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Transforming Our Business

Lesson 2 from: From Images to Art: Storytelling in Wedding Photography

Jim Garner

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2. Transforming Our Business

Next Lesson: Reinvent in 2014

Lesson Info

Transforming Our Business

We're shooting film we'd shoot three or four rolls of film per hour okay io shooting one camera black and white one camera color we go to the wedding's they'd hire us for eight nine ten hours we'd shoot like crazy we'd come home we put the images in a in a bag and take him to the lab we get them back sometimes a couple weeks later took a long time a lot of people are shooting film we organized them into two boxes we put the negatives in folders and then we call the client would say your pictures already come pick him up they'd knock on the door we hugged them and say it was wonderful working with you here's your here your photos they take two bags and the negatives and off they went okay this was the film version of the shoot to disc philosophy that we see a lot of in this era and I know it's all over the place okay let me um sheriff you would happen though so but by the third year we were just rocking everybody wanted our work because we're working hard we're cheaper than everybody el...

se and gosh two thousand five I remember two thousand five two thousand five okay so we have a daughter she's to katarina has a belly there's a bun in oven and it's one month from for being born lana she's seven months you're seven and a half months of it in the month of august we had twelve weddings in the month of august obviously most of the weekends were three so five weekend a month and it was our twelfth wedding and I remember this as it like it was yesterday I okay so catarina is on the tripod in the balcony shooting the ceremony and I'm doing my thing I'm roaming, capturing the moments and there's a down moment while the um choir you know, there's a solo being played that quartet her letter and this was an upscale wedding and I'm just going cost they're they're spending a lot of money on their wedding here but you know I look up katarina and she's bawling and just exhausted I think to myself what are we doing what are we doing to ourselves right now? These guys I remember this wedding because they want us there like fifteen hours like oh gosh, you're this much okay, we want you first much time as possible and shoot as many rules as you can you know what? I didn't realize all these weddings we were just capping are earning potential we give them the negatives give them the box of prince and say, hey, if you're interested in making an album I'd love to do that for you I would love to make you an album I think we did too in that five year period when starting out I think you probably only did too we delivered only two pieces of art, you know, the injustices of that for this client it's just really sad, and I see them often I see them and other people's weddings, and they announced they had noticed you've really moved into creating these beautiful books for people in these this wall art yeah, is there anything you could do for me and, er because we sure missed out on that, just heartbreaking. And so now we're I think once a year we scan film and create people books, and I feel good about that, but I probably shot hundred fifty weddings in that period of time or mohr that, like I dreaded the thought of boxes in closets full of pictures, I just dread that thought see, we should be creating archival piece of art that our generational that stand, the test of time that are timeless in what we do in our shooting style, what we do in our post production work, we gotta think about this, so we're known for time, the time we're producing and amount of roles we were shooting that wass it, we were not known for, aren't we're not we're known for being a hard working, which is nice, but it put me in a place put us in a place, we're basically in a hole we're basically stuck because the people that we photographed referred us to people that we're going to photograph next, and they wanted the same thing they're friends had, so that makes sense everyone wants the same thing. We couldn't figure out the tools to get out of that place. We're going to talk about how to get out of that place. If you're there, I'm gonna tell you exactly how to get out of place. Okay? So here's, how we were one hundred dollars an hour, twenty five dollars per roll film. Oh, my first wedding. I just want to share its fun. I did it for seven hundred fifty dollars and I shot so many pictures it cost me my lab bill was a thousand, so I lost two hundred dollars my fresh away. So it is what it is. I would like the opportunity and with your permission, talk about money today, openly. I want to spell it out. I want to be able to share with you my greatest wedding and show you the actual numbers I'm going to show you actually proposes that we make for clients now and I'd like to do that with your permission without coming across his boastful in any way, but as being transparent so that we can see where we come from and it starts right here my first wedding negative to fifty okay, establish that okay? And then we got into this and we started making a little money for hundred dollars per first few weddings five hundred dollars and let me just say one more time another people all around the world are watching this ah and you know, I just had a a five city tour to talk about this exact thing in europe were hungary were and bucharest budapest porto we're in rome and madrid and oh my gosh, guys, well you're out there! I love you people I love your hardworking ethics and how hard you work for your dollars I don't want to be insulting in any way, shape or form with what I'm talking about now we just need to adjust the pricing for the region that we're from and for here factor in the cost of living all this uh it's important to adjust that and I have a formula for each of you when we talk about pricing I lay it all out so no matter where you are in the world it's all going to become an equal playing field okay, fair. Okay, so here's what I learned time plus pictures equals oh my gosh, such a burnout we were