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Class Introduction

Lesson 1 from: Start and Grow Your Photography Business

Kevin Kubota

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Lesson Info

Class Introduction

So, I'm super excited to be here. I actually am very excited, and I'm very thankful and grateful for you guys. For you guys out in the internet world, thanks for tuning in. So the first thing, I want to talk about is what's the problem? Why are you guys here? What's your problem? We have a problem, and that's that photographers, we're artists, and artists have a really interesting way of dealing with business. Basically we don't (laughs) deal with business. (audience laughing) Right? I mean, we're artists, okay? So, the problem with artists is we want to have fun. Right? We enjoy the art of creating, and the problem is that sometimes that creation process is the reward sort of subconsciously. So we don't really focus on the monetary rewards, like a typical business would. Because we're getting that satisfaction from creating these beautiful images. We're like ah that's cool, that's great. I had a good shoot today, and you're not thinkin' numbers numbers numbers. You're thinkin' ego ego...

ego (laughs) right? Yes I did great. That's beautiful, create this beautiful stuff. We're also raised as, or taught as artists, and inherently in that process you'd think about, creation, art, beautiful stuff. You don't think about numbers, alright? And that's like 180 degrees from most of artists frame of view is the numbers. But we're gonna change that. So it's really hard for us, to put a true value on our work. Like, how do you value, your creativity? Right? And how do you put numbers to something that's so esoteric, that's so crazy like that. So, I'm gonna show you. We're gonna help you figure out how to do that. The other problem is we have very fragile egos. You know what I'm talkin' about? Like anybody here get nervous when a clients coming in to look at the images? Like are they gonna love 'em are they gonna hate 'em? It's like, well I love these but I've had clients come in and I'm like here we go! Here's your image! And they're like, oh. (audience laughing) Did you take other pictures? Yeah. And you're like, well wait this is the one! (laughs) And you get all excited about it because we have an ego attached to everything. And so how do you go around and tell her, and this image is $500. And she's like, oh. Okay, thank you. Let's move on. So, who are you why do you care? You could be hobbyists. Maybe you just do this on the side, but you're thinking about turning it into a full-time business. Maybe, you have a full-time, or a real job, and you don't want to be in that real job anymore, and you want to be a photographer full-time. Okay, this could be perfect for you. You could be maybe a part-time photographer now, and that's all you want to do is just keep it part-time, and do your real job on the side. But you want to make money still. Or you could be a full-time photographer right now, and maybe you just want to step it up. And maybe, sometimes, I've had people in my workshops that have been in business 10 years, 15 years sometimes. And, awesome if you're in a class and you've been doin' this for 10, 15 years, that's really pretty awesome. Because it means you're open to learning and you want to continue to learn. And I always learn. And I think that's critically important that you keep learning, applying, growing as a photographer. Alright? So why me? Why should I be up here teaching? Well, I hopefully, have met some of you. Some of you guys know me but if you don't know me already. I started as a professional photographer about 25 years ago. Back in Los Angeles. And I started doing portraits and headshots, and actors portfolios and models portfolios, and all that LA stuff. And then I started doing weddings, 'cause I actually got married and I thought this is pretty cool. And I had fun meeting my wedding photographer. And he kind of got my into it and I realized that I loved shooting weddings. I loved the spontaneity of it. And, fortunately I had some experience with customer service because I had also worked at Nordstrom for a couple of years prior. My original degree was in fashion design believe it or not. It was kind of a weird, like got out of that and got into photography. But I've been a photographer as a hobbyist since I was in high school. As a little kid I just always loved photography. And so, turned it into a business. Started doing weddings. That grew really really really well in LA. I moved to a small little town Bend, Oregon. Anybody heard of Bend? You guys been there? It's a beautiful little place. And I moved there it was about 30,000 people. So coming from LA, to this little country town of 30,000 people where everybody knew the name Kubota for tractors. 'Cause that's basically all that (laughs) was around there. True story actually, when we first moved there, I put my name in the phone book, I'm gettin' all set up as a business, all legit. Waitin' for phone calls. And, we got this one call one day. And this happened quite a bit, a lot actually. And, I answer the phone. I was like hey! This is Kevin Kubota what can I do for you? And he goes, hey is this Kubota? I said yes it is. He said, you got that model XKE195 in stock? (audience laughing) And I said, hold on sir. I'm like Claire, do we have a new wedding package the XKE or something that you didn't tell me about? Sir, are you calling Kubota Photography? He's like, no Kubota Tractors. (laughing) I said well this is Kubota Photography. He's like, well connect me to your tractor department then. (laughing) And I was like, beep koosh sorry. And that happened several times in the first few years in Bend but it was, it was good because, moving from LA to this small town Bend, with 30,000 basically kind of like a country kind of place, it required me, to really focus on my business, all over again. 'Cause it was going great in LA, and I had a great client base which is actually what enabled me to move. I was flying back and forth to LA shooting weddings. Even from Bend. So as I built my business in Bend I was still flying back and forth. But I had to build my business really quickly in Bend. So I had to focus on the business, the marketing, the online which was really really fresh at the time, this is 20, 21 years ago. When online sales was unheard of for wedding photographers. I actually built my own, online shopping cart system from scratch, 'cause nobody had one. I was had one of the first wedding photography online shopping cart systems. So I had to learn, and then I grew. And my business, I took on other photographers. I started Kubota Image Tools which is a software, and training photographers, and AsukaBook which is a album company. So I've applied my business skills to all these businesses, growing them over the years. So I feel like I'm in a unique place to share. And I've also coached and trained thousands of photographers over the years. I've been teaching for about 15 years. And so, I've learned a lot of things from the people I've worked with. I'm not the answer to everything, I don't know it all for sure. But I glean stuff from everybody that I touch, which I think is really cool. Alright, so what are we gonna do? We're gonna make sure it's a win win. So you can stay the artist, you can stay the creative person, and you can apply that to your business which is gonna be a separate entity from you. But it's still gonna be you. It's still gonna have your personality, your style, and all the good stuff about your artistic sensibilities, but you're gonna look at your business as a business. And you the artist as the artist. And you're gonna coexist beautifully like a perfect marriage. Let's not use marriage as an example, let's (laughs). (audience laughing) A perfect friendship. That's what it is, yeah. When we're done with