Setting the Trends
All right, so trend um a trend is is something that you do well enough and people want to copy it or the industry says I like it I like it I like it enough people like it, but again, you don't have to win over the hole audience, so I always do this. How do you know the singer britney spears? Yeah, okay, um okay, so I say we all know who she is, but you know, I've never what I listened to a full britney spears song and I'm nothing against pretty spirits I just say that I've never done that just I'll see you on tv and they'll have a clip of her singing but I've never sat down to listen to full britney spears song now I like ray lamontagne, how many in your no ray lamontagne a few hands right using that very many people I love ray lamontagne I've every one of his albums every one of his songs and I can put him on and I just drive down the road and listen to him for four hours fits me I like him okay may not fit you all right, so so ok, I yes, I heard you listen to britney spears on the wa...
y, but we like and this like certain things and trends are like that you see someone wearing something old micah what like you know they're wearing I would never wear that or a car like any cars options you have you see someone driving cradle I've never buy that car they wasted their money right? Well, they liked it. They bought it so trends fit people's likes and dislikes and you have to win over everyone. All you do is win over a segment enough people to give you enough work that you could make a living that's it so don't think like, you know, you have to win over, you know, you know, the king of pop, right? You just have to get out there and create enough work to survive and make a living at it. All right, um let's talk about your intuition. This is the hardest thing for unharnessed to do and we are artist I have a whole talk on this. I think I've covered this here creative life, but you're an artist was built in your very dna. And so as you go and create every time you come to a fork in the road you have a decision to make do I go left? Or do I go right it's a creative process, right? And you question yourself and you say, oh, I might doing the right thing is, you know, is my are my colleagues going toe laugh at me when they see this there is someone gonna critique me and tell me I suck right? So there's all every time you make a creative decision are you kind of that point you you are kind of stuck with going one way or the other and what happens is we tend to be influenced by others opinions human I'm influenced by those opinions but I have to say let go of that had to say what does my intuition tell me go right single right but wait a minute that's wait I feel like I got a center this person well, you know I suppose the center this person in the picture wait there's a I want to put a tree out of the girl's head. Let my I let my intuition takeover and say my intuition can never be wrong to fulfill my vision is an artist. Now the client may not like it that's possible because you have plays a client when you're in this industry but hopefully build the body of work that fits your vision the client hires you for your vision so then you create your vision and they're happy that's the perfect world it's not always like that, but hopefully it is and so as I've gotten older and I've created a brand it's a lot easier for me today to work for clients and it was fifteen twenty years ago, because now I'm getting hired for the joel grounds brand and I could do that my sleep now I want to mix it up right? I won't be too boring, but it's easy to do. My thing is hard for me to do someone else's thing, so don't go on, try to copy someone else's thing because it's gonna be difficult and you're gonna be, like, spin your head like a dog chasing his tail. All right? So it doesn't take a look back. A genius, creative genius to create a trend because I'm not I'm not all that smart. You don't guess what? I was barely a c student and, um, so intellect has nothing do with it. A brand is something that you just worked from uniqueness, and you do it well and to do it well, you're gonna repeat it. And so if I can go out in the industry, I could tell you this if I can go out and create a brand and industry, so can you write? I have nothing that you don't possess, and I have a whole thing about ansel adams and henry carter purse on, and there were just people that chase their dream and stuck with their look and beat it in the ground of times, and we now know who they are great masters of photographers so it comes down to repeat repeat, repeat, repeat so that's the key so if someone comes to me says joel, what is the success? How can I give me one thing that can just make me a rock star in the photo industry? And I say, you know what? Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat it more than one else and you're out performing because every time you do it, you get better at it, you make a mistake even okay on everything make that mistake and and so you know, I used to work clients come in that we say ok, we're going to shoot a portrait of the ceo and here's this factory, whatever. And we want him in this factory and so they go ok? You know, where do we set up? And I walked around a go. Okay, well, there's a big window light over there. Okay? That's cross like that way. Okay. That's great, but there's a really busy stuff over there. Okay, so I go, okay? There's a light thing he and I get when you put him right here and they go. You sure? Absolutely, they go. What about you can't do that over there, I know because I've done into factories and shot people hundreds of times and very quickly now I can make an assessment based on my past history of doing that one hundred, if not a thousand times, and so I get better at it with time. And so with practice, you go, ok, I did that before didn't work, and I do something different, and you try it, you got all that works, and then you build this repetitive a success, and so repeat cannot you cannot get there by not repeating them, so every train has a shelf life and one of the one of the biggest problems commercial