047 Marketing with D'Arcy Benincosa

If you have NOT yet, go subscribe to THE PHOTO REPORT PODCAST. You can do that HERE.

This episode is with Photographer and Educator D'Arcy Benincosa.

We cover so much in regards to marketing, getting noticed in a noisy space, and doing the work you want to be doing.

We discuss creating your 'Marketing Magnet' and what that is

 - Discovering your Greatness

 - creating and managing a content calendar

 - Giving the client what they want

- so much more

Follow her on Instagram: @darcybenincosa

Check out D'arcy's work and content on https://darcybenincosa.com/

Go check out her podast as well - Play it Brave

You can stream the episode below:

046 Being Your Best You with Jasmine Star

If you have NOT yet, go subscribe to THE PHOTO REPORT PODCAST. You can do that HERE.

Jasmine Star is a Bad Ass. This episode will hopefully kick you into gear to be your best self and go create the work you're meant to create.

We talk about so many things from self care to what it takes to hustle, have discipline and courage to get out there and do the work you were made to do.

Check her stuff out at http://jasminestar.com

Follow her on Instagram: http://instagram.com/jasminestar

She's also on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/officialjasminestar

You can stream the episode below:

045 The Why Behind Your Work with MikeLarson

Mike Larson has been shooting weddings for years, from having a big associate studio to winding that down after realizing the toll that took on his life and family. We go really deep on philosophy, self care, thoughtfulness, family, and so much more. It is a good one packed with solid take aways.

Check his work here - http://mikelarson.com

Or follow him on Instagram: @mikelarson


Follow us at: @thephotoreport.com

or the blog: http://thephotoreport.com

044 ReStarting Your Business with Twah Dougherty

MAKE SURE YOU SUBSCRIBE TO THE PHOTO REPORT PODCAST, which can be done ON ANY PODCAST APP you use or you can stream below.\:

We talk a lot about a lot in this podcast but the main thesis is a conversation surrounding putting your business on hold and then what it takes to ramp it back up to where it was and then beyond. It's a good one and hope you love the episode.

Check out Twah on Instagram: @twahphotography

Or her website: http://twahdaugherty.com


Braedon Flynn: 00:00 Welcome to The Photo Report where we have conversations with top level photographers and other people that create for a living to hear their stories about how they've done what they've done in the stuff they learned along the way so that hopefully you as someone who is potentially creating for a living, it can learn from that or just resonate and here. So trying to just help support our community and from hearing stories about people that are doing the stuff. And today we have a very special episode with Twan Doherty who is a really cool person friend and we hear her journey about how she was going full time photography, had kids, kids sort of Fukino flipped her world upside down. It had to put stuff on hold and now she's getting back into it and tucks through some of those struggles of just the mental battle getting back into it and, and how the world is sort of changed a little bit, but it's a really good episode. Think you're going to love it and hope you do.

New Speaker: 00:52 Before we get into the show, I want to tell you real quick about our sponsor film supply club. If you shoot film or you're interested in film love film, it is the best place to get it at the best prices than amazing community as some of the top photographers in our industry. You can check it out at film supply.club/join now onto the show.

Braedon Flynn: 01:14 Thanks so much for being on here and looking forward to having a chat with you.

Twah Daugherty: 01:17 Thanks for having me, Braedon.

Braedon Flynn: 01:19 So for people that don't know, you would love to just hear a bit of your story and where you are and then we'll get going from there.

Twah Daugherty: 01:25 Yeah. Okay. So I feel like who I am started before photography, so I'll give a little intro before that. So I was always an artist. I was painfully shy. I had social anxiety. You may not believe it when you meet me today, but I did. I struggled with it a lot. I have my palms would sweat, I would get nervous. I just, it was easier to hide in my room and draw all day long. My brother would come into my room and said, why are you such a loser? Or where are your friends? And I'm like, my friends are the people I'm frying anyways. So I would definitely painfully shy. I took to fashion magazines and photography. I had, I got my first camera at, I think that then and what the, um, the one 10 cartridge, Kodak, I don't know if they still make those. So I shot on that.

Twah Daugherty: 02:09 I would pose my sister's in the bathtub with a towel and make shampoo commercial. I would do makeovers for my friends and then shoot them and do style shoots and made my own fashion magazines, take those photos, glue them to a piece of paper, they both together and then like deliver it to my neighbors. Like, oh, I have a new fashion magazine that just came out. Um, so that was kind of who I was or am I guess some way. And so, you know, as I got older I remember thinking, do I want to go into fashion design or do I want to do photography? And I think fashion took over because in my head it seems like I could make more money doing fashion than photography. So I went into fashion design, worked my way up, you know, gotten to um, uh, manage managerial position, was able to hire fire, build my own team.

Twah Daugherty: 02:56 So I got a, I learned a lot of management scale gale in that career. So I was really good. I was really good at it. I loved it. And I didn't get into wedding photography until I got engaged. That's when I realized, oh my gosh, I love weddings. I love weddings, I love wedding stories. I would read wedding blogs and get into people's wedding stories and look at the photos. And there's something about the storytelling part that I was really attracted to. So during my wedding planning, I told my husband, I'm like, you know, after we're done with the whole wedding thing, I'm going to start my own wedding photography company. And he was like, okay, because he's not the prize. What I, when I say I'm going to do something, I normally just do it. So during the planning process I would just take photos of everything.

Twah Daugherty: 03:40 Like you know, if I were, if I was researching flowers I would go to the gardens or the, you know, the greenhouse photograph, that blog about it. So I actually had a pretty good blog following when I was planning my wedding. And then so after I got married, I literally just came up with the name that I thought was easy to remember back then. It was called style art life cause I figured no one would remember my name, you know, and it's like, who am I? So, so I got it. I had a really good blog following. I, you know, put a lot of myself into my blog. So it was easy. Also again, there I am the artist hiding behind my blog but expressing myself online. And then I met a girl who hated her engagement photos. I offered to take him. I was like, I'll take them for free.

Twah Daugherty: 04:22 And I took her photos and there was, it was on the day where we just had a big snow storm. I told her, come out to long island, this beach is covered and complete snow, bring a big dress, like bring a dress of some sort and let's do this. And we did this engagement shoot in the snow on the beach and she loved it so much. She said, you have to come to Boston and shoot my wedding. And I said, okay, I've never shot a letting other than being a bridesmaid and shooting from the side view and I paid my own way. I've, you know, got on a bus, shared a room with one of her wedding guests and that roommate of mine became my assistant for the day, have an assistant and then she submitted it to the Boston Globe that was doing a story on like unique venues.

Twah Daugherty: 05:08 It got published in the cover of the Boston globe. It also got published on style, me pretty. And after that everything came flooding in. So it might start with pretty easy. And then I had to quit my job a year after I shot that wedding. And I think it came naturally running like a, a wedding business because it's so similar to running a fashion department. Um, when I, when I say department, like the design division at, I'm in a corporate environment so you know, I, and having gotten married myself, I knew how to anticipate, you know, what, what I just knew what to anticipate. I knew what moment to look out for because I knew those were the moments I would want myself as a bride. And I just love telling stories. I used to write, you know, when I was younger so that I brought that aspect into wedding photography as well.

Twah Daugherty: 06:00 So I was thinking about beginning, middle and end. How do I start the story? How do I end the story, you know? So it came naturally for me and then also being in a management position with easy to manage family members, large shot list, you know, like all of that. So I'm really organized. So it came very easily. The first few years was an overwhelming amount of work. I didn't really have to socialize network a lot to get the work. It just came a lot. The bulk of my business was through referrals. I think also back then it was blogs and you know the, the boom of style me pretty and all the wedding blogs. So it was easy to get work back then.

Twah Daugherty: 06:45 So I started in 2010 okay. And though between 2010 and 2014 it was pretty amazing. Workwise and then I had my son in 2014 and then my world changed. I did not know how much I would love being a mom and all of a sudden my business took second place and I wasn't as interested. So I decided to raise my rates, which easily cut down the work that I was able to book. So I went part time. I went back to being part time when I had my son and I also didn't plan on having my world and being turned upside down with my son not sleeping cause in my head being type A, I was going to be the perfect mom, I was going to be patient and I was always going to be put together and I was still going to run my business and that was not true.

Twah Daugherty: 07:37 I was a hot mess behind closed doors. My, you know, I put my all into being a mother and then what I had left I put into my business and then I had nothing left to put into my marriage. And so my marriage did suffer a lot during that timeframe. Trying to balance out being a new mother, still running a business, having a child that never slept and was very loud when he cried all night long. It was tough. It was a tough, tough time. And then I had my daughter, which I got pregnant with my daughter two and a half, two years later, or a year and a half later, which I wasn't ready for, but it was a blessing in disguise. She was an angel baby. But by the time she came along, I knew I was ready to go back. I was ready to go back to work and full time.

Twah Daugherty: 08:25 Being a mother was amazing, but it was not what I was meant to do full time. So in 2017 I realize when I started to go back into the industry, I'm like, wow, the industry has changed, you know, blogging, my blogs aren't getting as many visits. I mean it didn't help that I didn't blog anymore. But um, and Instagram was like the thing and I was getting increased through Instagram, but you know, you have to be on there all the time. Like I think the saying now is you have to be seen seven times before your remember something like that. Right. So it was a whole new ballgame. I was overwhelmed. And then I'm looking at my peers who all started out at the same time that I did. You know, there are now what Martha Stewart, world photographer, you know, Harper's bazaar and, and they're working with all the planners that I'm like, Oh my God, I've been dying to work with that planner, you know, but I just haven't focused on, I didn't really socialize, you know, if I realize 2017 I'm like, I better get my butt out there and get over myself, get over my limiting beliefs about myself and just put myself out there and started going to events and you know, I think the first few, I felt so awkward, probably put my foot in my mouth all the time.

Twah Daugherty: 09:36 I still do some times, but I just had to do it. And so yeah. And then so getting out there, socializing twice, 17 helped get me back to going full time, 2018 so I was able to hire a full time nanny and do my thing.

Speaker 3: 09:53 Yeah. I think his story and why I wanted to have this chat with you, you actually wrote into me and said, hey, I think I have something that would be a neat conversation for your audience because I think that that is a big struggle of, I mean I've a handful of friends that whether, you know, having kids does change your world at rocks you and to be able to do both really, really difficult. And I think there's maybe false expectations that you can, or, I mean, I know for myself it's really easy to think that I can do everything well all the time at 100% but you can't give 100% everything at the same time. It just does not work, you know? So for other people that have either been in this place or, I mean even

Twah Daugherty: 10:38 okay

Speaker 3: 10:39 from going from having a business that was full throttle to then coming back and then trying to get back into it with the world changing a bit. You know, I think people also, or maybe they weren't already in the business, but trying to get their business back up to a place where they can be getting the work that they want to get. So I think that's a lot of where we'll be focusing this conversation is, is around that. But I guess what, what are some things in the process of like coming back to work? What I guess, what are some things that you've been learning and processing and all that?

Twah Daugherty: 11:12 Okay. So I listen to a lot of podcasts to report being one of my main one I love, but they're on here. And what I'd been hearing from my peers from, you know, what's that on your podcast from people I talked to in the industry. You know though that had accomplished their goals, that made that lift or got published in this magazine or you know, work with this, you got this, a lift, the lever liberty. At the end of the day, they're like, it still doesn't make you happy. It's still not fulfilling. And so I kind of listened to that and then I had to fit and ask myself, what is my why I want to, I want to accomplish those goals too. And, and don't get me wrong, I'm still aiming for those goals, but it has to be bigger. I realized my why has to be bigger than just those goals.

Twah Daugherty: 12:02 And I didn't realize what my why was till the middle part of last year, but it started in January of 2018 when I first went back to work full time. So I had booked this amazing destination wedding and this beautiful little remote island called harbor islands. Um, it's a little under the radar jet setter type island. You know, the groom is this financing a millionaire guy who has his own financial company, the brides, beautiful elite model age, you know, elite agency model. Um, and I remember being there and I shot a wedding there before. And I remember this time I brought my family and, um, it was, I think it was the day after we stopped the wedding. So I was relaxed and enjoying myself and enjoying time with my family. And my son was in the ocean. He had, he was in his underwear. We didn't plan on going swimming.

Twah Daugherty: 12:54 He wanted to go in the ocean. So I said, sure. And uh, he's running and screaming through the waves at the top of his lung. He was so free and so happy. And my daughter was, wasn't even one yet. And I was carrying her and I'm like, you know, she hasn't, her toes hasn't touched the water yet. Let's put our toes in the water. And you know, it's the first time she dipped our toes in the ocean was this clear blue, Bahamian C. And I remember standing there thinking, wow, I gifted this, see that this is all me. Like I gave them this memory of the joyful memory from their childhood. They're going to have forever and, and then so go move forward. You know, later into the year I go into a really deep dark place. I think I was in a deep, dark place in a lot of areas from personal to workwise, you know, and it's all in my head.

Twah Daugherty: 13:42 You get down on yourself a lot. But I remember finding myself going back to that place, that place on harbor island when I felt the most proud of myself, the most accomplished the most fulfilled was knowing that I was able to not only get that for my kids, but it was a place where I felt proud that I did this for them. Like I worked and this came from the fruit of my labor, um, from my business that I built. And that's when I realized that is my why. This is why I do what I do and I have to focus on what's the next place I'm going to take my kids. You know, what, what's the next memory I'm going to be able to offer them. So yeah, I think that's what I realized on my journey back.

Speaker 3: 14:26 Amazing. So you, so your why, if you were to define your why and say what it is, is it being able to go on trips and I create experiences are what are, what is like, what is the why that you tell yourself

Twah Daugherty: 14:37 the why. Okay. So I think there's, it's a two part why, the first part, why and being able to create these worldly experiences for my kids and my family and for my marriage. I think all of that. Right? Um, having those memories. I think when you, when you lay on your deathbed, you want to look back and, and look and ask yourself, what did I offer? Like what did I, how did I contribute back, you know, in their lives and other people's lives. And that's the one thing for them that I feel like I want to contribute, you know, in their life is being able to give them these memories and experiences and, and you know, educate them in a worldly way. And then my other why is that? I think it's a personal pride knowing that I can provide, like I did something to provide. So when I hustled to try to get that job, it's not because I want that accolade, which is nice. It's like the accolade would be a um, kind of like a bonus. But the reason why I want to hustle is because I want to have the finances to give them that and to feel proud that I can provide, I contributed to, it's not just my husband who's the breadwinner.

Speaker 3: 15:48 Yeah, totally makes sense. And I think something that I, I fall into that category of, I think a lot of the things that you heard on previous episodes of, of the beating myself up and never, never stopping and acknowledging like how much you've accomplished from what you've done. But I think something that's really important in what you're doing and something that I've, I really failed out in a lot of my life is, is that actually sitting there and stopping and acknowledging like, wow, this is amazing. This is incredible that we're here. This is amazing that people are paying for us to be here in this tropical location that people dreamed to be and I'm getting paid to be here. That is funny. That's incredible. You know? And so I think those are things that are easy to skip over and get caught up in the work or be caught up in like, I don't have this or I wish I was here.

Speaker 3: 16:38 Versus being able to sit back and go like, well people trust me with the most important day of their life and get paid a lot of money to do this given a lot of trust. I, there's so many things with it, you know, and I can flip it to me and be like, I, I get to drive my kids to school, I get to be home and you know, as much as for me, sometimes I look at that and go, that's getting in the way of me getting more work done versus one mentality versus you can turn that around and think like, I am so lucky that I get to do this and when I'm with my kids instead of just thinking like I've got to pick him up, it's making me stop my like flow of water. This is, this is a very special time that my dad didn't do for me.

Speaker 3: 17:21 You know, when I was growing up and I, how can I have a cool moment with my son? How can I, you know, have a good conversation on the way home or on the way to school, be it basically, it's, it's intentionality. And I mean, the difference also between gratitude, it's a, it's like a life of abundance or a life of scarcity, you know, and being able to be like grateful for the things that you have versus never noticing those. So that was a long winded response. But, um, I think that's a really important thing that you recognized.

Twah Daugherty: 17:51 Yeah. No, with you. I, I, cause I think that's when I got into that dark place and when I kept focusing on the things I didn't have, you know, or the things that I wanted, but I don't have. But once you're right, once you shift that mindset, you replay the, uh, what's missing with what you do have, all of a sudden you, your life so much more abundance. And that's what I think helped change and shifted my mind last year into a place of abundance for this. Yeah.

Speaker 3: 18:18 Yeah. No, that's amazing. I, I know that, uh, we can talk about this later. I know I read somewhere else that on one of your Instagram posts at you also hired a coach, but with, as from more of a coaching perspective, I would want to challenge you to think through that second point of your why, which is the, being able to provide and be that. Because at it, at a certain point like that we'll just, that will be the case. He knows like as you keep going, you will be providing, you know, you and to continually be proud of. But I think that might lose its whiteness, you know, like the drive I like. Okay. Yeah. Sort of like how I've said in a past episode where it's like I, I've reached this pinnacle of everything that I feel like I would set out to accomplish.

Speaker 3: 19:04 I've gotten there, you know, I had one person say to me, it's something, another quote that he heard buddies like, be careful what, what wall you lean your ladder up against. Because once you climb to the top and look over the other side, you might not look like what you see, you know? So he's doesn't totally applied to that what you were saying. But I think that the driver of it, it would almost be like my why is so I can be published in a magazine. He is like, once you get published in the magazine you're like, Oh, now what? You know? So I think, I think it's a good thing to be very proud of, but challenge you to continue to leave. Like be thinking of like what is maybe a more meaningful why for you.

Twah Daugherty: 19:40 Yeah, no, I think that's an excellent point. You are at 100% right on that. You're right. You're 100% right. It's kind of funny because recently on one of my, uh, 2019, you know, I get some vision board is to be a part of a mastermind. You know, I'm like either find one or create one end up organically forming one between me and two other peers who are, you know, we started around the same time. We, you know, we're in the same price point. We had the same type of clientele. It because it's become such a supportive group that, you know, I think about when I do reach the point where I want to reach that pinnacle point, right? I don't want to be up there alone. I want to be there with my friends. I want to be there with my peers, with people to celebrate with me, not to want to tear me down. So, you know, part of my journey up the pill is to bring friends along and to help them along too. So, you know, we, we refer business to between each other all the time and I'm learning and returning to full time business, how much I need my community and I didn't have that before so it's kind of cool. But yes, I can, that's a side of you, uh, respond to you. Yeah, totally. Your response on my wife

Speaker 3: 20:54 German group that you put together, you know, your, your group of three, what, what is the basis of that and what do you meet regularly? Do you, yeah, what does that look like?

Twah Daugherty: 21:06 Okay, so we met for the first time, which was when we formed it because we're, the original plan for meeting was to do a workshop. We're going to plan a workshop together that we want to do it a little differently than the other workshops that we've seen or we've been to ourselves. And while we were meeting to talk over our plans, I told them, I was like, you guys, I think we need to meet once a month like this because it turned into a 12 intervention workshop in that meeting. And it just sort of organically formed. So we just had our first meet up a few days ago and then we're going to do, we're going to start doing it. And you know, we've been on the regular now like we all text on the regular, so I don't know yet. It's just forming

Speaker 3: 21:50 more of a support group and just keeping each other accountable. And keeping each other, you know, out of your own head and all that stuff.

