Defining Your Style: Advice for Newbies
So your new me okay you're just starting out what what can you do what's gonna help you through with finding your style first of all you have no style at this point you're just starting out you don't understand style you don't understand brandon you don't even understand editing everything is a giant experiment right and we can go jump right to that picture that is a giant experiment look at that what is happening right there right it's like he's pushing the belly aways like get away from me I don't want it right I didn't I didn't understand what what's what's the problem here the problem here is there's no connection there's no intimacy it doesn't even look like he loves his babies just like get away and so this is on me is the photographer too create that intimacy create that you guys are laughing way too hard at my work yes thanks robbie I I appreciate that I hope teo you know do a photo shoot of you and your girl was so so we've got when you're at this stage of your career you've g...
ot to look for inspiration who inspires you okay and it's okay to look to other photographers I did at this stage of the game I was looking to other photographers for sure but you've gotta learn everything you can from that person but so you know let's talk about like stages of life seasons of life as your business is growing and you're moving through you're looking to certain people to help you on that path on that journey and then they're just gonna come a point in time where they just can't teach you anything anymore and that's okay that's when you have to look to someone else to take you to that level so the same people I look too four five years ago for inspiration are not the same people I look too today for inspiration artistically speaking ok even business wise the people I look to for inspiration for five years ago are not the people I look to for inspiration today today our business is very much trying to follow corporate america so I looked mohr to companies like starbucks, louis vuitton, mercedes benz then I do look to any one in the photography industry for business right formulas that's not where I go so I find inspiration in different places. But if we go we look at two thousand seven right? This is where we were style wise. Yeah, look at the salesman. Do we cut half that girl's body off? What happened? Her not fair, right? So, um I have no idea what I was thinking, but boy, I thought it was cool back in two thousand seven um no concept of leading lines look at this one holy god, man just cutting people's feet feed off blowing out skies shadow details optional we don't need shadows apparently just turned everything black, right? These are the kind of things that you're going to struggle with as your as you're coming up and it's okay, but right, you've gotta learn you've got to be willing because how many? You know, many people have seen that our five years in business and still doing this that's because they're not learning they're not being honest with themselves about where their imagery is. I do portfolio reviews all the time for people and it's funny I sit down with people and in five or ten minutes that I'm doing a portfolio review for them, I can tell if they're going to make it or fail based on the conversation I'm having with them. So if I'm giving you feedback on my came in, you know you're you're blowing out some shadow details here where all the whites go we've got no white details here and you start making excuses on why they're shadow details missing and you start making excuses about why there's highlight details missing there's a pretty good chance you're going to fail because you're not listening you're not listening to feedback that's coming in to you, right? You're just making excuses and so if you find yourself making excuses about why you're making excuses right now and you're like no, I don't make excuses you know there was a lighting problem stop making shoes is right just listen to the feedback that more experienced people are going to give you you don't have to listen to it all but hear it right and see if he can help you change direction and something we did to kind of help let's learn how to shoot better, you know, highlights, shadows all that stuff is we but the people a loan collection book so every year when they have print competitions, if you win a certain caliber of reward, you're in the loan collection and they put all of these photographs in a book and so we would buy this book and we would look through it and study the pictures. What makes this different? What we noticed all these details, you could really see how rich the photo wass and then we would also go to print competitions and we would listen to the judging that was huge, you're absolutely right. I forgot about that in the beginning we would sit in on print competition like all day all day. Yeah, for those of you don't know recently at w p p I we won seventeen awards well, I can tell you images like this, we're not winning awards, right? So we've come quite a way from this toe where we are today but you know, as taylor alluded to its from sitting in and listening and learning and absorbing right and checking your ego and just what what am I doing it wrong that I'm not at this level and how do I get there and not probably that openness I think is what's allowed us to grow so quickly that we've always been open to changing our business and still to this day were open I just want to pause here I don't really think it's relevant to this but it's relevant to understanding how the dynamic of our team works you know I get asked a lot like do you have people around you that you listen to or is it just south and caught a barking orders controlling direction? So so I get outside all the time and the truth is it's not sal barking orders all the time in fact when I'm back home it's all I can do to get anybody to listen to me at all on my team because everybody's got their own opinion about what should, how things should look, how things should feel where we should go with things but I'm gonna be honest with you and saying it's that dynamic that will allow your business to blossom ok? So if you've got everybody brings a certain scent set of strength and weaknesses to the table, so if your team is not comprised the hole has to be greater than the sum of its parts right it's got to be that kind of thing and so for us if our team is lauren penis elissa zimmerman you and me that is the core team of four people depending on what we're working on there's other people that well that are in and out weighing in on things but those four people will sit down and it'll be a bloodbath then we'll come up with an idea I'll come up with an idea and rarely is it just like that's brilliance out let's do it usually it's like yeah I do wish sometimes it would be a dream but that's how our team has grown that's how these companies have grown these businesses of everything is pro kanis so if you come up with an idea, you better have the pros you better have the cons because we're going to rip it apart and it's when the pros outweighs the con way the kinds is when that idea goes to the next step and we start implementing it I forgot about that that is part of the exercise, isn't