothing a studio that from two thousand eleven grew half a year two thousand eleven group from sixty eight sessions over four hundred and it's implementing a lot of the same steps although we do it differently with boudoir photography then we would for seniors but so that it's not just a straight adaptation of this but we do way have adjusted a lot of steps but I wanna show you guys this is really something I d'oh I can start a business and I can grow it to an insane number of sessions in a short amount of time but we're here to talk about kevin miller photography came it miller photography started in nineteen seventy two well matthew you only look like you're twenty two I know I know I know I'm not twenty to either of you know kevin you love photography was started by my father and he established business nineteen seventy two starters homebase studio seventy for it went to a commercial location and we've actually been our current location since nineteen ninety now that studio over the years has photographed over six thousand weddings I mean like that's like a crazy number way have at what I thought at the biggest point we were doing like a wedding photographers were working for us and he was nuts and that business my father's he's sixty seven he's retired he hangs out we bought him a puppy he gets it in like a week so he's gonna be at the dog park and that he'd like comes these my landlord's it comes and hangs out around the city on like fixes the roof and doesn't allow jazz, but we gave us the good life they went on a rv trip for like four months and ended up watching me presented w p p ay so that's there there he's done with business and he's moved on, but what happened was he gave me an amazing jump off point and a lot of studios a lot of established videos around this country right now I mean, they're dropping like flies I mean, their studios that are have been around for thirty years that close and it seems it seems pretty routine right now and I'm going to tell you guys how you can prevent that stuff, but we've managed teo to succeed and grow throughout this change and the one thing by taking over an existing business was I couldn't be where I am right now if I didn't have that jump off point, so it was a good place to start were typically seven full time employees it's like good for us like that's where we want to sit and what's really, really weird about my photography business is we are open nine to five tuesday through friday and ten foreign saturdays we don't work nights we don't work sundays ever and I know, like a lot of photographers, they see this stuff on facebook. You guys were, like, just grabbed up a shoot it's like nine o'clock at night and you're like finishing up your senior session, I'm already at home, like in my pajamas, watching c s I write, I'm like, I don't want to work that lately. Our business is structured on regular business hours, and so I want to show you guys that if you set up your business correctly too, you don't have to kill yourself with work. You don't have to work all the time and you have to work when it's just convenient for your kinds you can set up hours that your clients will that your clients will hold too. So chemically love photography shoots weddings actually, I love this wedding I'm gonna tell you I'm gonna kind of divert a little bit off of this this wedding I shot with my friend jen killing gay she's going to be here on the third day to show you guys templates and grad cards and stuff she's awesome! So she had me favor and she wanted it called it into second shoot this wedding. And I said, hey, jan, you know, like, I'll pick you up, we'll go knock out the sweaty and it's a really good looking couple it's an amazing venue and I picked her up at her house to drive from minneapolis st paul, not normally that's like, twenty minutes, okay? Blizzard crazy blizzard it took us two hours to get from minneapolis st paul we're driving down the road or getting there, we finally show up in the groom's coming down the lobby to meet coming down to the lobby to meet us and he's walking up he's on his phone and he's like, yeah, yeah, well all right, yeah, bye and he's just angry and I'm like what's going on, man, I was like, what's up, but he goes and I've never even heard of this. S o someone in the chat room please tell me if this has happened to any other wedding photographer ever around the country because I've never even heard of this and he goes, that was the church and I'm like all right? And he goes, they said the roads are too bad and the grounds crew has been able to do the parking lot it's not safe, you can't get, we can have the wedding there today and I'm like, wait, we can get married there today and we were at a hotel. It was across from where the reception then you wass and this and this story so bizarre. I really I can't make this up. It's obviously a winter wedding. So we start walking across the street to see if we can get into the reception hall early to set up a ceremony location. One of the groomsmen is like I got the pastor and he gets in his ford f three fifty super duty and starts driving through the blizzard to go get the minister to drag him out to the wedding and we go over. And the event that had been scheduled before the wedding was a cling on christmas story. A cling on christmas story have been canceled because of the weather as well. So we ended up getting in there and we set up seventy seven chairs in this room in seventy seven guests showed up. Now they have three hundred fifty r s v p but it's almost like it was meant to be it's like a thirty five thousand dollars food and drink minimum, and they had no one show up band didn't show up, but one of the girls had started dating a new guy and he was a d j he had his laptop in the car so he hooked up to the house and it was just it was made to happen I just every time I see this wedding I started thinking about it the best part wass is that even through all this mess by being a professional photographer who shot so many weddings and having an amazing second shooter they're with us we still delivered great photos everything that could've gone wrong at this wedding did and we crushed it and their photos are top notch so it's my friend mary's wedding she's a wedding photographer no pressure there some more pictures here we also do babies and I'm like admittedly weird about babies since I don't have any but I think I do pretty good with their pictures so baby yoga pose I love this photo and she ordered like an eight by ten of it and that just screams like massive canvas raft and it couldn't get her toe push up up from the fight and on that note it's just like with the space and the expression it's such a great image I should order that for my city it was a big one felicity families and the one thing that's really unique and I want you guys to notice is he looking my work is that although these are these are good pictures um this is an award winning photography, but this is profitable photography so these might not be on the cover of any magazines that you're going to see but these are images that sell they sell all day and they don't take me a long time to dio and they're so much fun to shoot like my family sessions are just the blast and this family alone has been coming to my city of since nineteen eighty six so the mother