Joe's Story


Wedding Photography


Lesson Info

Joe's Story

So glad that aa lot of you are here. Teo, be part of this for three days, and I just wanted to start off with a little bit of background history on who I am, why I got into this thing. Um, so I've been photographing weddings now for seventeen years, and I started at the tender young age of forty five you can add the numbers together and figure out how old I am now. But having said that, at forty five, I took a photo that define who I am today as a photographer, and I was in the midst of a phd program in psychology at u c l a and I've always been one to kind of believed in following one's passion. I don't care what it is if it's needle point you know if that's your passion go do it and, uh, interestingly enough so far in my life, the passions that I followed money always followed. If if if I could just say this and if you could take this with you for a second, note that if your priority is business and money first and secondarily it's your passion or why you really want to do this, I th...

ink it's a little backwards from the way that I see things I think if you put passion first, the money follows and if you put passion first and you function from that place and part of the three days will be about that yes, I'm gonna help you focus back in because you can't help but eventually turned this thing into a business but in doing so we lose sight of the passion that started this for us to begin with everybody that I know that there's a photographer picked up a camera because they absolutely loved it and so once they start thinking about how my going to make money at this they lose sight of that because there's so much involved in the business aspect of photography that we forget the reason we're really doing this because we love it so what I try and help people doing my workshops is get back in touch with that so I'm gonna preface right now with something I'm going to tell you to do when she leaves this three a workshop and I'm going to touch on it as a longer three days okay when you leave here when you shut off the tv and you no longer are part of this workshop I want you to go home or if you already home obviously I want you to pick out your favorite images you've ever taken okay you're absolutely not someone else's your favorite photos and I want youto earnestly study those photos that you love so much I want you to go into the bedroom turn on a little music locked the door, bring a glass of wine and I want you to look at those photos and I'm gonna tell you one thing eventually you're going to find yourself in every one of those pictures. Because that's, what this is about for me, it is about who you are as a person that defines your photography that defines your style. See if you think about it, it's. Not just about the picture. When someone looks at it's not just about the photo, the content of the image it also speaks about the photographer who took it. So there is no way that you, khun, take a picture and not leave a piece of yourself in every image that you take. So I want you to hunt that down. I want you to find yourself in your photos that for me took a few years to get to that kind of figure out why am I taking pictures? And then when I started seeing and being moved by some of these images, I realized as that was looking at this as the psychologist, that it was myself that I was looking at sea if you think about it photo journalism, which is primarily my style of shooting, is such that if if you had, like, fifteen photographer show up at an event and they're all photo journalists from all these different stations or newspapers, and a moment unfolds in front of all fifteen of them. The shutters will go off. Are all the pictures the same it's impossible it's dependent on who grabbed that shot as to what? To find that moment for them and that's based on who they are? As is that, um oh, people ask me a lot of times how come there's so much emotion and you work because I'm a suck for emotion. You know, when I was a little kid, I was I really didn't have that growing up. I never really saw the chemistry between a man and a woman, you know, a husband and a father. Uh, I just never saw it. So I seek it out now as an adult, the stuff that I missed as a kid. So when I go to a wedding, I'm usually the first person to cry. I beat the bride to it. You know, uh, which is my pay off my pay office, the being. Those moments that are so emotional. And so I go back to that's because that's, who I am. And so therefore I want you to find out who you are as if that why you taking these pictures from behind all the time or over the shoulder is there something about you that happened back in your childhood you know, back in that where you grew up or in the environment that you were raised are brought up what was it there that made you take the same similar photos and eventually you'll find yourself in every one of your pictures and that's what this is about it's about who we are as people and how that affects our work and how that affects our clients what I'm going to show you in a minute in the pitch okay, so that seventeen years ago that one photo defined everything for me I'm going to go do this and so I said to myself well how what what