Twah Daugherty: 21:57 Yeah. Yeah. And, and you know, like there's recently, you know, we were texting in a group about, you know, this, one of the girls had an inquiry that she wasn't sure where to go with it if she was entertaining. And you know, we helped her with the pros and cons and you know, how to price structure this one particular wedding. And so it's, yeah, it's like a support group. You know, it's important to have,

Speaker 3: 22:20 cause I mean one of my big hearts, which I know, you know with within, I feel like freelancers and artists, creative type people, a lot of it is really isolating and you are sort of in your own room, your own office doing a lot of work when you're actually working. Yeah, sure. That's extroverted. And that is being with people. But it's for one day, you know, or one afternoon and then you're back to just your own head, your own self. And then it's so easy to just be constantly looking at what everybody else is doing and be jealous and all that. But can you, I think that's a good transition spot to think of that. When you decided you wanted to come back into a really like full throttle photography, what, what has been hard with that? Because I'm, I'm guessing you're still in the midst of that process. What's been hard with that and what are things that you've had to like mentally learn and grow in?

Twah Daugherty: 23:13 So for me, I think it's all internal. Like do it. Like I'm strange because one from me, whatever it is with the universe, when I put something out there, it just comes flooding back. I give that to God. I think that God that allowed that. But for me it's more, again, the internal struggle. It's the comparison. It's trying to not compare myself to my peers. It, it's my own limiting beliefs, right? The voice, that internal voice that, you know, I always have like, you're not enough. You're not enough. You're, you know, you're not, you didn't shoot a celebrity wedding yet. You didn't make that list. Who are you? You know what I mean? And that normally comes out most when I'm in a social environment. At a social event because you know, my friends are all doing amazing thing. Then you know, I'm kind of like, I'm just entering the race and I got a brick in my pocket. They're called kid, you know. Um, but it's more of an internal, I think warfare then external. Cause I feel like even just the beginning of the year, I have a lot of work already booked. So I'm proud of that. And you know, more coming in. It's Parnell struggle that I'm dealing with that I, that's why I got the life coach and someone can help me remind myself to stop being so mean to myself.

Speaker 3: 24:36 That's massively important. And Are you, so is it a more of a life coach or is it a business coach or just someone that's doing both of those things?

Twah Daugherty: 24:44 Um, she's more of a life coach, but she does focus on the business aspect. So it, you know, I feel especially in a creative environment, work and like sort of mixed together. They're sort of one and the other. Yeah,

Speaker 3: 24:59 of course. Especially when you own your own business and that, yeah. Yeah. Just, I, I'm actually pretty familiar with the process, but for other people, like what, what has been beneficial about that and what are some thing, I'm asking this because I'm assuming other people probably have similar struggles and internal, like those negative limiting voices. What are some things that you have been learning and where you've had to grow and how you've been doing that?

Twah Daugherty: 25:27 Ah, so my life coach also has a background in psychotherapy. So she takes me back to the day when I don't know, I don't want to go, which is that little girl voice, you know, where's that voice coming from? And, and I think we nailed it too. You know, my dad, my biological dad, I think unintentionally has his own negative, has his demons. And I think it came out in and emotional, abusive way towards me. It was a very negative voice. I was never good enough. No matter what I accomplish, it was never good enough for him. And he always felt I could do more. And you know, and, and he was very broken in a sense. So, and because he had such a bitter divorce with my mom and I represented my mom, I think he took out that resentment on me. And the, when I look back at the root of that negative voice, you know, I think it stems a lot from my dad.

Twah Daugherty: 26:27 I also being socially awkward, I was not the one that got attention in the room. I was not pretty my sister with the cute and pretty one I would be awkward and Gawky looking one. So I think, you know, then from that negative voice that have that my dad, you know, instilled in me, then you go into the world and then you don't have a certain look and then the world responds to you in a certain way. Then you see the world responds to your siblings in a different way. Then that kind of reinforced that message. Um, so I think I had to work through all of that to kind of be okay with, you know, I am who I am and you know, I, um, and I can choose not to believe those voices when they come up. So that's kind of the process that I,

Speaker 3: 27:14 it's amazing how much are our upbringing in our youth affects us. And, and also on the flip side, being a parent, how much power we have to affect our kids in positive and negative ways and really instill in them confidence or instilling them brokenness. And it's a, it's a,

Twah Daugherty: 27:33 yeah, you're right. We have a choice now that we don't have to continue that on message.

Speaker 3: 27:39 Yeah. And another thought that came up when you were talking about going out to events or just even, even how we look at other peers doing great things. There is a question that came to my head, which I'm going to keep going for a second, was how many friends do you have that have kids that are trying to run a business? But there's an author named Ryan holiday do unit. Do you know who he is? So he wrote, he's written a handful of books. He was a super young guy that was basically the, the head marketing director for uh Oh American apparel. I was like, what company? He's, he's done a lot of things for a lot of big companies, but, uh, he's got a book called Ego is the enemy. He's got another one called the obstacle is the way, but really, really brilliant author.

Speaker 3: 28:24 And he was being interviewed on a podcast that, I can't remember which one he was about to get married and he's a guy that has super high capacity and, and basically asking like how, how is this going to change things for you? And he's like, I, you know, I haven't really thought about it but to give a response is like, I think something that people do too often is they compare themselves to people in different stages of life and how devastating that is. Because it's like if, if I was comparing myself to someone who I really admired or was maybe jealous or wish that I was doing stuff and that person was single and had no kids or married and had no kids or you know, those sort of things. And I am beating myself up because I'm not able to accomplish what this person is currently accomplishing.

Speaker 3: 29:14 I have four kids and I'm married and have a mortgage. And um, you know, it's like, but those, those sort of things where if you don't have kids and you especially, let's say you're single and you don't have kids, you have absolutely nothing getting in your way from traveling every weekend from going on trips, from having extra spending cash from, you know, like all those sorts of things. And I, so I think that's one thing for anyone listening, but even for you is, you know, looking at that too, it's like in that comparison of, you know, I, and I don't know how much your husband is like, would you be able to support your family without you working or do you have to be working, you know, those sort of things. But I think being able to really change those perspectives and in, I mean I'm, I'm saying this, I've had to learn this because I'm wearing a lot and I still would get frustrated.

Speaker 3: 30:08 And it's like when I first launched my podcast, I want it to be really narrative and I wanted it to, I was listening to a lot of like the NPR type shows and those like Ira glass and this, you know, this American life. And I was so pissed at myself that my stuff wasn't sounding like that. And then I had to get to this point where I realized, first of all, I'd never worked in audio before. I had never, I've never had to deal with video editing before. And everything that I started out doing was video. And then you listen to the, the credits on these shows and they've got 10 people working on this who've been doing it for like 20 years. Yeah, yeah. I did that first episode and so pissed at myself for not producing something at that quality, which is absolutely ridiculous. Right. You know? So those are, those are just things that I think we don't really realize that we're doing when we're looking at other people and be like, man, they're doing so much. And it's like there's no possible way for me to be doing that, you know? And, and being, it's just another tool to be able to give yourself grace or maybe start surrounding yourself with people that are at that place so you can't have comradery and be more okay. You know?

Twah Daugherty: 31:20 Yes. That is true. I think that's what I'd been doing towards the end of last year. You know, it's like reconnecting with a lot of my peers that I've kind of blocked patch with and even going to an ea that was really amazing to be able to be with the best of the best. Amazing friendships came out of that. Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 3: 31:38 Good community of people out there.

Twah Daugherty: 31:40 Yeah.

Speaker 3: 31:42 Um, yeah. So what are you, what are the things that you're doing now? Like what are the things that you're doing as you are tr basically ramping your business backup? Like how does, how does somebody do that?

Twah Daugherty: 31:52 Okay, good question. So my business coach and several other people said I should be in front of the camera more. They think I should do that. And I'm like, I don't know. So I started to do more Instagram story. I actually posted one yesterday about Jack, my outlook for 2019 not going with a a a new year's resolution, which I never do, but I usually choose like a word or a man tried to go by. So that was something I shared. So I am trying to on a regular basis put myself on camera more, maybe do some videos, we'll get there. But I think trying to show up on social media more than I have then. So I've been scheduling every Friday to be my marketing day where I Friday, whether I'm submitting for publication, whether I am trying to plan my Instagram feed, thinking about content to write, I'm going to go back to blogging because that is a place where I can actually have a voice and have people who are interested in me behind the scenes or in the business or just wanting to know more about the business can go there because that worked.

Twah Daugherty: 33:04 So let's try it. The feet blogging works again. So I am focusing on my social media strategy. I am talking with someone right now, possibly hiring a social media strategist, so we'll see. I could use help with that, but that's what I'm doing. I am being more disciplined and scheduling my social media and marketing.

Speaker 3: 33:27 I think it's, it's definitely important and I don't do it enough probably for a lot of reasons that are dumb, but I mean I just put myself on my, my own Instagram feed a lot, but I do see the major value. I do it more than stories, but there's definitely a value of being like a real person on the, on the platform versus just posting more photos because I think it's been sort of admonished, not admonished, but just really recommended that, you know, you make your Instagram your portfolio, which is good and true, but then it sort of loses the heart behind you, which, which I think is really important. And I mean I keep telling myself to do more of that, but it's, it's, I'm running multiple Instagram accounts and it's a lot to do.

Twah Daugherty: 34:15 Right. And I think another advice would be to never be too big in your head. Like I, you know, I recently did a workshop with Rebecca who's a friend and you know, it's like I can always learn from my friends and just keep learning. Like there's always something you could learn. I feel like with my associate that I work with all the time, he's always teaching me something new, the assistance, my, the one that roll film with me, it's like they're teaching me something, you know, my one film rolling. It's that then gave me a suggestion of doing pre numbered thickers. And that way when you shoot on a wedding day, instead of writing it on the film roll, you just the number, it's already pre numbered and you just stick it on the film roll. I'm like, that's genius. I'm doing that forever. And I'm telling everybody about it cause it's amazing. So yeah, never be too big to learn something new.

Speaker 3: 35:10 Totally. And I think that there's so many photographers that don't have a background in the photo school or you know, in even so. But like for most careers you will, you want to be continually learning and you want to be continually honing your craft. And I, you know, I, there's a lot of workshops out there, but I think it's a really important thing to be doing. Yeah. Red. Well, do you have any other sort of partying pieces of anything you'd love to share? Just any, what's been, you know, stuff that's on your heart and just,

Twah Daugherty: 35:43 well, how about I share my 2019 or word of the year and mantra please. Oh, uh, every year I have a word, but this year I have two words and the word is believe and create because if you can believe it, if you can see it and you, then we'll create it. Um, which then from a mantra that I am holding onto this year, which is life doesn't give you what you want, like gives you what you believe. And that was from Lena k which I heard from a ted talks. And once I heard that I'm like done. That's it. I connected with that. That's going to be my mantra cause that helps me with my limiting beliefs. Um, so believe it, if you believe it, you'll see it and then you can create it.

Speaker 3: 36:22 That is beautiful. Well thanks so much for just Sharon. I think that it was really helpful for everyone to hear and we'd love to hear from you all listening to that. If, I mean this was helpful. If there's other struggles or I'm just hoping this stuff resonates with you and it's building you up and you can message me at to Brayden Flynn, B. R a e d. O n n 20 your Instagram account is t a h? Yeah,

Twah Daugherty: 36:47 that'd be

Braedon Flynn: 36:48 photography. So Jennifer out there for sure. Cool. Well thank you so much and so good to see your face. Sorry everyone else is just listening to your voice, but they really helped you left that conversation and count something you can go apply to your own business if you didn't know that he's done more content from before this podcast was started over on the photo report.com or you can search youtube for it, the artist report for even more. There's a bunch of interviews just with amazingly talented people talking about their business and how they got there. So please, and if you did like this podcast or liked a couple of the episodes, please go give us review on iTunes. It really helps spread the word and gets his podcast notice for other photographers. Thanks Tom for listening to go be well and shoot well and don't forget to enjoy the journey on the way.

043 Hustle and Grind with Sylvie Gil

MAKE SURE YOU SUBSCRIBE TO THE PHOTO REPORT PODCAST, which can be done ON ANY PODCAST APP you use or you can stream below.

Really honored to have Sylvie Gil on the show who has been shooting weddings for 20 years at a very high end level. She has a background in fashion and commercial photography and gives some really great advice to photographers trying to make it in the biz.

Check out her work - https://www.sylviegilphotography.com/

And her workshops - http://sylviegilworkshops.com

Below is the transcription of the episode:

Sylvie Gil: 01:11 Hi Braedon, how are you doing?

Braedon Flynn: 01:13 So good. Well, hey, you have a wealth of knowledge and for those of you that don't know Sylvie, she teaches amazing workshops in France where she's from. But I want to sort of just dig into a little bit of your story and I've got a lot of other stuff I want to ask you. But could you, for people, I know you have a background in fashion, commercial photography and then got into weddings, but can you talk, we don't have to go into like depth of when you first started, but maybe like starting out in commercial photography, then how you ended up in weddings and what that transition was like. Yeah.

Sylvie Gil: 01:42 Yeah. So I wanted to be, I basically wanted to be an artist, but I wanted it to be an artist that is um, you know, doing well financially, find a way to just like make the art, you know, just a good financial experience so, and make money. So I went and studied, um, advertising in Paris and uh, I became an account executive. So I learned how to sell a product and had to create campaigns and things like that. And then I came to America and I was really bored with the advertising end of things. So I started working as a commercial photographer and I shot campaigns for, for fashion in studio. And that was going really well until I got pregnant. And when I got pregnant, you know, as if you look at it, most of the fashion photographers are males. It's very difficult to be a female photographer in fashion because your work, these super long hours and you can never be a mom.

Sylvie Gil: 02:35 So, and then I had a friend and in the fashion studio that I was working at, I had a friend who was, who was photographing weddings and she showed me this beautiful book of wedding photographs and this was in the early nineties and he was wearing black and white photographs of wedding. There was just super gorgeous. And I, and you know, I'm a sucker for anything romantic. And I was like, wow, I just want to try that out. So I, uh, actually had a friend was getting married in Napa and I shot their wedding and that's how it all started. And I loved it. And this was 20 years ago,

Braedon Flynn: 03:07 20 years ago. So it went from, so let's say shooting that first wedding, because I think a lot of people listening are wanting to end up in photography. You're doing that full time, getting that first job versus then getting, you know, more jobs. And how did, how did that end up happening? Like where you'd now started having a wedding business?

Sylvie Gil: 03:26 Well, so I did the first wedding. I was fortunate enough that I was able to use the internet. So I created a website immediately, which was in the very beginning of it. This was the early nineties. And I think that was probably one of the first, you know, like people that I knew what a website and uh, the wedding got picked up by a magazine in Canada and uh, they actually created a story with me and a couple of other photographers just based off like one or two weddings I had shot. And then the phone started ringing from there and I just set up the business, you know, hired some help immediately and just created a brand. And which is different today than it was back then. And just, I remember the first year I shot about, 25 weddings. Isn't that crazy? Yeah, that's amazing. And I know the first year and then I went on shooting about 30 weddings for probably like 15 years, 20 years, 15 years. And then I kind of slowed down a little bit after that. But basically, yeah, most of my weekends, spring, summer and fall, we're shooting weddings and local.

Braedon Flynn: 04:30 That's a really great little story.

Sylvie Gil: 04:32 Yeah, I know. It was really fun. Well, you know, the fact is being a photographer back then was not popular it because it was a lot of like these posing situation going on, you know, it's like, Oh, look at your bouquets sitting on your arm, blah, blah blah. So if you were doing something really different, which I was because 80% of my work was black and white, um, you were becoming popular really fast and, and it's the same today. If you're going to do something a little different and really be what you're doing, um, you can, you can, you can do well, you know, but, uh, that's, I think that's what it was. It was just like, there were a lot of really super, you know, posed photographers that, you know, that did the superposed, super stiff work. And I was doing more like, you know, the JFK kind of look, you know, JFK wedding look, you know, I love the black and white, super grainy and I was shooting film of course, 35 millimeter film. Yeah. So it was working.

Braedon Flynn: 05:26 Yeah. That made just out. We'll get back to your story, but just as a little segue, basically what you said was how it was easy back then to stand out doing, you know, just some work that's a little bit more creative or photo journalistic or stylish. But what do you, what do you think of today? Like, because you educate young photographers, if there's like, how do you suggest someone stands out today? Because I mean you have your style and you do you, but for someone who's out there and they're looking at all these different, who they look up to, maybe yourself, mate, you know, maybe some of the other names out there. How do you suggest people sort of be themselves or stand out?

Sylvie Gil: 06:05 I really think that you have to explore your artistic side. I mean, if I look at my work, and it's interesting because in my office we have the whole history of my work. It's really changed over the last 20 years. And I'm very happy about that because honestly, if I look at any artists out there with other painters, sculptures or whatever, they go through periods, you know, and, and so I had my black and white period. Now I'm very much in love with color because I should this beautiful film and I have this amazing lab, but every once in a while I like the black and white. I mean there's the, it just kind of wounds. Sometimes it's a little more fashion oriented. It's sometimes a little more artistic, whatever, like a painting. So, um, I think that if you really love what you do and if you really find a, an identity, uh, you know, sort of like a signature in shooting, you can really stand out from the rest of the people.

Sylvie Gil: 06:54 And what I suggest to the people that come to my workshop is to just practice, you know, like go out there, take your sister, put a winning down on her and just, you know, try her out in all forms of, you know, any kind of lighting, any kind of situations. See what you love, you might just like when you get the photos back, what I would do and what I did for years and I still do. If I see an image that I really love, I put that into my Sylvia's favorite folder. And then I studied that image. Like, why do I love that image? Why is it that, you know, I love, what's the lighting in here, what's going on here? And then I really tried to imitate that shot, you know? And also I'm, so, it's a constant evolution. Like if we could look at Sylvia's favorite folder for the last, you know, 15 years, it's changed a bunch, you know, and, and, uh, sometimes a decree discover things that I never thought like a blurry shot.

Sylvie Gil: 07:43 Like for example, like softer photographs. The first one was a huge mistake, you know, and I was like, God, I love the movement in this folder. Bride is going by, there's a little movement. It's really pretty. It's Mike Michlin. I think that it's experimenting and then really looking at your images and kind of curating your favorite work and just going from there. That's what I really believe it works. And, um, and then another thing I was going to say, um, which was I don't try to work for the client. I really tried to work for what I think is what I love to do because otherwise after 20 years I would still be doing this. Right. You know, so I don't work for, and I don't try to create trends or anything like that. I really tried to create images that make me really happy.

Braedon Flynn: 08:28 How do you communicate that to the client or do you communicate that to the client? Because I've been, I've been having a funny thing in my own head about calling brides and grooms clients because it's like they're not really, there are, there are couples, you know, but, um, for, for the couples that you're shooting in, you, if you're saying that you're shooting for yourself and not for them, obviously you have a style. So they're trusting you to be able to come up and do some incredible work. But that something that you communicate to them or is it just sort of what you do?

Sylvie Gil: 08:59 You know, I have a really hard time finding words to describe my work. I always have. So when the client asked me that question, which they do, can you please describe your work? I always tell them,

Braedon Flynn: 09:12 yeah,

Sylvie Gil: 09:13 I, I don't, I feel like my images should be talking for themselves and like go to the website, look at every single image and if you like everything then it's, it's a, it's a good, it's a good place to be. If you don't like the images and you're just hiring me for my name, they don't to hire me, you know, or you know, it just makes sure that you really liked the images. And then I said in how, and I actually asked them, how would you describe the images? And they're like, oh, they're like this, this, this. And I'm like, well then you got it. Because I have a hard time describing the work with words. So it just sort of like them make their own, you know. But I do tell them, I'm like, you really should love everything you see that I've done because you have to trust me for those eight or 10 hours in that day to like, you know, document your wedding with the eye, you know, with the eye that you really want to document it. You know? And I said, and, and I, I just tell them that and sometimes they were like, yeah, that's true. You know, like I've see some, they see some websites and they're like, well, you know, and like half of it. And I'm like, well then it's not the right person for you because there was really a trusting thing going on. Like you have to trust each other.

