How to Launch a Photography Business

Lesson 16 of 87

Values, Vision & Mission


How to Launch a Photography Business

Lesson 16 of 87

Values, Vision & Mission


Lesson Info

Values, Vision & Mission

We have, at this point, at least defined out, kind of like our focus and trying to figure out where we're competing, what we're doing. Now, I want to help all of us to craft a, your guiding statement, your Commander's Intent. We have former military person here. That's a big thing, right, Commander's Intent? Right. This is, essentially, if you are not on the battlefield or if your commander is not on the battlefield, what do your soldiers do? What do your people do when they do not have direction. Would that be a good description of it? Okay. These are statements that are gonna guide what you do as a business. Because now you know where you want to compete and you have an idea of who your competition is and you've thought through what is my end goal and where does my lifestyle gonna be? Now it's about crafting a vision so that you can hone in and cut out all the other stuff. Okay? So values, vision and mission. Your core values, this is who we are, who you are. What we believe and ...

what we strive for. This is the foundation and the principle of your team and I know a lot of you out there might be going but it's just me. It doesn't matter and I'm going to talk to you about why, in just a moment. So we're going to craft your core values and your strategy and goals are going to fall into place from this. Does that kinda make sense? What you value and who you are as an individual and what your vision, and what your mission is, is going to dictate the time that your putting in, the projects that your taking on, clients who you're saying yes to, opportunities you're saying no to, everything. So we have a simple exercise. If you're online, pens and paper. I love pens and paper, don't use Word, who wants to use Word or anything online, or the new-fangled things, anyway, pens and paper. So, this is an exercise that again in the world of business and corporate America they do these things frequently. The best example of this actually came from a friend of ours Jonathan Main, he's with Fundy Software. Fundy, they make great home design software, it's fantastic. That plug aside, this came from Jonathan, and the reason why I love this series of questions is because it's intuitive. It'll get you to where you want to go without making you think about it directly. So the first thing I want you guys to write down is at a party, what five things do you tell other people about yourself? Kenna, what five things do you tell other people about yourself? Alright, while everybody is writing that down, I was not ready for this one. I would say, I talk about-- It's supposed to be a hot seat. I talk about travel. Okay. I might talk about growing up in LA, I might talk about how I like mustard on my french fries, not ketchup. I might talk about how my first name, middle name, last name is a palindrome. Interesting. And I'm, sorry, first name, middle name, last initial. I'm just trying to come up with fun facts about-- Myself. Fun facts What do you tell people? I would tell people, I mean it depends on the person, right? But generally I would say things like, I'm an educator, I love to write, I like racing cars, I love adrenaline sports, I like taking pictures. These are all kinda things that go on my list. You guys have some thoughts? Who wants to blurt some out? Blurt 'em! Traveler, cook. Traveler, cook. Scrabble player. Scrabble player. Photographer. Photographer, love it, who else? Julie. I'm French. I'm French. (laughing) I have a cat named Toby DeVito. You have a cat named what? Toby DeVito. Toby DeVito, like Danny DeVito, but Toby. Yes, exactly. (laughing) Okay. I have a blog in which I help people to give them stress-free and happy life. A blog to help people live a stress-free life. That's awesome, okay. And I love taking pictures to help women become more confident in their beauty. You love taking pictures to help women become more confident, beautiful, I love this. So I'm hoping that you guys kind of get a list of a few things that you kind of identify with, right? That's not necessarily who you are, yet, those are things that you enjoy, that you would relate to. Next step, and I'm repeating everything that you say so that we don't need to use the mic and bring it all around. So that's way it's, it's audible. Take the people closest to you, I want you to write down, let's say 10 words, of things that they might use to describe you. 10 words that they might describe you with. (laughing) Shell's laughing. My teenage daughter's annoying. Your teenage daughter's annoying. (laughing) Don't write that one, don't write that one, no, no, positive things, positive things that