in photography can I do where this khun b expressed how can I express myself and it so happened I just spent ah couple of weeks at weddings that we're friends weddings and I kept walking away and silently saying wish I had a camera in my hand and it wasn't until that picture that I went back to those days and realized the reason I said that was while the photographer that was high was probably doing a bang up job doing the formals for two and a half hours he missed everything that went on behind him everything and I said my gosh that's what it is it's the story of the wedding it's not so much about who was there and yes we have to document a little bit who was there it was more about what happened what happened where did it happen why you know I mean all these other questions were really never answered right and so that's what I wanted to answer and clearly those were the days seventeen years ago when it was hostile blood medium format with lighting power packs a trolley all this wonderful stuff and here comes joe with a little bag with thirty five millimeter equipment and everybody laughed me out saying you're a flash in the pan you're gonna last all of four months five months you'll be out of here seventeen years ago I still laugh at the person that's said that to me does that make ten times this what he makes but having said that um this is why we're here okay what I've witnessed over the last few years is that this industry is kind of unravel a little bit from where it was it used to be really sought after uh arena to be in as as a worker as an artist and now not so much because I think people are you know and I can understand why are looking for the quick fix they're looking for the silver bullet and I'm here to tell you it doesn't exist it's it's, it's nose to the grindstone it's earnestly studying your craft and I call it a craft. I call it an art form it's all those things to me and hopefully to you. Because when you come from that place where this is an art form for ur self expression for yourself and how you feed that passion that you have, you will absolutely do the best, potentially, according to what is your god given talent as a photographer. And then on top of that, whatever you learn, you add into the mix of that and it's a lifelong process versus that this is like tomorrow I want to make ten thousand dollars a wedding. It just doesn't work that way. So take your time study. Find out who you are, and you're gonna be pleasantly surprised down the road. I promise you that so from those two weddings, I decided to do a couple of, uh, weddings for free. First having asked if it was okay, I went, teo, other friends, weddings. After I went to my first couple of friends weddings that had acquaintances that got married and said, I have this idea, I took a photo I want to become a wedding photographer can I come to your wedding and grab a couple cameras and then I realized I might be stepping on the professionals toes so I said can you please let me know who that professional is? And I called that person I said, look I'm not a photographer I'm a guest I'm a friend that's there but I'm going to bring some thirty five millimeter equipment they didn't care because thirty five I'm hostile blood I'm the professional ok cool so I came in and my heroes are enrique cartier bresson robert do wanna know willie roni robert frank I mean the list is endless of these masters from the thirties, forties and fifties that shot black and white film they shot it on thirty five millimeter equipment so I said that's what I want to do I want to come in light make a very small footprint when I arrive at the wedding so that people really don't notice means that have pulling out lights so I am going to be in available light kind of guy and every once in a mai in awhile my flash will be available as well s oh I had that attitude of low footprint unseen fly on the wall kind of person that's what I wanted to be at a wedding so I went there I made ten prints I show my prints like this um and and you'll know what we'll talk about this we'll talk about this but I sign all my prince I don't tell the client sitting in front of me the perspective brydon room that I'm an artist or I signed my artwork it's not about that for me it's more about here is the image and here's a little colonel that you'll see uh that might be a suggestion that I signed my my work my albums air signed this well on the reason I do that is that if you go to galleries or museums all the pieces that you look at our always signed they're numbered they're signed s o I'm just merely suggesting if this is our to you what's clearly are to me that's why sign it and when we go over packages and prices uh third day I'll let you know that one of the things that I have on here is my eleven by fourteen for two hundred fifty dollars signed for five hundred and I'd say about fifty, sixty percent of my clients will buy them signed they'll want me to sign it why? Because I showed it to him I suggested that my signature is worth something and you know clearly it's okay if it's not it's, I'm cool with that two hundred fifty for eleven by fourteen I'm fine with that it's all good five hundred little better um interestingly enough, clients that hire you what