Beginning Photographer Q&A
Do we have any questions right now? There is the question from the internet good from a zeus from the philippines is asking then zhou yu started a little later than most of us but did you have any absolute fears when you started out and what what were they? Um hi, zeus glad you joined us. Um yeah uh I was absolutely initially scared to death only because I jumped into something that I was told that I would never make it in uh but having said that I tell you what a laid all of my fears as many of the celebs that I've done and people do ask me about fair's about shooting celebrity clients. My first for me true celebrity was when annie liebowitz hired me to shoot her sister's wedding she's looking over my shoulder and making comments I was scared to death. Now that was a true fear for me initially, though because I was older it was later in life for me uh that the fear of getting started was totally abandoned by my drive to get there and to get there now and having said that assed much as...
I just said about newbies, you know, having to take time to learn it I did I knew a little bit about photography uh just to back it up a little bit I worked in a photo lab when I was working on my phd and I learned photography from the tail end of things I processed film I did black and white e sixty forty one I processed films I print it seem a chrome type r type see black and whites so before picking up the camera and then I went into the landscape while I was thinking about dissertations and I'm working on graduate projects I would go on a weekend find the location out in the woods somewhere and park myself with my little camera with a glass of wine and it was all about the wine anyway, it wasn't about the camera but I would grab photos of the landscape I love the landscape photography, so I had already a sense of what the camera could do and clearly what you could do in post production and back in the day of film in the dark room that's pretty archaic today that you have to do this but the craft is such that these things thes images that you'll see of mine were molded by hand, which is just stunning and their one of so that part didn't scare me so much as the part of how am I going to make it home going toe uh actually buy all the gear that I need to be quote unquote professional and that's in part also where the thirty five millimeter idea came from I couldn't really afford the hostile blood so I started with, uh not quite top of the line stuff but I suck ah lot of my money on credit cards into good enough gear that I knew I needed based on the experience I had in the lab teo kind of get by on and I still think if you really good it doesn't matter you're gonna have an instamatic camera and grab great shots okay, so yeah, there were some fares and it had to revolve around home how am I going to make it in this business and that's when I realized that the little psychologists and me said look, you just gotta follow your heart you just gotta believe in yourself get good enough gear not like top of the line but good enough that you can actually get amazing images and then rely on the drive and the education that you have uh regarding making photos so yeah, there was a little fear and then I overcame it because I was forty five annie liebovitz is sister no pressure. Yeah, no pressure annie liebowitz I sew a little background story on that in any god bless her she's amazing. I mean she's one of my you know, role models heroes in today's arena of photography she's just incredible but she also was initially going to photograph the wedding and she was also the maid of honor, so I sent her a little when she found me it was she thought I was shooting video that I shot video and when she found out that I was a still shooter don't don't I need a videographer so she bypassed me and I quickly sent her ah little thing in the mail a threefold that little thing with some images on it and I said, oh, come on it's your family you're going to be the maid of honor I'd be happily shooting this thing for you and she called me and she said that's pretty gutsy that way the way you did that and your your work is kind of edgy she used the word edgy okay, how much are you and at that time I was fifteen hundred dollars and she was shocked fifteen hundred for a wedding photographer say yeah worth every penny absolutely so the wedding went on and of course she also shot and she had, you know, access to the truck that came with the wind machine and the portable generator and the lights with the the umbrellas on and on the beach with the wind blowing and her sister in the sunset it was and I got to be the guy that shot at wide angle thirty five millimeter in the sand I got these amazing shots of annie photographing her sister and that again defined kind of my style in that it was photo journalistic I documented everything that was happening and when I showed up I think it was that and toward the end of the year I was I think thanksgiving or something and I was at uh barbra's house, which is her sister and I had put together a little booklet of eight eight by ten prince and I was sitting with barbara her husband and and uh and his mom was there and father and and he was behind me standing over the couch looking down and I'm flipping the book and I'm hearing you do uh hear nothing here nothing and I'm sweating I'm like sweating I'm going oh my gosh she's hating these things and I just flipped and I flip and I get to the end of the book and I close it and I leer up and she looked at me and she went and she nodded and she said, you know what? It reminded me of how I used to shoot and she loved every image um and she hired me to shoot her cousin's wedding the following year on her property in new york and after that nothing bothered me kelsey grammer was my actual first celebrity wedding but j lo's christina uglier and none of them that that was it for me annie liebowitz just took it completely