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Start and Grow Your Photography Business

Lesson 26 of 27

The Importance of your Professional Network

Kevin Kubota

Start and Grow Your Photography Business

Kevin Kubota

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Lesson Info

26. The Importance of your Professional Network

Lesson Info

The Importance of your Professional Network

How do we stay in the game? 'cause none of this means anything, the reason we're learning all this is so you can stay successful, happy for the long term for the rest of whatever your career decides to be. So let's talk about that. Here's kind of my, my motto for staying in the game, it's Kaizen Kaizen's a Japanese term and it means good change basically. It's used in Japanese business a lot to symbolize or to talk about the process of always looking for ways to improve yourself, your business in the business, okay Kaizen, that's just part of their philosophy in a lot of these companies and they've created a whole business seminars around this idea of Kaizen and implement it into training systems that they take into companies to tell them how to implement Kaizen in their company. But it's very simple, its really this mindset that I'm never gonna stop learning, I'm never gonna stop growing no matter what 'til the day you die, it keeps going, alright? And if you adopt that mindset, if yo...

u believe in that mindset, I really think that you can be very successful doing what you love to do. The only time I see people fail at being a successful photographer, really are the ones who get the advice, and don't do anything with it 'cause their afraid to change what they're already doing which is not working but for some reason that doesn't (snapping) hammer into their head, they ain't working, you gotta do something different. But they're afraid 'cause their clinging to that comfort zone, you know? You gotta be keep thinking how can we improve change and let's try it, let's try something new. The other way, that I found to stay excited is passion projects. Passion projects, personal projects so key for two reasons, keeps you excited about photography and it also helps you to learn new techniques, new things, new ideas that you could implement into your daily work. For me, my passion projects are I love riding motorcycles so I started creating motorcycle videos, like promotional videos for motorcycle companies and we started to actually work with some clients now. But it was really just started because my buddy and I, my best friend, he's a photographer, videographer, he loves video and we both love motorcycles and we're like, let's shoot some motorcycle videos. Let's get out all this stuff, let's try all the different ideas and things we could do and let's shoot some cool motor videos, and we started doing that and showing them and then we said, well I'll just show them to some companies and see if they want to do something like this and companies started to say yeah, yeah we wanna do one of those too for us, you know? So we started to pick up clients and we've got one lined up for the next month we're gonna work on but it started as a passion project, as something I wanted to do, no other reason, I just dug it, wanna do it. The other is the service project. And I also love doing service work with my photography. So I've traveled to Africa, to Bolivia gosh, all South America, several other places, I started a workshop series called Workshops With Purpose, I think, I don't know if I talked to you guys about that or not, where we take photographers to do service work with our photography and that is totally, it's a non profit thing we do, it's not something we make money on, it's just something I love to do. And it keeps me inspired, reminds me of the value of my talent. And I didn't mention that in the sales process, people are asking about the confidence part and this is actually comes full circle back to that confidence part. I realize one of the other service projects we do is that I started a, in my home town of Bend, called Family Portraits in the Park and every year, in October we set up a charity family portrait project. So in the park, we say, one afternoon, we send out a letter to all these charitable like Habitat for Humanity, Together for Children, I don't know, I can't think of them all but tons of little charity organizations. We say, if you have families that are in need, send them down, we'll schedule them in, we'll do a quick family portrait for them so they can have a Christmas portrait, they get to keep the files, there's no charge, no obligation, nothing. We're not getting anything out of this. And so they can now collect families and sit down. Then I call my photographer friends, I'll get 10 or 12 photographers from town to also volunteer time. And we have this amazing fun day. We set up in the park and everybody has a little station, I have my little portrait station and theirs over there and they like that rock so they go sit over there and setup their thing. And then families come and we have local volunteers and they'll send them to a photographer station and we only shoot, you know, 10 minutes at the most with each person, with each family. And give them, make sure we got one nice group family portrait and that's all we're looking for. Then we give them, we include a five by seven print which my lab gives me at a serious discount for this project so we hardly have to pay very much for those. So we give them a five by seven and the digital file and they have something for Christmas. They can now make Christmas cards or whatever. I tell them, go to Costco, order some Christmas cards with this digital file, whatever you wanna do. And it's amazing, it's so fun, we've been doing it for 12 years, I think, now. Every year in October, and it's just been such an enlightening experience, such a great bonding experience for the other photographers, something that makes me, the point of all this was, when I started doing this, I realized doing these projects, how powerful having a portrait can be for a family who's never had one. You know? My favorite being, I had a older couple, they were probably in their later 60s who came in with 10 adopted disabled children, all their foster children and they would come in every year and they'd range from this big to full grown and they'd all gather round this gray haired old couple, right here. And they always wanted me to do the portrait, so I get to do the portrait and I love doing their portrait. And they would come every year we've been doing this. And I get to do their portrait and the