Okay, good morning, everybody. And thank you for taking the time out to be here. Also, thank you so much, too creative life I think this is an incredible platform, there's a great bunch of people behind this project and thank you so much to everybody for all the effort that they've put in just with regards to teo what we're going to be doing over the next couple of days. I've been a photographer now for twenty years, and I think that as everybody always says, you know, if I knew then what I know now, things would be different, so hopefully I can impart some of that knowledge to you and help you avoid the mistakes that I made so that you could get to where you want to be a little quicker and then what I did because this day and age off, instant gratification waiting twenty years for your career to take off is it's not that desirable. So, yeah, I'm gonna be going through some of the knowledge that I've picked up over the last couple of years and hopefully that will inspire you. Teo look ...
at wedding photography differently the reason I I have chosen the path off the high fashion influence within my wedding photography is I really believe and be chatting about that a little bit later, but I really believe that within the middle market off the wedding photography industry there's a huge oversaturation off photographers and we need to distinguish ourselves by a certain style is a lot of psychology that's involved in terms of y our target a certain market we'll go into that but yeah it's it's really just about my philosophies regarding wedding photography and how I talk with my specific market so yeah, you know a cz we're going through questions would would be great when I first started teaching I had a ll these questions that I wanted to ask so a lot of what I have planned in the next three days I know why you're goingto ask so I've got those questions you know answered for you already however there could be some other things that you that you wanted to chat about that we will go through so yeah let's just let's just go to with regards to how I started in the industry and so many people have got the story of when they were five years old or six years old they dad gave him a nice little you know, a box brownie camera and they were hooked and passionate about photography for you know their whole lives it didn't work out like that for me when I finished high school I ended up in the police force through conscription a ll white males were forced to go into national service back in nineteen eighty nine when I finished when I finished high school and I ended up in the police force and I was sent to the riot unit which was which was pretty hectic at the time there was a lot of political turmoil there was a lot of political change in in south africa at the time it was an incredible time to be in south africa and to see that transformation and I think for me it was even more of a privilege because I was right in the thick of it and I had the best of both worlds because I had a privileged white upbringing and I was witnessing the change politically from the black oppression and so I definitely have a balanced perspective on what was going on so I ended up literally for about a year we were patrolling the townships and witnessing and monitoring riots and mass demonstrations which were all politically based and I know it sounds a little crazy but got repetitive you watch people dying every day and you'd watch people killing themselves and you know you'd have all these horrible things going on but it's the same thing every day so when I say I became a little bored a know that it sounds ridiculous but it was with more about the situation on my life and I wasn't moving forward so one day what happened? We want parade and the captain I had mentioned that there was a need for a photographic unit to start in the police in the right unit and nobody was really that keen to join because you're goingto you pretty much going to be filming police reaction teo certain events and sometimes the police were a little enthusiastic in their approach to the political riots so you didn't really want to be the guy with the camera getting your mates in trouble so they weren't many people that were wanting to sign up to be the photographer and I really didn't have much interest in doing that either but the captain said as you know, you get your own vehicle you get your own pick up truck and you know it's a it's a separate unit on it that would be cool okay? So yeah, I'll do that and I tell so many people that literally if they needed if they needed a a chef in the mess hall probably that's what I would be today if they needed a mechanic I would be a mechanic today it literally was that moment in my life where it was almost like okay, you're the photographer and prior to that I had no photographic inclination whatsoever you can see that I do everything with passion I really enjoyed my time there, so I don't I don't regret my time there it really taught me a lot of about life but yeah, it really was by complete chance that I ended up being a photographer a zoo I said I'm not inherently creative I've had to teach myself all of these things and it was my way out off being a policeman I didn't want to be a policeman my whole life and this was the way out I didn't go teo university or you call it college I didn't go to university so I don't have any tertiary education it really was I have to make this work which which makes me wonder sometimes you know they could be talents within people that are never explored because just by pure circumstance you don't have that