it? Whatever you're doing in your business just write down these two words pro con um okay, so if you're like should I offer and photography right there's a big know theres a big crazy photography should I offer him photography in my offering pro con and a few pro con it and the pros outweigh the cons. Or you are their cons that you can overcome. Okay, so you might say, well, how you know the khan of in photography, right? Obviously we're being facetious here, but the khan of and photography is how do you identify? You know, the right client who is the right? And in this scenario, we don't know how to identify, and that would be a con, right? And so I'm being humors here, but you understand, is we start building this con list if we can't overcome the cons, we can't go in that direction. This idea should fail, stall and not move forward. That's why it's so important to go through this exercise all the time? Your style, you should also go through that exercise. Yes, a great idea! You totally believe in it. You do all the pros and cons, but your team or even half the team are just one person doesn't believe in it, right? Overcome that you're you're kind of in an interesting for those of you who are husband and wife teams out there and it's just a husband and wife team, you have no tiebreaker, right, so becomes a battle of wills, it's you against your spouse, coin flip is not the tiebreaker round so that becomes jewels the question you're asking probably relevant for a lot of people out there that's where you have to have that you know, kind of unbiased third party involved somewhere so that there's somebody bring some non emotional baggage because let me let's be honest back in two thousand seven two thousand eight there was a battle of wills between us because we're horace so I have you know, yeah, yeah I'm stubborn even won't see that in you they just think you're just sweet smile on time and I'm the loud one but you know, it's not that way everybody thinks I'm the bad guy but really I've got bruises she's like you better perform tomorrow so anyway, but when we're working together in the beginning we were butting heads all the time because it was my idea verse her idea and then I would get entrenched in my idea and not listen to anything she said take everything personal so she would personalize everything, right? You guys were smiling husband, wife team I've been there what helped us was just working through those and we'll talk a little bit about that tomorrow about just being a husband and wife team working together but having that kind of third person fourth person in the team I know he's helped me tremendously and you as well when we're sitting in those team meetings and one of us has an idea and then the rest of the team can weigh in and that's going to help you grow your business as well style is one of those things is it not as photographers we like to think our work is good right? So if taylor was telling me hey this image socks I would take that as a personal attack, right no matter what words she uses around it right t sugarcoat it all I'm hearing is her telling me it sucks right is not how working together usually is I didn't say it sucks out no yes you did by saying this you said it sucks on dh so I would take offense to that but having a team around me if they're like no does kind of song and multiple people are telling me that I've got it I've got to check myself and listen so when you're growing your style that's why I'm telling you get three to five year friends there, bring up some websites and ask him for an honest opinion about what your work signals. What are three words? This is probably better exercise three words to describe my work so when you're looking at my imagery, what are three words that come to mind and if you don't like the three words from everybody, we've got adjuster style let's come back to this so we've gotta learn from client preferences case when you're a newbie you're starting out even as you're established I suppose you've got to start listening to what your clients are saying to you if they're not purchasing it it's not good walk away from it right move away so we've offered products we've offered shooting styles on different editing styles, different editing styles right? The whole point we're talking about seniors and it's not working so we've got to move on we cannot let our ego try and control our business it doesn't work that way you will fail experiment with lighting imposing so is a newbie you've got to experiment and get out there I mean what's the worst thing that can happen you fail go ahead and fail now this is when you should be failing not when you're an established studio doing fifty you know fifty weddings a year or one hundred portrait sessions a year that's not when you want to fail well at least not fail big now is the time to take those risks in our first year of business uh you know we had no clients so two thousand seven we were still working full time and then shooting on the weekends and uh we had to practice so we shot anyone that would get in front of our camera for free all your free shoots models to practice posing posing was the hardest thing to figure out when we were starting out but we just shot for free as much as we could to get that experience. And that's shooting for free is how we got a right client that referred us to we can track at least twenty clients to this one referral that kind of launched our business. So shoot for free practice and get out there. We'll let me expand on that. We had photographed a baby right for free. So it's, one of my tennis bodies, his daughter was like one year birthday party. We photographed her for free on dh. Then he showed people the pictures. And then that got us a doctor who gave us our first senior. She wanted something different. That's what the mother said to us this was going going back six, seven years ago. She wanted something different. And that long we contract back kind of the hierarchy off our client growth that let us tio state officials that led us to a wrapping the president, that doctor, that very first client that referred the doctor, then referred right state government officials, which then referred president obama in the white house. So we have photographed the white house twice that came from that very first issue six years ago from a free shoot that lead over the years so that's very, very important that you understand how this could impact yeah, just being honest and humble with yourself, free shoot, no way like everybody should know that we're good just they have to pay me something it's like be a person to say, you know what I need to out there? I need to work on rachel, you're hitting on a nerve because a lot of a lot of photographers or artists in general just don't subscribe to this concept of sweat equity and I think that's a big mist because that is the one thing we have plenty of his time and any business you grow, get away from photography, any business you grow, whether you're you know, a caterer or whether your deejay or get out of the industry just go anywhere. Any business that it's started ground up is filled with sweat equity, right? The owners were working out of a garage looking like hp, right? The computers they were working