of this family brings in all of her kids for a head shot every year and we do family photos all the time every winter we also have ah very profitable sports business so we do the composite posters I like that one a lot and then I do just love this chubby kid I just think he's so lazy and every time I see it I just want to goose and groove his cheeks and uh the end of this month we're doing the baseball shoot it's april twenty six that's like right before my birthday and we shoot sixty six baseball teams from nine a m to noon so that's a situation where your workflow has bee extremely tight and that is the chemist miller photography team and they won last year and that's why I opposed with them because their champions like me way only put our name on winners so these are pictures of my studio and I decided to add this into the keynote pretty last minute, so ah lot of target was like what I see studios on creative live like everything's like perfect this is like a real working studio, so I'm gonna give you guys like what isthe were in minnesota? Yes, it snows this is like that and I understand that I'm just reinforcing stereotypes. You guys probably think this is what it looks like in june weigh it not it's, not all country we don't live on a farm, I don't have cows in my backyard I go boating in the summer it's nice you guys know who mike fulton this he's a respondent creative live he's coming in in a couple weeks to do it speed like course, mike's a good friend of mine I've known mike for years and years and years and he came up and we did a fundraiser event and he came up and donated his time toe raise money for a good cause and he's sitting in my car because I don't know how you guys live in this state and is like little southern drawl, which I'm going to try to do anything. I don't know how you'll do it, you know, so dane cold and I said because jun's real nice because ju and I said you guys came going, you're pools are like bathtubs in june, and we're we're hanging out on the lake. So that's her studio when you walk in that yellow couch that's where my dog hangs out to bring my dog to work every day. So she sits and greets people behind that little wall where the eight by ten frames are that's where the work computers are has a better view of it. So we have four computers in the desperate behind that in mind from the back corner there that's a picture of our investment room. We recently walled this off all the way, so I didn't used to be as private as it is now, but I'm going to go over. Why doing that was great business. Move for us. Says inside the investment room. Yep. Product on the wall. We got a sixty inch tv now upstairs. I have this room. This is your traditional headshot room. It's, like a four light set up its main phil hare background. This is, like screams executives of one hundred year old shop, one hundred year old portrait that everyone has, right. And we do a lot of, like realtors with this, and we do a lot of bank executives with this with this set up. But we really don't use this room that much, so I'm sure you guys like, well, why do you have this this room that you don't really use? Well, it's because I told you we do all that sport work we do adapted sports as well. So let's hand it there's a p I and a cia team cognitively impaired and physically impaired. And what I found is that if you have a kid that's in adapted sports your kid is in every single adapted sport there is like your kid does fall sports winter's, fourth spring sports they're in everything. And because we do exclusive contracts with our schools, I get to shoot these kids like three or four times a year and I get to know him. So we actually have a good base that comes in from our sports work for high school senior photography lester with three kids that came in that were in wheelchairs. Now our main studio is downstairs and we don't have an elevator. So if we have elderly people are handicapped people, we would move everything up to this room and that's why we keep it so it keeps it allows us to provide the services for all of our clients, regardless of if there's any handicaps, we can still take care of them downstairs is our downstairs dressing room and I told you guys, this is just straight up work in studio so all the chairs are not put away perfect, but our bags are high school locker room set the old coke machine that's our low key set because I know how to make a low key wall let me know I'll hook you up that's actually, just a piece of linoleum that we flipped upside down and painted take an afternoon more sets and to give you guys a little bit of idea of how big the room is that's me way back there so our rooms thirty seven by seventy feet, so we have the luxury of space, so our shooting room, our main camera room is actually it's like twenty, six hundred square feet and s o I do not use my space that efficiently because I don't need teo teo luxury as we got space, so we don't really we don't need to purge stuff too often. We don't need to move stuff around you out because we got a lot of room and then these air, all of our backgrounds that we have set up and we've kind of created a wall. These are all the white house backgrounds, and the reason why we have these is to get to our lab from upstairs, you have to walk through the camera room well, if you have people walk through your session it's always a distraction period like, if I'm just photographing your headshots and somebody walks through your kind what's going on who's this person so it's it's a distraction in general it's completely unacceptable of food wall photography for me to walk through the room, sir. So we've set up the walls and let's just kind of tip toe through. So behind the walls is this corridor, which leads you back into our lab, which a lot of you are not going to be impressed with this because you probably just don't know what's going on in this, but this is like one hundred fifty thousand dollars worth of equipment. So that's our lab it's in a writ to detain all five printer we I'm told I don't know this for a fact, but I'm told that we had the first production model off the line in the us, so we kind of moved all in on this and it's a dry lab, which is different than traditional photography printing, which is what you're going to get from nations from any on any number of labs. This is first degree product, it uses its ink jet process, but it's not like your hp desktop printer, so it's a step up that and what's nice is it's a much smaller and it's much easier process for us to use, and it allows us to print everything from two wallets up to twelve by thirty six. And so all of our prince that we sell, we do in house, which allows us a competitive edge am pricing because of the sports work that we do, I have one job where I will profit eight thousand dollars mohr then the cheapest I could get it printed at any other lab. So because of that volume that becomes worthwhile, it's just our production area. And we also do our own framing and outside of framing, don't you guys can see it right down the end. We actually mount all of our own prints, which is something that if you're going to sell wall portrait's and you're gonna frame him, you have to sell a mounted I'm sorry, but you gotta mount your parents, you have to looks better and it's a really, really expensive