opportunity teo to explore what potentially you are capable of. So um when when we were in the right unit what I would do I can talk about this now because it's a long time ago and I'm not really going to get into too much trouble but what I would do is I first of all the state or the government couldn't afford to buy cameras first we had to go by own camera so I went and got a little point and shoot and we were shooting video and and stills at the time so what I would do is I'd go and buy my own rolls of film so I go off and shoot a scene and they'd be three days or four days and shoot images that were more news where the images that that the newspapers could use I take that role of form out put in my pocket and take out the state issued film and going to shoot a couple of shots for the state on dh that would be sent off for in terms of evidence and things like that I mean I would get those images to the press and start making money by selling images to the press and what I did was all the money that I earned from selling images I would put towards my photographic career so I didn't rely on it as a salary because I knew that if I was turning you know double syria never leave never leave the right unit so all the money that I generated I just put straight back into photography and as you know it's an expensive hobby so it doesn't go very far so every single cent that I that I earned from selling images to the newspapers I put back straight into into the photography to get the better camera and bitter lenses and that kind of thing um just in terms of these images here that I have over here the image on the left was an image off one of the reaction unit policeman we had we had information on a a pickup truck that was coming through the mozambican border with a false bottom you can see he's cutting open the false bottom there and underneath there were forty, seven hundred sixty or one hundred eighty eight forty sevens and like two thousand eight hundred rounds which could have caused a lot of damage on a lot of death and destruction and fortunately we intercepted that I was very lucky to win an award nineteen ninety eight I got second for the journalist off photojournalist press image off the year it was quite strange because I didn't really get many credits because I didn't want my boss to know what I was doing, so I won that award under a under a student on dh the image on the right is a it's a very, very sad story that is the policeman who was shot dead during an armed robbery and it's very sad because not only is a policeman who died in the line of duty but he had gone to police college or police academy and that takes six months and he was stationed back in a police station called am below and he had gone to work on his very first day and he had booked on duty at seven o'clock in the morning and he was dead at seven thirty so he had worked half a hour. It is obviously very, very sad and it's not a great story but it's a very newsworthy story and that was my first front page picture in our newspaper called the daily news so yeah, that's that's the kind of stuff that I was dealing with, obviously politically motivated crimes, touch of violence, so I was photographing a lot of death and destruction, and, uh, you know, it does take it its toll on you, and you do become quite cynical and quite negative about life, and yeah, there was a it was a very strange time in our history, but I learned a lot about life, and I also learned, especially with film, I learned to shoot on the fly as fast as you can get your shot, you know, things like this, you can't re shoot which waiting's you can't reach you'd anyway, so I think it and weddings are very much like riots as well, so but but if you look at if you look a tte thie, the fact that your country should you have to get it done on the day, I think terms of my wedding career that that's helped me a lot in terms of understanding that it has to be shot on the day now I started off as many other people started off. This is my very first wedding that I ever shot you khun tell you, khun tell in terms of the terms of the attire and their hairstyles, that it was probably in about nineteen, ninety one, ninety two and it happened to me exactly the same as it happens to a lot of people out there where you're the guy with the camera you know can you shoot my wedding? Policemen don't have a lot of disposable income so I wass photographing my friends and colleagues weddings for them you know obviously not a huge amount of money but that's how I started and that's how a lot of people start you know you get known for you the guy with the camera and you take nice nice photographs can you photograph my wedding and it was quite a strange concept for me because I literally would be photographing dead people friday night get home to three in the morning get dressing off to a wedding and we had pages in those days on does some of you if they don't know what that is but those days we had pages so I could you know, finish awaiting I'd be on call and you know, five o'clock the next morning out to shoot eight dead in in gum malarkey or a township in the nearby area and on my neck's would be dancing, dancing, dancing and then dead people it was you know and I make sure I have to cut it up so that the couple didn't get the wrong wrong negatives but it sounds really ridiculous but that's what my life was like at the time and then as soon as the political transformation took place the media interest in south africa dwindled and I couldn't make money selling images to newspapers anymore it was it was a very strange