Braedon Flynn: 10:17 Yeah. I, this is more for the listeners out there and something that made me think of that you just said is something that I did for a period of time was I just what I guess what you've been doing is ask clients, like what, what is it that drew you to my work? Or what is it that you see in my work? Just out of curiosity because you know it, as that was happening, obviously people are inquiring, but it was really interesting to hear the results because some of what they were seeing, a lot of people would, initially they were saying it's like, Oh I really love your candid images. And for awhile I was like, what? Candid images because like there's nothing necessarily on my website or blog at the time that's candid and as like, oh I get it cause I, I'm dirt very directive and I direct so much of what I'm shooting. But the, the, the photos that I'm really drawn to are the ones where I've directed them to look really natural and Candida, you know? But I think, I think by asking couples or other people what they see in your work, I think that really helps you solidify the things that you do well maybe.

Sylvie Gil: 11:17 And you did for me. Yeah. And I think it's like that for any artists. They have many friends that are actual artists and they just create a, there are, and then they wait to see what the, you know, the art critics are going to say about it. And sometimes, you know, they feel like, you know, that's Kinda like, how do you say, identifying, you know, there are, and, and that's exactly what it is for me. Like I was here certain wars when people describe my work and I'm like, oh my God. Yeah, that's, I love this description. That's exactly how I shoot in my heart. But, but, uh, I think it's a little dangerous, stupid words into your visual art. I think it's a little dangerous because you might confine yourself to a thing

Sylvie Gil: 11:54 and, and uh, I think it's about how the people read it and they're, like, you say, some people thinking that you were just like shooting candids. But the fact is that you're an posing the client to get that beautiful, natural, organic and unique shot, you know, have a special moment, but they don't know you got there that way. They don't know you took the back door. Do you know what, yeah, no, totally. But then it also helps in selling to the clients because I can then describe to them as, hey listen, this is what you've connected with, but I help you get there. You know, this isn't just magically happening. Yeah, I, I help you be comfortable and I help you be not, you know, so it was able to really go, oh okay, this is what they're looking for and this is what I helped them get.

Sylvie Gil: 12:33 Yeah. So yeah, so I think it's a really important thing to just like, you know, a curate great your work and just really create that amazing folder of images that even like if you looked at it every day, every week for the next year, you was just so in love with it and you're just sitting there going like, oh my God, I'm so good. Or are you really loved this image? And it doesn't matter if it's different than what everybody else is does. Actually, it's probably a good thing, you know? And then just kind of start shooting from there and let the viewer decide, you know, what, what this work is about, you know, or how I represents you. But it's really what gets you going, gets you through to get the best images. I mean, the worst case is just to go and look at someone else's website and tried to figure out how do they do this and how am I going to do this?

Sylvie Gil: 13:17 Like that, you know, which is your heart is not into it and, and it's, it's not ever going to be a really striking image, you know? No, I totally agree. And I guess just in case people are hearing differently than what I understand that you're saying with doing you at the wedding versus doing what the client wants. Because I think some people maybe when they're younger in their business, they might just be trying to be really artistic and just trying to get images for themselves or their portfolio versus actually taking care of the couple versus what I think you're doing is you, obviously you've been doing it for 20 years. You, you know how to shoot a wedding, but you're, you're really doing it in a way that is still taking care of the couple but doing it in a way that resonates with your heart.

Sylvie Gil: 14:02 Yes, exactly. So I feel like, I mean the client hires you based off the images that they see, you know out there that you've created. If they don't give you the space to create those images, then they're not going to happy with what you delivered to them. Right. So I really feel like going to a wedding, for example, if they want to have a couple session, you have to go and scout the venue and take a look at the places because the way in the venue, the tree you would pick or I would pick would be completely different. You and I, and it's important that you pick a location that is going where you're going to have the space to do the work and you know that, that they expect from you. So, one example I was giving, as you know, Jewish ceremonies happen at sunset often and clients are like, well we want to do all the photos after the yeah, after the ceremony.

Sylvie Gil: 14:47 It's like, no, we're going to have to flash everything. And if you look at my website, you know, like that's not the kind of work you want from me. So we need to, you know, work with the schedule. We need to work with the location, we need to make sure we have enough time at this venue so we can get some really beautiful, candid and natural shots. And I'll just like get off the car for three minutes, take a photo, get back in the car, you know. So there was a lot of talk where you gently, you have to gently lead your client, enabling you to deliver the, the beautiful work they expect. And you'll have to sort of gently, you know, lead them or you know, you're not, you're not forcing them to do anything, but you have to discuss it with a client and say, listen, this is what to deliver this photos. This is what I really need right now and how can we work on with that.

Braedon Flynn: 15:34 Yeah, pre-production is really key. And I'm curious for a lot of the students you've had, other photographers you've had come through your workshops, do you feel like when you talk about how much you'd work with a client on the pre-production or, or even, you know, the wedding planner, do a lot of photographers, I feel like a lot of photographers sort of just show up and shoot instead of doing that. Do you find that that's the case and people are sort of surprised at how much work you do?

Sylvie Gil: 16:00 Yes. Yes, absolutely. And I think a lot of people just show up and shoot because they're intimidated by a conversation with a wedding planner or they're in Vr. They even too shy to say, you know what, I'm not going to be able to take good pictures in these conditions. You know, and, and they do. What they don't understand is that they're there. They're not doing the bride of favor because the bride expects the work that she sees on the website. And if they don't do this, there are basically not doing the bridal favors. So it's important, you know, and to just find a way to tell the bride until the planner, hey, this is important. Like, you know, I don't, this is not going to work for me because of this and that reason and how can we find a better solution? You know, it's, it's, they want you to create the fried once you to just deliver the work that you know that you're really good at doing.

Sylvie Gil: 16:50 So you'll have to find a way to do that. So, yeah, so a lot of my students, they come to the workshop and they're like, oh my God. So I'm like, there's phone calls. Like I talked to the bride a couple of times before the wedding there emails, of course the wedding planners is always included. We discuss, you know, their schedule. We discussed the locations. There is scouting. Sometimes I go scouting months before if I really am, you know, um, is shy about a venue or if I'm unfamiliar with the venue. But all of that goes on and, and it's not, I think that the bride and the plan are actually appreciative if you make that effort because they feel like you're really care.

Braedon Flynn: 17:25 Yeah, and I, I would say even even on a lot of wedding planners who do this a lot and have been in the business for years, they don't always have in consideration the lighting, you know that it's just one of those things that doesn't really cross their mind. They understand like once it's dark, it's dark, but, and for brides they have no idea how long things things take and so being able to come in there and advice because you're then either setting, you're either allowing yourself to be set up for failure, knowing that going into it, you're going to be stressed, you're going to hate them, you're going to feel bad the whole time. Or you've set everyone up for success. Adding in a little bit that's like, yeah, if we just got your dress on an hour earlier, we'd be able to accomplish this and this and there'd be no stress.

Sylvie Gil: 18:07 Yeah. I mean things like for example, the venue, since it is supposed to be 7:00 PM, you go to the venue and you find out the venues in a valley, meaning sunset, they're going to lose all your light at six maybe five 30 so yeah, knowing, knowing and being in control is a very important part of it and usually appreciate it and, and yeah, and I don't think it's a good idea just to show up at a wedding and shoot

Braedon Flynn: 18:30 sort of transition from there a little bit. You and I sort of talked about this offline, but wanting to hear, it's just more of your journey and I feel this is something that I keep talking about in the podcast is I really have a heart for the individual who is running their own business as a creative person. I photographer for example, where a lot of it, you're alone, you're doing this by yourself and you're comparing yourself to everybody else. But I, I like to hear bits of stories from people who are doing really well in the industry and basically looked up to like, what have been some of your struggles along the way. And I know like maybe even early on when you're first getting going and your young kids and all that. But yeah,

Sylvie Gil: 19:17 so basically, as soon as I started, I had to make a living, so I had to shoot a certain amount of weddings per year no matter what. And I had to do it consistently. So even when there were recessions, like in 2008, and before it was, I just couldn't just not make money and, and sit on my butt and it didn't work. So what I did is from the beginning, I always had financial goals that I created. This is how much money I need to bring in to support my family and my kids and, and you know, and, uh, and these financial goals had to be met. So I had to book weddings until I reached the financial goals. And then after that, it was icing on the cake. And if I wasn't reaching the goal, I would just up my marketing how sold some more, you know, work harder, go visit venues, you know, do interviews, whatever, you know, do things so I could actually really make sure to book more work.

Sylvie Gil: 20:12 I never sat on my butt and just let it fall apart. Yeah, absolutely. And having a financial goal for me I think was always a very, very good idea. There's been many times where I had to reinvent myself or push my marketing or do whatever it took to just, you know, really make my work sellable. And because it really doesn't happen magically. I mean, the more work you put into the business, the more you're going to business you're going to, and it's really funny because it's wedding photographers were shooting on weekends. Yes we do. But how much work are you putting in Monday through Friday? If you expect to make $100,000 a year, you should really put in a full time job kind of hours, which is eight to five Monday to Friday, maybe take Monday off Tuesday through Saturday. That's kind of how I felt about it. It's like if I would see that I was booking enough, I was in booking enough job, I would just like really push on the marketing or push on, you know, just redo my website or work so more, change it, whatever. Whatever I took.

Braedon Flynn: 21:19 Yeah. Four people. I'm imagining a lot of people that come and chat with you or at your workshops are wanting to be booking more, you know, they're probably, maybe they have their financial goals and they're not hitting them and not getting the work they want. What, what are things that you, like if you were starting over today and had to build your brand, what are the things you would be doing marketing wise or things to be getting out there and hustling?

Sylvie Gil: 21:42 Um, one, uh, one of the things that I do is I always try to make sure that my work is out there. So, um, I really strongly believe in featuring your work. Um, now, you know, with the decline of magazines it's harder, but I really make sure that I share my work with everybody. Uh, I always tell people like, you know, yeah, you took this beautiful photos of these flowers but you want to send this to the florists. And it's like, well they shouldn't enforce pay me or whatever. It's like, no, you know, this is how you get, you know, more people to just want to, how are you are talking about you? Like I love it when a client of mine goes to Napa Valley and said, oh, I talked to a florist and a planner and everybody and they all mentioned your name. It's because for 20 years I've been giving them photographs, you know, any really helps to just be generous with your work.

Sylvie Gil: 22:23 It really helps to, you know, feature your work, make sure it's out there and it's being seen. It really helps to have a website that functions on, you know, on your laptop, on your, on your phone. And it also really helps to just have a good business plan and make sure that you stick to it, you know, and, and sometimes having a business advisor, you know, is a, is a great idea. We had actually Sim from ID action consulting that comes to the workshop and he does, he does several business classes that aren't amazing. Several of the photographers or they've come hiring him afterwards to continue working with him because he's super good at it. And then pricing is the same thing. You know, people were so stiff with, they are, so like pricing is such a confusing thing out there. And I really believe like, you know, in 2008 during the recession, I wasn't charging what I charged now, not even close. I mean everybody was poor when he was struggling. I mean, you have to also adapt your pricing to the market a little bit and you have, you know, and you have to keep your integrity of course, you know, but adopt a pricing a little bit to the market without, you know, giving your work for free. Of course, you know, but when you're in the recession and you want to book weddings, you might have to figure something out, you know, with your pricing.

Braedon Flynn: 23:35 Do you find that most photographers that are coming to your workshops are not charging enough? Uh, no. I think a lot of people are just so scared to charge. I think what

Sylvie Gil: 23:46 maybe there was some of that for sure. A lot of people don't charge enough because they're scared. And what I tell them is like, hold your prices together, but push your marketing. Go out there on Tuesday morning, take your work, go show it to a bunch of venues and go show it to some planners, you know, go show it and go do a bridal fair goose, your marketing, but you should charge what you believe you're worth it. The right price is the price that you say with the right with a straight face. If you say a price, that icon, it says $3,000 to fly to Italy and shoot a wedding, then you're just like, you shouldn't do that because you know you're not making enough money and you shouldn't do that. But if any, if you say, well, I'm charging $50,000 you, she didn't do that either because you're uncomfortable with throwing that price at the client face.

Sylvie Gil: 24:29 Right? So the right price, in my opinion, is the price you think you're worth. And a price you can say with a straight face and then after that push the marketing behind it to just be able to sell yourself at that price and get what you're worth

Braedon Flynn: 24:46 With your workshop. So it sounds like Sam is there, who's brilliant and I love him. I know. He's so cool. What else happens at your workshops?

Sylvie Gil: 24:54 We have speakers. In the morning we do mostly business classes, so it's either me talking or the wedding planner or the florist, anybody has some kind of business advice to give. It isn't, is invited. We're going to have a few guest speakers, that I'm about to announce that are a really big deal and that are going to come and just talk about various things.

Sylvie Gil: 25:14 I'm all business related and mostly and uh, and then in the afternoon would do shoots and the shoots are set up so people can actually work in small groups, groups of four or five. So they actually don't step on each other's till I can't, I have a problem with these workshops or you see like 15 photographers shooting the same thing. I want people to be creative with their work. I want them to, I, you know, like if I give them a model and the gown I want, I'm excited when they take the model in the gown, in, in the hay or whatever, you know, at a, you know, in a doorframe or outside on the tree. It's like I want them to be creative with the work and actually do work that looks different than mine or the next person. And to do that, you really need to work in small groups.

Sylvie Gil: 25:55 You can be working in groups of the same, you know, level who fully and people that can be supportive with each other. And so we do the should groups in the shooting groups are like three to four people max and they have a whole half hour to just work with a bouquet, you know, or a table or whatever. And it's how many days in France? It's three days. Three full days. Yeah. In the chateau and weed killer food because our, our, our chef is a Michelin Star Chef, so it's amazing. And we socialize all day long. The, the team is really there with the attendees. So yeah, I mean I love it when a client, you know, like a not a client and attendee comes to the workshop and they said, I'm really struggling. Like, you know, gathering the work in my area. I feel like it's a depressed area for weddings. It's not the right place I need to move, you know? And if it, if people come from all sorts of areas of the world, I mean there are millions of weddings out there. How many weddings per year in America? I thought it was so many. Right. So if you're not booking 20 weddings a year, it's because you're doing something wrong with your marketing or your exposure because there are so many weddings out there. Right.

Braedon Flynn: 27:04 Yeah. I love that. I guess now in your business for being, doing as long as you have and the workshops and kids are probably older now, I know there are, what are things that are still hard or what are things that you, you find yourself struggling with now?

Sylvie Gil: 27:23 What do I find myself struggling with? It's gone. I'm actually a very comfortable place. Um, what is it that I find myself struggle. I'm sad than magazines are really going one, one by one that's really broken my heart, you know, to just like not see my work in print now among the, I think I'm going to make a book. I mean, it would, seeing the work in print, it's just so beautiful. I just, so there was that, um, where am I struggling with? Um, I saying no to a client that's really sweet, but I don't really think I'm going to be able to give her the work that, you know, she wants, you know, like let's say, uh, you know, a beautiful wedding that I'm never going to shoot it the way she wants it. That's always hard, you know? And I do do that. I have to do it because I want her to be happy with the photos, you know? Um, and uh, I don't know what else. That's it. I mean, I'm, I'm actually in a really good place right now. I really,

Braedon Flynn: 28:21 yeah, I mean I, I think it gets, it gets easier as having been in it for a long time. And can you put in the hustle and you've created your name and you've taken care of your vendors. You would, you would imagine that at this point you don't have to hustle quite as hard because you, you did that for so long and now you're established. So I mean, that makes sense. And that's really good that you're in that place.

Sylvie Gil: 28:43 Yeah. Yeah. And I love, I love this place. Creatively, I'm always, you know, it's not like a struggle, but it's always interesting to like find other avenues in my life, to be creative with my work. Everybody knows how much I love cooking. And for me that's like a very creative part of the, of the process. It's like, it's the place where I think about nothing but my onion and my garlic and I just think in my mind because the rest of the time and wasn't looking at images all around me. So I'm creatively, I think that, uh, having other avenues or where you can actually express your, your, you know, your creative self is really good. And so that's not a struggle. But like for example, right now I'm going to Morocco for four weeks with my all my cameras and I'm just going to be taking photos of whatever. Camels and sand dunes and tried to push myself creatively, you know, in colorful schemes and, and, and things like that. So it's not as struggled, but every year really try to, you know, get out of my comfort zone and try to do something new.

Braedon Flynn: 29:44 that's great

Sylvie Gil: 29:45 Just to get out of my comfort zone and you know, not have the same old, same old, same old thing going on with the exercise of creative muscles a little bit. You got it. That's exactly it. Yeah. Yeah. And I think that's, it's not like a struggle, but it's really something that I have to really, you know, every year I put myself in that position. So like right now I'm trying to create a cookbook for fun just to shoot. And I'm doing these, you know, travel photos in Morocco and then when I come back in March and then I have a bazillian weddings to shoot and I'm sure it will be inspired in different way, you know?

Braedon Flynn: 30:18 Yeah. So we'll wrap it up pretty quick, but I was just wondering if you had, I mean,

Speaker 6: 30:24 hmm,

Braedon Flynn: 30:25 I have a big heart for younger photographers trying to get there and I know you do as well. Like what are some things that you see as maybe a common theme that if you could talk to a lot of people at once to encourage them or challenge them? Is there anything that you can think of that you'd like to,

Sylvie Gil: 30:42 it's exactly the same thing that I tell my kids. Braedon I mean, it's like if you have it in you don't quit. Just keep doing it. Keep hustling, keep trying, keep doing it. I hear it from people, they're like, I'm really want to do this. And then two years later they're like, oh, I wasn't making enough money. But it's like, that's because you didn't try hard enough. Don't quit. You know, if you have it in you, you want to do this, just keep working at it. There is a million weddings out there and, and some of them can be yours if you really try, you know, just don't quit. That's, that's what I tell everybody.

Braedon Flynn: 31:14 Yeah. And so if people want to find out more about your workshop, how do they go?

Sylvie Gil: 31:19 Okay, so it's on the website. It's on online sylviegilworkshops.com. And we have, I think we have like one seat left at the moment. It's filled up pretty fast and the Chateau is beautiful and we only have a certain amount of rooms so we can only take a certain amount of attendees, which is 15. So it's in April and a and it's really fun. And I have such good relationships with all of my attendees and, we really have a good time. Yeah. And thanks for mentioning it. I really appreciate it.

Braedon Flynn: 31:49 Totally. And for those of you out there that don't know how to spell her name, it's s, y, l, v, I. E. And then Gil is Gil?

Sylvie Gil: 31:57 Yes. What else? Yeah, I really do it with my heart. It's my little baby and I really, I really adore. I adore being there with everybody.

Braedon Flynn: 32:06 And last very important question because you corrected me on my Instagram stories once everybody says the Croix.

Sylvie Gil: 32:17 I know. How do you say it? So in America they say La Croix and I think it's an American brand. Yup, it is. In France it would be. Yeah.

Braedon Flynn: 32:29 Yeah. But even even like the company Lacroix calls it Lacroix.

Sylvie Gil: 32:33 Yeah. Yeah. But it's not quite, well that probably sounds better, right? Like I dunno, maybe. Yeah. Thank you for clearing that up for many people out there. I know. They were all wondering. Oh really? Yeah. Lacroix is what the company wants you to call it. I think. Yeah.

Speaker 1: 32:49 Those Americans look thanks so much for just sharing your knowledge and with everybody.

Sylvie Gil: 32:54 Thank you so much Braedon. It was really fun and I really appreciate it and I wish you a good evening with your kids.

042 The Art of Selling with Shaun Austin of Kiss Books

SUBSCRIBE TO THE PHOTO REPORT PODCAST IF YOU DON’T ALREADY. Or you can listen or watch the video below.