out of their garage that's how they grew all these people have invested sweat equity into their business and it does humble you because when you look back and you realize men, if I didn't do that one job would I be where I am today? I don't know the answer, but it's definitely something worth thinking about, um, any style very important as well in the beginning, right think about it wherever you are in your career once again even as an established studio there's so many presets and textures and any tools out there where does it end right and I am you know a preset core when it comes to that stuff I mean I just can't have enough of them on I'm always experimenting and I will buy presets even if it's just got one I like because I want to continue to evolve my style for my client's right? Because if you just use a preset and it's a one click preset it looks good but it looks like everybody else is because we all have access to the same preset so you've got to continue to experiment and together your own recipe so to speak seventy five with all the imaging software available how do you keep your editing style consistent when you're buying pre sets like that how do you how do you incorporate that into the style that you already have in the beginning when you when you're playing with all those presets you're defining your style like if you look at some of these images you're seeing that glow add it to it I don't know why I thought that was cool but apparently at the time I thought that globe it was cool and then what'll happen is you'll make subtle changes to your editing style that's the key so it a stage right now where our style is in fact established we make subtle changes and the customers are ultimately voting on it, right? So we started textures. We started adding textures to are to are images, you know, an image like this behind me. I don't know how well they concede on camera, but there's texture applied to the image. When we started experimenting with out, we didn't know if our client base would like it or not. Well, suddenly started buying all these images with textures. So that was a signal to me that the market wanted that the minute we start, we do this and it stopped selling. We'll get away from it and that's the key, they're right. We get stuck in this rut where we're like no texture south texture cell. I've been selling textures for ten years that's great, but on your eleven if textures aren't selling, stop selling it. Don't be! Don't let your ego get in the way so that's actually really great kind of segway, soucy says. Our style is more high key and taken on a vintage look lately. Do you think that taking on a trendy style that might not last is dangerous toe business? This is ashes from perth, western australia that's actually great. Great point to be making that's why you introduce it suddenly to your business, right? So you're right if she just goes on and completely changes our business and she goes here's something that's a fad boom, we're gonna introduce it, revamp our website, build the website around that I would say that could be problematic. These images not we don't do all the images with these edits, so we do just basic at its color correction white balance, you know, a normal photo, but then we might take, like, five to twenty where we do special it is like this, so it's not changing our entire style is just introducing a few different pieces and so doing it that way, I think it's easy to change, like, okay, here's, something new we want to try. We're going to throw it into the mix of the five different types of edits that we're offering rite, but to the point that will eventually that will start bleeding to our website. So if we see the trend emerging where clients are consistently buying these, that will make its way to our website, which once you put it on your website, I think you're saying to the world, this is my new style and that that doesn't happen for us until we've got sales to back it up does that make sense? It doesn't thank you that's a good question also when it comes to style is a newbie what do you lacking confidence we're all lacking confidence when we're when we're starting aiken talk a lot about that well actually let's talk a lot about that when we first started out rewind in two thousand seven taylor had nothing to do with the business right? So we're both business school graduates tellers working ah corporate job and I was off doing this I quit and we started growing and I needed her more and more so we got her into the mix you first got to the business what were you doing? I was carrying sells bag she was on the bag man she wanted nothing to do with having a camera in her hand she was helping me with the marketing helping me with the advertising and on the bag on the weekend but then sound put a camera in my hand and he said just shoot he set up the settings and then I started happening more and more and then he taught me about the settings and then I became a second shooter and um and then we started getting so many bookings like I think you're good enough to go on your own like what? No pressure so salad and I personality wise are complete opposites just he's taipei he's like two percent of the population personality I am the opposite? I'm like sixty percent of the personality. So going out of my own terrified me. Sal er, whenever you put me on my own wedding, I mean, I was, like, nauseous for a week before I thought I was gonna puke just from the pressure I hate have stage fright. I hate being the center of attention. So it's something that I was dreading, and I had no confidence whatsoever like south sal. And they're like, oh, we get taylor and about taylor and so it takes a big hit on your confidence. But after that first wedding and I did that slide show in the client's been crazy, mike, I could do this that's, right started building for you, but she was not ready. That's my point, if I waited till she felt ready, she would have never been out there on her own on dh that's the key. And for those of you who are grooming new people in your business, think about what she just said. I don't know if it hit you. How did she learn? I didn't sit there and give her a book to learn on an event I set up all her settings in the church or wherever we were put the camera in her hand and I said, just shoot okay I just wanted to see what came off her camera I wasn't going to critique or every image she took that's not how you groom people under you that's how you destroy confidence instead of building confidence and so all my second shooters go through that same exercise now today the second shooters we bring on board have photography background so they understand how to work their cameras things like that but what they don't understand is my style and so how do I get him acclimated to shoot my style it's by doing things like that just putting them on the spot taking everything out of the equation just you'd just show me what you got just shoot if you fail no worries yes when you felt comfortable critiquing her work like if there's a shot you're like oh my gosh if you'd have just moved over okay rachel's having different conversation let's do no no no we'll talk about this with the question needs to be re phrase do you know maybe the