this class, you're gonna have a solid foundation to set up a legitimate business. So that you can cross your T's dot your I's. You don't have to think about it. The reason we want to set it up properly from the start, number one is that you can focus on being creative. Here's what you got to do, set up the business, get it done. Boom. Now be creative, right? You don't want to deal with, legal stuff later on. Okay, you're gonna learn to brand yourself as a photographer, and market yourself, now here's the key, to your perfect client. And that's what's important. Branding and marketing, there's all kind of books and stuff on how to brand, how to market. And it's pretty generic and it's all good and useful. And we're gonna talk about some of that. But we also want to make sure that it's, very specific to you and your personality so that you can draw the client to you that you want. And that's something that I learned. We're gonna do an exercise later on, that transformed my wedding photography business years ago. And I'll tell you about that later. Okay, we're gonna make the best use of your precious time. In other words, time management is huge. What's the most valuable thing you have right now? Somebody here in the audience tell me, shout out something. Time. Your time. Yeah. Your creative genius is the most valuable thing, that you have. So why would you spend that time, trying to figure out where to store your images on a computer? (audience member laughing) Or, how to deal with a mess of papers on your desk, or whatever kind of work-flow problems. Whatever menial stuff that's sucking up your time, why spend your valuable creative genius on that, instead of creating beautiful imagery, right? We're dealing with people, which is our personality which is important, okay? So we want to make sure our work-flow, our time management is tight. We're gonna learn to price for profit. Photographers like I said, we don't know how to price our stuff. How do we? So let's just do it by the book, okay? Forget the ego, forget everything else, let's just do it by the book. Sometimes it helps to have, like my wife is the business woman in our relationship (laughs). I started the business but I trained her and now she takes it over. And it's good because she can say no, this is what we're charging. I'm like oh, but I love them so much. I want to give them a deal. I want to shoot this for free, it's so fun. I want this job. She's like fine. We're charging this boom. I'm like okay, yes dear. (laughing) It's like, alright we get it done. And we're gonna talk about building packages. So if you're a portrait or wedding photographer or anybody who offers packages which is generally a good idea. Not 100 % but generally it's good idea. We're gonna talk about some ways to build packages. And we're gonna talk about selling, without feeling like a high pressure sales person. 'Cause selling is also very hard for creatives. Because of our egos involved right? So we're gonna learn to sell, that kind of sells itself. Put emotion into it, then bang. There's magic all of a sudden okay? And we're gonna keep you inspired for the long run. The long haul which is very important, 'cause you're gonna stay in the game. I've been in this 25 years, some of you may be close to that point. And I still love it. I still love business, I still love photography. I still love the industry, I still love going out taking pictures for my clients. So, how do I stay inspired for 25 years? Alright. So let's start here. I love this quote. There's a philosophy, a Japanese philosophy called Naikan. Not the camera, it's a different Naikan. But the idea is to focus, really on the here and now. "You are fooled by your mind into believing there is tomorrow, so you may waste today." And isn't that just so true of everything in life? I think this is a really good, just a grounding point, a starting point for all of us, to think what we have, nothing but the here and now. Tomorrow, we don't want to implant this in our minds but we may not be here tomorrow. Our clients that we love so much may not be here tomorrow. Anything can happen tomorrow. So let's not waste a minute. Let's get rockin' and rollin' today right now. Whatever changes we need to do, make it happen. Alight? In fact, okay. Let's just, 30 seconds, here's something that I always do, and I'm not really gonna talk about this in this class, but one of the things that I do to make every photo session successful, is before I go into my session, I meditate. I visualize, my session, my client in this beautiful space. I hold them with love and intention. And I say this is going to be the most amazing shoot and I picture them happy, high fivin' me at the end of this shoot. Jumpin' up and down, smiling, loving their pictures. We're having a great time, we're communicating. And I just imagine that happen before I actually go to shoot it. So let's do that right now. You guys all just imagine, we're gonna have an amazing day. You can close your eyes if you want. Or you can stare at me while I close my eyes. (audience laughing) We're gonna have an amazing day, we're gonna be stoked with the information we have and we're gonna take what we learn, and we are going to make it ours. We're gonna put it into our own business. Alright? And you're gonna come out transformed. Bam. Alright. So here's a little of my back story. This is our building in little old Bend, Orgegon. We built this building about eight years ago, I think. I started in my home, like many of you probably did or maybe are and it's totally cool. I loved working out of my home. I worked out of my kitchen table for awhile, my garage. I worked off my, and then I added on and had a little, side area to my house which I still have at our house attached. And when I outgrew that I moved to another little studio. And then I moved to a bigger studio. And then I expanded to the building across the street and then we had to build a building (laughs) because it was just gettin' out of control. And, so this is our place. When you come in, one of the things here that I like to share is that I have not only wedding images, you can see on the wall there's a wedding image, but there's also just fine art images. And there's portraits and such, because I want to impress upon clients when they come in that I'm not just a wedding photographer, that I'm an artist. That I just love the art of photography. And I find that's really important for establishing my connection with the perfect client. Because my clients come to me 'cause they appreciate art. They appreciate creativity. And they appreciate quality. So that's what I'm trying to portray. We're gonna talk a lot more about this comin' up here. So you come inside, we'll come upstairs. This is our hang out meet and greet area. We can show them albums and we have big pictures on the wall again. Show big, sell big, right? You've heard that cliche before and it's true. It's really true. If you have big images all over your walls, people tend to think I need to buy big images. This looks great. I want these big images on my wall, right? If you got little tiny, little desk prints all over and cutesy little stuff that's great but you're gonna have to sell a lot of that cutesy stuff to make up for one big wall image. And that's great little supplemental things. We'll talk all about that. Alright on the left it just, lookin' down our hallway to our work areas and again just showing you that there's art images. Those are not portrait jobs it's just things from travels and things that I've taken. But we want to keep the feeling of just the art going. And then our actual client presentation room here again, weddings primarily is what we do in this room here. And we have a projection slide show. We can move those tables. Take the tables out and bring in this couch. Sit people down and do the presentation.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials

Branding Statement
Contract Do's & Dont's
Evaluate your Business
Keyword Exercise
Points of Contact
Sample Portrait Session Contract
Startup Checklist
Photography Pricing Calculator

Ratings and Reviews

Lauren Scott

Super great class. I've been in business full-time for 5 years, and I'm just now starting to get my "act together" I have spent so much time shooting, it has taken away from the business aspect and actually identifying myself as a brand, this was a good way to get the basics, learn, lots of good info. NOT boring at all, he is super funny and super personable, not pretentious and speaks to you in a way thats easy to understand... sometimes I feel like entrepreneurs come off a bit "nose-in-the-air" with all these terms myself as a creative cannot understand... but not with Kevin, down to earth funny guy! I also emailed him with a few questions and he was so kind to email be back right away! Thanks Kevin and thanks creative live! Bring him back!

KIS Photography

This was an amazing class to be a part of! I knew it would be good, from watching Kevin Kubota's previous Creative Live classes, and this course far exceeded my expectations! Kevin is a fantastic teacher, giving sound advice, presented clearly, with a down to earth, caring & humorous touch! I've watched it over on the replay, picking up on more things each time. This class will help me to get my photography business off on the right start, and I am looking forward to implementing all of his fantastic advice! Thank you Kevin & Creative Live!

Student Work