thing to order from your labs. If you're going to mount, your prints were ordering a mounted twenty by thirty is crazy compared to a regular one and it's not that hard to dio get one of these rollers tried out it's pretty easy, so that's coming mueller photography last year you know what? I will tell the story. They were asking how I got into the industry and I wasn't in my key. No, I'll tell you guys that story. Okay. Now try not to laugh when I start out with this, but I was in the army. No. Ridiculous. Right? Like his hair, his body? No, no is in the army reserves. And august fourth, before I got hit by a taxi cab. So I'm a motorcycle, and I got t boned by a taxi cab, and I broke twenty three bones in my body. Okay, so I got the reason why we grew it all that I go horseshoe that wraps around one of the unique people that's actually had someone that's seen my brain. So I have verifiable evidence that it exists. All right, so so get laid up in the hospital. It was it was bad. It was not a good situation. Twenty three years old. And I was in school to be a cop and was doing the army reserve thing. And I was I mean, I was hurt. And so I got out of the hospital and I have pins in my foot pins in my arms pins in my head, I don't really know what I was going to dio like I really I just like I couldn't pass physicals and I didn't really have a direction and so I started dating my now wife and she is fair and she's if you're the smartest person in the room you need thio hangout with better people like my wife keeps me not the smartest person in the room she's a way smarter than me and she's a way more she's she's she's she inspires me to be great and so she said, well, what do you do? And I need a job at the time so my dad said we could work at the studio to figure out what you're gonna dio so my wife says what what's up you know? And I said, well, I guess I'm going to be a photographer she said I guess you're going to a photographer we better get good at it I thought I said all right, so because of her I went to a local technical college okay, I went toe h t c and I got a two year degree in photography and it was an amazing experience not because I walked out of that school ready to be a photographer I walked out like why was michael jordan great? Why was he a great basketball player? Because he knew the fundamentals like nobody's business he played fundamentally sound basketball I came out of that school knowing the fundamentals of portraiture I got it and then it put me in a position to network myself out two other photographers toe other guilds have creative lie back when this happened otherwise we're watching creative live all the time, but I was in a position to learn and really take on a started at the right place and so that's I mean that's really high I got into this industry it was weird because if you talk to most photographers, you're going to find out that it's like it was my it was my hobby and then became my passion and then my passion became a job which became a career for me it was like the complete opposite way and I found my passion in photography after I was already working in the industry and and don't get confused that because I love the business aspect of this industry that I do not love photography I'm very, very passionate about my work but it's okay to have more than one passion. So um we did over two hundred seniors last year and like I said super weird ninety five I could meet you guys for happy hour I'm good so another thing that's super weird about our city oh is that the majority of the sessions that we shoot especially me employees are pretty good, but we're still working on it everything shot in less than fifty clicks like I routinely take less than fifty shots for a family session for a senior session. Now that changes with kids and that's not for everything, but I think that over shooting is the biggest, the biggest thing that's messing up your work phone so we shoe like his back on film days remember film four letter word starts with f so no, we shoot like every click cost me money, and so I'm gonna go over this in depth, and tomorrow I'm gonna photograph an entire session on a one gig card. Yes, probably, but yes, it probably is sina one gig card right on, and you'll be shooting with a five d three so these are big file because I'm so excited to see this happen. Yeah, and we're going to go through an entire session gets going to see me photograph and finish an entire session in ninety minutes so that's exciting, but one of the things that's unique again, we don't overshoot its a big deal to overshoot at our city. We also don't have any packages at all for our senior work. We also don't have any session piece, and we also do really photographic proofs and those are some really, really weird things, and I'm going to give you guys a bunch of really weird advice. And it's, good that you're going to be sitting at home taking notes right now all this stuff down, if you're like, I don't know anybody who is doing this like, why would this be? This is crazy. The fact of the matter is I don't want to sound rude, but right now normal is, like broken, overworked in this industry and those are two things that don't fit me well, so maybe we're devices what you need to get your business on track. So how have we remained relevant for forty years? Is a long time to have a successful studio. Forty years is running, and what we've done is we simply run a profit minded, lean business, okay? We're focused on the business of photography, not the photography business and those are two very, very different things were constantly evaluating our products in our performance. Let's sit down and go through your sessions with a critical eye and don't go through and I know it's so easy to get excited about our work I love this one I love this one I love this one. But do you ever sit down and say, like, what could I do to take and love this one, but how could I have made it better constantly look at your work. And constantly looking your products maybe you have something that you just love you think it's the greatest product in the world you have coasters that someone would get their picture on a coaster you just think that's the greatest thing ever who's not gonna want to go serve it doesn't sell take it off your menu it's not available evaluate what's working for you guys and we have a successful business model and we're going to go over my business model in depth I'm going to tell you guys everything we d'oh and the sad thing is a lot of people get hung up on this this is my business model truth be told there are only a few business models that actually work in the industry now I'm not saying that you shouldn't sell digital files I'm not saying that you should do anything I'm just saying that there's only a few ways that you're actually going to make a sustainable income off of this and you need to be aware of that and every step you take needs to be moved towards a successful business model so if you just go online and you're like no my business model is to sell four thousand photos color corrected retouched to perfection and we give him eight thousand because I give it to him in color and black and white and I saw him a disk for fifty bucks that's my business model your business model socks you're going out of business. I'm sorry.