Here is the transcription of the interview:

Braedon Flynn: 00:00 Welcome to the photo report where we have conversations with top level photographers and other people that create for a living to hear stories about how they do what they do, how they've done, what they've done, struggles along the way in a way that hopefully inspires, encourages and gets you to go out there and create more work. And this episode was with Shaun Gordon who is one of the founders of kiss books, which is a high end album company and we hear the story about how he goes from being a photographer to launching this company, which is now a significantly sized company. And we talk a lot about being, you know, when you're in business, you have product and you're. And as a photographer you are a service. You're basically selling your time for dollars. And so we have a conversation about how do you take the things that you're already doing and then make more money through sales and doing it in a way that's just really great.

Braedon Flynn: 00:44 So we actually recorded this live and so if you want to watch the video, you can go to the photo report dot Com. And see it there, or search youtube for the artist report and then type in his books. I'm sure it'll show up that way, but I hope you love this conversation as much as I enjoyed having it. Before we get into the show, want to tell you real quick about our sponsor film supply club. If you shoot film or you're interested in film, I love film. It is the best place to get it at the best prices than an amazing community of some of the top photographers in our industry. You can check it out at film supply.club/join now onto the show. Thanks. Thompson being here and after getting into that, can you just give a little intro on the sort of how you got to where you are to give people that don't know you a little bit idea?

Shaun Gordon: 01:30 Sure. Yeah. I was a photographer for about 15 years, a shot around 500 weddings. I'm mostly based out of Orange County and up traveling to 10 for, for that and I'm just saw this gap in the industry and cofounded kiss books because of this space that was like I loved, I, you know, she didn't over 60 weddings a year for a few years, which is kind of crazy. But the amount of albums that I was selling, it just became such a bottleneck in my business and it was basically at a point where it was like, it has to be easier than this at some point. And so having chosen the album makers that were in the history at the time, we kind of made our version of kiss and then decided like this is something I think that we can do on our own.

Shaun Gordon: 02:17 And created a system, a very simple way to get to the product and we launched kiss about 11 years ago now. So her dad and what like with, with that though.

Braedon Flynn: 02:30 So how did you transition from photography to then launching a thing to them becoming a thing where now you are just doing that?

Shaun Gordon: 02:38 Yeah, I love creative entrepreneurs and having been one for a long time, I was raised by an entrepreneur that knew the business side of things, so that was one thing that I loved and learned from my dad and um, understood what it meant to hustle, you know, shooting that amount of weddings and things like that made sense during that season. But also knowing that like I loved entrepreneurs as a whole and how could we create a space where we can all thrive together. I saw a lot of friends kind of like come in the industry and go out of the industry because of the business side.

Shaun Gordon: 03:10 It wasn't the lack of the creativity and the photography that needed to happen and some of them, amazing photographers chose to go on and do other things in other industries because it's hard to run your own business, especially as a creative, you know. And so, um, the transition for me was, it overlapped quite a bit. I shot until just a few years ago, and basically just shot less and less weddings as I was building kissed. I was so still so in love with photography and shooting, especially weddings that I didn't want to give it up, um, but it just came to a point where I needed to get focused and continue to serve the creative entrepreneur and ultimately multiply that side of things. And so it was a transition of like handing off photography so that I can get focused on Kiss.

Braedon Flynn: 03:55 Yeah. I think a lot of people envision what it might be like to start a company or even to become a photographer, you know, it's like the whole, I always sort of educate people.

Braedon Flynn: 04:06 It's like don't quit your day job because then it puts you in this place of being desperate and he like, you have to make it work in which then is really daunting for someone who's coming from an artistic side to them, like have to make their living. And so with it, I just think that's a good thing for people to recognize. Like sometimes when you are starting a thing, unless you're like raising a ton of funds, which also puts itself like got to give up ownership, got to do that, but the element of being able to create something that it takes a while to get it to be maybe where you might want it to be that first year that you launch.

Shaun Gordon: 04:40 Yeah. And I bootstrapped my companies and I'm, there's that sense of urgency of having to pay bills.

Shaun Gordon: 04:46 Even when I started my photography company, I was driving a truck for my dad and running his business and I swing a hammer to make sure that happened. You know, I was able to subsidize my income with some working for construction working and things like that. So it's, it, it depends on your personality and like what you want to go out and do. But it was like I was starting a family as well. As soon as I started my photography business, I had already had my first kid. And so it was just like I'm wanting to provide. I have bills to pay. Um, I would love to book this wedding and a lot of times I think the clients can read that when I'm in like a consultation they see my work and things like that. But you know, the confidence is one thing. I think you're talking about a little bit that it's hard to teach the confidence and so the sense of urgency is one way of going about it.

Shaun Gordon: 05:30 Debt, you know, is one way. It feels like your fast track with all the nice gear and all those types of things and it, it builds some, some kind of like cushion. They're good for some people, not for others. Um, it really depends on your personality and those types of things. But yeah,' don't quit your day job' is a great way of going about it because then it's like whether or not you love that day job, it's like a lot of people want to get out of that day job to become a full time creative photographer, whatever industry that you're in. And it's Kinda like that dangling carrot. Like what's it going to take five book, six weddings this year, then I can go to part time or if I booked 10 weddings this year, whatever your number is, I can do this full time, you know, or maybe your spouse works and so you're able to go into it full time right away.

Shaun Gordon: 06:09 But still setting goals and things like that. It's always fun to to grow into that entrepreneur and then seeing what it's like. Like Hey, there's a lot more to this than taking pictures and you know, bringing that business side to it as well.

Braedon Flynn: 06:21 Totally. So let's get into that business side of it. I mean one of the things that you talked about a bit is where are you calling it? Get simple or?

Shaun Gordon: 06:29 Yeah, we, that's how we started. Yeah, we toured the country. I'm doing what we call get samples and it was like three or four of us would speak on kind of like the business side of things. And it was interesting because when we did the get samples, when we brought an attorney in or somebody that was going to help us with the business side, it was like we were given these seats away and we couldn't fill them up.

Shaun Gordon: 06:47 As soon as we did a photo shoot, there was 100 people signed up, you know, and I get it. That's the creative side that we want to go out and do. So it was our job to make it creative and understand the business side of things, you know, because it's like, if you're taking great photos, of course, like continue to evolve that craft. That's what we love to do, you know. But even in the email he talks about this like what we love to do is what we want to get to where there's all these other parts of running a business. And so when we were talking about those things wasn't as popular when we continued to do this thing that we fell in love with, why we started a business, um, we would sell out those, get samples. Now we call it pursue simple.

Shaun Gordon: 07:26 We shifted to 'Pursue Simple' because it's a lifestyle ultimately to create, to pursue simple is to create margin in your life so you can focus on what matters most to you. And that could be working on your business. It could be that you have a family, a partner, spouse, you know, the local community, the church, whatever it could be surfing, you know, um, whatever it is that you love to do, that's ultimately why we started businesses to give us some freedom hopefully. But a lot of times we quit a 40 hour week job to end up going and working for herself or 70 or 80 hours at first. Especially, because we have this light at the end of the tunnel of like freedom. We get to be our boss. We get to make the margin off of what we're creating as well.

Shaun Gordon: 08:09 But that margin is what pursue simple means in our life to simplify things enough. It doesn't mean that we have not, you know, it's not like a minimalist lifestyle is just making decisions on these things. And then, you know, hopefully firing yourself out of these positions and you know, charging enough so that you can focus on what matters most to you in your business and out of your business.

Braedon Flynn: 08:32 I'm really familiar with that term 'margin' because I read about a book a week, but for someone who isn't as familiar, could you define that word for us? When you were talking about margin, like what are you talking about?

Shaun Gordon: 08:47 Margin a lot of time is looked at as a financial term. Margin is space. So it's how much space you're creating. I'm doing these things to create this much space and then you fill in that margin with what matters to you.

Shaun Gordon: 09:00 But like it system that the automations, it's outsourcing. Sometimes it's like making a decision to answer emails and this amount of time or hiring somebody to do your album design or editing or whatever it is. You know, there's areas in your business that you may love or not. I'm doing all of the pieces and so you're creating margin by bringing somebody in to give you space to do something else. And you know, freedom is the word I run into all the time. Like why did you start your business freedom? Like I want freedom. And it's like, do you have it? It's like, no, not yet. Okay. So what is it going to take? If your vision is freedom to go and travel to go and you fill in the blank, um, what's it gonna take for you to get to that? And are you headed in that direction?

Shaun Gordon: 09:42 Are the decisions that you're making today taking you towards that vision of freedom or pulling you away from it? And so many times we're the ones that if I just did it, it would be done the way I want to do it. And so we ended up doing all of the things and then we end up burnt out. You know, I've been in that place before and it's no fun but ultimately kiss, we started it too. And it's evolved to pursue simple because it's a lifestyle and we know understand that entrepreneurs, so many of them start their business to have this space in their life, but then they, you know, they fight for it so hard that we ended up burning out and sometimes going and doing something going and working for somebody else because it's just easier. So I mean with March and what, can you maybe give some examples like, okay, let's, yeah, I want, I need that because I am working 80 hours a week and I don't have that and I am burning out because like you will get to that place.

Shaun Gordon: 10:32 I have no idea what that's like because I've met for someone who is, doesn't have much margin and they're just like working. Whether that's out of like desperation, whether that's out of fear, whether that's out of those areas. Like how maybe describe like things either you've seen other photographers do or other people in business or even yourself do that can create that margin. Because I don't. I think margin is a great idea. And if you liked that idea and you just hope that it happens, it's not going to happen. Right? There needs to be a lot of intentionality that gets put in and almost like for me, I have to build margin into my schedule because it will get eaten up if I do not. And then I will go months without do it as well. I haven't done anything for my site. Yeah. And that's where burnout comes from ultimately.

Shaun Gordon: 11:19 And so I think as simple one that I think a lot of us can relate to it. Like I don't love laundry, um, I don't love necessarily like cleaning my house or my studio or, or things like that. But when things are clean and organized, we can think a little clear. So to create margin would be like, I don't love doing laundry, who can do laundry for me? And so it's or clean my house. You fill in the blank because so many times we work, let's say 70 hours on our business and we feel like we're spinning our wheels and then we go home and we have home to take care of. And so we ended up setting a target, what's it gonna take for me to hire somebody to help me with this thing that I may or may not love to do so that I can focus on this, you know, so does that mean selling another wedding?

Shaun Gordon: 12:05 So I'm just adding more over here sometimes, but what we've seen work really well and why we're kind of sitting in the place that we are with Kiss is because currently there's a lot of people photographing weddings and making sure the clients get their proofs, their photos somehow. But where, where we've seen the most successes in albums. I own an album company, I understand that can come across that way, but I'm studying our top clients and how they're creating more margin is by selling an album in that package. And so that's what we're studying. Educating it worked really well in my business. Which is why I ended up heading in that direction. I love product and my goal always. I couldn't put words around this back then, but I was a photographer that created an experience. And so many times that's where the experience stops.

Shaun Gordon: 12:54 And so that's why they hire us. Nobody can be you quite like you. Nobody can be me quite like me. So they were either referred or whatever it was to get that experience, but I wasn't taking them to the finish line unless I told their story in printed form. And that's where our belief is. So if you're a photographer that creates this experience that tells their story in a book, then that is what your clients will expect. You show them that often. The people that are, you know, top kiss clients, that's what they're doing over and over again is like talking first and foremost about that experience. Of course, like do we want to work together? I'm going to be at your wedding day really close to you all day asking you to pose and doing these things. And I'm creating these moments that you get to hopefully, you know, just cherish for a lifetime.

Shaun Gordon: 13:41 Um, and that doesn't stop there. That story's not told until we put it in that printed form. And that's where that beautiful handcrafted book comes in. And so over and over again, that's just what I'm running into. We have like, we've tiered out our clients in those bottom two tiers, some of them shoot 15 weddings and they're still in that tier because I'm not a salesman, I'm a photographer and I get that so much, but it doesn't mean that your client doesn't want that printed, heirloom piece to cherish and share with their friends and those types of things and hopefully their kids someday and things like that. But sometimes we get in the way of that. We don't take them to the finish line and ultimately we're leaving money on the table by not doing that. If I was shooting 60 weddings a year, you know, I was selling probably 50 or 60 books.

Shaun Gordon: 14:27 I was shooting for other studios at time. So they were doing a lot of that work. But I know it was. The majority of it was ending up in a book. All my clients had an album credit I shot. All of the weddings that I shot for myself. I shot their engagement because I was investing in that relationship and once that trust relationship is there, they are willing to go where you take them and so you know, there's a lot of sales tactics like they'll buy what you show them and things like that, but you put a album of somebodies wedding in front of them. Even with somebody else's photos they can picture them in it, but as soon as you show them that with their work in it, it's like that is why I do what I do. I had these parties after my weddings, right, invite the couple, their parents and the bridal party to my studio and it was called the Unveil Party.

Shaun Gordon: 15:16 We had got the album all dialed in. I knew it was going to come in from the album company and they would get there. I'd have like photos up on a screen with music appetizers, drinks, things like that. But at some moment in the night, they would sit down on the couch and I would put the album in front of them and it was like instantly I get chills now because the emotions shifted in the room. They're like, we get to re-experience this wedding that we had. I flipped weddings, books and things like that pretty quick. So it was like two or three months ago. And so they'd sit there, everyone kind of cuddle around him. They'd laugh, they'd cry. And I was like, that's why I do what I do. I stopped moments of their wedding day so that they can relive them and I told it in this book and they get to do this.

Shaun Gordon: 15:56 Not just sitting here in my studio. This is for years and decades to come. They get to relive that moment. I made money doing that as well, you know, like I'm an entrepreneur, that means I'm going to do this for profit, you know? And so I built in what it took for me to design and you know, purchase the book and I made margin on the book as well. That's the financial version of margin, so I love that so much. And um, it's just something that I want to see our whole industry shift to is we're shifting back to print, film, things like that. It's beautiful. Um, and so if we're a photographer that creates this experience, that experience is now told in printed form, we've, we've done our job, you know, and we get to see them relive that moment down the road. Would you, you wouldn't have had the album sold yet and then you bring it and then they have the option now to buy it?

Shaun Gordon: 16:48 Yeah, there's different ways and we've studied a lot of our top clients with kiss personally. I did album credit and so I'd give them like a thousand dollar album credit and that included like a 10 by 10, 10 spread thick page book type of thing. Um, and the way that we would tell them and what we've learned even more now, like ways to word it better is like a tim spread 20 page book is like our minimum size and it's a smaller book and that's like the highlight reel of your wedding. It's Super Fun to look at, we'll get it down, but it's, you're looking at 20 or 30 images. Um, what I want to show you after your wedding is the full story. Um, of course we can, you know, I know everyone's on a budget, things like that. Sometimes we build that out before sometimes we would build it after the fact.

Shaun Gordon: 17:29 Um, but I showed them 30 or 40 spreads, like massive books. Um, and that's the first thing I showed them before I edited images when I was digital or before I showed them all of their proofs when I was film. Um, I would build out and design that book and I would show them that first. And this is like when I was digital, I could show them that when they were like on their. So they're sitting on the beach in Hawaii, they get an email from me, hey, I've designed your book and it's a couple days after they got there. It's the first thing I did, I called for the album and then I sent them that design. They live with that as their wedding for, you know, a couple of weeks and I said, this will buy me a little bit of time to edit the rest of your images.

Shaun Gordon: 18:07 Next, next, just enjoy this. You can hit the play button. It'll play a slideshow. You can flip through each one. Don't worry about any changes. We will get all those done in the next email will be a link to the rest of your images. And then when they got the rest of their images, I would just set that expectation again of like you get three rounds of changes. This is what changes look like. This unlocks the calculator as well. It shows you how much this book would be. You know, let's say it's, you buy it just the way it is. $4,000. I know that's a lot of money. Remember you have a thousand dollar album credit and if you order this in the next 30 days, we can get these changes done. I'm going to give you a little bit of a break. So now it's $3,000.

Shaun Gordon: 18:43 I'm going to give you like 25 percent off, you know, that's another.....So we're looking at like a $2,200 book at that point and you can pay me half when we order it and half when when you get it. So it's become this 4,000 book down to like two payments at 1250 and I know it sounds kind of infomercial but it worked really well and there's times where the parents were paying for it so they just wrote a check and they put it in that they're like, 'we know most of your clients get bigger books' because they were a referral. Can we just build that out a little bit now? Like if you have it in your budget, let's do it now. But even a client that walks in the door so many times, what are they there to hire you for? It's like the experience and they want to be able to afford you at the wedding and sometimes they come in and their budget's a little lower than maybe where I start at.

Shaun Gordon: 19:22 And so like can we just cut the book? I was always like, no, like you have to have this in here because you have to understand the photography is just an avenue to get to this book, but this book is why I photograph and I want you to relive these moments down the road so I don't really want to take the book out. So let's leave that credit in there. If you know we can't. Maybe we can't work together or something like that, but this is my heart is that we need to print this book and again, once that trust is there, it's not just a trends transaction, you know, they're not hiring us without a relationship most likely anyway because we're a vendor that's so close to them. They want that experience and then they start to trust us more and more as I shot their engagements and things like that and I likely photograph on their friends' weddings in the past.

Shaun Gordon: 20:09 Once that relationship is there, they're willing to kind of like go there with you and even invest more into that. Understanding that, that piece that they get to look at for years to come is like, why I do what I do.

Braedon Flynn: 20:26 Do you have certain photographers that you know, that are doing it really well and what is it that they're doing that's maybe different than the next person?

Shaun Gordon: 20:32 Yeah, I think a couple of keys are like talking about that first and foremost, like setting that expectation expectation early on is, is huge. There's a few studios that I kinda work with closely because they're like, I want to say I believe the same you do, I don't know how to do it. Show me what you're currently doing. And they show me like their pricing and you know, their website and we work on some of those things.

Shaun Gordon: 20:54 But really what really matters is like setting that expectation from the get go. Like if they walk in the door and they expect you to give them a book, at the end of the day, your goal, it just takes a while to get there. And so the ones that are doing it really well today, um, that we've studied, they're talking about it on social media regularly and of course they show their beautiful work. I'm here shooting so they know you're shooting regularly, whatever. I traveled for this wedding because I want to travel for weddings. What you show is kind of what they expect, but every five or six, um, posts, there's something about an album on their site, they've built out a page about the album, how much they love it and the materials maybe and why they believe in print and things like that. So the more times they run into it, it's really about expectation because if you end up bringing a design in and they don't have an album in their package at the end, they're like, what is this for?

Shaun Gordon: 21:44 You know, all's I expected was to get a digital copy or a stack of proofs and I'll go figure out how to get a book done. And we've studied that side of things as well. And they say 80 percent of books that get start started in design in the consumer world do not get finished 80 percent. And so that's not just brides, that's everybody doing vacation books and all those types of things. But that to me is an epidemic. That's like an issue because they're, these images are locked up somewhere online in printed form, maybe on a four by six. There's nothing like looking at a print no matter kind of like however it is. Um, if it's in a four by six, I'm like good with it. Of course. I think the Mecca to me is like the book that the people that are doing it well are showing it, setting that expectation, talking about it regularly, and then communicating that multiple times.

Shaun Gordon: 22:31 You know, as a wedding photographer, we have multiple touchpoints whether a client we have, when they email us the first time, how do we respond? That's the first thing they see is probably our website. Maybe a face of video too that some images. Of course the next thing they do is go and try and find us on social media so they can look at more about more about the things that we offer and things like that. If they see that book regularly, they start to expect it right there. Then in the consultation, my top 10 clients, I've talked to all of them about this, um, these are like top 10 ordering clients for kiss. So they're selling like a lot. Some of the, you know, over 100. They may have a couple studios or some something like that, but they're all selling around 100 books a year.