out of because I was shaking like a leaf for like ten hours no pressure anyway so that's that's pretty much how uh this whole thing happened but yeah back to any other questions she went quite a story your inspiring every one right now but he already loves you that's great. Okay, I do have a question you to talk about how a starting gold as an older photographer it helped you because you just weren't you knew yourself jobs photo would like to know what hurls did you face as an older photographer when you started now you have to remember I think you know a cz much press that this whole new age of digital is getting and also the grief it's giving us old fogeys uh the old farts out there um it's always been like that it's always been like that are injuries three always comes to the stages where there's a new group coming in that ticks off the older group okay and you either adapt or you perish. So hurdles yeah, the first one was you'll never make it, joe, eh? You know nothing about wedding photography b you never went to school for it. See, you don't own a hostel block and I said bull to all of that at the same way you should approach this now to with digital you know, I know okay being part of that group that is the older generation and how we did bactine and how we went to school or we learned the ropes the hard way we were second shooting for someone we we dragged their bags everywhere first before a camera was handed to us all of that said there's a lot of grief that we felt when this whole new age came about when it became digital and easier to shoot and less education was needed because the cameras were so good and the post production tools are incredible okay, you can't help it that is the nature of the beast so the old guard was a little offended for the shoot and burns people you know shoot it, burn a disc leave it I get it because for me it's a craft so it's about enhancing it and giving your client something really, really beautiful. Okay, so that's very important for me, but I understand it if you're trying to put food on the table and you just got laid off or you're your job got cut back three days out of the five you have four kids your wife was just let go from her position and you're I'm going to do a shoot and burn on saturday I understand as much as you can try and still give them something that speaks of who you are and what that is about that you just did it's a craft it's beautiful enhance the images give him something a little more than just a disc that's rough footage you know? So there were lots of obstacles when I first started I couldn't do it clearly that's what they said and thirty five millimeter can touch it but you know what? You overcome it you adapt you re invent all these things are worse that I use and I'll show you because oh eight when oh, it happened to all of us the whole bottom fell out of the industry okay, so what you gonna do you gonna complain as eyes that old guy because all these newbies are snagging the jobs for seven hundred years three grand for grand five grand and you're ticked off at the newbies that air doing these things for nothing so that they could work or you're going to reinvent yourself are you going to figure out because here's what this is about how are you different from everybody else that's in your arena? How do you separate yourself? How do you not compete with anybody else and that's? Why I say right here this first thing is the pitch you start right here by separating yourself from everyone else by doing something different and I'm gonna ask you to take that with you after three days I want you to find one thing that you picked up for me just one and apply it to your business apply it away that you shoot try it be different start out because if all you do is write stuff down in your little book or you guys going to just watch the tape over and over um and not apply it it's done you're nothing, okay? You take a colonel from every person that you learn from and you absorb it and you make it your own make it your own don't copy anybody else you don't have to copy anybody be who you are and of course did I learn yeah, I'm a rung on a ladder and I'm the first person if I'm at the top of this thing and people put me there, I'm gonna reach down and if that's your hand, I'm grandma dominic pull you up and shove you above me because I want this in the street to continue to grow, to be worthy of and give the respect of the people that paid this kind of money and that will pay this kind of money so I know I wouldn't do these tangents I get on these little soap boxes I'm sorry you guys but it's really important to me that we continue to grow this business to where it gains respect and at this point in time I can tell you right now how many photographers that have come out of commercial fashion newspaper pulitzer prizewinner newspaper photographers that have come into weddings that would have never have done this seventeen years ago I started never. It was the lowest rung in the food chain of photography wedding photography. It was when you said wedding photographer seventeen years ago. Here's what came to mind? Oh, yeah, that older guy with a half a head of hair that was greasy whip it over to the other side to cover the bald spot up and he wore a purple ruffled shirt that god, I'm telling you, it had a food staying from last week's bar mitzvah on it. Okay, that's what conjured up in your mind when you said wedding photographer because it was considered the loans right? And now look at it. So I want us all to kind of keep building this thing that we love so much. And back seventeen years ago, there was a lot of backstabbing whatever you could do when you had that client from you. So who have you seen? Oh, him he's horrible. There was so much of that you wouldn't believe how much backstabbing their wass I wouldn't hire that guy, you'll never get what you want out of it so bad mouthing one another. You know, that isn't