Class Description

The success of your photography studio depends on your business model, not your location. Learn the key strategies that have propelled a booming second-generation family photography studio for more than 40 years in rural Minnesota.

In this course, Matthew Kemmetmueller will show you how to set up your entire high volume senior photography business step by step — including successful sales tactics, shooting techniques, and efficient workflow practices. You will see Matthew’s strategies in action as he takes you through two live shoots from start to finish — each in under 90 minutes. Matthew will also teach you how to increase the value of your services, market directly to new clients, and create unique products that will delight your customers.

Whether you’ve photographed thousands of seniors or just looking to learn high volume tactics, this course will give you a comprehensive, replicable roadmap for multiplying your revenue.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Lightroom Start to Finish Guide

Order Catalog

Step by Step LR5 and PS Workflow

Keynote 1

Keynote 2

Jen's Design

Lightroom Templates for Ordering

Keynote 3

Syllabus and Keystroke Shortcuts

Order Catalog PSDs

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


a Creativelive Student

I decided to listen in on the free course of Build a High Volume Senior Photography Business w/ Matthew Kemmentmueller...I thought it would be good to have the skill sets even if I chose to do another photography forum other than seniors. And I was laughing thru the whole thing...he is one funny guy!! So, I decided to buy it...not only is this course full of great tips/advice/ and "did you know facts" but it's really informative and again, he is down right funny. I'm learning lots. Thanks for having him on Creative Live...this one is a keeper.

Diane Yvon

I absolutely loved this course. I am primarily a maternity and newborn shooter and to my surprise what I learned here applies to my current work as well as developing my senior work. I thoroughly enjoyed Matthews delivery of each topic as it was clear, precise, fun and non intimidating. I will watch this over and over and the course downloads were amazing! 100% satisfied with this course


Matthew's class is excellent! I watched it live, but decided to buy it since it's so foundational. I think his information and materials are excellent, whether someone wants to be "high volume" or not. I love how he continually drove the point home about how so many photographers overwork themselves and gave excellent ways to resolve this issue. CL does such a great job of covering the gamut in education of all types. Thanks!