Ten Things That Spell Disaster for a Photographer Part 1
Having done this once before now, I think hopefully it'll it'll go smooth, smooth last time but it's a little different this time around I think the reason why we talked about how you know what coming back, what would I do different the last time I was here, I ended up sort of talking about lighting and explaining everything I know about lighting right? So the how twos from start we're not start to finish, but how to from like the concept of, you know, lighting, breaking it down this time what I want to do, which is I think a lot of fun and I've been doing this on my own and I call it start to finish and that is the end result is the most important thing I want to get some killer images, so we got some great models coming in and so what I want for you guys to do is watch me go through the process and in fact I don't know my first model this morning and I don't really know who she is. Jon jon came over and head of a picture of her and I don't want to see it because I want to be complete...
ly starting from no knowledge of who I have to photograph I do have some ideas because we have some really cool wardrobe stuff that we're going to use, but basically until I get a model in front of me, I don't know what I'm gonna do, and so I think a lot of people think that even after thirty years, you know, I've developed this, you know, brilliant, creative vision that I just, you know, I know exactly what I want or I don't I'm just like you guys, I get in there and I go, okay? It's not working, and then I'm gonna kind of, like, solve it as I go, so the first, um, part of what we're gonna do each morning is we're going to talk about some sort of lecture cut type of concepts of we're going talk about ten things that spell disaster for photographer and the reason why I wanted to start with that is I have four boys and two of them my two oldest are actually getting in photography or been doing for tired for a while my my son ban is doing a lot of still stuff and my son aaron's do a lot of video stuff, and so they come to me and ask me questions, you know, dad, what do you think? How could I, you know, bid on a job or whatever, and so I had this idea I wanted to do ten things that I could pass on to my sons in terms of photography so I started working on that and that's what the first part we're going to do and then we're to talk about branding, which is huge and I really love to talk about that uh that will be our second lecture and then we'll get right into the shooting part and we'll do some, uh, that process and then we'll do some photoshopped finishing it off so it'll be a really fun day each each day three days we're doing this so um uh that's kind of the structure of of thiss next three days and so let's start with our first session here ten things that spell disaster for a photographer now I've been around a long time in fact, I've probably made just about every mistake you could make in the industry sometimes I made him more than once because we're kind of hard headed, you know? We don't really learned sometimes the first time around and so uh I thought about you know, what could I if I was to sit down with someone like my son and say, okay, what can I just like pass on to help ease the pain of being in the industry? And so I kind of came of these things, so what I want to do is and if you know how I work, I love and I'd love to speak very simply don't get too complex because I'm a simple guy and being involved in sports for you know early days and my great school through high school um anything to learn a sport you always start from the basics right? You don't when I was a gymnastics I wanted to get on the bars right away but no the coach said you gotta learn how to do a forward roll the simple process of just rotating before you get on the bars and rotate you learn to do it on the ground it's a lot safer, right? So when I talk about certain concepts I like to go real simple so some of these concepts maybe oh yes that makes sense but I think it's important to, uh start simply and then I'll build if there are some topics they're going to cover that you think joy was you're going kind of cover that more well, I've done that. So our first creative life sessions um workshops we did the concept driven commercial photography and the creative expression in photography so I would encourage you guys to go back and take a look at those because that's really a lot of the sort of the nuts and bolts of what I'm all about so don't feel like if I'm going too fast there is some material that will cover it so when it comes to like photo shop and I start talking about smart objects which I use a lot um it's I've covered it maurin depth in the first workshopped that for creative life so don't feel like you know I'm passing over on purpose it's just that we want to get a lot of stuff done and all right, so ten things that spell disaster for a photographer now um like I said, some of these things you're gonna go oh, joel, that makes a lot of sense, right? And it's like when it comes to losing weight, does anybody in this room no or not know how to lose weight? We all know right? Diet exercise how us needle lose a few pounds? Well, because just knowing something doesn't always mean I'm going to do it. So that's that's uh, the way we are as human beings and I'm gonna talk a lot about our humanity, our our