gratitude that they had, you know. They would, all these people tell you, we can never afford, thank you so much, we could never afford to do a family portrait. What a gift you guys are giving the community, you know? And all the other photographers were just like, oh my god, please call me next year, I wanna do this again. Such an awesome awesome thing. But then I go home, and I feel so good. And a client comes in and now I'm like, damn it, I'm worth 5,000 bucks, (audience laughing) you are not gonna talk me down 'cause I am worth it (laughs) you know what I mean? It's true. It boosts you, it makes you feel like, yes, I am giving a valuable gift. You are not talking me out of what I'm worth. So when a client drives up that can afford it, I don't feel bad asking them to pay what I'm worth. And that was really really enhanced that realization by doing service projects and getting the feedback from people who can't afford what you're doing. And who would wish they could afford you but they never will. Really big, big shift. So, I think all photographers, we have this gift we can give and you can find a way to do it on whatever scale you wanna do it, that's fine. You know it could be a big project, small project, little thing or just go offer your thing to the humane society. Hey I'm gonna do a free pet portrait day to help you get your adoptions up 'cause we wanna adopt these dogs, I'll give them a really cute portrait so you guys can use on your website to get those dogs adopted, or whatever, you know? So many cool things you could do. Here's a project that I did years ago. This is what lead to my book. So I had this idea, this crazy idea one day that I'm gonna go out and photograph and try all these lighting tools, I had all this junk in my garage, all these lighting equipment that I hardly ever use some of it I didn't even know how to use (laughs) this stuff and then you know what, I call my friend Ben, he's a photographer, I said, let's go out for a day we'll get like a past client model for us and let's just get out all this lighting stuff and come up with as many different lighting scenarios different combinations we'll use things in ways we haven't used them before and just play for a whole day, let's just play with light, have fun. Let's call it our day of light project. So we went out and we did this and it was like super fun, we just, you know, just a few images we pulled from the different situations and things that we tried all during the course of one day and this was down to the park, we went to a furniture store, I asked our local furniture store who had a really cool setup, I said can we come in there and shoot in your furniture store like in the afternoon when you aren't busy and I'll give you copies of the photos if you wanna use them for marketing or whatever like that, they're like sure, come on in. You can come between this and this time and you can do it, so just ask. So we were able to do that and this whole thing turned into a blog post, where I was all excited about this say hey, I told people this is what I did, I thought it was really great educational thing and we got so many different lighting scenarios of this and I kind of outlined some of them and talked about 'em. And then I got contacted from a book company and said would you like to write a book about that? Let me think about it, yes. (audience chuckling) That turned into the Lighting Notebook which is the book I was talking about earlier. But again, that wouldn't have happened if I didn't give myself the personal incentive, the project to go out and do this day of light. Again, it was for fun, I had no intention of turning into anything more than just a fun educational project. And it turned into that. So your projects can very often lead to something much bigger than you ever imagined if you leave yourself open to the possibilities out there. How we visualize success. Back to the whole visualization thing. How do you picture yourself as successful. Maybe just take just seconds right now, think, don't write, think. What is the successful you look like? When you're successful, exactly the way you wanna be someday, what's it gonna feel like? Are you gonna feel happy, proud? Are you gonna feel like you can give back so much more now? Are you gonna feel like you can start teaching, like your an expert now, you wanna start teaching and sharing. That's an awesome thing to do too, share your knowledge. How's it gonna feel when you are successful and hold that in your mind and bring that into your awareness every single day to guide you. And it's not enough to just say, I want to be successful. Mm mmm, you say I am successful, here's what it feels like. That me of tomorrow feels like this. It can change, change your world. Kid you not. You think I'm just being woohoo, crazy (audience laughing) crazy guy aren't yeah (laughs) yup, I would've laughed at myself a few years ago if I was listening to me up here but my life has changed and so many miracle, amazing ways. I'm not the richest guy in the world, but I'm probably one of the happiest guys in the world right now. And it's because I use these things that I'm sharing with you guys. Alright, trust your heart. My friends, your instincts will always lead you. If a client doesn't feel right, don't take the client. If they're asking you to do something that just doesn't feel right, don't do it. If there's a job that you're not really 100% behind the product that they sell, maybe you're a commercial photographer, don't take it. Be true to your heart and you always can stand up with integrity I think if you do that. Your gut, your instinct will lead you. I used to talk about this in photographing, in my workshops where we talk about how to actually take the pictures at a wedding I talk about shooting from your gut and using your intuition to chase a photo down and what that means is just like the Mustang story, remember that one I told you. That was my instinct as we're walking in I just had this flash in my mind of the Mustang, the couple in the Mustang, this kissy, making out things blowing all kinds of crazy shit blowing up. And (laughs) I acted on it, instead of going, they're never gonna go for that, the mom's already yelling at me, I'm an hour late as it is. I can't possibly ask them, but my gut just said that's gonna be amazing if you do that. Low and behold, years later, that story turned in, like I said, more and more and more bookings, it turned into me buying a Mustang, which is pretty cool and it turned into a wall print that I could sell to sell and over and over again. So it's like, if I had