Photo & Video > Fine Art > Turning Personal Projects Into A Career > Skype Call: Dennis Biela, Photographer

Skype Call: Dennis Biela, Photographer


Turning Personal Projects Into a Career


Lesson Info

Skype Call: Dennis Biela, Photographer

Let's go to someone who has done it and had it success doing it how you doing, dennis? I'm good. How about yourself? I'm doing very good man doing very good so I love that camera you have in your hand. Yeah, so, dennis, we're talking about crowd funding and I know you had you've had a very successful kickstarter campaign. So how much did you raise for your campaign and what was it about? Um are minimum amount that we were going for was ten thousand dollars permit we actually raise sixteen thousand like six hundred some odd dollars through kickstarter, so it was successful. The project is basically we were covering the end of the shuttle program, so we went into three different launches and we filmed it photography did interviews and we covered one of the shuttles from when it came back from a launch uh from a mission all the way through to when they went to the next launch on to its final home abbe museum. So each one of these segments we have probably anywhere from a minimum of five o...

r six people involved up to at the last shuttle launch we had like twenty two people attending covering it, so it wasn't so much for us about making money it was more of just not going into the hole is much for our expenses wonderful, wonderful, so I love your project I loved to do and also you know please for a second before I go into any questions tell the audience what you do I'm a contractor with the my company we create virtual tours that's our basic thing so you go to the smithsonian where contractor with the smithsonian's you go to a kiosk and you can touch the display screen and see the interior of the aircraft the national air and space museum is one of the most visited museums in the world they have aa attendance of eleven million people per year and the issue for them is everybody comes they see the outside of the airplane but then they want to see the inside well absolutely picture yeah picture your car with eleven million people going through it it be dust at the end of the year so and I create the content thee gone displays tio allow you to see the different parts of the interior of the aircraft or the different components so that's my big gig that I do fantastic you give people the experience yes, we call their immersive media we basically do a type of photography that builds a three hundred sixty degree image so think of like standing inside a bubble and then on the computer with your mouths you can then scroll around you can look up, you can look down, you can zoom in and every detail or zoom out and get the overall effect so it's more than just photography though that's the major component for us we can also add sound files, tie it to maps or diagrams so a lot of different disciplines will call it you know you also need to know sound recording a little bit of video that type of thing on the technologies we use who's beautiful beautiful now dennis, I want to go back to your kickstarter campaign and go through the process of when you first start the process the campaign and how you get it funded was it was it ah easy funding your project but it took a while what with the ups and downs of your campaign? Um I heard the end of your you know, writing the press release and stuff we pretty much to somewhere thing it started off with a bang, you know, because you're contacting all your friends first hoping that you know they'll chipped in a lot so it started off pretty well it ran for six weeks no one second dennis and go go back to that first part you had you you contacted your your friends? How did you contact each of your friends? Uh usually just by email we did an email blast to everyone we knew um that got a pretty good response we had our funding levels everywhere from a dollar and you know, with kick started you have to provide a service or an item so the minimum thing was we would enter your name on our projects website the project's web site is the last shuttle dot com so there's area in there where for a buck your name gets entered into the you know help support us most things we offered where photographs so for our forget what was twenty five or thirty five bucks you could buy a leading by fourteen image that we shot during one of launches up to like two hundred fifty dollars for a limited edition princess now with kickstart you're not limited by amount we actually had some people pay us or contribute five hundred dollars for print. Other people gave us a few thousand dollars for a print, so it was a wide variance of funds fantastic why just learned something from you right now that I'll add to my kickstarter tonight and you're right about any amount working beat a dollar or whatever it all adds up so you know, even if it's one dollar that you give all that helps every penny helps with your kickstarted dennis um when did you see it really take off? When did you feel were you ever scared that you wouldn't hit the goal? Yeah, probably after the first day I can relate to that yeah, so it went up um you know, it went live the first couple of days we raised like, two, three thousand dollars pretty rapidly and then it was like, you know, maybe fifty dollars a day thirty five dollars a day it seemed that you know, it just kind of dribble then if I've been thinking about two weeks out before I was supposed tio clothes office and I think people start realizing that you know, now is the time to either contribute or not what we did was as part of our campaign we also contacted all the previous contributors you know, in other words, up to that point everyone who had given us funds we contact them directly and just put out an appeal to them hey, we're close I think we were at, like a thousand bucks of seventy five hundred something like that and we said but we're not there yet and the way you know, obviously kickstarted works is if you don't hit your total amount the threshold you don't get anything, so we let those people know in some of those people actually contributed mohr I think the couple people up their anti from a dollar toe like five hundred dollars so at the last minute, you know, like that too weak point we started to see more funds come in and then we actually had enough funding tio clothes are kickstarter campaign about a week out we had hit two ten thousand but the funds had still kept coming to wear like I said, we ended up with sixteen thousand something when we were all done congratulations congratulations people have a lot of questions about their kicks stars that they want to do for their projects can we take a question from the audience to ask dennis that would be wonderful yeah guys in the audience you have any questions before we move to the online community? What was the most difficult thing? What was the most difficult stage of this entire process for you? Um fulfillment is