advertising photographers have, they have some success, and they get pretty good at what they do. They build with some client work, their rock, and they buy a new bmw, they got a big studio, and they got a couple people working for him, and all of sudden they're trend comes into an end, our ad agencies going, we've seen that we'll move on to something else. The new kid comes in town, and, you know, they start using the new kid and they go what happened? They're like, don't founded. Why is the phone stop drinking? Because every trend has every look has a life span has a shelf life, and so I've been doing my three ej lighting kind of compositing thing for now about seven did ten years somewhere in their terrible dates time by the donor for a while so let's see, I started with fifty some fifty I'm turning fifty eight a couple weeks so eight years, eight years I've been doing it guess what it's coming to an end I'm not surprised right when I say is coming and it doesn't mean that I will never shoot you know a three light, edgy composite portrait I still have that in the marketplace and there still some need for that but I'm saying is it has a life shelf life and I know that I've been around long enough I'm not going to be surprised by it I'm not gonna wake up and go oh my gosh what do I do now? Well, I know I'm already thinking about the other wave of things I'm gonna do my next trend so to speak by the next push so and it's fun it's fun we invent yourself it is a little bit of a labor I mean you have to get out there but it's fun so don't be afraid to go out, just practice and experiment and do your thing so all right speak the right language we're moving pretty good yeah let's why just wanted tio we have so many questions that are coming in if you guys have questions, feel free to grab a mic but before we move on I thought it was a great time for some questions around trends because it really is a great topic so trends and styles so a question that that came in was do you have any let's say how do you explore which style you love to shoot like what are the z z z z when you go shopping okay my wife I watched my wife she's really picky she's not a big spender ok so she's tight uh she loves to spend money on her kids so most moms do but she'll go no no sugar on iraq she just goes through the whole store and then she's like no nothing here next door no nothing here finally find something right and so she goes through one hundred different outfits before she finds something. Why? Because she has likes and dislikes and her intuition says I know I won't look good in this or I'm not you know pretty happy with this and we do buy things sometimes we go later what was I thinking right but the point is is is we have an intuition that tells us when we go down the right path so when it comes to finding the right brand or look that fits you here's a good way to do it here's what I did years ago I went down before internet I went down to the used bookstore that all these outdated magazines stacks of vogue and you know, just stacks of old magazines and I just fill up a tub and I take him home to sit down and I'd flip through no no who rip it out doo doo doo doo had couple piles you know like black and white portrait it's whatever and I just started flipping through magazines and pulling out everything I went oh my god that's amazing then I went back and looked at it and I go there is kind of a common theme going on here that's my brand that makes sense that's what I'm gonna go after and now you say that's that copy hey you know we're all influenced by others and I have no no qualms and saying I've been influenced by other people other pictures I still go look a photography go wow that's great I'd love to do something like that when I go on try it I have my own I'm nyle itself right? So it's not gonna look exact like that person but I will be influenced by others and so go out and just now we have the internet guillen folders say cool images I like and then go and don't re post them or use them it is co screen grab him and just dropping a folder and then go backto as reference and say I like I like this is cool stuff I'm gonna go in start grabbing models grabbing people to go whatever it is and build a look so it doesn't take that many images toe win over and our director he's not be really good so it may take you ten images oh, I'll give an example I did a picture a series of cactus in arizona I strobe him I went out in the field big stormy nights and you know and I thought I'm going to go I told me why I'm gonna go do a portrait of a cactus because I was this is like ten years ago and right before I did my three ej lighting thing but I just thought I'm glad and I spent eighty it was over eighty days I went out almost every night and the first night I went out afternoon late late evening I took a big soft box and I took this cactus than with the light it and before I even got to my camera the wind blew the whole thing so I go okay? I mean he's an umbrella so the next night I got an umbrella a little smaller put a couple samba gun carrying this stuff out in the field, right? So I can't carry that many sandbags I get all set up boo the wind blows the umbrella over I go ok all right, I punt now I got just a regular hood uh the standard hood that comes at their strobe and I don't do that, you know, they call the sunny sixteen overpower the sun all the stuff. So, um I learned that was the only option I really have because I couldn't hold a soft box down because it was getting really stormy windy stuff. Well, I got that down. Then I realized that you take a nice cactus and there's junk all around the cactus, right? So you take this picture like this beautiful cactus butt it's really cluttered so that I had to find a cactus that was nice and clean ground around, you know? So I bounced down roads for three hours trying to find the perfect cactus, so I grew with every time that I went out right, and eventually, after about the thirtieth picture, I kind of had my little groove. They built the body of work and I don't you know, it was used in arizona highways and it