humanness, right? All right, so the first thing that spells disaster is debt going into debt. Now I would say that most of us probably have been there, right? I have I, uh you know, what happens is when things are going good, right? You think it's going to continue to go good, right? So look at the pro, um, football players that make all the money right, they make millions and then three years after they don't play, they're all broke or most of your broke I know there's some odds that is just ridiculous that they all end up broke, right? Because you think it's going to keep going, right? So when things were going really good, business is great and you start spending money and all sudden it dries up, right? And then you got this big, you know, overhead or whatever that you're doing and all said, next thing you know, you're living off your credit cards well, I've been there, so but debt is a choking factor that can kill your business. So, um, number one, don't spend more money you have coming in, be conservative, we're talking about more about some of things that get us into debt, but debt is huge, so if you could avoid debt, do it now when it comes to, like, if you're a real estate person and you're got leverage yourself to get a piece of property because you know that things were going good, right? And so there's times when you use his debt to help build wealth, right? But what happens to most real estate? People write the bad, you know, market comes along and everybody goes belly up, so be conservative when you start to build your business and think about what you're doing. What what what what is it that you're putting your money into now we'll talk some more about some things that get us in debt but debt will kill you so when mike sons come to me and they say death I want to buy this big long lens well okay that's the five thousand dollars wins do you really need that? Yes you know and so it's easy to talk ourselves into it now my wife's over here and she knows that I'm a good sales person when it comes to work in her on uh I need this right I gotta have this and uh so we can talk ourselves into buying anything but be careful when it comes to this path that you're on in terms of building a business that you avoid debt at all cost so when you're looking at a job you know because you know I'm looking at doing something that I talk to you about would you look at maybe renting for my allure now we're going to talk about equipment in a minute but yes there are a lot of smart things you could do now but rainy could be a hassle too because sometimes you spend more time going to picking up the piece of equipment then it takes to just you know I mean then that takes us to do the chute right so run down, pick the peace equipment up, shoot and run back it's, like, you know, you have two hours, three hours or running back and forth, and so it really is can be a hassle. And if you have an assistant, they could do for you would be great, but we're talking about that a minute. All right? So the next thing that spells disaster for a photographer is big ego, big studio right now I've been there. In fact, when I was first went to denver nineteen eighty for a friend of mine, we went about it. The first thing we did get a big studio, right? That's the thing you did back then and that was the model that we worked off in fact, prior s so that I would say in the sixty seventies into the eighties, uh, most commercial advertising photographers had a hugely say five thousand square foot type studio. They had, you know, five or six employees, they had e six machine that process their transparency film and a black and white depend. Duncan dark room. You had a staff huge nut that you had toe huge overhead and in the eighties. Ah, lot of this, young photographers cheese on their way. But we still got a big studio, and that big studio is a money pit. I tell you because you always want to make a big impression, right? Big ego big studio so it's our ego that says I wantto be rubbing elbows with the big shots and so I need all this flash and so I think you know it's easy to get sucked into that be careful big studio can put you under really quick but you had a business so what's a good model well, you can share a studio there's coop studios uh you work at your house all sorts of options but you have instead of having a big studio now I happen to have a studio now um it's pretty good size studio but there's times I didn't have a studio and the reason I have a studio now is because I'm teaching workshops and I could justify it and I'm doing a lot of testing now I do a lot of testing work talk a little bit more about that now a little bit later, but so now I need a studio, but I've worked out of my house I've shared I've done sort of kind of like a co op thing to you rent so when I was in pasadena I had a studio oh my gosh, that was very expensive, but even then it wasn't big enough to meet all my needs and there was times I had to go down you know the big studios in hollywood to read for the for the day or for the project but be careful that your ego doesn't get in the way on your decisions does anybody in here have an ego way want to make an impression right so so there's this there's this trap that you can fall in very quickly on getting a big studio so so be careful but now if your vision as a your business model is going to require that you get a studio then you work toward