question should be when did she become comfortable with me for work because the critiquing began right after the first event tourists stubborn take takes everything personal so that very first wedding she came back from a second shooter I brought up all the images on the screen I still remember to this day and for three it was world war three I'm like look at this image what were you doing why is it why is it like what I'm doing? Yeah I don't know what what am I supposed to do it's only instant like offense oh yeah it was a personal attack, right? And so she wasn't she wasn't hearing me okay her defenses world and so that we probably went through five weddings where every time I could teach her there was a massive fight in this town a household until finally she realized that the critiquing was helping I was helping her become a better photographer helping her see things better and that she shouldn't personalize it now that's not to say I should be like oh, I can't believe you did this you're so stupid that's not how you could learn to mix and positive critiques as well as the negatives just a build up that confidence all right here's what you did right here's what you did wrong so rachel what are you asking me this question? Who does critiquing your household time? Yeah do you take it personal? Oh, yeah. Same time like I learned how to critique yes you're learning to be a better communicator then you need to be a better I need to be invented and I need to hear what he's saying and not take offense to it it's not a personal attack the minute you your team and it's not a personal attack it's meant to better the team it suddenly it's not personal anymore, right? But if you continue to dwell on that and not hear the message, you just hear the words or sometimes we make up our own words that weren't even said, right? Implied that's what? He gets troublesome, so, no, this is funny, this is good, but I want to keep going on this because as I kept shooting more, I started getting more comfortable that don't don't mistake this. I still get nervous to this day like the day before the morning of my it's, a lot of pressure and I still hate directing the day I would much rather be a second shooter mix into the wallpaper and I have to say anything but that's, not the style of our studio. The style of our studio is providing a positive experience, high energy, having fun and so there's a little bit of acting that has to go on, so I'm an introvert with stage fright, so that day I pretend I'm not an introvert with stage fright. I'm like a mini south, so I started to try and be south, which it's not what you should do, so sal is naturally funny, witty I am, but I have no humor, I'm not witty, so when I try to be funny and witty usually ends up perverse and awkward. But no, so tell it to taylor's point she was she would try and crack the same you know how it works, man when you're in weddings, you got something you say it's funny every time you say right and so tell we're trying take that same joke and say it and it wasn't funny it's just she doesn't have the delivery whatever she had to be funny in her own way because she is funny when she's just being herself and so that's what we have to understand we gotta learn our personalities, the dynamic and that comes with confidence as we build our confidence we understand that I don't have to be whoever might whoever this other shooter is and that's the point I was getting to you don't have to be sally you don't have to be me I've learned to become comfortable with myself when I started seeing that the work that I was producing my clients loved that was the ultimate confidence builder the clients love the pictures and I had huge sales, bigger sales that's how and once I saw that the confidence really came came behind that and now I'm so comfortable with myself that I'm okay being a little bit introverted a little bit more quiet a little bit more photo journalistic because my clients when they meet with me they love that about me so I have clients that'll choose me over south because they want someone that's a little more quiet that isn't going to take control of the day that has a little bit different style so as as time has gone on, my style is started to emerge apart from sell a little bit so eighty percent of what we produce is the same we take the same pictures the same style, but I like to go out on my own a little bit once I know I have what I need get shots that salad I know he won't get because it's my style so I think siao likes, you know, high fashion a little more modern angles, dramatic lighting worse, I look for a little more romantic symmetry in the picture level no angles so that's my style and my clients identify with that, so be comfortable with who you are as long as you can produce you know the work that's going to sell that's all that matters as long as your clients like it you don't have to be cell you don't have to be me no that's great advice and I hope that makes sense all your husband wife team even if you're not a husband wife team just if you've got a partner in the business understanding that the differences should be celebrated not, uh you know want not one is right or wrong so let's let's continue down this path so as a newbie how do you just survive this stage of your career and get to that next level? Well, the truth is, some never do, and I see a lot of photographers out there that never make that turn, okay? They get stuck in that style, egos get in the way. They're not listening to constructive criticism. They're not even looking for constructive criticism. That's probably the biggest miss, and I'm encouraging all of you to go find your trusted circle, if you will, and get that feedback on where your businesses where your website is, how does it stack compared to others here? The feedback and make those changes be committed to being a professional, but this is a vicious circle, so you're constantly trying to please everyone you cannot please everyone and it's, not until the confidence starts building that you feel comfortable going. No, I'm not doing that, and I can, I can think back, and this might be four years ago. Now the timeframe really doesn't matter. I had a mother of a bride, my bride was awesome, but she, mom of the bride had a magazine picture off the bride sitting on the ground, her dress all fluffed out with all the bridesmaids bouquets on the edge of the dress, all laid out in a circle, right nineteen metes right so I'm like mom I'm not doing this photograph and she's like no I really wanted mike mom it's not what my studio does it's not why you hired me I'm not doing this and my bride looked at me and she goes thank you for saying you're not going to do it because she didn't want it either and that only came after a couple of years off building some confidence and being true to my brand how many of you would have the strength and you say I'm not going to do it I don't know what the answer is but if you don't have that strength that's mostly tied to confidence now I'm not saying be difficult I'm not saying the arrogant and I'm an artist I'm only doing what I see it's just understanding and being true to your brand that's very very important when that comes with customer services well so when you know