people would use to describe you. (laughing) Negative things. He uses way too much hair product, and cologne, that's what I think people would say, but yeah. Pye as you're going through this, I mean, is this something that you would actually ask a series of people how they would describe you? I think it's interesting to think about how you think people would describe you-- Oh this is interesting. Versus how they might actually do so. Okay, so you all know me as, well, this is me, I am, I think fun and relatable, and all this kind of stuff, but for our employees, intimidating, is probably the thing that they say across the board, in terms of like, and I have to like tell 'em, like just come, come in any time, like if you have questions. But when we get new people in, that's like the number one thing that they say, for some odd reason, and they won't talk to me. You guys talk to me! Everybody here talks to me! But that's one thing that I get. In terms of like positive traits, I would say hardworking. I would say people describe me as very focused. On the flip side I can't multitask at all. It's like, very much an impairment for me, like, if I'm looking at something, someone could talk and it's just out, yeah. Organized, meticulous would probably be one. Like, I'm a systems person, right? That's my passion. I love creating systems, and organization, and formats, and frameworks, so can you imagine what my house looks like? There's literally a label for everything. Everything has a place. And my children follow it, it's fantastic, it's so great. They put it all away, they, yeah. My office is like that. So these are things that kinda play into me. What would people use to describe you? What do you think? I would think people would say, kind. Definitely. Generous, perhaps. See, look I get all embarrassed (laughing) when you ask these questions. I would say curious. I would say adventurous. Perfect. Things like that. Okay. I have notes on you already, okay. I love this, putting Kenna in the hot seat, she's never in the hot seat! Let me get a few of you guys, just blurt a few out, and I'll repeat 'em. Optimistic. Optimistic. Trustworthy. Trustworthy. Chill. Cannot-- What was that? Chill. Chill. Cannot multitask and think that I can. Cannot multitask and think that I can. (laughing) You're like me, you'll eventually accept that you cannot. Thoughtful. Thoughtful. Creative. Creative. Great, these are all really good. So I want us to focus on like, things like, you know, meticulous could be, like those are things that I'm thinking of. They could be positive or negative, but in general I want you to think of the positive side. Kind, travel, adventurous, all these kinds of things that you know, are positive attributes about you. Now, last step. List out attributes of seven people that you admire. People that I admire. My father, he was an immigrant, he started everything all over again to bring me over here. Hard working, focused, dedicated. People like, let's see, Michael Jordan is one of mine. Just, dedicated to a job and being great at something no matter what's happening. Sick, he still performs. The ultimate performer, like, no matter the situation. Business people. Founder of Tesla, god, why am I brain farting right now? Elon Musk. Elon Musk. One of the most amazing minds. Intelligent, creative, driven. All of these different things. What do you got? And I'm keeping religious figures outta this, 'cause like I do have those too, but I wanna keep it neutral. Well I was actually just writing down words that I wasn't thinking about actual particular people, but compassionate, loyal, authentic, honest, witty, intelligent, things like that. Perfect. What else you guys got? Happy. Happy. Empathetic. Empathetic. Authentic. Authentic. Creative. Creative. Strong. Strong. Cool. Cool. Open minded. Open minded. Okay, we have enough. Now what I want you to do, is from these three different lists, write out the most repeated attributes. And here's the interesting crossovers. For example, Kenna said early on that she loves to travel. Then she said, people would describe me as adventurous. And then she said, following whatever attributes that could fall into this line of like, somebody that might do those things. And you can start identifying this pattern throughout these three lists, of the things that resinate most with you. That pattern, this is who you are, this is what you respect, this is where you want to be. You may not be it today, but that is what you resinate with. Okay, is that kinda making sense? Now the reason I like this is because in all the business courses that we've done this in they're asked very direct questions and it's very difficult to get to a good answer when you know what I'm trying to get to. But this way, it becomes a lot easier. So we do this as a company