it you build your client tail where you can build enough money coming in that justify studio but you tell you right now that no matter what model that you pick model meaning the structure of how you build your business no matter what model you build that model will change over time time always is an influx of change and what you think is going to be the perfect model today in five years ten years it's not so things are happening all the time so you have to be able to when we're talking about that minute but the big studio it may not be the thing to have right now it may not fit what is best for you all right so next thing full time employees were to come up here comes full time employees now I have had employees and it's nice to have someone there all the time and getting good people is hard, right? You ever have you ever had this sort of feeling that when you hire someone by time, you explain to them how to do it? You could have done it. And then by the time it's done, you think it could have been done better, you know, I could have done it better, and then you're constantly kind of, like re doing somebody else's work, and I've been there. But the fact is that employees cost money, right? And we live in a day and age today, where in terms of health insurance and all the things that happens when you have a full time employees it's very exp benson so what's the alternative to full time employees. Well, whenever I do a shoot today commercial shoot, I hire my people for the day assistance. First, second assistant um when you need obviously to makeup artist and the wardrobe people in all, that is a per job basis, but be careful and here's something and we're in an age too, which is really tough because when it comes to retouching side of things right, it wouldn't be nice to have a full time re toucher now as an artist. And a creative person I don't want to go there control so and that's a trap in a way too, because I know I could make more money if I had a full time we touch her or even if I just farmed it out, but I'm no artist I want to have the final say so and see it all the way through and so I've had to learn to deal with that, but the fact is is that if I had a full time staff, it would be great it was gonna cost me so I have to wait it out and my personality is it's hard for me to turn loose of things now, my wife, you can tell you that I hate letting go of things, but, um, but in terms of cost that when you have full time employees it's going to be, uh, factor in terms of if things get slow it's going just sucked the money right out of whatever you have left, you know, if you know the month, if you don't have the money coming in to pay for it, you're gonna get caught, and I know a lot of photographers that have gone under really fast because they've got a full time accountant, studio manager, full time assistant, you know, maybe a second assistant they got the staff looks good but it could be a trap it could put you into really quick so be careful and there's a model in terms of um there's people that written books about this that they say there's a number that says you need to be bringing in one hundred thousand dollars per month per employee to cover things like that there's there's some figures out that I don't know all those figures but I'm just saying there's the models you go by and say ok can I have a forward a full time employee yes I can look at the numbers I can afford it and if they so slow how long can I keep that employee so but be careful and I you know what it's kind of interesting I have a lot of people that email me or even talk to me and when I go to photoshopped world and speak people grab me and they say hey I've got this great idea I want to do see your portrait and I want to do do sports in your portrait's and I want to build this big machine have all these full time employees I want to go and franchise it blah blah blah and I sat him down and say ok let me just walk through this do you want to build an empire yes then ok go ahead but there's a huge name danger and trying to build an empire because the market comes and goes and the minute you build a big machine and you've got toilet and then all sudden there's a downturn bam you're hit hard so I'm not discouraging to have employees I'm just saying that's a big trap if you get part of the big ego and it's like some people don't want to even lift a tripod now cliff you saw me there night working I photographed cliffs sometimes motorcycles harleys and I was sweating wasn't I yeah and I just don't even see why you would hire assistants who you offer to help you're like I move my gear I'm fifty six years old and I can hardly walk known still moving but I mean it's hard and I came in the hotel I was exhausted but the thing is is I move my own gear I don't I mean I have assistance when do commercial shoots and I love that but there's a lot of times I moved down here I realized that in the end I don't mind doing it and amy has a picture of me mop up my floor and my studio big studio with a psych and I usually paint it but I found that I could like you sort of clean it and avoid having painted ever after ever shoot she's our I'm over there mopping and she's like wanna take a picture and put it on facebook show that you know you mopping the floor I'm dumb up I've been doing this a long time, I don't mind doing that so it's not beyond, you know lo me or whatever term