situation because the media thrives on death and destruction and you know once the transition from a party to democracy took place the rest of the world didn't want to know that there was still a few problems and a few teething problems post post a post democracy and we were literally a situation where I'd find reuters and I'd say we've got like twenty two dead on christmas day nineteen ninety five twenty two people did in one little homestead and reuters tell me it's not really a story christmas day twenty two people did that's a big story I sold those images I was the only photographer on scene and I saw those images to the local newspaper for fifteen dollars it was on page three you know so there was no interest in south africa anymore and I wasn't making any more money so that was the time I needed to get out off being a policeman so I literally took six months uh unpaid leave I got a wooden a frame board I put it out in the street I rented a small area which is I work in meters it's three by four meters which is probably the size of this area over here this is actually quite big for what my first studio was, and I put in a frame board out in the street and I looked at the telephone and I waited and waited for littering. I would walk around the neighborhood putting conference into people's post boxes. I would photograph school events, water polo, soccer, hockey, that type of thing. I would photograph them in the morning rush to the lab. One hour lab, have the prints printed because we were shooting film in those days. Rush back and sell those images to the parents. That's how I got into it, and slowly but surely the phone would ring a little bit more often, and it ended up that I started to get into position where I was earning enough money to leave the police force. So we were working shifts. So four days on four days off, I would work as a policeman for four days and then go and sit in the studio and watch my phone for the other four days. And yeah, I think I think just in terms of that, people need to understand that it takes a lot of hard work. This like a city a little earlier. On this day, in age of instant gratification, people want results now this is this takes a lot of hard work, and if you want to make this work long term it can't be I'm going to try it for six months if it doesn't work I'm outta here I for me it was also a necessity I don't know anything else so it has to work for me I don't have any in any other option so I was just doing headshots off really? State agents, business cards things like that and there was one guy who came in and I was very, very professional and I believe that you treat everybody the same no matter who they are because you know I think it's just good comma andi also you never know who they know and where that's going to take you so I approached every single job if it's the most important job I have ever done I don't ever treat anybody any differently just because it's a business card shortly we just get this over with so this guy came in and I took a photograph off his portrait for his business card and two days later he found me said look, I really enjoyed the way you took my photograph and on dh I appreciate your professionalism my wife is uh the marketing manager at roxy would you think about doing our catalogues all right that's cool so I started shooting for roxy through that connection through photographing one head shot and literally one head shot is like five frames and maybe not even two three minutes to get that shot but because of the way I treat people and because of the way he felt when he was in my presence he got me onto shooting roxy and from that the brother company or the roxy and quicksilver our companies that are one's obviously for mile and one is for female so I started treating roxy I started shooting quicksilver and from shooting roxy obviously you're doing a lot of underway work sorry swim way work which leads you to underway work which which is not a bad not a bad job if you can get it from working with really nice high end models who had a lot of experience shooting with fashion photographers I would let them do their thing and then I would see how they move on dh how they interact with the camera and I took their poses and I took their their energy and the way they worked and I try to incorporate that into my wedding photography. So from the roxy thing, the quicks all the thing I ended up being the official wonderbra photographer I've been shooting wonder brought for eleven years, which is it's a really uplifting experience I get a lot of support from them and it's a it's a great it's a great company to work for from that obviously now as soon as you start working for higher profile clients, you end up getting, you know, it just snowballs, so I shoot some amazing campaigns now during during the week or when I'm not shooting weddings on I'll talk to you about my work for that allows me the time to do these kind of things and then two thousand eight I was, uh I really wanted to take my business to the next level, so I bought a few dvds that some photographers were producing in terms of workshops and understanding that I didn't want to be working the way I was working at the time and what I'm talking about is shooting fifty, sixty waiting's a year, never having a weekend off, and you also go back to the fact that from school I went to being a policeman, so I never had a weekend off there either, uh, two shooting fifty, sixty weddings a year uh and not really making that much money. My my pricing plans were some sucked, you know, just in terms of how much