Shaun Gordon: 23:11 Our top 10 clients are in. What they're doing is they're talking about it in that first consultation, you know, I'm the photographer that creates this experience and I'm going to deliver it in this book. So once I've sold you on the experience and I think the things are going well, that's when the book comes out. Like this is what would be in your packet. I show them a 10 spread, a 20 page book. This is the highlight reel. And across the way, I would have a bigger full length book. They really wanted to even look through that because that has family photos in it. The, you know, the Middle Section of the book is Kinda like the, what I got in trouble for saying this once, but like the proof life photos, you know, formals are pretty simple for the most part. But I had this, a grandma in the room and she said, what do you mean proof of life?

Shaun Gordon: 23:51 And I'm like, oh, that was not meant to be, you know, you're going to be in that photo. It was just a lot of times, you know, that's something that they would want to cut if they want to get down to because they want to tell the story in a wedding book. So many times you're flipping through it. It's like she's getting ready, he's getting ready to see each other before the wedding. And then there's this break of everyone looking at the camera, you know, and then it goes back into dancing and all this fun. So it's almost like this break in the middle of a book versus telling that story more fluid, but so many times those ended up in there because it's like, I want you to see that grandma and aunt so and so was there and things like that. Um, but those are like the majority of the people that are doing really well.

Shaun Gordon: 24:28 It's really setting that expectation and when we run surveys and things like that, what we get back is like, I don't believe that I am a good salesperson. And so I started to ask those top clients, do you feel like you're a salesperson? They're like, no. And I don't think my clients feel like they're being sold to. I'm just telling them this is what I offer. Like when I go to buy a car, I'm, they're selling me a car, but it's something that I'm like in the market for. So when they show up to your studio, what you know to that consultation, what is it that you offer?

Braedon Flynn: 25:00 And they don't really know what they want, unless you can help them understand what they want. A lot of times they don't, they've got a, it's potentially their first wedding, you know, most of the time it is and they haven't had that or maybe if they're on the younger side, none of their friends had been married and so setting the expectations but

Braedon Flynn: 25:20 I think it's more painting the picture for what, what do you want to do with this? And I've, I've heard are interviewed other photographers who are on the family photography side and talking about like actually going into their house and saying like, so what do you want to do with these photos? Like we're taking them, what do you want to do? Where, where do you want to see this print, you know, and how big, okay, here's this wall. It's maybe that could be, you know, we can do that like five foot, you know, that's, that's sort of the situation at the same deal as I've been able to explain. Are you just going to have your photos sitting on the computer or do you want this heirloom that can be passed down to generation and generation and be able to show your grandkids like only you know, those sort of things.

Braedon Flynn: 25:58 So I do think it's not as much sales and upselling as painting a picture for really what would make your client happy. Like this is this is the end product, right? Versus just like being out for yourself and trying to make more money. You're really trying to make your client more happy.

Shaun Gordon: 26:18 I was thinking about different ways to say that. I, I flew today so I was on a plane for awhile and it was listen to a book and it was talking about merging and like ego and different things like that. But I was thinking about this: it's easy when you go to a car salesman, like that's Kinda like the used car salesman doesn't have the best rap. You know what I was thinking? What if you were a writer? And like, what is it that your delivery, how do you tell your story?

Shaun Gordon: 26:40 What if I was a writer that just gave you all the words and you had to like print it off and then read it or something like that. There's like a, there's a gap there. So what do you want to deliver as the photographer as well, like where do you want your work to live? There's nothing wrong with social media. It's a beautiful thing. I mean lots of people end up seeing our work because of social media. Referrals, you know, travel and things like that come from those types of things. And that's a great avenue, for certain things. But so many times, like in the consultation for me and they industry consultation, I was doing a lot of consultation, probably shouldn't 50 weddings. Literally. I was like, I got the chills every single time I talked about the book because I said, here's the deal, you know, it's not a shocker that marriage isn't easy.

Shaun Gordon: 27:21 And so down the road, let's say you're arguing about finances or how we're gonna raise our kid or work or something like that, and it's like, I don't really like you right now. But remember when our photographer was talking about this book? Think of a wedding day, when are you ever going to buy dinner for 100 of your friends? Ever, ever one time. And it's your wedding day. You get all dolled up. You know, we're likely more fit than we ever will be. Like, we're so excited because it's a big moment to make this decision to be with this person for the rest of her life, (hopefully). And so everything is shaped around this moment where you guys make these vows down the road when things aren't going so great, just pull up. That book is mad as you are. It's going to be very hard.

Shaun Gordon: 28:04 That book's going to feel even heavier. You're not going to want to look at it, but open it up and ask yourselves, 'why did we look at each other this way, that day? Because there was nothing else weighing on us'. And I saw you for this person and of course, you know, we don't do really well when stresses are on us and you know, uh, when we're in those kinds of like arguments and things like that. But if we can get back to this moment, I think I like this person and it's not just because it's this perfect day, it's because I saw in you that day that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you. And so even me as a photographer, I've done my job. If you open that book down the road and look through it because it's like such a fun day, your friends and family are there to celebrate this moment and it's a lot less likely that you're going to go and try and find these photos on a computer and hopefully be able to even find them in your piles and piles of photos.

Shaun Gordon: 28:54 You know? And like I said, social media is a beautiful thing to share some of our work. But when it's printed, it, it literally. To me, I wonder if I ever saved a marriage by saying because I said it to probably hundreds of clients and like what we do is a beautiful thing. Where do I want it to live, you know? And I would love to see it printed when I walk into. I still, I haven't shot for three years now and I walk into past clients that are now friends or friends that hired me to photograph their family and I have friends, pictures that I took and it was the one time they hired a professional photographer and their kids are like 14 years old and in that photo they're six. But I still love seeing it on their wall and I get the chills again because it's just like, that's why I do what I do with the camera.

Shaun Gordon: 29:38 I want to see it like this and relive that moment with them with my clients and for them, it's even a bigger deal. So, um, I think the expectation is a huge deal, you know, ultimately investing in the relationship. So it's not just a transactional thing, so that referrals come from it is another huge thing that's more on the grand scheme of business, like how we get referrals and things, but ultimately that book is a walking commercial for us as well. So another trick that I did, a lot of my clients end up doing this as well as - I'm not like consulting, I'm just helping. That's what I love doing is just sharing people what worked for me, sharing with people what worked for me. So after that party I would send them a thank you note is handwritten and think, you know, hey, I love this about your wedding.

Shaun Gordon: 30:21 Thanks so much for allowing me to be a part of it. Um, and I would send them what now is called a little kiss, like a small version of their, of their book. I wanted you guys to have this, like throw it in your purse or you just always have it on you. And it truly was a gift. Um, ultimately they paid for it, you know, because I built it out in the pricing and things like that, but they were now at Christmas, there may or may not take their 12 by 12 massive book to Christmas, but they're going to have that, book in their purse, that little kiss when they're getting their hair done or wherever they're at, they're always have that on them. It's a walking commercial. And so it's just, that was me investing in the relationship again, but now they're like, they're 20, whatever, 30, whatever a lot of their friends could be.

Shaun Gordon: 31:04 That's why I did the party with the bridal party there because they likely know somebody that's going to be engaged. That's just a referral based things. But now they're just like walking around and he, you know, didn't you get wet if you didn't, you get married a few months ago? Yeah, it was amazing. You know, I'm loving this and things like that. I have my whole wedding right here, you know, just one of those things. And so again, it's setting that expectations, showing, showing your work regularly. In a printed product that's what they expect from you.

Braedon Flynn: 31:35 So with just going back to the whole element of being a small business owner and creating the margin.

Shaun Gordon: 31:46 Can you maybe just think of I could two or three systems that can get put in place and then we'll sort of wrap it up from there. But from either things that you've had to learn and do in your own life or like other people that you've been around that have done a good job of that or what someone is trying to get that more in their life. How would they do that?

Shaun Gordon: 32:05 Yeah, write out what it takes, what you think it takes to run your business and then just kinda like put them in order of what you love to the things that you may not really like to do and then just start to like keep my vision was what for my business? Why do I do this? When somebody comes into your studio, when somebody comes in and buys what you do, they're not buying what you do.

Shaun Gordon: 32:31 They buy. Why you do it, and so we have to understand and even tell ourselves, get back to why we do it so many times. So knowing that is literally, I think a huge step in, in, in the creative industry. Why we do it is very easy to see, like I'm stopping time and creating these images for my clients to see, but there's more to why you do it, you know, whether it's family or friends, but this margin that you're referring to is really, look at it on a business platform, write them all out, figure out what is it going to take for me to replace myself out of the financial side of the business. Meaning like somebody that is doing my taxes. Something as simple as that. There's automations for that nowadays. But there's people that do that and that's the first thing I want to get rid of in my business.

Shaun Gordon: 33:21 Most of the time, I don't mind spreadsheets. I'm not going to be the one that creates them. So finding people that can do that or systems that can do that, like a lot of our industry as well has evolved a lot. Digital, brought a lot of things, but even just like tools and things like that, a lot of the companies that I sit in a room with regularly, they're creating systems to help the creative get back to the camera in their business but whatever matters most to them. And so there's just a lot of things that can do the heavy lifting for us. And then there's outsourcing. So those are the three main things. And you can do this in your personal life or in your business and slash or in your business ultimately. From like cleaning your house to create margin so that you can work on your business more to like, I don't love editing so I need to find somebody to edit for me.

Shaun Gordon: 34:11 So you bring somebody in, they edit for you, you hire a company to edit for you. Um, you know, for Kiss, a lot of people are like, I'm not a good designer. So we ended up building a designer that's online and you can hire us to do your design for 50 bucks is where we start. We'll design a pretty simple book for you for 100 bucks. We'll work directly with your client. There's like so many systems out there. So what is it that you love to do, like when you go to work, what are the things that you left to do and then fight for those because if you get to do those all the time, you're not going to be able to stop talking about what you do for a living. And that's pretty rare still. You know, as creative entrepreneurs, we tend to start a business because we love something but then we can get away from it pretty easily.

Shaun Gordon: 34:53 So what are the things that are taking us away from that? And those are the ones that you want to find a system for and there's a lot of them out there, you know? So figuring out those things and I can talk about those all day, you know?

Braedon Flynn: 35:03 Yeah. I think an important thing also to have in there is I know my tendency is I would lean towards like workaholic. Where especially when you own your own business and it's like it's exciting to grow a business and an exciting to be like, have a lot of stuff going on, but creating margin by shutting off, turning off, you know, and actually forcing yourself to get exercise and forcing yourself to schedule dates with your spouse, with your girlfriend or boyfriend, you know, like that sort of stuff, dates with your kids, because it's, it's my tendency is to never stop working.

Braedon Flynn: 35:41 And so I've had to learn that like it's going to be okay tomorrow, you know? And this can wait until tomorrow and because there is going to constantly be more and more to be doing, but making sure it's a. This can be used in so many different ways, but it's almost like the airline analogy of, you know, "In case of emergency mass are going to come down from the roof. Make sure you put your own mask on first so you don't die and you can't put the mask on the person next to you to help out", but at the same deal, it's for your employees, for your clients, for your spouse, your kids, if you are, have a completely empty cup, metaphorically speaking and you're, you're going to be doing a disservice to everybody around you and everything that you're involved with if you are not taking care of yourself.

Shaun Gordon: 36:24 For a lot of my upbringing, for some reason I leaned on feeling that was selfish. And so I don't think I. and I also sort of, I'm a two or three on the Enneagram, somebody that is a helper and so always putting others before myself, which is like that good Christian thing to do. But at a certain point it's like if you go down the road you're like, Whoa, I am work that's in. That's how you get burnout. But yeah. Yeah. I'm really glad you brought that up because I could talk about books all day as much as you know. I love that. There's times where I'm just like, of course he's talking about books because he owns album company, you know, but ultimately what matters most is we are our biggest asset. Um, there's a book called essentialism that I read multiple times a year because it's not a, again, pursue simple essential ism.

Shaun Gordon: 37:13 It sounds like this minimalist way of living in, it's not, neither of these are, um, it's like what it is. So what is, what is it that matters to you and if you aren't the best version of you, what are you representing going out? But there's times where I was again, you know, working tons of hours for myself and when I was shooting 60 plus weddings a year, if any of my past clients, you know, I took care of all of you the same. Um, I really didn't, you know, in those years and it's when I got back to that point where I was like, oh, I'm looking forward to this weekend and I can't wait to create again, you know, because I was recharged again. But when I was shooting two or three a week and it was getting tough and so I, you know, read the writing on the wall and was like, I need to figure something out because I'm falling less and less in love with something that I couldn't wait to do every weekend.

Shaun Gordon: 37:59 But taking care of yourself, you know, it was like when I started to do yoga, I was so much better for the day because I had set an intention. I took time for myself. I love doing it in the morning because I was just, I was like glowing afterwards, you know, and I was like, Yoga, like I'm not very flexible and they're like, it's not about that. It's about just taking time to breathe. And I ended up in a studio that was all about setting an intention. I was so much better throughout that day. Then I was a. I just like woke up, picked up my phone emails. It's so easy to go straight into that, but taking care of yourself first. It has. It's totally sound selfish to me as well, but it's like what we just look at that a little bit different. What if it's that you're so much of a better version of you when you get to go on that date with your kid or with your boyfriend or girlfriend or spouse?

Shaun Gordon: 38:48 Like what if you're actually able to be present with them because you took care of yourself and you're not like running from a meeting right into the date with your kid. You know, I've set rules in my, in my life, like when I get to this point, like for me, one of my, one of the rules is like when I stepped on a plane to go home, I travel a lot for a kiss and with my family as well. When I'm traveling for work, I can listen to books and watch documentaries about work on the way to work. When I'm flying to the destination, as soon as I step on the plane to go home, no more business. I can't like listen to a business book. I can listen to a book for fun. I can check out and watch TV. I can listen to music because when I get home, I don't want to be wrapping up a phone call.

Shaun Gordon: 39:34 I've done it way too many times. I'm wrapping up a phone call. I'm sitting in the garage. I've been gone from my family for three, four or five to seven days and my kids waiting there, but what's more important at that moment? It's probably whatever is on the other line to him or her, but now they don't deal with that at all. When I get home, I've kind of reset, you know, it could be hours, it could be from lax to Indianapolis. Now it's a four hour flight. I'm, I've spent four hours reading whatever it is that gives me life, not business books. This is sort of getting life, but I'm, I'm ready for home at that point. I'm excited to see them. I, you know, dive out of the car. I don't even know where my phone is. I'm excited to see them. It's very different and I'm a better person when I show up at home because I invested in myself and that's just a rule me and my wife made.

Shaun Gordon: 40:18 And when I'm in town, I'll go into the office at times I work at a home, a lot of times there's a, there's a cutoff and it's a hard stop. I have to stop because I know my kids are going to be home or I have a date that night or something is happening so that I'm investing in myself so that when I'm with them it's like that's my goal. I want to live an authentic, authentic life and that just means genuine, honest, and I want to be present when I'm sitting with somebody. I don't want to be checked out up here thinking about business or worried about something, you know?

Braedon Flynn: 40:47 I resonate with that a lot because I struggle with that a lot I think. And I think I've definitely. I mean, my oldest kid, your kids a little bit older.

Braedon Flynn: 41:01 My oldest kid is almost nine and a lot of my growth of my business has come in that period of life and there's been so much traveling and so much not recognizing the problems. And the one thing that I've learned that if I could impart anything on anyone listening would be that, none of it matters. I feel like in my business, I've reached the pinnacle of success that I could, like really caring too. I've been featured in every magazine I could care to be featured in and like the ones that actually would die to be featured in it. I've been there, I've shot celebrities, I've shot that, you know, it's like, so you get to this place and it's like for what you know and, and at the sacrifice of what. And it's like you, you can listen or hear or meet people that are incredibly wealthy and they're not any happier, you know.

Braedon Flynn: 41:53 You've got to really take care of yourself is one and two. I've asked yourself like why are you doing what you're doing? And then what is important and make sure that those important things happen. I, I am all for hustling. I'm all for working hard. I'm all for working really well and performing really well. But at the same time, that is not the point of life that is not going to actually validate you, that's not going to make you feel like maybe even make me make you feel more awesome. But at a certain point you're going to get to a place and being like, this is, I hope you would get to a place that you say like, this is, this is all trash compared to what actually is important in life. And I've had to get there and some like pretty heavy crashing ways, you know, and almost losing my family, you know, to a degree and have had to have some major wake up calls.

Braedon Flynn: 42:49 And I mean that's a part of why I like doing these videos is trying to encourage like the people that like trying to get to like be maybe where I am to be like, hey listen, like there's one, like have grace and patience on yourself. But then too, it's like learn some of these lessons have been learned, you know?

Shaun Gordon: 43:06 I'll kind of finish with these couple of points. That is really great, Karen, that side of things and it's interesting you said your oldest is nine. It was like my oldest was nine. He's now 17, but when he was nine I was shooting a lot of weddings and my wife, we got to a point where she came in the room and said like, I'm done with this way of living because you're clearly. And she didn't. She wasn't able to put words around it that day like this, but she's like, you're clearly chasing one thing and it's like fame, fortune, and that is one way that we measure ourselves.

Shaun Gordon: 43:40 It's probably the easiest way for us to measure ourselves. I can look at the account and I know how much money's in there. There's nothing wrong with that, but we can't only look there. We have to understand why we're doing it and how we're serving others. Those two are so much harder to measure ourselves because it's not like we can put a measuring stick up to it and know how well we're doing. A lot of times we have to ask for feedback or just know that what we're causing is what's coming out the other side. Um, but money is one of those things. It's like, it sounds amazing and all those things and it is, there's some great things that it does, but if that is the only reason, then it's like we're in for pretty empty life. Like I was to the point where I was going to, I know I can hustle and make money, um, but it's not like so that I can come home to this amazingly massive empty home.

Shaun Gordon: 44:27 That's where I was headed as well. And it was like we went through a really, really tough time. We got authentic with each other and realized, okay, how is it that we're going to love each other going forward? And it wasn't like the business was crushing me, it was, it was how I was viewing it was. And I was Kinda like foggy anyway and in my own way. But once that all cleared out and it was like I could see why I did what I did, it made work more fun as well. Like I loved what I did, but I was on the verge of burnout and then I look back at home. Things aren't going well there. It was like a, I need to figure some stuff out. I need to figure out what I was doing, all of this for what mattered and then get back to focusing on those things.

Shaun Gordon: 45:06 And sometimes it takes a season of hustle so that we can have those moments with our family or to travel or whatever. The why is that we do this. But it is. It's interesting how, how few things matter when you really take a good look at it and it's like a morning, have coffee with my wife is what matters. And if I can do all of this to get moments like that, I will do all of this. But I want, I have to keep getting back to that. And it's through those conversations that I want to have with her that like keep me going so many times. So I appreciate you being honest as well, but it just resonated with me because it was when my son was nine, I've, I've apologized to my son because I was like the first nine years of your life. I wasn't checked in like I took them on daddy duty, so I thought I was doing all the things that I needed to for my son, but it was like I wasn't present in those times, like I couldn't sit across the table from them and be there.

Shaun Gordon: 45:58 I was like, thinking about how to make the next dollar or whatever it was. Um, and so I wasn't there with him. Now I can sit down with him and we have these amazing conversations about him and it is a beautiful relationship now. But, uh, you know, we have to fight for it. You don't just wake up and have that. It takes investment and that's what matters to me. And so I do a lot of this stuff and I love what I do, but it can take us away from what really matters pretty easily. That's powerful. Uh, and I think a really, it's a really good thing to have in the front of your mind, especially if you're starting out or you're like, no matter where you are, it's like checking in. I, I live by the word intentionality because I think nothing, nothing you really want to happen.