three, four years so when people called a schedule photo shoot what time works for you let me know what your schedule is and we would be shooting every single day sunday saturdays any day to accommodate the client schedule right? The clients were actually telling us when they were dictating our life yes which was horrible were any of you out there are struggling with that like scheduling in general? Oh wow so let's talk about that a little bit around how we schedule so now we have set shooting days monday through wednesday that's all you get and so I tell them now okay you want to photoshoot in august here's our available dates let me know what works for you and so I'm offering them on ly weekdays only during the day of the week not you know after work hours during dinner until like eight o'clock at night I'm telling them what works for me because that's what our studio it does back in the day I would be shooting anywhere probably from nine a m until the sun went down maybe eight or nine p m driving also god's country too you're in there and now we have set schedules so monday's st louis day tuesday is local day you know client wants a photoshoot urban okay well o'fallon illinois is not a serial urban location. If they want urban, we go get kind of to the ghetto of st louis that's our style that's what clients hire is for if they want that well that's only on monday in wednesday on these days because it was killing us drive all the way to st louis for one shoot, then drive all the way back to illinois for another shoot and then maybe go out to the country because somebody had a barn that we were photographing out and so now I lost two and a half to three hours just of that day traveling it was killing us and so to taylor's point today she's controlling and saying here's what I have available and the clients don't even flinch out there like okay, I'll do this on this day that works okay? So it's that stupid little thing that is just brilliant for you your studio in your life and you're part of that confident if you have the confidence to tell them you know when you're offering them the dates that says your studio's successful like here's the dates we have available for you were providing a service for you and so it's that level of confidence just letting the client no it's goingto help your life your workflow yes three or four shoes that are randomly spaced out throughout the week you have no time for editing or for disrupt your entire day. Yes it does and you're like, oh my gosh, we can't do what we want to do this weekend because we're so full of like just random like I have to go to seattle or we have to drive this way of correct of seattle spot on so think about it this way though there's again a czar business group taylor would schedule a photo shoot uh in the morning let's say of wednesday doesn't matter okay should say hey, you only have one shoe today I don't know about you guys you put one shoot on my day I get nothing done the entire day even though I only have one photo shoot it's just something about it where my mind is not in production mode right? My mind is in shooting mode and then I'm in the car and I come back and I get sidetracked I'm like I'll go over here, I'll do this, I'll pick up that and now all of a sudden all this production work that needed to be done whether it was editing, ordering pictures making phone calls doesn't get done. So we learned that the hard way monday tuesday wednesday are shooting days thursday friday our production days and they're set up efficiently so monday you're in st louis the shoots are scheduled so that the first one's done the second one's there and ready to go there shows right between exactly as soon as I wrap up that shoot I maybe have a thirty minute window to allow me to run late but that net shoots right there ready to go and that's important even if they have hair and makeup would say it's seniors hair and makeup's getting done in the studio taylor has a sheet off where they should go to meet us over in st louis with directions and my phone number so that everything is I mean it is a well oiled machine at that point michelle what's the best like lingo that you say to them I have a problem with, like, I'm shooting it late at night and on the weekend, and I'm trying to get him during the day, so I work, I work what what's so if if they can't shoot during the week at all, first you only offer weekdays and then on ly one day a month will offer sunday shoots and so that's the way to accommodate those clients that just can't make it work. But it's only one sunday, and you're picking the sunday so ok, you can't do weekday, we have one sunday available a month. This month is going to be this state does that work for you? And so once, once you're accommodating them that way, they're going to move around their schedule to make sure that they're working with you it's got to be important them, right? I've gotten it down to the days that I can that's good, but now it's like the time because then I shoot no, no, this is perfect, right? Because now you're acknowledging here's exactly what this course is all about. You're implementing some of the things we're doing, but you've got that kind of missing link to take it to that next level, so to taylor's, point and boat and your point it's not only a sunday we'll offer you have to offer one day a week where you'll shoot late right? Because then they'll do it after work so you say hey on wednesday we can do five o'clock now look, if pictures are important to them they can leave work an hour early, don't they? Well yeah if they want to go to a baseball game they'll leave work early so they can't for pictures which is happening once in the o in their in their life with you so they've got to make that investment roster for cayenne and a couple others this's more talking about like portrait's and seniors obviously weddings you shoot whenever wedding yes, we don't shoot your wedding on saturday you'll have to move it to a wednesday. No, this is portrait work that we're referring to engagement sessions, bridal session seniors exactly. Perfect. Just making yeah, yeah no, no, I mean, you should have just been we should've just gone with like, no, we make a move their weddings too way out of the pool yeah, we're sorry we're busy at the pool. No. So that's a good question so let's keep going with this so obviously if you don't, this becomes a vicious circle if you don't make this change if you don't start adjusting your style I've seen photographers ten years in business horrible, horrible portfolios again, just real talk, and so if you're if you're not updating your portfolio and updating your style, then you're never going to get to that next level and it's this vicious circle, you can't charge more for your work because it works not good enough, and it continues to go on and on. Uh so take your lumps here and get to the point where you start doing what you love when it comes to style. I'm not looking for my clients to tell me what they're looking for. I'm hoping that the clients that come to me are the ones that, like, my style of photography and that's where you ultimately one, sometimes it'll happen, you know pinterest is the krays, the bride will be like, I created a pincher sport of pictures