you charge people, a lot of us just guess how much we should charge way go through the internet, we look at other wedding photographers, and we then judge for ourselves where we kind of fit in and where we should be charging in how that works, but it's it's so random that that you end up a lot of the times, because your self confidence could be could be lower than it should be. You end up under underpricing yourself and you end up shooting for the middle market, which means you are working really hard, but not really making that much money. We'll we'll go through a couple of the pricing structures in the moment. It's, it's, it's, not exciting stuff, it's it's pretty depressing, so don't don't look forward to that, but it has to be said, and we've got to go through that. So what happened to me was I watched a couple of dvds and I started to implement what I learned through other photographers, and then I brought out my first dvd in two thousand eight I just thought, you know, if other people can do this, so can I. And if I if I don't take that step nobody's going to come knocking on my door to offer me a sponsorship ambassadorship, that kind of thing. So I produced this this dvd for ah for myself, but I had all the knick on gear I had all the chrome gear, the, uh, low pro gear, and I produced this dvd and then went to nick on and said, this is what I've produced could you help me promote it just in terms of getting it out there, getting into stores and things like that? And they were so impressed by what I had done that they took me on as a brand ambassador now that doesn't necessarily mean that I am the best photographer that they wanted to take, you know that they were going to take me on because I was the best photographer it was because I was proactive because I went out and did something and I think gave it to them they didn't have to do anything else I don't really made a product for them that they that they could market, you know, in terms of getting it out there into the market. So when people go looking for things looking for sponsorship, looking for you, make yourself marketable don't don't go out there and expect everybody just to give you things for nothing because it's not gonna happen that the economy's tight nobody said just knock on your door and give you a sponsorship in that kind of thing. So so I ended up being a nick on brand ambassador, which has been obviously incredible for for my career the support I get from them is phenomenal on dh obviously access to teo information and I'm testing gear for them now and that just lifts my whole profile the whole re the reason I'm telling you the whole story is mainly because I came from absolutely nothing. I started off having no idea about photography, no idea about what it means to be creative and no business and no clue on how business has worked to get myself into position away. I'm I'm a creative life. I mean, this is ridiculous, okay, so what does it take to make a successful wedding photographer? So when I say successful, I'm not talking about being booked every week. I'm not talking about being in a position where you are sort after, and I think a lot of the times we look to being booked as a sense of validation. I remember when I was shooting fifty, sixty weddings a year, if I am what had a weekend off, I was pretty depressed about it because what's wrong with me, I didn't get a waiting for this week now, it's a little different because I only shoot twenty a year, I'm not cool, I've got the weekend off and I can go and, you know, watch my kids playing sports and I can enjoy some sort of normality in my life, so what is success? Success to you is probably very different to what success is to me, but there are three fundamental things that are going to make you successful first of all the thing that nobody can copy and that is you as your brand the brand that is you now right now you are exuding a brand you are exuding a brand as you sit there there are so many things that are involved it's body language it's posture it's the way you dress it's the way you smell it's your it's your general appearance it's the way you speak to people there are so many things that constitute a brand and you need to live your brent you need to be a way off everything that you do is then brand representative because you are selling yourself to your clients your product obviously your product needs to be off a very good standard but your product could be replicated I mean I could I could shoot like you you could shoot like me in terms of the actual finished image you can you can study teo nohow to photograph something so your product can be emulated and your service can be can be matched your brand that is you that's what's going to differentiate yourself and so much off that has to do with with confidence so let's just talk a little bit about service service doesn't necessarily mean that you're fast service is not about being fast service is about managing your client's expectations and effectively communicating with them so that they are never in a position that they question your service so let's just take a little little story there is something wrong with your car's brakes you go into the garage on on a monday morning breaks we're making a funny noise over the weekend you can you can you have a look at my brakes and the mechanic comes out there and he's dirty mechanic and he's you know um he's not very well presented and he kind of looks at your cars yeah called book it in and you know, be ready for a clock so you'll leave the workshop and three o'clock comes you haven't