Shaun Gordon: 46:40 Happens without being intentional about relationships, you know, all that. And so if people want to find out more about kiss books, where do they go? And then also is there anything that they can like watch or like if you're doing education stuff? Yeah. So you can follow some social media anywhere you typing kiss books, we will pop up. So, instagram, in any of those avenues you can find us there. Kiss that us is our url. I'm, I'm at Sean Austin. Um, when I first started the, my photography business, I was Austin photography, so I'm still @ShaunAustin. But yeah, it will be. I mean if you just follow us on our website, you, you'll get, it's an avenue to all of these things. We're launching a lot of education. We're building, we're launching some stuff in September that is education based, specifically on albums, but we'll be doing a lot of this stuff like what matters, why, how do you build business, why you getting back to those types of things.

Shaun Gordon: 47:30 So we'll be sharing about albums but a lot of other things as well. And there's a lot of platforms and things that we're building for efficiencies for photographers. So follow along. We're hoping to just continue to create a space where the creative entrepreneur can thrive and build tools around that so that we can focus on what matters most to us. So yeah. Yeah.

Braedon Flynn: 47:49 Well how cool you are doing all that and then also for any photographers that are watching this, if speaking of margin, if you don't know about Film Supply Club yet, we have a lot of different partnerships and relationships. Kids books is going to be one of those, but I'm actually a lot of tools to be able to delegate parts of Your Business and we have relationships with them.

Braedon Flynn: 48:30 And here it is, but everything from bookkeeping to virtual assistants to, you know, where he hosts your gallery is to have every everything he needs photographer, we've really hand picked that for you. So that's a core resource filmsupply.club. And I'll have, I'll have links to that in the video or below that, but check those out and stay tuned for more. Really hoped you love that conversation and found something you can go apply to your own business. And if you didn't know there's a ton more content from before this podcast was started over on the photo report dot Com. Or you can search youtube for the artist report for even more. There's a bunch of interviews just with amazingly talented people talking about their business and how they got there. So please, and if you did like this podcast or like a couple of the episodes, please go give us review on itunes. It really helps spread the word and gets his podcast notice for other photographers, thinks tons for listening. Go be well and shoot well, and don't forget to enjoy the journey on the way.

041 Dealing with Client Inquiries

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Below is the transcription from the conversation with Perry and Braedon:

Braedon Flynn: 00:00 Well, hey, welcome to the or report. This episode is going to be a little different than all the other ones. I was having a conversation with Perry Vail, who we, if you look back a few episodes, did a full interview with her and through that interview we came up or just popped up with some questions and found some differences in the way that we do business and she wrote me an email the other day or last week trying to just say, hey, let's maybe have a chat about some of this stuff regarding pricing and clients, maybe not pricing, but dealing with clients and inquiries on the specific side of that. So I think this is gonna be an interesting conversation for you all to listen in to you. So we thought we'd just record it and be able to put it on the podcast. So here it goes. Welcome Perry. Thanks for being on here.

Perry Vaile: 00:41 Thank you. Thank you for letting me come back and talk to you. I apparently cannot have enough of it, so

Braedon Flynn: 00:47 just need to on stage....

Perry Vaile: 00:48 I have to. Yeah, yeah. Well, I have lots of questions always and forever. So.

Braedon Flynn: 00:53 Cool. Well yeah, what sparked you wanting to have this conversation?

Perry Vaile: 00:57 Yeah, so we had a chat, like maybe a month ago or something like that about how I was doing client inquiries and stuff like that and managing and balancing life and essentially we realized that were very different. Which, you know, I immediately, it was like, well, we're different. And then I was like, well, I'm curious now. So we're different in that I, right now I'm mainly because I had a new baby for the last year, so I kind of tried to streamline everything, which means that I got an inquiry and I would send an immediate pricing packet right away. Namely to just cut down on the amount of talking I was doing to incoming inquiries because there was so many that couldn't afford it. So to me the pricing, giving it to them immediately was beneficial because it immediately gave me the clients when they could come back and could afford it. And then I could invest my time and then you did it a little differently. Now explain that just a little bit.

Braedon Flynn: 01:54 Yeah. And I'd say for me, I generally don't send it out. I don't have any pricing on my website. I don't send out any pricing, more so because I know it does take a lot of time and I've, I, you can consider it wasting time.... In Perry's eyes. Just kidding. Just kidding. But generally am trying to get in front of as many people as I can because I feel like the biggest asset I have, and I would say that you have it as well, Perry, is I have that little element of charm that I like to lay on and I feel like if I can get someone in front of me, I can generally win them over. The other side of it is I really, really want to be vetting the couples that I'm photographing. And so the skype intro is a way for me to sort of see them and their chemistry together.

Braedon Flynn: 02:40 Does one of them talk the whole time while the other one sits quiet. Are they going to be really awkward to shoot? Are they people that you know you're going to like. When you meet someone you know if you're going to connect with them and I try and do that as much as I can. I will settle for a phone call, but I generally try to face time or skype in those meetings. Sometimes they're 40 minutes or 30 minutes to an hour, but it gives you that in the first couple of seconds. I used to have an office manager in the office with me and she would look over and she'd either be like, you didn't like them. Did you know? Or you did just in the, in the way that I engage in the way that I am, but you can, you can read that really quick and so I want to be able to have that opportunity to see is this a couple I want to photograph? And because sometimes I know if I just was to send my pricing, I wouldn't hear back from them. Which is, I think what is happening with you and why you were wanting, wanting to have this conversation, but that's generally what I'm doing.

Perry Vaile: 03:30 Yeah. Okay. Well, yeah, I think that's really interesting and I think maybe I had a crutch because I do get a lot of inquiries. I wasn't really having to work a time to get the inquiries and so I kind of considered, once I had their information on the inquiry, they had the pricing and then I could go back and then set up a phone call. Maybe we can work something out, you know, but sometimes people flat out won't even want to talk once they've seen pricing because they're freaked out or anything. So No, I think what you're, what you do is a really good way to do it. So my question for you, and I have a million of them is uh, I guess first and foremost, where do you get most of your leads? Like what kind of leads are there? Because I feel like mine were very, a lot that come in through my inquiry or very cold, you know, they're just coming off of Google and stuff like that. So we're, where are you getting most of yours? You're getting them that you're having these set up calls with I guess.

Braedon Flynn: 04:26 Totally. So there it's coming from a lot of different places and I mean I've been doing this for, I don't know, 12 years and have had my work published on every publication. Lincoln, you know, and those, those are really long you would in the Internet scheme of things that's considered long tail. Um, my, when I switched my website somehow my blog disappeared, which is a bummer because I used to have everything tied into that and a lot of links going to that. Um, but uh, so yeah, that was really fun. But a lot of, there's a long tail where I've had work featured from years ago that is still, you know, someone looks up a venue and they see that wedding and inquire that way. So I get a mix of inquiries coming from just they've found my work or follow me on instagram that way and then the other half is coming from wedding planners or I actually get a decent amount from venue referrals as well. Yeah, absolutely. And so that I would say that would be the three different areas that I get them from. And what I try to do is in my, in my inquiry, I want couples to write about themselves. I have some questions, right.

Perry Vaile: 05:31 I'll look at it now.

Braedon Flynn: 05:32 Yeah. I mean it's pretty basic and I actually want to add more to it, but the, there's just one question on there that says, tell me, hey, you know, there's the standard ones, like where are you getting married, what's your date? And then tell us, tell me about yourselves and your wedding. And so I find with that is sort of a tell on the type of person that is inquiring. If they just write me and they give me a date and they say, what's your price? I already don't like them and I don't and at that stage. I might just, I will say I have a little email response that I always send. I personalize every single email because I don't, I mean if you think about it, and I've thought about this with myself and I'm sort of saying this about you not meaning it, but

Braedon Flynn: 06:18 A lot of wedding photographers are sort of lazy in the sales process. If this was any other business and I think we were to treat our inquiries, that are actually these pretty massive sales, you know, we don't treat them very sacredly and cherish them and actually cultivate them. Where some other businesses and other people who are not getting as many inquiries as you, you know, they are having to work so hard to get those leads. And then when, when we're in a position where we get a lot of leaders are like, ah, I don't know, like I'm, you know, I book enough, that sort of thing, where it basically, it's, I've been getting myself to just take a lot more care and personalize everything that I'm sending out. One thing I did that you mentioned was you sent out.

Braedon Flynn: 07:05 I'm out here on a little trip with my inlaws and so I've been off limits from working and so I got an inquiry and you'd mentioned this in our interview. You said you sometimes send a little text message video and I did that and the couple of debt and totally I just said, "hey, it's Braedon. How are you? I'm so excited that you're getting married, that I'm honored that you reached out. And I'm on a, I'm on a trip with my family. It's a holiday the new year. Uh, I will get back to you soon as I can, but I just wanted to say a quick hi and I would love to chat more about your wedding", you know, and, and they wrote back like, oh my gosh. So sweet and I'm like, yeah, totally. Yeah. So I mean that for me that, that little question and sort of seeing their responses and if they don't ask pricing that's even better because or you know, they sometimes will write like photography is the most important thing to us or they write about how they love their friends and they just want this to be a cool event for me.

Braedon Flynn: 08:03 That's a tell on the type of people they are and so I will spend more time on that. But what I was saying earlier, even when they just ask for pricing, I will write in there and I'll say hey I love the venue you chose if I did or didn't. And then you know, it's like hey, I usually try to meet with couples because I feel like relationship is a really big part of what I do. I feel like I play the most intimate role on your wedding day and I want to make sure. I think it's important for you to have connection with your photographer, photographer, and for me to have connection with you and that shows in the camera. So I'd love to set up a meeting and chat more and then if they respond again, sometimes they don't respond and that sort of leads on people before they ever get pricing. Sometimes sometimes some people are just shopping and I don't want a person who's just shopping there. They're not like, yeah, totally. And then so from there, then if they write back and they just asked for pricing, then I'll send it not. And they, you know, here it is and I know they're not going to respond to because going to be way higher than what. Because if price is what they care about, I'm not there. I'm not there photographer, I'm going to be too expensive. Right.

Perry Vaile: 09:01 No, I totally agree. Yeah, I think that's, I mean I think it's a great way and I will own every bit of being lazy. But the last year because I had a call, colicky, terrible baby, and to survive I had to get real lazy on the inquiry side. Um, you know, and I think like I said, it made it not so hard because now when a planner came to me it was a totally different process, you know, the automation really came through cold leads on my inquiry form, you know, and so I think that I was, I was reading somewhere I wish I could remember now, which made me think of it and it was saying why you get ghosted, which I'm always interested, you know, because I always want to know even if they're going to, I don't really get upset if somebody doesn't choose me because I feel like, well it's not who they want, you know, I don't want them and they don't want me.

Perry Vaile: 09:46 But I'm always curious as to the reasons behind somebody's not following back up or, or you know, even having somebody where, you know, you're like, oh, this is a dream. It's in the off season. I would do anything to make this wedding happened. And they don't even ask. Even if you love them, you know, and I'm like, oh, just like open up and ask me these questions. You know. So I was reading about it and some of the things they were saying is that they get too much information upfront, um, in terms of like a big giant, long email, which I definitely have done in the past because I was like, take the information, I have to rock a screaming baby in the moment, you know, um, but I'm, I'm moving past that and I want to kind of gear things back up and um, and so it was just interesting, you know, to hear that somebody could get too much information or clearly getting pricing too soon is a problem. Um, and so I'm curious, that's why I want to try something new and test it out and see if I can sustain all of these kind of client touches that you're doing. So how much time are you spending on these phone calls? Like a week? Like how much time, if you're spending 40 minutes on a phone call and a minute in, you realize they're not a good fit, but you're still gonna try, you know?

Braedon Flynn: 11:03 Uh, I would say each call ends up being a minimum of 30 minutes. And sometimes if I, if I get a read like right off the bat like I can, I can shorten it. But I almost always through my call I, here's how I go. I generally try to talk about myself as little as possible. I started out and I asked them questions about them, like, how did you guys meet? Tell me about yourselves, what, what do you like, what do you, what gets you going, what do you do when you're not working, what do you like? I get them talking and then it gets probably like 20 so minutes in, I go in, then it shifts and I say, Hey, do you want me to tell you a little bit about what I do? And they're always like, oh yeah, right. And then so then I tell them my spiel and here's how I work and here's what I do, here's what I love and what I love about what ideal.

Braedon Flynn: 11:50 And then I get to the point where, you know, I get done with that. And then I asked them, I was like, so do you have any sort of like, do you have an idea of what you're trying to keep your photo budget? So I always want to try to ask that question first. What is your photo budget? But I ask it like in the sales call, I don't ask it in an email and I asked him after, after I've charmed them and you know, so then I get an idea. And so sometimes you know, they say it's $2,500 and then you're like, oh, okay, well,

Perry Vaile: 12:24 so how do you start a little, what is your reaction if I'm your client, my budget is $2,100 and I'm so excited we want to have you Braden, we love you. What?

Braedon Flynn: 12:34 Totally. And then I say, "well, hey listen I'm so sorry I started a little bit higher than that. And um, my, my base package, you know, like could start in the $10,000 range, you know, but generally for a full weekend it can be up to like $20k - $30k+", you know? Some people have no idea about what an appropriate budget is. They've never had a sibling get married, they're the first of their friends to get married and their parents have just given them a budget and then I will say something like, "Hey, listen, I love your wedding...." And, and part of it too is like, let's say they're having a Friday wedding or let's say they had a wedding that is off season. Like I've actually made deals with couples that I say, "hey listen, like I don't think that this Friday is going to get booked....."

Braedon Flynn: 13:22 Yeah, I know for some people they really like to have their like date tie down, locked in, planned out. But here's the deal that I can make for you. And this is me sort of sharing my insights. But I, I will say he's like, listen, I really like you guys and I will only do this if I, if they've charmed me, you know, and I really do want to be a part of their wedding and because sometimes I've let me finish my thought. What um, what I'll do is I'll say, hey, listen, like I don't think I'm going to book this wedding, but if I end up with like a $25,000 a weekend, I can't shoot your wedding for $5,000.

Perry Vaile: 13:57 Okay, that's a big problem that I have too

Braedon Flynn: 13:59 totally. And it's devastating, you know, if, if that does happen. But I say, listen, if that comes along, I will temporarily put a hold on your date for you. If something comes along. I have so many connections and so many friends I will be able to set you up with another photographer. I would love to shoot your wedding. So if you can like deal with this, I can come down to your budget. But if this other big weekend wedding comes along, I have to take that. And they generally get that because it's a massive amount of money and then they feel really honored about me coming to the wedding and being able to shoot their wedding at a discount. And what I was going to say earlier is I've had it to the point where a mom at the wedding, the mom of the bride came up and she's like, I am almost more excited to have you at this wedding than the wedding itself, you know, it's like those, those sort of things though. But it makes it where for me that that feels really special. People were really excited to have me there. They gave me complete control, complete trust because they, they really are excited that I am gonna do my thing, you know. So I've only, I've done that on a handful of times and there's only been one time where I had to hand it off and I was able to hand it off to someone who is really great that was local, didn't have to fly in and ended up saving them money.

Perry Vaile: 15:15 That there's a caveat that you might have to. Yes, transfer and all that stuff. Yeah. I've had that same situation where I guess I, I am a little bit more long winded when I say things. I think you were very succinct in the way that you addressed it, you know, because I've had that same exact situation. I'm like, Oh my God, I love them. I don't think somebody would get it, but you know, if they did it would, it would mean that you'd have to keep an eye. Like we just made it this a little bit of a convoluted process, you know, if something else came along, because it's hard to say that because I wouldn't want somebody to think like it means it's a better wedding so I don't want you because that's not it. It's just, it's business. It's your family and you're not going to give up 20,000, you know, to do something if you have the opportunity for something that will sustain your family longer.

Braedon Flynn: 16:02 Yeah. And I, I always started out saying that, listen, I can't take it for this price if you're to lock it in. And I, and I can't deal with this caveat and it's, I started doing that with friends when I had friends who wanted and I was like embarrassed to give them my prices and I get it. I know I wouldn't, I, but, but, uh, but I started saying, man, I want to shoot your wedding and so bad, so this is the only way that I can do it. And they're like, okay, rod. And, and totally trust me with the people that I'm able to supply them with if it's not me, you know? So, so that's, that's been good. I mean, I, I don't do that very often, but I have done that when it's like someone who is a dream couple or there's other times too when it's like, I know that most of my weddings are really big and anonymously I haven't.

Braedon Flynn: 16:49 Like there's, there's some that are really, really incredible. But some of these really higher budget weddings I don't enjoy as much. And that's just the honest nature of sometimes that like $5,000. Bride is the sweetest, best, coolest with style and a lot of the like super hip, stylish, hipster type weddings. They don't have budgets, you know, and that's, that's how I got my start was a lot, was a lot of my friends and friend groups and had these really, really cool couples getting married at a really cool venues and that that's what people wanted to see and like. But uh, so, so where I'm going long winded with that is sometimes there'll be a really rad couple. They don't have a budget. It's still would have been maybe a $30,000 weekend, but I'm charging them a lot less because that's their budget and they can't afford more and I really want to shoot their wedding because this is going to give me life and it's gonna make me really enjoy what I'm doing. And then I can. I can take a couple of those a year. So knowing that I'm a decent weekend in the summer and I'm probably going to get other inquiries which I already have, but this couples really rad and I'm going to have like all musicians, they come out of the magazine publishing world, they're going to have like the first night is all bad, you know, it's, it's going to be a really fun weekend and that's the stuff that I love. So I want to be a part of that.

Perry Vaile: 18:10 We'll look forward to that. And a season two, it just kind of adds, I think, some seasoning to what could be adult season if you just had big blowouts, you know, and not a lot of feeling on it. So I get that. So I guess when do you. Because I definitely needed to have those conversations, but more so mine would be happening through email, you know, and uh, clearly that's a lot harder sale through email. So are you saying that immediately when you hear their budget on that very first call, you're like, hey, couldn't do it for this and then we'll offer it. And then I follow up to this. Is that what I do, and I'm wondering if you do, is if I do ever offer a deal like that in that circumstance, I put a time limit on it because I just wouldn't want them to go then shopping that, that special deal because it's supposed to be special, you know, it's like you don't want somebody dating multiple people. So do you put a time limit on those kinds of special deals are, would you consider or do you think it doesn't help?

Braedon Flynn: 19:07 Yeah, so the first question was I, I do do that all via conversation because, so let's say this, it was a real situation that I was talking about a second ago where it's and it's coming up for 20, 19 the if I was to have sent them my pricing, I wouldn't have had the conversation with them and wouldn't have booked their wedding and, and it's one that I'm probably, I've got some much bigger budget weddings this coming year, but I'm probably most excited about this one. You know, and it's. So there's that. So I generally do that all in con. Like I feel like email is a difficult thing because you can't see personality, you can't see tonality, you can't see your facial expressions, any of those things. And even when I'm writing couples to try to set up that first meeting, I let them know like it's, there's, there's a lot of photographers out there with really beautiful portfolios, but it's really easy to take a good picture and it's again coming back to I feel like I play the most intimate personal role on your day and you know, especially as a man is for the, for most brides, like I'm probably going to see you naked, you know.

Braedon Flynn: 20:16 So there's, there's that element with that. Yeah, you know, it's like those, those things is like you really need to trust and like that person that is, you know, taking photos of you on your most intimate day. So yeah, I, I try to do everything in conversation as possible, even if they won't face to face time all settled for a phone call because you can still get better there.

Perry Vaile: 20:36 Brief is that initial email that you reply to them with to get them to then get them on the phone or how much personality is in that initial email?