you've shown him they want, so if all you show them it's a slide show, guess what they're gonna ask you at the end of it could have a slideshow and I know that's like a major complaint that their clients are always asking for slideshow and they never by prince. Well, honestly, do you show prints like this and most of mine in the studio? I brought these for being easier to travel with our man it's sixteen by twenty so they're mad it there they're a pli fronts foam core backs, so they're pretty heavy duty. Then I hand it to my client to look at they feel that they touch it when they book me, this is what they want. They'll probably get anywhere from four to six images that they want to frame and put on the wall because I pitched it that way see, when I show you my pitch in a few minutes, what I'm selling in that pitch is not my work. It already did its work when they saw it online. What I'm selling is me what I'm selling is the experience of having me at the wedding versus someone else, so again, I don't go out verbally and, you know, and just let them know hey, I'm just selling myself I am absolutely showing them who I am why I love what I do and in the way that I present my work when they book me they're booking me because they would have rather have me there than anyone else and you're okay that works okay? Okay, so if you think about it when clients come to see you in your studio there have narrated down two, three, five, six people already, right? Because this is how they do it now they shop online they narrowed down from twenty thirty I've had bride said bless you, I've had bride say hundreds of photographers that's they've researched and they've narrowed down teo less than a handful so when they sit in front of me it's no longer that necessary to pitch the work what I'm doing when I'm talking or I'm showing the work it's I'm actually pitching myself and you'll see that in a minute okay, that is crucial to me and we go back to what I said in the beginning it's who I am that I'm selling the most important thing about photography the most important thing is who you are and over the next three days you gonna find out why ok, so uh back to having started, so in the beginning I ended up with ten prints I did my first few weddings at seven hundred dollars a wedding plus twenty dollars, parole of film that I shot those were the expenses okay? So seven hundred dollars, so I can probably speak to a lot of people that are online right now they're going home. I'm gonna make money at this today, I'm roughly on the average anywhere from fifteen to twenty thousand dollars for wedding that's what I get and that's even in this tough time, and I'll show you how to do that as well. Now I'm gonna tell you straight up and here's a bit of a disclaimer, okay? I'm in beverly hills. I'm in hollywood ideal with celebrity clients, people have money, I do a lot of out of country gigs, the people that have money. So if you're in iowa, idaho on a little farm community and I'm talking fifteen thousand at you, don't sweat it because if I went there, they would laugh me out of town, okay? Yeah hey, I'm more like eight hundred dollars a thousand fifteen hundred tops, I get it. So be aware that this is all based on where you are, where you sell yourself for where you promote yourself, so in the beginning I was already based in l a and I already dealt with the hollywood crowd I decided to put myself in the new york a swell okay so I went to new york with it I put my name out there because that's where the money was us so you don't necessarily have to target the audience or you know your client tell that air in your community if your community is a farm community you can go outside of it I mean I I travel constantly to santa barbara that I drive to san diego that's two hours two and a half hours for me I don't mind I don't charge for travel time it's whatever it takes to go to the bigger cities where there the clumps of money that will hire me so don't be afraid to go outside of your arena you know a lot of people get stuck well there's there's no money where I am well I get that so then go somewhere else you know you can't now internet it can't stop you back then seventeen years ago I feared having a three to three number because in new york they go that's l a skip it so I got an eight hundred number said that they couldn't tell where I wass and the reason I did that was by the time they called me and fell in love with me it didn't matter that I was in l a and they flew me out initially if they see that that's an out of state a number or whatever they may, you know, okay, maybe I won't do that because they think of expenses again when they're in front of me. What am I doing? I'm selling me at that point, if they buy me and who I am, expenses kind of go away a little bit, not always gig don't get me wrong there's times there is a limit on the budget, and I understand that, but you know how many times I've had a bride in front of me that had she known on the internet that I was at ten, fifteen thousand dollars, twenty thousand dollars and her budget was eight? She would say, I'm not even going to go see him, so I don't put my prices online, but when they sat in front of me and then they found out how much I was, they looked