always the toughest thing you know it's easy to tell people you know you're going to get this stuff but we had lots of issues with the fulfillment so I'm by starting up kickstarter campaign my usual advice to them is really think through about what you're giving them you know and how will you how will you get it all done? We had some issues where well, even recently somebody ordered of an additional photograph from us but they wanted framed and mounted. So, you know, we did all that I had the framer actually shipped the thing out in no box that meant for shipping and somehow fedex broke it, you know? So it gets expensive like having all that stuff we done while you're waiting the time for fedex to reimburse you for you know wherever that amount wass so also if you have a lot of smaller items that you're sending people I usually tell you know see if you can work with whoever is producing that item like I had told matthew you know, maybe worked with a photo venture if they're sending prints that they could also package the book up so save him some effort from having to do all that fulfillment himself and that was for the best advice I got from anybody before I start my campaign talking to dennis before I did it let me know about and think about for filling it afterwards and that was a huge deal thank you for that information dennis that's for that buyers or the contributors that's their number one complaint is it takes so long to get the item so and it's just tough if it's you and you've got a lot people toe respond to it it just becomes ah full time job for you know, x amount of time so if I was to do another campaign I would try to say it up that you know, it would be handled all from the an outside source and I could just, you know, send the images over whatever and have them do the fulfillment and speaking of which so on kickstarter also you put down a time that your party will be finished by and delivered whatever you're offering to your your funders so for example, I have down the end of the year october fulfilling my book and having it out to my sponsor's people have funded my project but for everybody on creative live if I fund this project all those who again the videos that big it's funded you will get your videos the day it's funded well that's fantastic because that's like ten days from now so that's very exciting thank you for adding I think you're going to tell in their question for dennis before yeah dennis a question from our friend addi far in england from your perspective, what are the best ways to contact your friends and family on things like facebook without feeling like you are spamming them? Um well that's kind of like uh tough one from the standpoint of I always feel like I'm scamming my friends standing spamming standing yeah, I know what you said I just met I was just making a joke so way well, I think if you're for me, my family and friends knew that what I was doing with a passion for me, you know, it was something that, uh, how many of you have actually going out on next photograph the shuttle, right? You know, it's pretty special, so um from that standpoint, I didn't feel like I was intruding because I was just you know, telling my friends this is what's going on and this is my project now I think if I was doing it repeatedly, you know, bombarding them with information, what was going on? I think that would be too much, but I only did it like in the very beginning, you know, when we first launched the campaign and it was more of a personal note, I for those of you who know me, I am doing this and I really appreciate any help that you be able teo, you offer that type of thing don't be offended. I did towards the end of the campaign, I came back and I told everyone, hate, we're getting close and you know, if you know it was somebody who's into space or might be interested in this if you would pass by information along great, great advice, denis. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for all the advice you share with this audience. All the advice you've given to me before I start my project, I hope I can reach my level the way you did as well. So, thanks very much. And your question for that dennis go there was there was just one other that came in based on something you were talking about matthew and thinking about our different levels for for giveaways when when we have our project funded we give back to the community that helped us and so dennis, some of our viewers are interested in hearing how you determined what those giveaway levels were we heard you say that people could donate it different levels but how did you determine what those levels were and what we would give back to the community that helped you? Um for me I kind of looked at from a commercial sense and that uh you know how much that the item there were a few items that we actually bought we bought a bulk of we had a rubber duck, a shuttle astronaut rubber duck so we could pick those up for two dollars or two dollars and thirty cents each had nothing to do with the photography and the project or the filming, but we put that level of you know, if you gave us approximately fifteen bucks, we figured that we were still making ten so you have the little rubber duck and then it costs us about two bucks a ship but first class usually so the goal was that we'd still have ten dollars left over. I was actually surprised by the way the funding had come in I thought we'd have a lot of small, you know, under ten dollars or under twenty five dollars, but more people gave us forty and fifty dollars and then we must have had a dozen at, like, the two hundred fifty and higher level, so I found that interesting because I'm I was actually hoping that we get one hundred thousand people have buck each so it's funny because you say because I had the same experience, I've been shocked by that also, I thought the lower levels would do better. It has been it's been the opposite of that, so I understand that as well, yeah, the when you're doing kickstarter campaign, you're kind of competing with people who very in self things, right? So anything from people who want to go to some concert and film it, so they're looking for five hundred bucks to go to a concert up to, um, I think thirty, forty thousand dollars I saw once for somebody building a product that you could buy, you know, that type of thing, and uh so we came up with these different levels based on what we thought people would be willing to contribute. We had, I think, five levels, so we had the a sixteen by twenty limited edition print where we said we wanted more than two hundred of those we had alone by fourteen print that was their most popular, I don't we had the reppert duck on, we also had a three d, c d and some people would take multiples so it might buy a print, and they might buy a cd with the three d images, or they buy the loved by fourteen print, even though they'd spend fifty bucks with us. So I think when you're looking at the threshold, you really need to look at one, how will