that I want to dio I have to set them straight, like, okay, we'll take a look at them, but if you start telling salome exactly the photo that you want to take and were trying to recreate this, you're you're, you're not letting us, you know, you're really going to do what you hired us for, right? You can't. I know you know, I'm glad you made that point because I guarantee you, especially when you're early on in career pay interest now. You're getting inundated with shot list interest you know pinterest board I won't I refuse to even look at it and tell will tell him but honestly I'm not gonna be able to get south look at that he does his thing that's what you hired him for you got to trust him unless there's someone shot you absolutely want because what is becoming more more popular is we'll have our brides bring a wedding portrait from their grand parents and that's kind of cool I actually enjoy re trying to recreate that way that we like direction like ideas if you have an idea that you want to try we're all about it but if you're trying to recreate a specific image with posing and lining like you're just you're handcuffing us we can't do what we do that way inclined to receive that well absolutely they respect that right? So don't feel like if you push back they're going to get mad at you that's not gonna happen uh all right, so where do you find inspiration at this stage of the game? Pick up magazines there's nothing wrong with that. Pick up magazines for inspiration. Look to other photographers for inspiration somebody you admire and look up to that doesn't mean copy what they're doing itjust means emulate what they're doing I mean, is anything original at this point in time? Nothing is original everything's kind of recycled regurgitated with your own little spin or twist on it and there's nothing wrong with that that's how the world works so but don't go to someone's website and try and do the exact same thing in the exact same spot in your local market if you see a location you like I see this in st louis it's kind of entertaining local photographers are literally trying to find every spot we photograph fin and then they're taking clients there and doing the exact I almost feel like they got my website up on their phone or something because it's identical to what we do their brides created a pinterest sporting their brides bright created a pinterest board and they didn't say no but ultimately I think it handcuffs you is an artist just go there's nothing wrong with finding the same spot like man thats a cool wall that's cool door but when you get there do your thing do what they hired you to do be confident and on what you're trying to accomplish uh right put your twist on it in turn work for free get on someone's back you've got to learn how are you gonna learn the days today of like I've got a camera I took a good picture of someone's baby at some event and now I'm a photographer there dying it doesn't work and a lot of people are starting to realize that got into this industry and thought, oh it's super easy I'll just shooting hand over cd are starting now to realise you're seeing those businesses disappeared they're still new entrance into the market that will never go away but the day you just can't survive it's not a real business model it's not a real business so how what? What do you think is the best way to find it? In turn, I've been trying to find, you know, from the local colleges and ads on craigslist, and I feel like there's a sense of entitlement for people that are starting out that they should be paid for something like that because you're working for free, I try and say, well, we've all paid our dues we've all put our time in, but it's still I'm having a really hard time finding anybody and I think, jules, if you're getting to that point where you have to communicate to someone and say to them, I've put in my time you're you're actually trying to sell them on working for you and my my philosophy is completely different I'm not going to sell you on working for me if you want to work for me uh, here's marcellus on hiring yeah, tell me why I should hire you and that starts I think in the interview process, you know, if you're saying hey looking for interns must stand portfolio must do this must do that if you start laying out those bullets and you may be very well be doing that you're already setting the bar and saying you're applying for this job you're not guaranteed this job and I will give you a real world example I had a girl come right out of photography school okay she came sat down with me she was looking for some side work and I told her here's how we're gonna work things you'll be on the bag uh we'll have you on the back for a few events see how things go make sure personalities they're fit because truth is personality's actually more important than your skill I can teach you what you need to learn and uh so we start talking about this wedding that's like in two weeks and during the course of this conversation just graduated photography good school she uh had never used a digital camera had only used film based cameras I said I'm sorry she's like I don't even know how to move my focus point she was everything we've done in college has been manual focus uh manual mode so I'm like I'm just scratching my head I'm like you just got ripped off paying for your degree and you don't you've never used a digital camera and so that's just heard ask about with insurance yeah then she asked me about health insurance what like you don't even work for me yet I'm like we're gonna do we're gonna do a trial like she's like well you know my dad told me I should be asking about what benefits you offer health benefits retirement plan I'm like okay you're not gonna be a fit thank you so much we're just we're just gonna let you go then turns that it works for us they work for free like every single weekend every single wedding every single photo shoot during the week for free for six months because they were hungry they wanted toa learn and those were the people that have stuck with us right and that's how we've built our team if you're not willing to pay your dues I'm not willing to put you on my team I think as an established studio as you should believe jules with your company that if I'm an established studio you need me more than I need you but we found our some of our employees on facebook because if you figure your fans are on facebook and you make a post they're gonna start telling their friends all this great studio is you know, looking for an intern that's how even found elissa right eliza who's our studio manager my top second shooter she works side by side with me who helps with the runs the album company that's how we found out we were in an ad on facebook don't be afraid to try that say hey because you could grab a high school senior whose in our art class looking you know tio work on a bag before they go to college now thatyou made that someone you know throw fifty bucks to throw one hundred dollars to to just help you on the back but if you're looking for somebody more long term, don't be afraid to go to facebook and look to your community, your network to push somebody to you and that might work as well so let's work that off line we'll keep trying