actually, with all of our people together, and our most repeated attributes across these three lists, are these six items. So, right now, as a team of one or two, I expect you to do this within your team currently. If it's yourself along with a partner, you do it together. As you grow each year, you do it again. And each year, as you get bigger, you do it again. This is 50 different people, weighing in to get to the fact that we are, number one, hardworking, two supportive, three driven, four ambitious, five we set an example, and six we are talented. That is our core value. This is our foundation and principles of the team. This is who we are, this is what we believe, it's what we strive for, and this is where we create our value statements. And each of those statements should encompass these three things. And it goes in the form of this, we, and then you're gonna say the line. I'm gonna give you our examples. We adopt extreme ownership. We understand that leadership is a two way street going up and down the chain of command. Each individual of the team takes ownership over their own actions as well as the actions of the team. We practice the principles of looking out the window with success and into the mirror with each failure. Commander's Intent. How do you think our own people, or your people, would behave when this is on the wall of your studio? It's a reminder to yourself of what it is that you believe and what you value most, right? Let's go to the next one. We embrace creativity. We believe creativity is heightened through thinking differently and embracing diversity. We continually expand our creativity not only in your photography and cinema, but also in our everyday approach to solving problems. We are client obsessed. We succeed when our clients are happy. Our clients are our true north, those who make it possible to make a living doing what we love. As a team, do you think we care what other photographers say about us as a company, when that is one of our core values? No. It doesn't matter. That becomes a big relief when you put something like that into your value statements. That you cut away an entire group of critics, that truly do not matter to the success of your business, and you dial into what does. We support and empower. We believe that family is a verb, it's defined by actions, not by words. We invest in each other through sacrifice, support, compassion, and love. We create a safe, non-judgmental, family environment, focused on the betterment for each other, or of each other. Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success, Henry Ford. We sharpen the axe. We're a passionate group of creatives that believes success occurs at the intersection of talent, hard work, and humility. We embrace new challenges, humbly seek out learning opportunities, and continue to grow in your personal and professional lives. The best things in life are on the other side of fear, Will Smith. That's Chris, Chris loves Will Smith. I do too actually, he's awesome. We are industry leaders. We set the standard for everyone, or we set the standard everyone aspires to become through example. Beyond consistently delivering high quality experiences and products. We continue to innovate in each of our areas. Never settling for good enough. Okay. So why does this matter in a company of one or two? I'm gonna ask you guys. Why do you think it matters? Probably doesn't. It probably doesn't matter. Why would it not matter? 'Cause the apply no matter whether you're one, two, or 100. Let me ask you a question. Without defining who you are, and what you value, and your vision, and you're on the phone with a prospective client, and that client just dropped the biggest line of profanity, cursed you out and said that, I can't believe you don't do this, I can't believe this, I want a lower price, I want this, I want that, would a value statement of, I am client obsessed, my goal is the happiness of this client, help you in that situation to say, let me take a step back from this and respond based on what I believe? Absolutely. Yes. This is why it matters, in a team of just one. Because this is, this is your true north. It's your compass, it's your guide. If you, your six attributes or your seven, I would say, I want you guys to create five or six core values, but if your core value has something to do with, let's say, wedding photography, I would expect that you don't accept other types of jobs, and other things. If your core value is obsessed towards the client, I'd expect you to behave that way. It dictates where you're going. And now we're going to create what's to come after this, and my recommendation is you will forget this. Which is why, after you finish writing it, print it, put it up on your walls, place it in areas that you can see it clearly on a daily basis. 