was on the cover and everything. So my point is, is that it took me a while to figure out the groove. So when you go build a body work your first thirty portrait's or whatever it is may not be all that good, but eventually you find the groove and you go, oh, I love it and, um, you know another question yeah, I think that's really interesting and especially with how you talked about styles that sometimes you you know what you like but then you question it so it sounds like going with your gut on that is just something that, you know, keep going ties back to what you said earlier about not always listening to what other people because let's just put it this way it's a one hundred percent guarantee that someone's gonna come along to derail you it could be someone that loves you. Wait, if someone love me, why would they steal my dream? Well, because people don't understand a lot of times what they say, you know what you think? My picture oh that's terrible and it's your passion, right? So someone that loves you could actually steal your dream or derail you from what you should be doing. So why here's my thing is that ok, someone everyone's got an opinion, right? So if you ask for they're gonna give it to you and I'll be able give it to and they don't you don't even ask, but you're going to get an opinion. You're going to get something that's going, going to go contrary to what your thank you in terms of its going toe challenge you am I on the right track security? You can't avoid that, and so because you're human you're weak fragile in secure and you're gonna go and come undone and you know and I have been undone all right so I'm not invincible right but I had to stop and go wait do I feel right about this stick with it I've had a really really good photographers early on tell me joel this edgy lighting kind of thing that's no there no ad agencies are going to go for this and guess what I'm standing in front of you today so does that make sense totally does really, really great advice another question before we move on you said your look needs to stay consistent as you're building this brand but does your subject matter need to stay consistent as well? All right I always do this because you know because I am a couple different talks and I have one on marketing this is sort of like a mixture a couple things but, um the single most important thing you can do in terms of once you sort of established this technique of I like this lighting I like this you know treatment is to build a body of work in siri's okay, so let me give an example by that um if you live on the coast you have access to water sports when you're in phoenix arizona there are some water sports on lakes but really let's say I wanted to go and do a siri's of portrait of surfers and that's a great culture right so in the back of my mind and we're coming up to this speak the right language so there's a good segue way and that is this I love surf lesson I love surfing the surfing culture number one you have to kind of understand the surfing culture I was photographing gulf ad campaign and I had a cherry picker to pro golfers on a beautiful scottsdale country club that everything was perfect art directors all the client were down there and the golf pro as I'm upon the cherry picker says what you want me to dio I said wow I like your whacking the ball and he looks up I'm a pro I don't like the ball you know so I don't know golfing right so so I'm like you know using wrong terminology and and she had to learn your subject and their culture a little bit but the point is is if I look at the surfing culture I say I love portrait's I love this maybe on location strobing these these surfers but look at the industry that's surrounded by the surfing culture the boards, the suits all these things that the wax on the board there's all these companies that need photography that's related to the culture so as a photographer that wants to make a living I have to build a siri's of images that support the culture and the opportunity for potential clients to go? Wow, that photograph can make us a lot of money that could help sell our product. So I'm thinking about that in the back of my head that's speaking the right language and knowing that, yes, I'm doing my thing, but I'm also supporting by a series of images that work together that went over the client or the art by art director. Whoever is trying to hire you, they go. We want this photographer is look how delicate the's portrait sar and we have a client that does, you know, build surfboards or wet suits or whatever it isthe and then all of a sudden bam, you are the expert in the salt surfing community. And how long does it take you to build enough images of surfers in the surfing community to pitch an agency? How long do you think there you go? Not very long couple months you go out. If you're dedicated, you go out there, you could build enough images in a couple months. Now getting it to the marketplace takes a little longer, but the ability to go out and create a body of work is not that hard, and the first probably ten surfers you photograph, you're not going to do that good. And all of sudden you start to learn the culture, you start to learn how to recruit and there's the art of recruiting and my boys who were in photography. Now they do more video, they go ten. I needed model how to get models, the art of recruiting. You gotta go get models right and get subjects. So you go out on this parking lot and here's all these sir, for, you know, people put in wet suits on and going out and you gotta go. Hey, excuse me. I would love to a portrait of you and then pull out your iphone or your ipad. Go here's what I'm doing, they go cool, right? And you recruit that's hard work. Anybody got up to a stranger and asked, just can't take your picture. It's not easy, right? But once you do it three hundred times or three thousand times, it gets easier. When I was twenty one years old, I couldn't I couldn't ask the next door neighbor for a you know, a cup of sugar. I was so shy I had to learn to overcome that, and so you do to to go and build a body of work.