there, my gosh every wedding I'd go to it that stage it was a different location but the same fifty poses that I would use when we got our seattle back in cost you were given because everybody's hourly everybody's hourly, and I think this is across the world. If you're hourly, what do clients to they cram the experience of your wedding photography into an hourly cost? So you're forced and we did this to ourselves. My goodness, the wedding photographers were guilty by doing this. This is going to come up later, guys by doing hourly wow, we should crush our opportunity to give the client's a natural click click step back, have them enjoy moment. We're going to change that and it's proven that you can if your art focus, you can influence the entire day if you show how it looks. I don't know if that makes sense, but it will later I'm gonna continue so fast forward the digital revolution. Okay, many of us came into industry with the digital revolution. Everyone's welcome, it's wonderful! You get to see the pictures on the back doesn't require a real technical skill set like it used to very excited. So our industry what's going on these days is a result to that. How did this impact your career in the audience with the digital revolution to called, maybe you came in during that time period. What's the difference. Three amateurs and professionals. Now, have you thought about that? Have we really studied it? Let's do a little history lesson and then talk about solutions so our industry in two thousand and nine took a major okay? I'm speaking from seattle's perspective, the economy really took a nosedive. Everyone, you know, the economy was bad, right? When the digital revolution finally took hold the underemployed and laid off workers meeting people that haven't um, we're in between jobs and picked up cameras and they started shooting on the weekends awesome that's kind of what I did, you know, competition, price, war everyone's doing the same thing that'll delivery pictures on disk so it became not about necessary the quality of work you're producing first question people ask when they call these studios is how much of you how much you cost the bar drops and boy has it dropped in places in the world so far the people are like they're cutting like figure tilly cutting the legs off of their colleagues. This's a village thing we need to raise the bar together. Okay, so higher level of service is diminished, meaning delivery of our delivery, the book right delivery of working in the experience of the couples getting into their inner circle before the wedding day all of that you couldn't afford to spend that time to do that people didn't understand that if they did, they wouldn't be on the same path as everybody else that's what I'm talking about the past larger studios with greater overhead couldn't do it anymore do my colleagues at the time had these big wedding studios the storefronts, etcetera they couldn't afford any more because you know what they're so undercutting became all about price so retail photographer struggled tough times okay, but there's some optimism in this okay, making a living as a wedding photographer became very, very difficult and studios that just did wedding photography they weren't diversified enough to handle that downside, so here's don't talk about my observation with the industry right now, okay? These are statistics based upon uh my touring touring, you know, understand united states also my recent tour in in europe really gathering a lot of information? Um obviously we talked about the niche petar nature photographer it's very difficult. What that has done here is my current observation about the industry as a whole, the health of the industry I'm seeing now that ninety percent of the people out there photographers our are on the picture taking philosophy similar to what I used to be exactly so I capture individual images I was known for my individual images parole and I was known for being hard working but people sure were calling us about price. Okay, we're going really dive into what I consider the picture taking philosophy. Okay, ten percent obviously are the art shooters let's define this. So it's very clear what I mean because some of us might have the picture taking philosophy and have is one of our packages. Hey, you could get an album for exit additional. Okay, I need you to know that that is not what I'm talking about being art focus studio okay. Aren't focused studios in definition let's define it. What does this mean? Picture takers. A professional photographer. Okay. Who's able by virtue of imagination, talent and skill capture individual images that may or may not be eventually viewed in the art form. Okay, these studios, you have an option. You could buy some art if you pay a little bit more or not. I hope this is clear. Our shooters, a professional photographer who's able by virtue of imagination, talent and skill create works of aesthetic value enhanced by its output art form, usually wall art in our books, everyone who comes to an art studio gets art. Okay? And we'll talk about this ideal of being a conceptual shooter. Okay, we in the commercial will know all about that you're being hired to produce a product and that product is an individual images it's a story and what is the story? We're going to really get into that but hey, you're in our studio you see wall art like this I immediately attract or uh oriente mines you say this a lot, orient the minds of the clients to the art hey, if you go to our website jay garner photo dot com, you're not going to see individual image gallery actually, you will it's a third option of some of our amazing holy cow moments in our life some images that we shot there's a small portfolio section but the first two sorry your first line of defense is that promo video that tells you about story second, you're able to click on slide shows, click on click through third you can see him to music okay, you're immediately oriented the fact that we produce our that is a huge step in this process changed the way the market perceives you, it's one of the ten steps they're gonna go through okay, so let's move forward here's an interesting fact dedicated established art shooters averaged