not in that split second decided to trust my gut and went back in, it would've been average wedding like every other one, not average, I'm above average, rest your minds, but would've been absolutely special which it really was and I have so many instances that I can point to in my career where I trusted my gut, said something to somebody, did something, asked the bride, you know what, can you swing from the chandelier please (audience laughing) and she does it and I'm like, she's from Cirque du Soleil look at that (swooshing) damn with all the dress blowing all over the place, this is amazing. I never would've got if I had not just trusted my gut. So you have to push yourself, guys, girls. Push yourself, push yourself to trust what you know is inside. We're getting down to the end here. And one of the things that I really realize is the game inherently changes when your focus is from profit to people. It sounds weird because we've been talking about how to make profit for the last two days, right? Very important but when your focus is on, yes I need to make profit but I want to provide the best possible thing for them so they will be eternally happy and grateful, 'cause they're gonna love what I do, they're gonna treasure what I do. I want them to be happy, that's my goal. I wanna be happy, that's my goal, okay? And all of a sudden things change, it guides whatever decision you make will be easy because you'll know what's the right thing to do. The game totally changes. This is a great quote, Guy Kawasaki, he wrote one of those books I have on my list right there. The Art of the Start and two quick stories about, first about Guy. Well first about this image, this is from Rwanda. This is my first trip to Africa to do some service work with my photography and we went out, we actually raised money in a workshop to take to this village and help them build a little school house from the sales of our product. We took all the profits, took it to Africa, and what's crazy is, there is this woman who runs this orphanage in Africa, we call her Mama. I don't even know what her real name is, she's just called Mama. And Mama runs this orphanage for several hundred people, kids rather, and they live in a little village on the top of the hill and they have a little mud school house and she takes care of all these kids, hundreds of 'em and we raised money, basically to send to Mama to build a school house. And she emailed back to us and said, I want you to bring the money to me personally. I need to thank you personally, so we scheduled a trip. I gotta go schedule a trip to Rwanda now (laughs) like okay and I was torn with that and I asked Mama wouldn't it be better if I took the money that I would spend on shipping myself and my staff, I took a few of my staff with me as well, I said what if we just gave you the money instead, wouldn't that be so much more beneficial to give you this extra money I would've spent on a plane ticket? And she says no. She says I want you to come, I wanna thank you, I wanna see you, I wanna hold you personally. I like, how do you say no (laughs) to that? So anyway, we went. My wife and I, my best friend and I, six few other photographers came, brought a few of my staff with me. We went did this amazing project, photographed the orphans, gave her the money that we had raised. We saw how it was put to use. And she gave us the most amazing hugs and love that changed my life. I can't even imagine what it would be like if I hadn't touched her, and felt that personal connection from her and I understood that moment there was something way more valuable than just the money and I knew what she meant, that she needed to touch me and thank me and I needed to touch her and know where this was going and it was amazing. And that changed my life and again, it, god it made me feel so good about my photography, and the gifts that I could give. So finally this Guy Kawasaki book, I was gonna go teach a workshop once and I was in a pity pot mood and feeling, you know, like poor me, I have to go and teach another workshop, I'm tired, I'm grumpy, riding on the airplane. I don't know why, like I, I should not feel that way. So I get off the airplane, I go into a bookstore, and sometimes I do this, I'll walk to the bookstore and I run my hand down the wall of books (speaker trilling) grab one off, take it up to the counter, I'm buying this. And inevitably, that book is something I need to hear to get me out of my little hole. And in this situation, it was the Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki, which turns out is a great book, if I had found out about it ahead of time, I would've bought it, it's like a five star reviews in Amazon, like one of the best business books of all time and whatever. So I read this thing on the airplane on the way to my workshop, just read read read, oh my god, it's quick read, it's easy to read and just completely turn my attitude around and I felt like I was able to go and deliver a fantastic workshop. My energy was completely turned around and I understood that everything, everything in my life is inside of me. It's already there, nothing changed other than me reading a little book on the airplane in a couple hours. I was the same person, but I was completely changed when I got off the plane and went to talk to these people who deserved 100% my energy and attention. And that was pretty powerful and I think, hopefully that's something you guys can consider is that everything you need is right inside of you and sometimes it just means turning your perception around a little bit.

Class Description

It’s important to plant the seeds to grow your photography business the right way. Whether you are transitioning from a hobbyist to a professional, or have already launched your new business and don’t know what to do next, Kevin Kubota will show you the key and essential steps to getting your business growing in the right direction. You’ll learn who you are as a photographer and how to position, brand, and market yourself to the perfect clientele. 

Kevin will show you:
  • How best to brand yourself to attract clientele that hire you for you 
  • Pricing and packaging strategies to maximize your sales 
  • How to perfect your sales techniques without being pushy 
It’s time to start or build up a photography business that will allow you to be creative and make money at the same time. Kevin will help you achieve that goal.

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

Student Work

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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!