Braedon Flynn: 20:44 Uh, it is. I start out, I always say something like if they've written something nice about themselves, I always comment into that. So it doesn't feel like a generic email. I always, if I don't know their venue, I look it up and I say something about their venue again to make it feel personal. And then I write something about, hey, would love to set up a facetime meeting with you. Do you have anything later today or later this week? And here's why. Because I want it to be personal and would love to meet you. Let me know. Let me know when works best for you.

Perry Vaile: 21:12 What percentage would write back on that? What percentage do you hear back from? Even if they can't afford or it doesn't work out, how many does disappear before they even follow it back in?

Braedon Flynn: 21:22 Um, I don't know the percentage, but there's still a handful and that is one of those things. It's always really weird. Is like you emailed, you're obviously interested. I didn't give you anything other than you are d. no, there's pricing in there so why have you not responded? You know, and sometimes I'm, I started, there's, there's a couple, there's a through, I don't know if it's just your gmail but it's through hubspot. You can get something called follow up cc or there's some things within Gmail that you can set that, I forget what it's called, this follow up, but just sometimes because you get so many inquiries that once I respond to one I'd forget to then even follow up. But when I had an office manager I would make sure that there'll be one of the things through. I use 17 hats and to set those little reminders to check like how if I heard from them and then after a week or so I'll write back like, hey, just checking in, wrote back something like that. Like would love, we'd love to chat. And then sometimes people write back neck, oh my gosh, I'm just so busy and you know, wedding planning and working and that I wrote back, I get it.

Perry Vaile: 22:22 Have you heard of the magic email before? Do you use it? No. No. Okay. So I used them Sato, um, which is like 17 hats I think. Yep. Um, and so there's a lot of. And you can also view the view of a client is opened your email and 17 hats. No. Okay. So this is nice because then I can see if they've opened it and how recently they've opened it, which I really like. Um, but something that I use on there that I will automate after the fact if I don't hear from somebody is something called the magic email, which I think is used more in like marketing, like, you know, salespeople online. You can google it, but it's a certain way of phrasing and directly asking in a really, I guess soft way about their, their continued interest basically saying like, it's no pressure if you don't want to, you're really busy.

Perry Vaile: 23:07 But essentially, um, I, you know, I'll just close out your inquiry if you're no longer interested. So there's some way, and I haven't actually typed it myself in a while because when I send the magic email it's just, it's a, it's a copy and paste, but it's a form and it's amazing the ghosted, the people that I considered to be just off in the wind forever, they come back because of the way that the email is phrased and tell me, you know, either it was too expensive, which is most always what I hear back or that they just had gone in another direction or something like that. You should try it if you ever want to catch some of those lost ghosts because it's, it's really amazing. The percentage of people that will. It's like a psychological thing. It's like the way that it's phrased, but you can see it online. They, I think they sell it, but you can find free versions.

Braedon Flynn: 23:52 Totally. Yeah. So I feel like I didn't know if that was like a tool that you use it

Perry Vaile: 23:57 specific wording that I feel like it's like 80 percent response or something

Braedon Flynn: 24:01 amazing. Yeah, I'll take that out. I feel like I'd write something sort of similar and it does sometimes get that response of just giving an explanation where like, oh, you know, like we went. Sometimes people are like, oh, we changed our data, were confused. Or sometimes they're like, I've done that for people thought for sure that it was dead. And they wrote back to Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry I've been busy. We want a book. And I was like, Oh for a massive wedding. That just happened recently too. So I completely, I literally completely wrote you off and going to be a really cool wedding.

Perry Vaile: 24:31 Yeah, that's okay. Well that's really interesting. Um, so you have your conversation 30 minutes with them. Can you continue to have face to face discussions with them throughout the process or do you then kind of move it to email and make it simpler and that kind of thing?

Braedon Flynn: 24:45 Then I move it to email. So from there I will say I've got a little email that I'll send afterwards where follows up. Um, you know, I try to write something that we talked about and then I say, here's what I'll need. If you guys want a book, here's what I'll need from you, here's the info that I need and I'll put together a contract and let me know are, you know, a lot of the couples that I'm shooting, their weddings are full weekends. I was like, Hey, listen, how many days of coverage are we doing? Are there other events that we need to do and let me know and then we can sort of. And then from there I do have, even though I've told them my pricing, I have an actual pricing sheet with some different options to telling them. And I also, you know, something we talked about in our other interview that I did with you was that I do customized pricing for each wedding. I try to figure out what it is that they need and want. And I don't want to just send like five packages. I will send something, I will send two options, one with the different days that they want and then another one with an album.

Perry Vaile: 25:37 That's it. Yeah. That's interesting. And how, um, so when you ask them their pricing in the, you know, in the face to face, you have the ones that are like $2,000 in. They're shocked and terrified at the pricing, but what about the ones that are in the middle that do you have a decent budget but we're not expecting to spend what your rates are? How often are you able to talk them up and how do you kind of stretch them into coming up a little bit higher on that budget ceiling?

Braedon Flynn: 26:06 Yeah, that's a great question. And it, it's happened when I first started my very first year of shooting weddings, which was, I don't know, again, like 11 ish 12 years ago. My base price started out at $5,000. And this, I'm actually, I've got a podcast that'll be coming up that I recorded a while ago that's talking about pricing and pricing strategies and pricing. Brandon and. But I'm. One of the things that I would do is I knew that most couples, not everyone would be able to look at $5,000, but pricing is a perception, so there's this element of like when you, if you are $2,000 photographer versus the $5,000 photographer just looking at a product bag versus you know, a gap bag or banana republic, there's, there's an instant reaction that happens and so pricing, it's a perception. So by having a higher price but even lit know knowing that you would take a wedding for $2,500, you can, I would still come in and ask the question, be like, Hey, do you have an idea what your budget is?

Braedon Flynn: 27:09 Sometimes they'd say $3,500. Sometimes they say $6,500 and at that stage would say if it was $6,500, well hey usually I started about 7,500 but would love to. I think I could work with you. Other times, you know, if it was $5,000 again, if I liked the couple, it was either a way to be like, hey, or let's say I did not like the couple of very much and or I just felt like it was going to be like a really difficult painful wedding to shoot at a venue that was just going to be like I hate this venue and the. So I would use pricing as a way to weed them out and be like, hey, sorry I can't budge, you know, like this is my price. I'm sorry, but if it was a couple that really charmed me and I was excited about their venue, they're like, I could tell they had style at that stage and let's say they were coming in at 3,500.

Braedon Flynn: 27:58 I would say, hey listen, usually I start at 5,000. Do you feel like you have any wiggle room? Like I would really love to shoot your wedding. Immediate answer sometimes. I mean sometimes that is their budget. Sometimes they, I mean I would say a lot of couples don't have any idea. Sometimes it's just a number of their parents have given them and you educate them. Do you say most photographers are in this range? You go that far. Sometimes I would say. I mean when someone comes in at a really low. Like today, if someone comes in at a really low budget, I say hey listen, I, I'm not gonna be able to pull that off, but here, let me give you some advice. Like I don't think I feel like any photographer, and I'm sorry if you're listening on your price at this level. I think maybe if you are priced at this level and you've been shooting for a long time, I think you are underpriced not talking to you Perry.

Braedon Flynn: 28:45 This is for anyone listening. But like if I tell couples, I listen, if you're, if you're booking a photographer for less than $3,500, they're either brand new or they don't really know what they're doing or they are shooting a massive volume of weddings and you're not going to be a very special client to them. You know? So like realistically defined a good photographer and I can tell by, you know, this is what I'd say to them, it's like, it can tell you really like photography that like I, you need to be looking at someone at a minimum of $5,000 and you know, and I've talked to a certain wedding planners, as they say, they won't refer people, they won't refer photographers that are less than certain price points, like less than $6,500 because the wedding planner knows if you're less than that price, you're probably newer to the game.

Braedon Flynn: 29:29 You probably don't value your own work. You don't, you can't justify a price that's higher than that know. So for those of you that are listening and you are priced at that level, you need to probably raise your or you really need to like build your own, I guess portfolio and experience so that you can raise those prices if you don't feel like you can justify higher prices in that. Yeah. Yeah. No, I agree. I think it's really interesting too, because a lot of clients come in without any clue besides the [inaudible] dot com, which is not giving them accurate information. Well, you know, I love the night, um, but sometimes the way the averages work with people in weddings doesn't necessarily reflect the images they are seeing on instagram and the quality that they're seeing with what those budget weddings were and stuff like that.

Braedon Flynn: 30:16 So I think it is interesting to find a way to educate the clients in a way that is not off putting, you know, is not saying your budget isn't high enough, but it's just saying to protect yourself, this is what you're really, what your expectations are, you know, this is what the price point is or something like that. So I think that's really good. Do you ever have like when you have. So for example, the planner inquiries, which don't ever come through my inquiry, those come to me directly, you know, depending on how close of a friend that planner is. Sometimes via text, you know, they're just asking me what date, if I have open, how much do you require to communicate with those clients? So I would say that is, I always will even at that stage because I know that that planner is giving them probably three or four different people, you know, and I want to give a little caveat here that I was going to say at the end, but I just, I really love our industry and especially the photographers because for again, those of you listening, Perry and I are potential competitors, you know, we were friends with the same planners were friends with this, but just this really openness of being able to like share pricing strategies and share like how to book clients better.

Braedon Flynn: 31:26 You know, it's um, I think it's really special. So hopefully you listening just recognize that as well, that this is a special thing, but it's also like a really cool industry that we're in. But back to your question is with planners, I feel like they are giving a prequalification that this client can afford you. And, and that also, I know certain planners that have macs that they're booking couples out at like 10,000 would be a really high price. And then there's other planners that I know I'm getting bid against the. They'll tell me I'm getting bid against Jose. I'm getting bid against Elizabeth, I'm getting bid against, you know, Katie. And at that stage I know that obviously those couples have a pretty massive budget if that's who they're looking at. So there's a big range, but I still, as you know, because you said this in other interviews, a lot of times planners are just booking you.

Braedon Flynn: 32:17 You never even meet with a couple. They like, you, they, the pricing works you're in. For me, I still, that happens probably 50 percent of the time. The other 50 percent of the time I still will say like, listen, I know that you're shopping them around and they're looking to some other people. Can I get in front of them? Because I, I know that if I can get in front of them I can, like, they'll like me and I can convey like what it is that I do. And I think that'll make a difference if they're just looking at portfolios and pricing. So I always push for that because I really feel like it's my biggest asset and, and I'm, I'm really, I would say I'm really good at the sales process and the charm process.

Perry Vaile: 32:56 Able to get through the doors of the planar client relationship to put your face in front of the client.

Braedon Flynn: 33:03 It's 50 percent I would say, but really it comes to like, I've got a CA, a wedding planner that I'm talking to right now who, it's an NDA. They can't even tell me who the couple is. They can't even tell me where they're getting married because there some celebrity that I don't, you know, I until I get the contract and they want to book me, I won't know. And it'll be after I sign an NDA. So that stage I'm probably not meeting with them and you know, I still would like to, if that's, I've, I've been able to meet with people who are like celebrity types and, and even at that stage, like I feel like I can lay on a bit of charm and like make it relational because I don't want to show up and be like on walking on eggshells a little bit and, and, you know, yeah, I, I like being able to have trust, mutual trust.

Perry Vaile: 33:52 Yeah. You should send one of your little text message video to the planner. Just send that to them. Let me get a little bit of my friends. Um, okay. Cool. Yeah, I always thought that was interesting because I always try to, you know, I want to respect the planners because the planner wants to be, you know, the Queen Bee all for her clients and she is because she does or he, you know, they do so much work for him and I never wanted to I guess overstep it. Um, but I think it is important to find a way to get in front and you're right, you get so much more of an understanding of who a person is and you would never want a client to show up on a wedding day and then realize, well I don't really like their photographers personality, you know,

Braedon Flynn: 34:32 I don't really think it's them in, in regards to asking you, I don't think it's the planner feeling like the Queen Bee. I think sometimes the couples just are busy and they don't care to me, you know, they put full trust in the planner and they're going to look at the portfolios and they're going to make a decision and they just don't have the time or the care to meet. And at that stage it's okay. People are like the people that are dealing with that sort of high end planner who is, who is taking the very handheld approach and, and really acting as their concierge. They are probably very wealthy and very successful. So at that stage they're used to things being done for them and they're also used to just like making quick decisions and going

Perry Vaile: 35:13 so quick with it isn't totally not drawing that out forever. And decision makings. Alright, that's interesting. So you have these clients, sometimes you can talk them up, sometimes you don't have to worry about it. How often after the wedding or after the contract do you, are you able to increase them, like to to get them to more hours or to get them to more albums or

Braedon Flynn: 35:38 how. How were you able to kind of flex that? That overall budget? I would say when I'm able to send out my regular pricing, I don't really try to increase it. I think like if I, if it's having the conversation, the only thing I could say is that possibly it would be if they are looking, they're having a four day event, but like, uh, I don't know. We're not going to include the first day or the welcome dinner or we're not gonna include that. Sometimes as it gets closer we'll say, hey listen, I'm going to be out there. How about I shoot it for a little bit less because I mean I always fly out a day early anyways and maybe let me just come for an hour because realistically the cocktail hour is the main part. I need to be shooting. I don't need to shoot you guys while it's dinnertime and you're eating so why don't I just come for an hour and I'll reduce my price by 50 percent.

Braedon Flynn: 36:20 And so it's like I've already flown out there. I'm already there. I don't need to go sit in my hotel room and work more, which is what I would do. So I'll come and shoot. And because for me I feel like that's an added bonus that I now, as much as I'm creating more work for myself on the post, I get a little bit more connection to their guests. I get more connection to their family and all of that makes a big difference. When I leave on Sunday or Saturday, the amount of people that come up to me after the wedding and tell me what a great job I've done and how much I made their day easy and blah blah blah. So those, those things. I really liked being a part of weekend wedding. So I think that's a way to do it. It's like as it gets closer, maybe reducing the price on that extra day and then they add it or.

Braedon Flynn: 37:00 Yeah, stuff like that. And then for the couples that are not coming from planners and maybe my budget was higher, my pricing was higher than their budget. I, I let them know like, hey listen, where do you feel like you have any wiggle room and your pricing and like this. A lot of it depends on the date too because sometimes I don't have any wiggle room and sometimes I do, you know, and if it's a February wedding or if it's that or I mean I've got an inquiry right now for Thursday wedding and I'm guessing they, you know, they said they shifted it to Thursday because they needed a cheaper place and it's like shoot, what am I doing on a Thursday outside of being with my family?

Braedon Flynn: 37:38 Yeah. So, so at that stage, like I want to have a conversation with them and see what we can work out. Like there's, there's obviously shooting film, we have expenses and then it spending a day and it's also spending, you know, a day or so on the back end as well. So you've got to think about like, okay there's certain prices I'm not going to go under and, and I don't necessarily like the underbidding game for like big weekends as well. It's like let's say I'm up against you and a few other people and then to just come in at the lowest price, like that's. Have you ever read the book Blue Ocean Strategy Blue Ocean strategy strategy? It's a really great buckets. More so when you're thinking about starting a business, but I mean there's, there's a lot of. I listened to a lot of Seth Godin, I read a lot of his books and you know, he, he talks about things as a race, as a race to the bottom and it's like you don't want to be in a race to the bottom because at that stage no one wins and you don't want to be continually dropping your prices so you can beat the next competitor because that's just turning the whole market and that's hurting it for everybody.

Braedon Flynn: 38:44 And the Blue Ocean strategy, it's talking about there's blue ocean versus red ocean and the red ocean is like blood in the water and that's from competition. And the bigger the competition, the bloodier the water is. And so you want to be in a blue ocean strategy like you want to be where there's not a bunch of blood in the water. So what can you do in your business that creates this blue, blue ocean strategy?

Perry Vaile: 39:09 Yeah, that's awesome. That's interesting. Yeah. It's always disheartening when you're really into a couple and then you know, I've actually had a photographer where a couple had signed the contract. You hadn't paid the deposit because they were going to send it via the online and they wrote the other photographer back to say, hey, we went with somebody else, you know, just letting them know, and the photographer said, what is she price? You all go lower. And I was like, oh, and I know who he is, but it's hard. You know, I, I agree. I never tried to do that. I always try to just have my own prices that fit for my lifestyle, my clients and not to be undercutting because it just makes it sticky and you don't want a client who's going to ultimately choose you because you're the cheapest one that's not the kind of client that's going to be able to appreciate the work ultimately.

Braedon Flynn: 39:55 Totally. And we're. I think you and I are in a better spot than like people who. I think it's a really hard place to be in that middle of the road pricing. It's really hard to be in the really high end pricing because there's only a few. Realistically it's just economics. There's only so many people that can book at that price, but I feel like there's so many photographers in that middle road pricing that it's like really how do you stand out and then if, if you are a photographer listening that isn't that middle of the road pricing or lower end pricing, you really need to be thinking about how you differentiate yourself. Like what is gonna make you stand out out of jail. Like there are a lot of photographers with really pretty portfolios, really great instagram feeds. There's a lot of people who have huge instagram followings that weren't really photographers before their instagram followings and now they're photographers.

Braedon Flynn: 40:43 And so was magic, you know, so like really you, you have to stand out and be different. So thinking about how to do that is, and they don't know, even even within our, like level, like each, each bracket you're getting bid against people. So what, what is going to make someone book you versus the next person? And sometimes it is just portfolio. And um, but yeah, what is it about what you offer and how do you, didn't I, I actually think that you do a great job of it on your website because you have a handful of videos that answer that people can see your personality and I think that's great. I just changed and filmed a video that's on my, about page that is me talking about what I do because again, like I feel like if, if people are just emailing I want as much of me in front of them as possible versus just looking at my photos because I feel like there are a lot of photographers, great portfolios and I offer my self, you know,

Perry Vaile: 41:34 it's a whole set. It's a whole separate side of, of the selling yourself process because your work speaks for itself and you know, the pricing obviously is a part of it. But I feel like there are so many clients that I want to know who I am because maybe they aren't, they, they won't click with me, you know? So there's the whole other side of it is I want them to know enough about me to, for us to realize like, oh, we don't, we don't Jive, right. You know, or something like that. So it's also finding the clients that are going to be the happiest with the work that you're creating and understanding and personality and, and not just personality doesn't have to be big personalities like we are, you know, because I, I would not be surprised if there have been clients that have met me in, they're like too much, too much don't want that, which is, I mean to each their own and that's the beauty of somebody that I think has even acquired or personality or a more reflective personality or just different, you know, because they're going to be clients that fit that and they're looking for that.

Perry Vaile: 42:33 You know, they don't want somebody with bright red lipstick and big earrings and is going to come in and be distracting or you know, or something. They just read it differently. So I think to anybody listening, like you were saying, it's not to think that you have to be somebody's overly gregarious or over the top if you're not because they're going to be clients that want you for who you are and that might even sell you more so because you'll be different, you know?

Braedon Flynn: 42:56 Totally. And I would say personality wise is I, I'm meeting with couples because I'm trying to figure out who they are and who I jive with because you could be a person that is quieter, more reserved and the people that you're booking are more like you and they actually are craving someone who's going to be quieter and more reserved. And you know, for me it's, I'm looking for. I like the flip side. Sometimes it'll happen where I have the quieter couple and they really like me because I come in and say, listen, I'm really directive. I'm going to take care of you. I'm going to tell you exactly how to be so that you can be and you can relax and not be stressed. You know? And there's, there's that sort of thing. But then there's also, I would say I'm really good with brides I've always been, I've always been good with the ladies that I've just always had a lot of girl, like not girlfriends but a lot of friends and I just relate really well with women, you know,

Perry Vaile: 43:52 for weddings. I'm sure. I'm sure it helps a lot, you know,

Braedon Flynn: 43:56 and, but, but being able to give that comfort and let them and be able to convey like, listen, I'm taking care of you and I get you in. But on the flip side, like being a, being a woman has such a different advantage of you are like, oh girl, I got you. You know,

Perry Vaile: 44:11 I understand. I'm always telling them, you know, I have some photographer friends and they'll say, oh, when a bride asks about, you know, retouching or if she might look fat in a dress or you know, those are red flags. I'm like, AH, no. I'm worried about if I look fat and address, what are you talking about that's not a red flag. So I definitely can find ways to connect to them, you know? And I've had clients that, like, I, I have at least one or two that I consider some of my very best friends in the world and they were brides, you know, so they're mixed in with the rest of them to be sure. Um, but it is interesting because like you said, I've had clients that come in that aren't that well you would think would be really quiet and they just, they love somebody leading them.