three times more per more income per commissioned photography assignment why so much more than just that isn't just the income portion of it quality of life is going to be a massive component we'll talk about that, but why is that? Why such a discrepancy because that ninety percent think they're competing over price and in order to compete unfortunately they dropped their service they're not providing art to everybody less emotional value in their work as a result lesson focus on the experience it's really difficult guys whose pictures you guys are on ly they only have so much emotional value individuals individual picture they're very different from art they only have so much impact so the result is this the bar has dropped unfortunately in the picture taking world of so many competing over price lowering his of service you know, a typical er when I first was in the different digital revolution as a picture shooter gosh, I could come home I edit my images I put them through light room out put them to a disk and off they go to the client okay that's the same thing that amateurs khun d'oh so amateurs are now competing with picture takers. So what do you expect? What do you expect? So this is your called action. This is just a change in thinking this is just a subtle ok, I love this image because they're represented what we're going to do in this workshop so well we're gonna we're gonna just take a different path you know all we have to do right now in this period in this three day workshop it simply go like this oh I'll go that way versus that way and you know what let me just set this up as analogy of life okay so the left path has a lot I mean you're you're going up a mountain you're traversing you're coming down you're all by yourself okay you have to cross this rapid river is like crazy the right path it drops you into a valley nobody's around there's a few people on their welcome you come join us okay oh there's a river you got across yeah but no problem there's a rope there waiting for you to help me help you cross we can do this ok and yeah thes rivers okay they're represents that some of the difficult things that we must do as story shooters we have to up our communication we have to make sure we provide a better experience to our clients okay, there are some lessons that I learned and this is why I wanted a year and a half to put this program together because I needed to spell out those rivers that we got a cross and give you the tools so you don't have to cross him without her out the way I did okay take the past let path less traveled by robert frost not to make all the difference I was definitely there I'm going to talk about old images old workflow old ways are old studio is our house and the old consequences you've heard really a study I understand that before we could move forward the moment really was that moment where I saw my wife crying and were burned out we realize that year by the way we really started doing our books well, it takes a couple of hugo thanks a couple years ago. Well, we better get responsible and actually you know what we're learning oh my gosh, guys, we weren't inspired. We weren't I mean sorry we weren't profitable we're making very little money for the effort that we're putting it it was sad it's really sad. Okay, I remember that was the year I went something's gotta change I need to look outside my little bubble because it was in my seattle photography bubble I didn't mean look on the internet about get inspired by their photographers but then I did oh my gosh I u turn took place and I want to give kudos to one of my mentors and friends I think it was your vons website dad who's been on creative live by his program here watch this program, you guys. He is a man australian photographer and now has become a dear friend he showed on his website something I've never seen before and that is people hanging out drinking champagne on their wedding day doing things fun like natural like what the heck is going on here? How didn't have time to do that how did have time to do that so you know what I got on a flight went down there and met him in person and I remember like yesterday it was so odd for me because uh seattle we had we had an hour I won't have to shoot the bridal party the bridegroom together um and the family shots and then we go right into the ceremony reception boom boom you shouldn't you okay how did they have time and you're vons photos to play to dance to drink champagne tunes you know it happened remember down telmo berm there's coffee shops in each corner and we're walking through and I'm like wow there's a bridal party sitting there there's a private party over here sitting there there's the photographer is just hanging out talking to his assistant interacting with the gas he going click click click click click step back enjoy going click click click and what is going on I learned that the photographer's kudos to you australians watching right now influence their clients in a different way that we did it in seattle you see they influenced their clients to have a ceremony earlier in the day and a reception later in the day okay so let's say it's ten o'clock or eleven o'clock ceremony and then the reception's six or seven so they found a way teo give mohr experience to the clients which leads to more stores relax stores this fun beautiful look really expression riel moments photojournalism meets an occasional inspired image you know a stylized shot what a beautiful look how do we bring this to seattle gosh my clients they won't see each other beforehand are you an hour and a half period and I got to get my work done I'm gonna teach you howto influence the way your wedding's unfold by being art focus wedding for harper so this u turn oh my gosh was based upon a few facts that taught to me by my friend you're on what that that I learned there okay so want you to have these facts and I want that to be the foundation of this transformation as you move forward if you guys are going to commit so we should be creating art not pictures period okay we're still deliver art that has long term value not just the value of immediate value but long term value if you plan on have longevity in this field if you plan