to get you there in turn more for free, right? Get on someone's back so we've kind of driven that point home I want to pause here I've been talking a long time questions on the internet how we doing? We obviously have questions. What do you even ask that question? Of course we do. Um let's see what we want to start let's go ahead and start their were so so many questions about you working for free when you were starting out and you know, doing shoots for people what did you give them? What? You know, what did they do? They have to sign model releases you know all these questions about basically just how when you have to shoot for free to build your pro for leo, how do you do that? Also just can I just say before you answer the question it's interesting how that comes full circle you're saying people need to be willing to work for free but you started the conversation by saying that you work for free so you do you know you're willing to do exactly what you're asking them to do you've done it yeah I been there it's not again we're not about to this is a theoretical of course this is what we've done to get where we are in life on I've always done throughout my career it's just I'm a firm believer maybe just my family my mom work hard and the rewards will be there so to that point when you're starting out off and you have tio you know consider working for free whether it's a photoshoot of family family senior, whatever the case may be yes, you absolutely need a model release that's why we should have but russian yeah we ran into issues right? So in the beginning we didn't get a model release and then we started using images on our website and then we got a couple of complaints and we quickly realized that we should have had this right so we didn't cross artie's daughter eyes that's why in the course we're including free the model release for people and the wedding contract I think that's very very important right out of the gate that you have that that being said that model release is gonna allow you to use those images on your website on your vlog in advertising direct mail so you want to cover your bases there but what we give the people that we were shooting for free if we were looking for models we use like model mayhem and we offered it's called time for proofs a t f p o t e f p is part of the it's basically the models are building their portfolios and you're building your portfolio so you're both doing it for free so you're giving them images so they can use for their portfolio you can put your little go on them how many you know that's that's the kind of details people are looking for us when it comes to how many I would say if it were ah family if we were doing a family for free for free we would give them the session and we would give them an eleven by fourteen or in eleven by sixteen at least back then that's what we would give for free that was our give get let's s so that's what that's two thousand seven let's fast forward to twenty thirteen when we did the allure and the glamour shoots that we did we still work for free this was just this year I didn't have to work for free in here and make up for free so that came out of our pockets we had to pay our makeup artist so that was that was a cost to us so not only was wasn't it truly free it wasn't even sweat equity there was cash involved and so we had to pay our makeup artist hair and makeup we gave them a eleven by sixteen art print from the session and in what else and then if they wanted to buy anything else we give him a discount right? So don't just because you're doing it for free doesn't mean you can turn it into ah profit center and so hopefully that answers everyone's questions so we didn't do digital files on saying back in the day we didn't do digital files because we still wanted the ability to have a sale tied to it so just because it's free doesn't mean you can't convert it models are really the only time that we gave digital files because you're doing that time for proofs you kind of have to but it was an online web web ready means not a full rez resolution right? And then one more question once you know you've worked with someone for free how do you handle their referrals to other people who say hey, I will with these guys for free yeah how do you do that it's all in how you pitch the free so the way you get away with that if you just like, hey, I'm doing free shoots you're gonna start getting really bad clients but if you kind of mask that free shoot in some sort of promotional effort that you're creating and you say something to the effect of like a long time ago we did a toy store shoot all the sessions were free and we ran it as a casting call hey guys we've got a brand new account for this toy store we're looking for kids two to six years old boys girls, families eh? So we can shoot with the toys and hang them up in the toy store and so that started I mean we both a ton off many sessions there were thirty minute sessions made a ton of money off that built our portfolio off that but any referrals that came in I knew that they weren't getting it for free because that portfolio builder exercise or that toy store shoot was now over and so that's a that's a really good question and make sure you understand if you just doing free shoots you're gonna get a lot of contaminated don't do free shooting then they get a disc of images tell them the session is free and it's a thank you for doing this session you get you know eleven by sixteen print or you know one digital web ready file you can still make a sail off of that don't just give away your time if it's for models give the images because you're building portfolio other than that don't give away images great good thank you thank you for getting into that were a lot of a lot of questions about that good no, I like it it means people are listening let's jump let ari okay with a couple more maybe way got stuff on unlike style and yeah let's let's go switch it up to style on branding so tardy had asked if you exhibit a strong style uh well that decrease possible clients because you're kind of eliminating the masses what do you think about that concept? I don't agree with that s so from my perspective a strong style is going to ensure that you're connecting with the right client. The one complaint or concern we hear a lot of tigers have is how do I find my clients? How do I even define who my client is? Well, if you're trying to have that broad general approach, you're never really fine tuning what you what you do and you don't see many successful business is out there period in any industry that don't have clear product lines on what on what they're trying accomplish you start seeing like even even if you were to look to a walmart, which is a very general broad store, they're also in that broad sense, very specific on who they're targeting they understand their client right it's that budget oriented, cost conscious client not necessarily looking for quality, but maybe looking for quantity and so you still have to get very, very focused so that you're in tune with your client. So once you know who your client is, and if you want to make the argument that your clients everyone, then I guess don't get too specific on your style, but I don't think any of us, as