heard from the guy you find him you say look what's going on with my car and I don't know he'd you know paul's not here or which car are you talking about? You know, you brought in this morning that that type of thing so you could end up you know we'll call you back tomorrow. Oh, okay, so tomorrow comes maybe the same thing happens you go to the shop and it's closed in the afternoon and eventually maybe waiting state comes and you eventually get your car back see it's a little grabby, you know it's working and but you you haven't paid very much for it, so you know you're kind of happy now compare that to an experience of when you're going to a workshop and you go in there and you know the reception is really clean you greeted you know maybe have a cup of coffee while the mechanic takes a quick look at your car the mechanic comes out and gives you informed knowledge off the problem with regards to what's wrong with your car and sister you look and there's a little specialized part that we need to get your vehicle will be ready on thursday afternoon at two thirty you get like kit's quite a long time but you know I will make alternative arrangements and off you go tuesday afternoon comes your mechanic finds you and says look your your brake pads have arrived everything's going according to schedule like I said you will have your vehicle ready thursday afternoon to thirty so you go about your business waiting state comes and he finds uses good news for you my mechanics worked overtime on your car and it will be ready at three o'clock this afternoon you received the vehicle at exactly the same time as the first mechanic you're paying a lot more who has the better service you received the vehicle at exactly the same time but your perception is the second guy because he's under promised and over delivered he said your vehicle will be ready on thursday but in actual fact it was ready on waiting state with the other guy said four o'clock you can come and fetch it so service is not necessarily about doing it as fast as you can because we know that with digital photography, you know, fast, I take it, you know, the post production time it does take a lot of time and to get stuff out fast, you're not going to get a quality product out very fast. So just so that's, that's really just about service and effectively communicating with your clients. If there is a problem in terms of the production off your off, your books or of your albums, phone them don't ever let a client for new and say what's going on with my image is always be the first one in terms of communicating with them so that they feel like you're on top of things. All right, then, in terms of the product, the product needs to resonate with your client in terms of in terms of the physical product it needs to be contemporary, and your client needs to see value in the product. So obviously, in terms of the pricing that they're paying a lot of the times photographers, we're count their budgets and then right at the end, after spending so many hours and so much money on equipment in terms of their budget, there can only really afford to have the thin paper book and it's like what's the point of that if you if you've done so much to get to your to get a point in your career where you're not giving the clients something that is beautiful in terms of tactile and has value in it so you need to make sure that there's value in your final product but value also comes from the old brand perception as well because I mean let's let's face it a a pair of high infection shoes this is definitely a brand perception in terms of value there you know if you're gonna go and buy a pair of jimmy two shoes you're looking at over a thousand dollars their shoes you know it it's it's the brand perception that will elevate that product in terms of getting clients to buy that product. So when I started to do to actually study or understand my specific target market and what I come came to realise is that shooting for the middle market wasn't getting me anyway I was going along at a steady pace I always use this analogy it's like eating soup with a fork you're really busy but you remain hungry so I just found that I was on this treadmill off getting work out as fast as I could because of you shooting fifty six, sixty weddings a year you have to get out you have won a week out so your post production is limited in terms of your timing so the product you're producing you just it's a mad mad rush and you not actually getting any where in terms of your lifestyle you're not in a position where you khun buy a nice house, buy a nice car, get married and have kids and spent you know spend money on education because a lot of the times we're just happy that somebody's paid us to do a job and that's where we find find our validation so after five, six years or maybe seven years on this hamster wheel I really just found that I need to elevate myself into different market now one of the key things that we need to check about here and this concept is a very difficult concept to understand especially because a z human being we we're quite proud and we think that we're the bee's knees what we have to understand is that we are not our target market I cannot afford me there is no way I could afford what I charge and what we have to get out of our heads is because we don't have money doesn't mean that our clients don't have money so the reason why I started targeting the more affluent client is because I needed to make enough money to advance my lifestyle I didn't want to have a stagnant lifestyle you don't remain twenty six