'Cause it'll guide you, okay? And this list of core values, what was it based upon? It was based on what you are. What you respect. What you see yourself as. A lot of these things are aspirational. We are the best in the industry? That's not a statement of accuracy, that's a statement of aspiration, right? Okay. Next piece, the vision statement. This is your picture of your desired future. It should do three things. Your goal and purpose, they should be primarily aspirational and what you want to achieve. And it should be inspirational in terms of motivating you to get to where you wanna be. This is Walt Disney Company's. To be one of the world's leading producers and providers of entertainment and information. They own news networks, ESPN. Like, they are an information provider, as much as they are an entertainment source. That's their vision statement. This is the value of a vision statement. Who hear knows of who Smith-Corona is? Raise your hands if you know Smith-Corona. That's actually a decent number of people. What did they do? What did they make? They made typewriters. Typewriters, perfect. The Cartridge Age. This is one of their typewriters. For Christmas, get a typewriter. That's a crappy, really? I don't get that. Okay, how about Underwood Typewriters? Ever heard of them? Raise your hand if you've heard of Underwood Typewriters. Two people. So six knew, three people. Six knew Smith-Corona, three people knew Underwood. That's interesting. Because in 1939, they had the largest typewriter in the entire world. The typewriter factory. And they produced over five million units by 1939. Now, if you put that into today's dollars, let's say that these things sold for $10 back then. I don't know, just a number off the top of my head. That's 50 million dollars. In 1939 money, extrapolate that to today money, this is a billion dollar company, right? This is massive, they don't exist anymore. Their businesses, their vision, are defined by certain things, which is making the best typewriters. And that's where your vision statement is supposed to think, it's to be future thinking. To think forward. This is, I ask the question of differentiation, how do I differentiate myself from other photographers? It starts with your vision statement. Because I expect you to share that. At least through your philosophy, if not through direct words with your clients. If you're defined by making the best typewriters, and everybody switches to word processing, what happens? Your vision doesn't incorporate that eventuality. And that's one of those, if we were to go back to a swat, what is that? Do you remember? So, yeah. That's an external threat, right? Everybody switching, a technology change, everybody switches over, this is an external threat. It happens. Their vision statement doesn't incorporate that, they continue making the worlds best type writers until the point where they just can't anymore. In reality, they should have been in business of word processing. They should have understood the grand scheme of what it is that they actually did. How many of you here are photographers? And I hope all of your hands stay down right now. That's not what you do. Okay? You're not in the business of taking a picture. Anybody can take a picture. iPhones take fantastic pictures. Mobile devices take fantastic pictures. Anybody, that has been done, it's been taken care of, it's over. The business of taking pictures is over. You need to define yourself as something else right now. Through experiences, what you provide to your clients, anything. Let me show you ours. You are not in the business of taking pictures, that line of business is quickly disappearing. Or has already disappeared. Here's our vision statement. We are the world's foremost creative family historians, artfully documenting moments through our lens. There is very specifically not a single mention of a camera up here. That could change, right? The way that we document things, who knows how that's gonna change. But creative family historians. That will never change. Artfully documenting moments. That will never change. Through our lens, that could be interpreted as the lens of our eye. So even if cameras evolve to the point of there's no, I mean, I don't know how that would happen, but it has multiple interpretations, this can stand up. Correct? Now when a client comes to our studio, do you think I tell them that we're photographers? I go look, you could hire any studio to take your pictures. Or we can become your families historians. We can become the people that artfully document the moments of your life. That has a very different connotation to it. And I will say that exact statement. Yeah, anybody can take your pictures guys. Why would you need somebody to do that? And then as I play through our images and as