done so much today, so you hang together. I mean, you know, it's, a beautiful community that we have, so I'd like to keep it that way, I know I went off track tonight joe honestly you under soap box is going to be the best part of the trump so sorry so yeah all right all right so yeah in answer to that question a long way around I had lots of obstacles you can't overcome it you can absolutely overcome anything if you really desire to do so don't listen to the naysayers do not I was told I would never make it don't listen to that if it's in here access it use that energy and drive right through the people that say you can't do that what else do we have any other questions? Joey t for p from kazakhstan um it's wondering what made you different than other photographers when you started who were surely justice passionate as yourself yeah good I'll tell you what makes me different and that's my pitch okay it's that eye from the very beginning what I sold was me I never believed in selling product so my initial thing is and it is still that way to some extent I do have packages now that have product in it because since away I've had to add that but in the beginning and now I'm fee based so what I do is I charge for my creative input on the day of the wedding and back then seventeen years ago you had the silver package the gold package we had platinum and we had diamond we had copper you had all these packages, like, you know, it was so overwhelming, and all of it had everything in the kitchen sink in it. And so what people would do? They would sit there and compare photographer a b and c according to their packages, it was a commodity. How much? And what did you throw in it? So what I did was it's eighty five hundred dollars let's, say, seven hours of my time, that's me. I'm not goingto lower that it's me. What? What comes with it? It comes with me. Uh oh. And what about books extra? I do graphic studio books. Uh, you know, fifty images simple. I'm not going to gouge you on the books because I'm trying to get a fee based system going so creative input. So my opponents may or, you know, people in my industry may charge five thousand for a book I charge fifteen hundred dollars it's, not about the book for me in the sense that I'm trying to beat them up with the book. So what happens to them after they see my eighty five hundred dollars initial fee? That's my low end for seven hours of my time, and then they see fifty images in a graph e book for fifteen hundred. Yeah you're a ten grand already so thank you but yeah fifteen hundred because they're hearing the package prices it's thirty five hundred dollars for a book it's five grand some people in l a huh a seven thousand dollar albums I don't think I have a seven ton I think my top in uh book is about a graphic books thirty five hundred to four grand and we're talking double slipcase I mean it's it's it's it's big so I keystone it most people do three hundred percent on top there cost I do one hundred percent because again what I want to do this if I don't include a book in my package and I offer them to buy in right at the base price of eighty five or ten grand because if there's engagement session it's another fifteen hundred dollars so it's ten grand let's just say they got ten grand and then I tell him the books are later don't worry about it guess what the book's not part of my package right so that money and I was lousy at this expended it be going for this bill that bill it goes in this a little bit of savings what have you it gets spent and also if there was a book involved oh my god also I get a bill from graphic for eight hundred bucks oh man I didn't count for that well you should have so I have separate accounts now but imagine this it's not part of my package, right? So what I do now is later on after they have the images, it goes on to pick taj which my favorite back it does everything it's, my complete backup company to do everything on online every proofs you name it so it's on picked taj to get a disc for me a cz well of raw uh, files later after the book, okay, but they've selected their images let's say, and then now it's time for the album they haven't paid me for yet, so the money is still there, right? So now once I design it or my studio design in your money or my wife, maryland designs the books, and then what happens is that I get fifty percent deposit so that's dedicated to the book's oath no longer is something that I spent from months ago when the wedding was because typically it's eight months to year that they come back before they do a book with me there's no time limit that they have to do it by x y z. However my contract does state within two years I don't have to hold on to the files anymore ask me if I'm holding on to the files I do every last wedding asked me if I have the negatives from day one I do I would never throw anything away but to say it's off the hook after two years they either have bought the raw files and the only way they could do that is they've done an album already so they have a two year cushion of doing an album and they do always right, so but again it's the money is still there so I get the fifty percent deposit and then when's the book comes in the other fifty percent so I have money to pay for albums it's it's there now it's kind of a cool thing to do so that's how I separate myself I'm always trying to figure out how can I be different in the beginning? How was I different? Everybody shot two and a quarter I was thirty five millimetre that I think there was maybe one or two people that I knew that shot thirty five millimeters and you know who they were they were the cheaper packages back then if you've got someone that shot thirty five millimetre it was the cheaper package because the good people which were shooting with hostile blood they had a crew of three or four they would bring in lighting and the little dude with the little bag with the little flash was a cheap