at each other says, well, honey, what if we cut back for hors d'oeuvres, sze, all of a sudden there's? Because now I want to work for her because why photography is important to her. I wanna work for someone who the photography is that important to that they're willing to compromise other little pieces of their wedding to get me god bless him that's awesome, so when I'm done, the ultimate goal for me is when they booked me that we're reading the same book and we're on the same page and I usually see that after four five images when I see a tear rolling down her face and you know oh my god is that even my wedding oh no but it is your wedding I'm talking about your wedding too because I'm pitching me I'm the same person at this wedding as I will be at yours same person and that's what you're buying you know you think about experience there's there's three levels you could be um a commodity okay you could be a commodity where everything is based on price you can step it up from the commodity level and you can uh be service you could be service oriented I will provide books all of sudden you're step above that deserves a little more money but the ultimate the third level is you could be an experience that's what you're trying to sell I want you to think ritz carlton four seasons hotel okay if you drive up to the ritz carlton in l a in marina del rey where I live in california and you pull into the driveway a man comes out he's got little walk he's got a little thing here peace and he's got a little walkie talkie he pops the trunk he sees your suitcase in it he gets your name and he rings it back to the front desk it's mr beause inc oh yeah he's been here with us before he's he's back guy greets me says welcome back mr music really how do you know my name? How do you know I was even back? How awesome is that and you walk they lead you into the front at the front desk and all of sudden you you may ask uh excuse me where's the bathroom they don't point it's down the hall to the right they walk you there right to the front door and they say have a great day mr abusing and they walk away that's why you're paying four hundred bucks for that night for that bed the same bed the holiday inn or motel six house for sixty nine dollars it's a bed maybe a little more comfy ritz but that said you're paying foreign experience more money and that's what I want to do with my photography I want to be an experience so that and sometimes it's a bitter pill to swallow and since oh ate it has been and I'll talk about the adjustments I've made on the third day in packages but people pay for the experience people pay for the experience okay, if you are clumped together with everybody else as a commodity and you're arguing and comparing each other over price they're going to get the cheapest they can they're gonna put against be against c well hey he down the street give me that plus at a book can you match that? How many times do you get that right that's because you're a commodity as an experience there's only one experience that that's mine you can have another experience there's plenty of them out there but I'm pitching my experience that's what I want fifteen thousand dollars for and it's worth it by the time they leave they know it's worth it okay so we'll talk about that a little bit so pretty much that's how I got started seven hundred fifty bucks and seventeen years later I'm still plugging away fifteen twenty now having just booked two weddings in china and one in indonesia and one in pairs there between thirty and forty thousand dollars each because that's where the money is they have our money I want to bring some of it back um so I'm outside of the country now because you know I go wherever the money is where they can afford me and it's not and you will see this it's not just about the money but I want to afford myself a nice living and get my retirement going since I started at forty five a little late in the game but you know I am now starting to slow down a little bit but um god what a great ride it's been you guys are gonna love this do this and do it for the right reasons and you're gonna absolutely father love, which I'm sure most of you already are, anyway. All right. So, um, that's, pretty much how I started. And this is where I am today. And the pitch is the most amazing thing that I can show you. That I do. That sells who I am.

Class Description

Joe Buissink is coming to creativeLIVE! Joe will show you his award-winning photojournalistic approach to weddings. He'll teach you how to find your own style and bring your own personality out in your images, because the most important thing about photography is who YOU are! Your clients want you for your passion, and Joe will help to bring out the artist in you. Joe will also get into the technical aspects of his business, talking about how he designs his contracts, packages, and prices, and why he designs them that way. Joe is an internationally sought-after wedding photographer who has shot weddings for celebrities including Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Simpson & Nick Lachey, Christina Aguilera, Katharine McPhee, and others, and now on creativeLIVE he'll share the passion, knowledge and skill that makes him such a success!