I talk about our work, I'll tell them, moments like this sometimes don't necessarily happen on their own. This is the part of understanding as a family historian, my job is to capture the generations of your family. You have your mother and your daughter here at this moment, in this wedding, I wanna get a picture to document that. Here's an example. And then you walk through that experience. Now go back to, how do you compete with the person next to you? The person next to you is probably not offering that experience or product. If they are, are they in your competition in terms of quality level? If they are, like, you've already differentiated yourself from 90% of the people out there that are offering a similar product. Simply by a vision statement that crafts the way that you are going to sell and present your work. Then it comes, the mission statement. This is the Commander's Intent. And I have the WWJD here, so if you're Christian, the Christian's Commander's Intent, is what would Jesus do? Doesn't matter whether you're Christian or not, I thought it was fantastic that that single phrase, what would Jesus do, literally defines out, how a Christian should behave in any situation. And that's exactly what the mission statement is. It's your business, it's your objectives, it's your approach, it's your intent for anyone on your team to follow when you are not present. And it also applies to you. I love TED's, theirs is so simple. Spreading ideas. How simple is that? If you worked for TED, oh, this is a great idea, I wanna spread this. Like, that's it! You're a producer, that's all you have to give them. Great ideas, great, that's what we do. Here's Patagonia's, look at this, this is awesome. Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. Isn't that cool? So, someone from Patagonia could be sourcing materials in some foreign country, and be presented with something that gives them like pause, like should I do this or not? And they can actually reference back to this, build the best products, yeah I do that, I'm not causing any unnecessary harm, am I using business to inspire and solve, well this manufacturer over here is not using practices that would kind of follow standards, so let's not source our materials from that site. Done. Your mission statement should capture your vision and your core values. So I'll review our core values. Extreme ownership, we embrace creativity, we're client obsessed, we support and empower growth and change, we are leaders. Here's our mission statement. We are a family of passionate and hardworking creatives striving to artfully document the history of our client's families as if they were our own. That incorporates our strive to be creative, hardworking, passionate, artfully documenting the history of our client's, treating them as if they were our own families, client obsessed, that's the whole statement. Now get on the phone with your client, and talk to them with this. Does that make sense? Okay. So the exercise now, is to mind map out your values, vision, and mission, this comes in weeks, I think three and four in the roadmap, it'll actually have you define it out clearly. Week five, is actually the place where everything is defined out, and you're registering your business. Until then, we're figuring out the strategy, the vision, the process, what we wanna do, how we wanna create it. Before we think about the name or anything, let's figure out where we wanna go. So, don't stress, you have time to think of all these things. We start the process in week two, I want you to finish it around week four. Okay. Now, we wanna craft our mission statements, and now, the plan and the goals, that's done for you. That was our roadmap, okay? Does that make sense now? So the roadmap is actually a 12 week plan of what you should be doing for not only that 12 weeks, but also in the first few years to come as well. And that's already defined out, but this is the time where if you're online, this is the time where you pause, you finish out everything, look at the roadmap, and see if it identifies everything properly, make tweaks if you need to in your roadmap. But that's where you finalize and modify your road map as needed, before you're about to hit the go button. Okay? Now, the roadmap that I created and this 12 week structure, this assumes that you're gonna be putting in, 30 to 40 hours a week into this. So if you're gonna do this as a side gig, and you're gonna dedicate 10 hours to it, extend it out, don't extend it out too long though. It becomes difficult to carry things forward without having any achievement when you spread it out too long. So even if you have a full-time job, I expect you to put in 20 to 30 hours. If you're jumping into this full-time, you can do this quicker, it's okay. So adjust that as you guys need.