living at home with your parents for the rest of your life you need to be in a position where in terms of your career there's growth and you're making money I mean I do understand that it's a passion and it's a it's a it's a very rewarding industry to be in but that's not enough to feed your kids we here to make money and separating the emotional side of things from the business side of things I think is very, very important because we are here to make money bottom line it's a it's a job it's really nice to see emotion going on and sometimes I get emotionally involved in our looking thing it's a beautiful or that that is really amazing but take the picture because that's what you're getting paid to do so don't get too caught up in that and I really love my job it's so amazing I'm there to make money so let's just get that straight before we go on any further okay so in terms of understanding this my spits specific target market I'm going to use this analogy where we all know that the photographic industry has become very saturated in the middle market now they are a couple of reasons for that one is obviously the advent off digital I don't mean to offend any ladies here but there is a huge influx or a huge interest from the female population to get into photography and I believe that the reason for that is the barrier to entry has being obliterated not not even lowered its being obliterated because in the past when we were shooting film it was very much a male dominated industry and it was because it was technical there was a lot of technical issues that that that we're there you have to understand your your eyes so and your shutter speed relationship with your aperture and if you got it wrong you only knew about that three days after the wedding where is now when you shooting digital you've got that instant reassurance that okay, I've got something and with the female perspective there capturing moments and there capturing moments that the guys are not getting the guys are looking at technical so so what what you've got now in this industry you've got a lot of uh males who have bean an industry a little bit longer then what I have or even the same amount of time that I have no getting really really upset that there's this huge influx ofthe new photographers and they that's technically not correct and how did these these people are just doing their own thing and they know they're getting all upset about it but they're not changing their mind set or changing their product in terms of understanding that it's about moments and it's about emotion so use your technical knowledge, but get those emotional moments and it doesn't matter if technically, they're not perfect because the emotional value is going to sell that that product so girls have come in and worked on their strengths, which is the emotional side of things guys are still hung up on getting everything technically technically correct, so guys need to up their game in terms of understanding that it is so much more about emotion as well. There's also another thing that I think is a reason why guys aren't progressing the way they the way that females are progressing now, and we can see it now. We've got we've got three lovely ladies and one gentleman now I understand that girls are really keen to learn, and they are so excited to go on workshop that you'll see in our facebook I'm going to this workshop and then learned so much guys like, I don't need to be taught anything, I know everything you know, it's so so guys, guys are in a position where the ego is getting in the way, and they are not wanting to go to go to workshops and to progress in terms of their their education, so I think creative lives a fantastic forum for all those all those men who are watching online that going to have teo say, I was educated and I took a couple creative live workshop so that I think that the anonymity off the internet works really well here. So let's look att let's look at this analogy over here. Basically, anybody can be a photographer. Now you go to the store, you spend one thousand five hundred dollars, two thousand dollars and you can get enough kit to go and shoot the wedding let's. Look at it in terms of hot dogs versus fine dining, anybody can open a hot dog stand. Really? You just go to the grocery store, you going buy a pack of hot dogs and you buy your your buns, your roles. What if you call them over here on you can just set up a store very limited in terms of what you actually need and you khun sell hot dogs? No, but you know there's not much talent or much effect that is needed there or you could go the fine dining route. Now the fine dining route means you're gonna have to go and study to be a schiff. You're gonna have to invest in your in your career by opening a restaurant with nice tablecloths, nice crockery, nice cutlery and it's going to be very different to the hot dog market you're still selling food, but it's a different concept, so what I'm doing here is I'm trying to service the market, that is willing to go to fine dining. And you'll also notice that had fine dining. People pay a lot ofthe money for a very small product. If you go to a very fancy restaurant, you know you're going to pay a lot of money for a starter. And when it comes in this great big plate, a couple of drops of oil and this tiny little starter. But you're happy to pay that. Your preconceived idea is that you are going to spend a lot of money but it's about the experience. So let's, just keep that analogy in our minds when we working through the rest of what we're going to be talking about today.