on having longevity us properly identify our client their style their taste and their vision if you want them to love what you do for them you have to shoot for them they need to see their themselves in your photos not how you portray them we must create images that represent a client who want them to find value okay that's got to be there it's got to be them that we understand how our client thinks and this is huge and we're talking a whole section about this how they think on an emotional level and what moves them emotionally we're gonna talk about the difference between men and women were talking about the difference in how people think in a literal way or emotional way there's characteristics and that people have that are tied together emotional brain, literal brain okay, mr vogt, most of our energy to experience our client has on their wedding day and beyond we must and I creatively reinvent regularly and or we'll fail we'll just absolutely hate you did a program years ago on reinvention and in that program was reading it while I was researching for this program was reading uh last week and I used to say every every three or four years you gotta reinvent completely I'm like since the digital revolution you gotta reinvent once every six months you have to change things up significantly so this is my call for change this is my way of helping industry I think I want to give you a new path and a new exciting place to be okay call for change the benefits of monumental here we go it starts with wow I'm just gonna read him off because there's so much be known and commissioned for your art totally different who can that be known for your pictures? You're going to compete on craft and not price you gonna uncap you're earning potential and I mean uncap it big time it is unreal okay you're separating yourself from the masses from the ninety percent and you're gonna put yourself into the ten hopefully we get that flipped soon because again there's room for everybody when the bar raises together so you'll be paid in value for creating your simple images simple images now not those single image portfolio shots that you look for all day long simple images it paid for every click of the mouse you use techniques not poses techniques that create the energy that emotion the client experience we become your priority your referrals will be based upon your art not your pictures so it's that a nurse is starting for you your commission work becomes your marketing tool is your art will have influence on your wedding day schedule member of the artists in australia they influence through their art books by showing him this is how these beautiful weddings look hey you'll be able to do the same you influence how the day unfolds shooting your school shooting schedule become relaxed and simple I'm gonna show you through the experiential style that we add two hours to the front of the day to do nothing but hanging out's not about pictures about photos it's about being together enjoying the day having every moment and we do it by giving that time away oh my gosh so the type of angela photograph will be easier to capture it's so easy it's so much easier okay, creativity will explode now prove that scientifically why your creativity you explode so your portfolio explode as a result with unexpected real moments like for me lightning bolt charts hot heart shaped gills unbelievable I'm going to show you some these images that only happened because I was using techniques that create more moments that create more experiences that lead to more spreads that lead to greater profitability that lead to more beautiful books it's it's it's like kicking that boulder off the mountain and letting it roll your workflow your workflow your workflow will decrease by half, huh? What did jim just say your workflow will actually decrease by half if you are delivering art I'm gonna teach you how to photo shop your work as photoshopped units no longer individual images photoshopping three hundred images you're going to at the end of this workshop photograph only in the art that's purchased so you paid for every click of the mouse it's a unbelievable and I'm going to show you how to increase your work for behalf if you're a picture taker right now, ok time savings time savings for me is diversification it allows us quality of life or the opportunity to do things like start other studios this outworks okay you're gonna obtain business security to build a team to help you because you have the profitability. This is the stone I'm talking about, okay, let it go, let it roll, stop pushing it up the hill. It's totally represents the industry, actually, as well. I want you to be free of that that's. Don't just let it go. Let it roll. You'll be amazed at the benefits. So one of the things that we say in america is when given lemons, make lemonade. So when you're given a hardship, like the industry and things are getting better, you know the speed optimistic. When you're given hard times, though, think about how to make the positive out of it. And that's what this course is about making lemonade ok, and have fun along the way.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Foldable Field Guide
10 Steps to Success

Ratings and Reviews

Ester Knowlen Photography

LOVE LOVE LOVE all the bits on how to create a wow shot without stressing about getting it/catching it by chance. So SPOT on!! A little bit of planning, a little bit of vision, and great ideas/recipe for amazing "wow" shots that are prompted and genuine (unique just like the people we shoot), rather than stressed over and chased. :) Amazing video!! :) Thanks Jim Garner!!

222 N 43rd Pl

This is such an amazing course. It is my first purchase that I have made with Creative Live and I couldn't be more pleased. Jim shared so much information and so many insights. It's great to be able to watch the segments over, picking up something new every time. Taking volumes of notes! I am starting to implement Jim's approach to photography—storytelling. I am just starting out in wedding photography and am so excited to have found this gem tutorial! I would highly recommend this to any photographer who wants to take their work from photographs to art.

Student Work