individual artists can service everyone unless you're you're trying to grow a franchise photography studio there's brides that have come to us saying, well, we like more traditional photos and we want, you know, the album that's an eight by ten with the mats around, you do that, right? No, we don't do it. No, we don't offer that. I would like to write studio for you tell that, right, we tell him that, but the truth is I could order that album. I mean, if I wanted that wedding, I could go out and order that album I know who sells the album, I know who makes the album so we could do it, but we refused to because there's a good chance that bride is not going to be happy, so we can't let just dollars drive are our behavior, right? So we've got to stay true to our brand. Cool. How about maybe one more question? Mike and canada what's the right way toe asked to assist a photographer you wantto work with? Maybe even specific wording. Yeah, and a lot of people struggle struggle with this at he is somebody. Well, that's not daddy, but that he was asking me the same thing on email last night. Is struggling, trying to find ah, photographer who will let him work side by side. So there's a couple of challenges. Most photographers are paranoid. Okay, so you know, the divers who were in that five to ten year mark, they see you as the enemy. So if you're just starting out, you are in, in fact, the enemy to them that's why they get into their little pockets of groups, and they bitch about other photographers and there's, nothing productive that comes out. They just got excuses for why they're failing. Dr tarr, for is not a fit for you. Why would you want to even work with that photographer anyway? They're not gonna teach you anything worthwhile. So instead you've got to just reach out to the tartars and get ready to be told no more than you're ever going to be told, yes, and just keep reaching out and offered I would this here's our word, it especially if you're going to send it to me but please do not say to me I already get plenty of request to be on my bag and second chute for me but if you were here's how I'd want to see it pace out love you work big fan of your style right? Pay them a compliment let them know why you want to work for me if you just if you're just calling me asking me to work for me I'm already going to think you're not a fit so hey big fan your work would love to work more side by side with you I just want to be on your bag help carry things for you let me know if there's any way I can assist I'm learning I'm starting out and I just want to start in this business the right way and I would love it if they learn from someone I respect and learn from someone I respect I think if you put that message together in that way that doesn't mean they're going to say yes but that's going to be the way to open the door if you're just like hey I want I want to learn from you I'll work for free I don't know that I'm probably hit to lead if I see that sent me a link to your portfolio let me know what you're doing but if you just want to be on the bag there's a way for those two tigers who are always looking for extra hands. Well, now, before we move on, I have a quote that I would like to read. Jill people said I have used this free model for the last six months and average five hundred dollars sales averages on prince boom that's what that? Better? Better? I have built my portfolio and created a great client base just close out a free wedding and sold twelve hundred dollars in prince this past weekend. Thank you south for the permission in previous classes to do this, I love it, man like somebody's finally listening it's, like when you listen, I'm telling you it works. This is how we grow our business. So congratulations to you that is an awesome success story and that's how you get started, so don't let anyone tell you this doesn't work because it actually does the people who continuously say it doesn't work are the ones who were just failing and refused to look in the mirror and accept responsibility for their own businesses. So kudos to you. All right, uh, raise you had a question. I'm just going toe add onto something about how if you will it, but referring if, like, if you do issue for somebody just even changing your style they'll refer clients that are expecting that someone that style and so you'll keep getting these clients were like I don't want you like way phone range and they're like oh uh susie referred me to you like I have ah true story we don't start the true story because they love that ana I think they're drinking right now so recently I just booked a bride she was the most beautiful girl I've ever seen she was like dominican and mexican she's beautiful no are you going to talk about how we gave senator way yeah I know I haven't entire slide dedicated to it ok sorry just kidding who's running the show here man all right let's jump tio what robby did you have a question I just back teo people that wanna help like it on your bag like turn that around like I have a lot of people that always asked if they could help me how do you how do you kind of pick and choose I mean besides portfolio and I understand you said personality but how do you kind of weed through them? His personality is a big is the biggest thing for me so you know if your personality is in a mesh with minor my team I can't bring you on no matter how experienced you are you know I had a video guy joined our team we needed extra camera operator it was at the time where we were filming multiple weddings in a day video wise today we'll just book one video wedding because I'm usually the one on the video camera tail is usually the one doing photography just to control the brand well, we had this guy was a great camera operator horrible fit with the team and we had to we just had to let him go because it just doesn't fit so don't under value personality that is really, really a big part of this back with your story, obviously I own evolve at it and evolve at its locally we had this girl who interviewed to be an editor with us, write all our editors or they're with us, she interviewed with us, she just didn't make the cut, her personality is great, but somebody else beat her out for that job. This girl has been so consistent like she just randomly showed up in our studio last week and, you know, came in and started talking to us and kept being persistent she's gonna get hired and so now we're working for a way to give her that job. We don't even have an open headcount right now, but we want that, but she wants it and I want somebody who wants it who's persistent who's gonna do what they say that's the person I want on my team, the passion you can't replace that. Thanks, elissa. She works eighteen hour days, we all work. We've been working till midnight, when I am at the studio every single day for, like the last month, because it's, busy season and she's there and she's killing it like we couldn't do what we do without her. Because she's passionate about it's all about the personality right, it's, the personality is more important than skill set. You can teach anybody anything you need them to learn, but personality you can't fix. If you've got a bad personality, I can't fix that, you know, so keep that in mind.