it is, I'll do it so I don't need someone always cleaning up after me. So, um, and in the end, I have been able to survive now we're talking about surviving I've been doing this, what, thirty something years? Why? Because I've had to look at the reality of things I don't need always see the big studio I don't always need yeah or full time employees all right, next thing this kind of hits home because, um I think most of us our equipment junkies that's why we gotta photography kind I mean, you know, we love equipment, I love lenses, I love glass and, you know, there's times when I mean, if you think about it, if if if you've been around long as long as I have and I've talked about this and I think I talked about this in the, uh, previous creative live workshop I did, but when I started photography a lot about how we, um, identified ourselves, I was with our equipment, so if I was a landscape photographer, I used a big view camera right bama photojournalist, the ultimate post photojournalist expression was a like a range finder and so if you had a regular an icon or cannon you know just a pen texts you know little spot matic or whatever was back in the seventies when I started out you were cool but if you had a like a you're even more cool and same thing with a landscape photographer you just showed up and did landscapes with thirty five millimeter wasn't very cool but if you had a big view camera man you were in right and it wasn't just a view came before by five you might have been eight by ten I wasn't just a regular you know four by five lines that had to be in a bow you know a rodent stock read whatever it was apple lens accost you know more than my car in fact um do you think about it when I started photography I think my well I always knew this my son we were just joking about this took is he he had an old volkswagen jenna the head I don't know how one hundred fifty thousand miles plus on it and he had probably fifty grand worth of equipment in his car and his car's worth I think we paid eighteen hundred bucks for it but I've done that my whole life in terms of put my money into my business and equipment that I drove pieces of crap right junkers um but equipment always been an important role in what we do photographers careful it's a trap and I did I think a session I'm not sure when it was but I talk about lenses and how we want the one point two lenses right the big aperture lenses because that's cool you gotta have a fifty one two you can't have a fifty one eight you know it was really interesting it was back to creative live session I believe with soup rice that I was watching her and she's doing this really cool shot she's talking about it and she's got a fifty one two on and she's clicking away and it comes up and you're going and I'm thinking to myself I only have about fifty one four I wanna want to honey could I have a one to she's like how much that's first like you know show he's asked me how much and I gave her a dollar amount she's like you know what's one of the one for you have I don't like him one for because I want to be cool I want to have one too but supervisors shooting away and she's old by the way my apertures said at one point eight do you want a cannon? One point eight lens cost one hundred dollars she was gonna shoot that looked absolutely amazing and she could have done it with a hundred dollar lens you don't need a two thousand dollar let's create killer images you don't need about ninety percent of what we normally run out by right? One lands, one camera, one light you could rock the world, so be careful, but we're human. We like gear that's just natural, so fight that fight it and don't always think you have to have a three thousand dollar lens to make a great picture. In fact, I'm going to use a medium format camera the pentax new six forty five seats, unbelievable camera really happy that I got it and I'm using it and I'm loving it but you don't have to have fifty one make pickles to make a meeting for matt came in to make a killer image. It's nice to have it, but it's not you don't have to have it, so just think about it when you go and start buying equipment my sons are there wanting everything right? They come to me, dad and what this? Well, k, do you have the money? What kind of I could buy it? But then I don't have any gas I can't live for the next month. Well, then you don't you don't have the money, so we think I have that have two thousand dollars in the bank and go buy a lens no, no, no, you got other bills, so be careful when it comes to buying equipment that you don't get sucked in. All right. You know, you're killing me here. I want it. Well, that was really my wife said no here too. And so next week, when I go, honey, I need this land. Since you go did you just preach that you're not supposed to get sucked in to buy, make all this women? Now we do now, but I'll tell you what we amy will tell you that in the last thirty years so well, what was? So we've been married twenty seven wonderful years, and but I always check with her, and I want to say, can we afford this? And she'll say yea or nay and I do do a little. I do little sales pitch on her, but usually said, no, we can't we can't afford it, joe can't afford it. Oh, but okay, I can afford it, and we go on from there. So so yes, um, if you have someone that kind of watches, the checkbook, uh, that's, probably good thing, pretty good thing.