you fulfill it? So if I was to do it again, I'd be looking at more of doing prince, because that way I could set up with a lab and just have the last of the fulfillment and the shipping, and then I wouldn't have toe deal with all the in between stuff like the rubber ducks and a cds drove me crazy tryingto make sure that we got I'm all taking care of or when people would send an email back saying, hey, I never got my rubber duck, you know, I had to go scrambling to find more rubber ducks, that type of thing, so I would look at things that I could fulfill that I could outsource. Now if there was something that I had to do internally, then I would pick a way of making it so I could replicate it easily say, like a cd with the video, you know, those would be much easier to produce, then having the sit there and uh no mark up rubber ducks and stuff like that so I usually tell people to think about the levels and then think about how your do fulfillment and even though it sounds like on harping on fulfillment I think is the one thing that people don't pay attention to they have this concept ofthe I'm going go out and I'm going to do acts and they will be the slickest thing ever done and why won't people why when people invest in that well the problem is that you can really hurt yourself if you don't come up with a good game plan for the fulfillment and the fulfillment will dictate what the type of progress that you give back so I look at you know, what do I wanna be involved with this far is giving uh, the items away or that type of thing and if you read about kickstarter you know some of the campaigns people do some very easy stuff the one that I'm always amazed with is this guy came up with poems even though that's what wasn't being funded and they put him on some type of fancy lithograph well, the thing was this fulfillment was you got pdf so if you bought into his project here's fulfillment was really easy was just sitting email you back with your stylized poem uh too you know that type of thing? Wow, interesting dennis thank you so much you shared so much valuable information for a body here crave live and for me even as I leave here today go back and hit market story even harder. Thank you so much for your for your knowledge and information. Glad to help I'll talk to you very soon, man. Thank you. Thank you. So anything does. His share with us has been really helpful fulfillment of your levels. I loved his idea about the prince and making limited edition prints, so I'm going to do that. I like that idea. That is very, very cool making your your levels feel special, making them different. So in my levels, I'm giving away to streamline audience those downloads, those video downloads and some of them for one example has my diagrams of lighting. It goes deep into how I shoot them, which lends which light of which angles you can you can see the picture, see how I shot it. See what esta by use which linds I used let's just in one of the video. So I have ten different videos that I'm giving away to everybody who helps bring this product to life and and bring this bunch of life you are being parsing special so that being give away the one fifty one, sixty level give away where you get all the videos what's really special about that yes you get the videos all that is wonderful but it's really special is your name is added to the website as a contributor to this project and making it come to life and that's very special that's very very special so think about what you can do to make your projects special your level special dennis gave us a host of amazing ideas you all write them down well, you purchased this program so you can have it to go back to all the time and bring your products to life because the world's waiting for your projects we want to see what you have how you feel what do you love? What do you want to share with us before your project is complete before it's finished make a press release also dennis told me earlier when I was talking to him about doing something halfway through the project which I've now done which is why I just put up those levels for crave live last night making sure you do things halfway through with ian that's brand new to give to the audience to give more incentive the press release that there's told me about was huge but I'm a horrible and doing a press release so I went to a friend who does them all the time and to get we work on the press release to send out and then sent it out to all the news media that helps visit galleries if you want to have a gallery exhibit, say you don't want to do a book you want, do an exhibit, visit gallery's looking galleries and see what they're doing how they displaying their work, figure out what it was like to have your work on the wall you want you have a project and you have an important in mind go out and do your homework your research it's not a book maybe it's just an exhibit in a gallery. Or maybe it's going to a magazine, go buy the magazine and look at the magazine and see what they're showing every month what's their vision was their voice what's there are things you want make sure you know everything about that magazine or that gallery. What kind of book you want to do? Make sure you know what the final product is gonna look like and promote, promote, promote your project now is the time to reach out to your friends family clients and show them your personal projects because guess what, they want to see what you're passionate about, what you care about. This is very different than you just promoting your photography is like hired me hired me hired me it's very different when you show your personal work and what you care about, people feel very differently about you and in supporting your project there's. Some people won't. Some people will but don't know about the ones who don't put your work out there to the world. Remember me doing speed dreams. I had to dinner, and all my friends like, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, what if I listen to that and never did cpo dreams? I wouldn't be here right now. Imagine what you can do if you just go out there and do it, shared with the world, the world's, waiting for you to show what you have.

Class Description

"You build your business shooting for other people. You build your career shooting for yourself." From creating and choosing projects to organizing details and financing, this course will teach you how to effectively manage personal projects to grow your photography business. This inspirational workshop is designed to help you practice your craft and elevate your photography business. During this comprehensive course, Matthew will offer step-by-step instruction on how to launch and execute personal photography projects. Matthew’s workshop is part of a 3-day event sponsored by Sony called “Shoot What You Love", a 3-day inspirational event sponsored on April 22-24 with fashion photographer Matthew Jordan Smith, family photographer Me Ra Koh, and conservation photographer Cristina Mittermeier.