package so that's how I separated myself are there any other questions? This is from andreas burke from norway would you recommend to complete an education to do wedding photography or is it experienced more important that's a good question education or experience both are important um what I did and I you know what? It's it's I didn't again I was forty five I wasn't fully educated in the educated sense book learning uh when I picked up wedding photography but what I did was I took kodak they have kodak books they had these siri's of kodak learning books you know, little pamphlet light things that like a serious of thirty or forty of them and each one had something so I learned about camera equipment this is crucial yes. Educate yourself on how a camera works to its fullest. I'm gonna tell you right now that the way that I that I shoot and how I'm able to capture these moments we're gonna talk about shooting in p mode down the road here because that's what I do is that the camera has become an extension of my arm, my heart and my eye and they're all connected so that all I do is react to it because I know that cameras so well inside and out I know all the custom functions I know all the bells and whistles and when it will react so educate yourself like I'm going to ask you a question of the six sitting here how many of you fully read your manual for your camera front to back and memorized it okay, one person okay? You know how much information is that little user's manual on your cameras it's incredible it's incredible! How much information's in there so educate yourself but I think experience the best teacher second chute for someone literally I mean, go back to the way it was when I was starting you drag someone's bags around for a while I did it for a little bit very short period of time bags get get the idea of the flow of the wedding. This is why sometimes in hollywood someone who's an actress may want mario testino berlian photographer beautiful fashion photographer right in italy incredible work however ask mario if he knows what a wedding's about he knows fashion but he doesn't know wedding because wedding is really unique and all you need to do is miss out on one a crucial moment the bride kissing the room on the altar let's just say you spaced out because that's not one of the things you d'oh I should fashion in the studio I don't know from that well, this is why experiences crucial this is why you second shoot for some you watch what goes down, what are the important moments? What do people look and mind you my clients while they're interviewing me? I'm interviewing them unbeknownst to them, I asked little questions that are a little kernels of yeah that's what I needed to know like so do you have a long shot list? I need to know because I don't want to be surprised that there's three pages of shot that's coming up right? Because I've seen it, so this comes from experience, so yeah, I say educate and get experience before the clients come, you know, to meet you for the pitch deep. I don't know if you do this now, but they obviously don't get a priceless, but no, they meet you. Um have you always done it that way? Always, always. Now, having said that, you know a lot of people also because they've seen maybe fifty photographers they want to cut to the chase so there are times where I'm pressed to the wall toe have to say something so I will give them the basic at the bottom entry level me for four hours seventy five hundred bucks that's where I start, you know? And then sometimes that might say because look, you kind of make adjustments, right? So if it's a wedding on a wednesday there's a break there's gonna be, uh, you know, twenty percent off my normal saturday gig because no one's going to compete for that day it's very rare that I get another person asking for the same wednesday it just doesn't happen so uh yeah, there are times and why are they picking wednesday? Because they clearly don't have a budget anyway themselves and I find a lot of the times that the brides and grooms that come here they've come here because they love my work right so that they're already connected to the work so I really want to work for them if I can and so again I'm gonna go back to this it's not business first it's my passion there's been times where and I will do this on the phone here's a good part so before the pitch the bride cost me are you available saturday august ending become my computer yes, I am and before she can ask us for the next question I'm right out of the gate with this. So so where you getting married? Ah beverly hills hotel yeah. And how many guests? Three hundred okay, they can afford me so if they now then press for the price I'll tell him exactly the price. If they tell me fifty people at il chilo restaurant I know that they probably can't and I want to give him up front you know I start at because I don't want to waste their time either, you know if they clearly cannot even come close to it and yes, there are times where there I'm close enough that they're willing to come in, but there are times where uh, you know, I was hoping you were fifteen hundred dollars so that's so far apart and something like at a restaurant for forty, fifty people it's usually that far apart from beverly hills hotel for three hundred, they call me right? Okay, yeah, they call me when they asked to see if I'm available for the date and then I let them know that I am, and then I let him know based on my questions, their answers, how much I am or I don't say anything, and they come in because if it is beverly hills and three hundred people, they're not gonna ask me, how much are you? It doesn't matter to them, it usually doesn't ninety nine percent of the time. It won't matter how much I am, and I want them in front of me because that's, what I'm really doing myself, yeah, but I don't put prices on my website, and I don't talk about it on the phone unless I'm pressed for it.