Class Description

The content and opinions expressed in this course are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem

Build a business and get people to spend money on your photography. Award-winning photographer and co-founder of Lin and Jirsa Photography Pye Jirsa will walk you through the first 12 weeks of building your business. With his relatable and actionable teaching style, he’ll explain how to define your product as a photographer and determine where it fits into a consumer mindset. You’ll learn the steps to creating a brand, pricing yourself confidently, sales techniques, and basic marketing practices. This class covers everything you’ll need if you’re considering photography as a job, including:

  • Where to position yourself in the market
  • Branding your business to attract your ideal client
  • Pricing and basic financing
  • Creating a business plan
  • Setting up a portfolio
  • How to get your first customer in the door
  • Getting leads on new clients
  • Understanding sales
  • The psychology of a buyer

Pye has built multiple successful businesses from the ground up and this course includes your 12 week road map to launching your business.


  1. Class Introduction
  2. Common Myths & Unknown Truths
  3. The Road Ahead
  4. Find Your Passion
  5. The Lin & Jirsa Journey
  6. Part-time, Full-time, Employed, Partners?
  7. Stop Wasting Time & Money
  8. Your 12 Week Roadmap
  9. Great Plans Still Fail
  10. Strategy Vs. Planning
  11. Mind Mapping
  12. Select a Focus
  13. Competitor Research
  14. S.W.O.T. Analysis
  15. Strategy & Long Term Goals
  16. Values, Vision & Mission
  17. Effectively Managing Your Time
  18. Artistic Development
  19. Create Your Plan
  20. What's Your Product
  21. Luxury vs Consumer Products & Experiences
  22. Quick Break for Econ 101
  23. Your Target Market & Brand Message
  24. What's in a Name
  25. Your Client 'Why'
  26. Crafting the Why Experience
  27. Document the Client Experience
  28. Business Administration Basics
  29. Book Keeping Management
  30. Create the Logo & Branding
  31. Portfolio Design
  32. Design Your Services & Packages
  33. Pricing Fears & Myths
  34. Three Pricing Methods
  35. Package Pricing Psychology & Design
  36. Psychology of Numbers
  37. Pricing Q&A
  38. Grass Roots Marketing
  39. The Empty Party
  40. Friends & Family Test Shoots
  41. Join Groups
  42. Second Shooting Etiquette
  43. The Listing & Classified Hustle
  44. Make Instagram Simple
  45. Your Automated Pinterest Plan
  46. Facebook Because You Must
  47. Giveaway & Styled Shoots
  48. Content Marketing & SEO
  49. The Monster: SEO
  50. Selecting Your Keywords
  51. Testing Your Keywords
  52. Grouping Main & Niche Goals
  53. Your Content Road Map
  54. Content Marketing Q&A
  55. Inspiration to Keep Working
  56. How to Craft Your Content
  57. Internal Linking Basics
  58. Back Link Building Basics
  59. Link Value Factos
  60. Measuring Link Value
  61. Link Building Strategy & Plan
  62. Link Building Plan: Vendors & Guest Writing
  63. Link Building Plan: Features, Directories, Comments
  64. Link Building: Shortcuts & One Simple Tool
  65. What is Sales? Show Me!
  66. Your First Massive Failure
  67. The Sales Process
  68. Your Second Massive Failure
  69. Understand Buyer Psychology
  70. Step 0: Building Rapport & Trust
  71. Step 1: Identify Need or Want
  72. Cognitive Dissonance
  73. Steps 2 & 3: Value Proposition & The Solution
  74. Step 4 : Close, Make the Ask
  75. Step 5: Follow Up & Resolve Concerns
  76. Family Photography Hot Seat
  77. Business Example Hot Seat
  78. Boudoir Photography Hot Seat
  79. The Best Sales Person
  80. Your Mindset, Vibrations & Frequency
  81. Always Positive, Always Affirming
  82. The Second Money & Dual Process
  83. Chumming the Price Waters
  84. Creating Want or Scarcity
  85. Timeless Advice on Being Likable
  86. Selling Over The Phone
  87. Forbidden Words in Sales


Angela Sanchez

This class has been an eye opener for me; a point of change in my vision as photographer. Pye is and AMAZING, INSPIRING, GENEROUS instructor, with an, authentic desire to help people and to share with them the best of his knowledge. I will not have enough words to say thanks to Pye Jirsa, as a teacher and as a human being, and thanks to Creative Live who allows us to benefit from the experience of such a knowledgeable, educated, well-versed photographer and instructor. 1000% recommended!

Yenith LianTy

Been following this guy forever. Pye Jirsa may be well known in the wedding & portrait photography world and if there is something that this guy knows it is how to create a business, a sustainable one. The workbook he provided is comprehensive, and I honestly wish I had this when I first started out as a photographer! I love that he talks about his failures, keeping it real and honest for anyone starting out. He is definitely one of the best instructors around, super humble, down to earth and with a sense of humor to boot. The course is worth it! THE WORKBOOK is AMAZING! SUPER DETAILED!

Tai Hsin

I saw the live broadcast and it was amazing. Pye is one of the best instructors and inspirational photographers.. there are two type of ppl.. one who has the knowledge and doesn’t know to teach another who has the knowledge and knows how to get it through.... I still didn’t purchase this as I am saving for my daughters entrance fee for collage... :) Anyways he’s one of the best instructors and a good friend.... very humble and always cracks jokes.... Keep inspiring and keep teaching.... my blessings are always with you pye.