Perry Vaile: 44:49 And I, there's a photographer, um, that she's not film, she's super vibrant, colorful digital in Raleigh called Caroline Scott. And I always thought she did an incredible job of deciding who her clients were and, and really kind of serving them in every point of the process because she puts where she used to. It's been a couple of years until like, did she put her pricing right on the website because she knew her kind of people. We're not the ones to be wanting to get into it. And you know, she, I think she has like a moon and backs on her website and just like the quirkiest if court, which I just think is so cool. And I'm always so amazed when I would look at the blog and the client that she was getting. I'm like, yes, like they're not the ones that you necessarily would see on the front of the style, me pretty or the Martha Stewart, but she found her base and they get her and I'm like, get it girl, you know, just a perfect example of somebody that wasn't, you know, doing the light and airy or the film, just finding her own way on that.

Braedon Flynn: 45:47 And that is a crucial, crucial thing is like if you are not standing out by being you and actually figuring out what your voice is and really showing that voice, you're just going to be another photo in the crowd. And it's tough. I would say your look is very distinct and it's your personality. It's bright and airy and um, but, but it, it shows a lot of that personality. But I think that's a really important thing is like defined your niche and find your people and really go after that.

Perry Vaile: 46:20 Yeah. And to relay that to them so they know they're your people because sometimes they need to be told

Braedon Flynn: 46:26 for sure. Okay. Anything else on that little list of yours?

Perry Vaile: 46:29 Um, I don't think so. I think we've kind of nailed all of these. I think it's been good. I mean I feel like it's so good to hear how somebody else does something because even at both ways work, you know, because I mean I wouldn't be doing it the way I do it if it didn't work, you know, but I always love trying things so I'm certainly gonna try, um, to be a little bit more intentional. Maybe set aside some time to, to go after every single lead in a little bit more of a personalized, uh, you know, and distinct way I guess. So it's been very helpful.

Braedon Flynn: 47:05 I really hoped you love that episode and I'm curious if you did like it, if this is a format that you enjoyed or. I mean I've done another one back, I don't know what episode it was, but it's called freelancing is hard. Where it's just sort of me talking and giving some advice. Is that something you want to hear more of or do you just want interviews, say less of you Braden, more of other people and yeah, so just again, trying to constantly figure out ways to help uplift you, the listener and encourage and educate and all that sort of stuff. So if you can. I just think I enabled on the photo report dot Com. You can now leave comments on the blog post. I didn't realize they were off, but hopefully you can do that. Go find this one there or you can always direct message me at Brayden Flynn B r a e d o n on instagram and chat with me there. So until the next one. Adios.

040 There is No Magic Pill with Paul Von Rieter

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Paul has been a pro wedding photographer for 10+ years and in this episode, he shares his story, dealing with burnout, and gives some great advice to how to last in this career. It’s a good one. Enjoy and please subscribe to the podcast.

39. Find Your Voice with John Dolan

John Dolan is best known for finding the in-between, unplanned moments that make real people look beautiful and beautiful people look real.

John has woven a career of advertising, editorial and fine art photography. He is a recognized leader in contemporary wedding photography. Wedding clients include magazine art directors and editors, as well as celebrity couples Will & Jada Smith, Ben & Christine Stiller, Kate Bosworth & Michael Polish, Bridget Moynahan & Andrew Frankel, and most recently, Gwyneth Paltrow & Brad Falchuk.

The modern wedding has become so much about the photographs and John takes an approach that is more about the wedding and less about the shot list. He photographs as things happen vs curating and cultivating what wouldn’t otherwise be there.

This is a great interview and hope you like it. (always remember you can subscribe to The Photo Report Podcast wherever you listen to podcasts.

And here’s the transcript from the conversation with John and Braedon:

Braedon Flynn: 00:01 John, thanks so much for coming on the show and sharing your wisdom and all that and stoked to have you here. Awesome. Well, for people that don't know you as well, can you just give a slight background as to, I mean where you are in your photo journey and how you got there.

John Dolan: 00:22 I've been in the game for a long time. I was thinking about last night. It's the only job I've ever had since I was 15 years old. Uh, so I've never had a full time job. I've never had a paycheck from somebody besides myself. So I've had 30 years freelance in New York and I started out as a magazine photographer and slipped my way into weddings in the early days of the nineties and I've always had an ambition to keep weddings as part of my business but not let them be the whole business. So I've balanced magazine work, ad work and weddings for 30 years.

Braedon Flynn: 01:09 I think a lot of people either. I know a lot of commercial photographers that have just recently started getting into weddings because I know when I first started getting into weddings who was sort of like, oh, that's cute, you shoot weddings, and it was almost. It was really frowned upon to shoot weddings. Have you found that to be the case coming from both worlds?

John Dolan: 01:31 Certainly when I started, weddings were the lowest form of photography, even I remember being at a party with a lot of journalists back in the nineties and people were talking about doing projects in Nicaragua or Bosnia and they turned to me and said, what are you doing? I've been shooting weddings and they all kind of frowned at me for a second. And I said, well, I just thought will smith wedding. I shot Ben Stiller's and, they started handing out business cards. Do you need a second?

John Dolan: 02:08 But it was, it was a great moment because I realized that I wasn't ashamed of doing it and I was doing it my way. And also in the nineties it was wide open. There was a very small group of us who embraced wedding as photographers rather than as wedding photographers. When you come to it with that attitude that you're. I really thought of myself as somebody who was fascinated by weddings rather than by the wedding industry. I just wanted to tell the stories that I saw in front of me and and dive deep into them as if I was shooting a magazine story. So it was almost that I was naive to the ways of the wedding industry. That was a real help. Sometimes being being an amateur is a help and I feel for people who are starting these days because the wedding industry is so strong and they're so many great photographers who are. I'm making a really good living, doing big time wedding photography, but in a funny way. It was much more innocent to a movement. We were rejecting the cheesy stuff with the eighties and just doing our thing in the nineties, so it's a tricky time now.

Braedon Flynn: 03:38 We'll get into that in a second, but I'd still love to go back to just going from being a journalist and then going to shooting people like will smith and Ben Stiller. How, how did that end up coming about? Like how do you feel like you started getting into that celebrity circuit?

John Dolan: 03:55 It's funny when you, when you look back on a career, it really is just a series of cobblestones being laid out in front of each job, the cobblestone and you cobble it together for years and there's definitely no such thing as overnight success. I didn't start making money as a shooting photographer till I was 30, so I had a long apprenticeship, a four year apprenticeship with a incredible photographer named Sylvia Plachy. And she was a Village Voice staff photographer and then a New Yorker photographer. And her son is more well known than she is. Her son is Adrian Brody, the actor, but he was just a seventh grade kid when I worked there. And I was at their house every day for four years printing her pictures and her attic. And um, so I, I really had a slow evolving, uh, of my sort of way of seeing as a photographer before I started showing my book around and getting assignments, uh, and then it took me another 10 years of shooting to get the sort of, the first big jobs. So I think it's important for people to slow down and lay your cobblestone slowly and not rush to make it into the whatever top 10 lists you're shooting for.

John Dolan: 05:31 I did, I did 10 years of assignments of various intensity and size that kind of shot everything and learned how to fail at a job miserably and how to surprise myself and how to challenge myself. But, there's also a cheaper time to live in New York City. I could live on $500 a month rent and all those sorts of things. But I really think that slowing down and working on your vision is something that people don't necessarily get to do these days. You know, we're all, we're all our own brand and we're all rushing to make it to the top. That's a long way to get there.

Braedon Flynn: 06:20 Yeah, and I completely 100 percent agree with that and I don't know if you have could right off the top of your head think of what that looks like, but I mean if you were trying to either tell a younger photographer, tell your younger self to slow down in the midst of, you know, this instagram crazy world where everyone's looking at Ronell's those images and you can see what everyone else is doing or appearing to be doing what, what does slowing down and building your, your vision or laying your cobblestones actually look like

John Dolan: 06:55 a great question because it's I who just gave me a lot of work that was not for a lot of money. I worked for a free newspaper in Tribeca in New York, a weekly newspaper and they would give me five assignments and I would get on my bicycle and I would go shoot a restaurant. I'd go shoot a portrait of a politician. I'd go shoot a homeless shelter. I go shoot a feature story and then I'd go back to my dark room, develop the film, make little quick prints. Then that was in the old days of faxing, so I'd fax these wet prints to the art director so he could start laying them out and you know, I did that for a couple of years and it just got me so fluid with being in a situation and having to problem solve and to know what to do when things aren't working.

John Dolan: 08:03 Just all those lessons. And that was not a money job at all, but it was like being in the minor leagues and working on your swing or your throw into the plate. So if you can ever find a situation like that, and it could even be for nonprofit, it could be for your kid's school, it could be for anything right in front of you,, where you get to exercise your eyes and your instincts and how you deal with people. That's the gold at the stuff you'd tap into when you're shooting a big wedding and something goes wrong and there's no sun and no, you have to figure out what, what's in your Ninja tool kit.

Braedon Flynn: 08:51 Yeah, absolutely. I'm a big advocate of. I, I was already shooting. I mean I went to school for business, but then after I got done with my Undergrad College, I went back to a community college and took all of their photo classes and think there was something about learning to make a photo versus just take a photo. But then at the same time the importance, uh, I think it's difficult for a photographer, anyone to self assign, but to, to have a class where a teacher is telling you to go create this or document this, which is. I think it's similar to working at that low pain magazine. But yeah,

John Dolan: 09:35 Here's a radical premise: photography is easy. I've seen people get really good at it in just 6 months, kill it in a year. You get to a really high level. And then I've seen people get completely stuck or frozen after a couple of years of shooting because it came to them so easily. And you know - what other art form can you get good at in six months? With sculpture, painting, drawing, music. I haven't seen people soar in that way because the camera does a huge percentage of it. I've even had students in some of our workshops who just had some really great photographs with then when I asked them about f stops iso, they basically said, oh no, I just put it on 'P', whatever that means. And I shoot my kid by the window and get this great stuff. You know, it's amazing how easy it is to fake it.

John Dolan: 10:35 And I think what that does is it presents an opportunity to challenge yourself where it's not about how to take pictures, it's about why and what do you have to say and what's your passion? What's your, what's your mission? Or the big one also is what's your superpower? And I think that's a great thing to kind of figure out. And I definitely had a light bulb moment as a young photographer, old days in New York, you'd see other photographers walking around town with their portfolios and you'd be incredibly intimidated by, you know, imagine what's in their book. So I meditated on my, in my, in my little apartment, like what am I good at that other people aren't? And the answer was that I get really calm around people who are nervous. So I'm the youngest of six. So, you know, chaos is kind of the norm.

John Dolan: 11:43 I show up and oh good. There's always kids running around the house. So I realized that the first time I did a wedding that was a very comfortable place for me to be, to be in a house with people getting dressed and people yelling at each other where's my shoes, where's my Tuxedo, all that sort of stuff. That was just me as a kid in, in the, uh, you know, in my house with everybody getting ready to go to. So once I found that in my, in my sort of effect, found that a super power, I realized that weddings where the place for me as opposed to, you know, like a corporate portrait where I have five minutes with the CEO, that was not a happy place for me. I'd rather have an eight hour wedding to get my pictures. So it's good for everybody to dig in and say what matches your personality and how do you turn that into an asset photographer?

Braedon Flynn: 12:50 No, that's really important to figure out how to switch switching direction. But you wrote on your blog a little manifesto and I want to read a little part of it and then we'd love to talk more about it. And before I get into that, you, you came from. How many siblings did you have?

John Dolan: 13:10 6 and I'm the youngest one.

Braedon Flynn: 13:11 That's what I thought you had told me before. Uh, yeah. So chaos would be comfortable for you.

John Dolan: 13:17 Yep.

Braedon Flynn: 13:18 So to your manifesto says: 'As a wedding season comes to a close. I have some reflections on the role we play as photographers. Pop culture would have us believe that a wedding must be perfect down to every last detail to be successful. I see things differently in my experience. It's precisely the unpredictability of a wedding that often makes it memorable. Photographers have a great opportunity to look beyond the shortlist list and find beauty and truth in these imperfect moments. Current trends in photography have inadvertently reinforce and unattainable ideal of perfection by focusing on flawless over the real brides and grooms may not realize that many of these images they see online are actually produced during styled shoots, a shot weeks before the actual wedding. While these photographs maybe inspirational, they often end up creating an unrealistic expectation of what can be achieved during a compressed and stressed wedding timeline. What if wedding photographs aren't only meant to depict dreamy romance, but instead chronicle a full range of emotions" - and then you go on to talk a lot more and and what you do and how you do it. But can you, and I know we chatted about a bit out at engage and you spoke out there. Could you just sort of go into where your heart is behind a lot of this and some of your passions?

John Dolan: 14:34 Well, it comes from what I've seen at weddings and I realize because they're, imagining what people are going to see of their wedding, what people are going to think of their wedding based on this false ideal that they've seen at other weddings. So it's a really strange loop. Um, and so, and the other thing is that I've always been fascinated by the sort of salty and the sweet at weddings, the melancholy, the stress of all that stuff makes a wedding rich for me and to only see photographs that are, uh, don't even know the term to use, but they're, they're only showing a. it's really when you see people posting saying best day ever and the day was perfect. Everything was perfect. Sometimes feels like they're selling something to you or they're a, it's all to sugar sweet from my point of view, when there's so much richness in the rest of the wedding.

John Dolan: 16:01 And it's not to say that we're not taking romantic pictures, but I'm just trying to expand the, the shortlist from the pretty to the real and to come away with pictures that ring true to the wedding, not to the ideal of the wedding. So it's funny, a little shift, but why is the wedding industry so a narrow in its portrayal of what weddings are. I'm afraid the answer is that it's because that's where the greatest profit is. There's no doubt you can make a lot of money by making really pretty pictures. But I'd take the role in a different way, I take the role of photographer as a historian, as a cultural historian, as a family chronicler. I take that seriously. So I don't want my pictures in 20 years to be the kind of.......let me take it a different way. If you look back at wedding photos from the seventies or eighties, there's something about them that's kind of fake. And it was, as I've looked at those pictures, the way the photographer's treated, the bride and groom's was in this kind of fuzzy ideal of marriage, during a time when, when marriages were in rough shape in a lot of parts of the country.

John Dolan: 17:43 So I don't want to make wedding photographs that are this kind of false dream world. It's a really funny thing. It's we have an observation as photographers tell the truth, doesn't have to be the absolute truth, but has to ring true. So my hope is that the photographs that I take will be discovered by some child in 20 years and when they open up that box of photographs, they can feel what their parents were like in 2018, what they looked like and what their real personality was as opposed to some idealized version of that.

John Dolan: 18:31 And also, this is my, this has always been my approach. I know that some people really revel in the other approach to make the dreamy idealized view. but I'm fascinated by finding that essence of every wedding. And that's what's kept it fresh for me for 30 years is that I don't know what I'm going to get an each wedding I kind of enter and try to discover something from that couple in particular and not just stick them in the same setting and have the bride turn back to the camera and fire away.

Braedon Flynn: 19:14 Can you talk through how that plays out for you? Like how do you approach a wedding and what are you..... You know, it sounds like you're trying to come away with the authenticity, but what is, what does that look like for you and how do you feel like that's different than what is happening?

John Dolan: 19:33 The first thing I do take a nap. So I have all my gear laid out, I have my suit laid out and then if I'm leaving to go to the wedding at 2:00 all just like lie down for 10 minutes and I'm sorta emptying my eyes, empty my brain and just sort of saying, "I don't know what's gonna happen today. I'm really looking at almost like a novelist or a short story writer. So I'm thinking of these two families coming together and entering into this union and so I, I really set myself as a kind of empty vessel to be filled up by the day. And then once I start, um, I almost throw away the shot list because at this point I know what the shot list is. I, I, I entered that house and I put my sensors on high alert.

John Dolan: 20:42 Like what is going on with this family? What's going on between the mother and the daughter? Where's the stress point? Who's going to be complicated today? You know, there's, every family has usually one family member who calls him a little, a little bit of extra stress. I don't want to give the impression that I'm shooting edgy pictures of stressed out people fighting with each other. I'm just looking for subtlety and narrative and just, I'm trying to look at each person and imagine how they're experiencing the day. And the interesting thing is that the older I've gotten, I've shifted now where I'm seeing what the dads are going through. I'm really keyed in on father of the bride because I have my daughter's 23, 24 now. It's like all of a sudden I can see myself in these people and I go up to these guys and go, "man, you like the guy she's married because that's big."

John Dolan: 21:46 You're like, you're adopting somebody, you know, so my point of view has shifted and, but still I'm, I'm just kind of um, observe her neutral observer. I don't have an agenda and I'm just trying to really feel what it's like to feel what it feels like in a house full of nervous people. I guess my goal is that six weeks later when the bride sees these pictures that I tap back into exactly what she was feeling at that moment. So that's why I don't direct people at their wedding because I don't want to be the person changing their flow of the day or you know, they're express their feelings and emotion. I don't want to mess with that. I think that's kind of not our job as photographers. I certainly guide people into good light, but I would never tell somebody put your hand here. It just feels like I'd be violating some code of a, I don't know, a little private code.

Braedon Flynn: 23:14 I hear you not to be contrary, but to sort of just have a conversation on this because I would say from my, the way that I approach it is, I mean the photos that I love the most are the candid images and I think I've found over the years of shooting is that there are.... It'll be a of a question I'm going to ask him a little bit is how much you feel, you know, blogs and magazines and that sort of pressure is put on the expectation of the photographer and the bride. But going back to this is: I mean I find that as much as I always tell people, I'm getting "Both And" where I think I even at the reception I say less because I had a handful of weddings where my first weddings, the brides were very coming from the fashion editorial world. And say we want nothing traditional, just be as candid as you can.

Braedon Flynn: 24:09 And I would shoot that. And then, and those weddings got featured in magazines and they came out beautifully and the couple was really happy, but then I was getting mom writing back and being like, where these photos? Why are there no photos of people just looking at the camera? And I told her that her daughter didn't want that, you know, so. So now I say, "listen, those are my favorite photographs as well and I get those, but I'm also going to make, I'm shooting, I'm looking for the laughter at the reception, but then I'm also going to walk up and say, Hey, can I grab your photo and have people look at the camera and take their picture?" So it's, I'm getting, I feel like I'm getting both, but it's in a very natural, candid way.

John Dolan: 24:46 I'm with you 100 percent at a certain part of the wedding from being the neutral observer to being a welcome guest. And I think really what I, I've evolved into is that I'm much more patient than I used to be. So, uh, now I'll kind of wait for the wedding to open up to me rather than force myself into it. In other words, I start slowly and want to get to know people and I talked to people and I mingle and I hang with the bridesmaids and I make friends with the groomsmen and it's a real process to be led into a group of strangers. But it's, it's a funny thing that how I am as a photographer effects the pictures. So the, the, the older I've gotten, the more comfortable I am with, I'm just kind of putting the camera down and engaging with people first and a kind of human level and then the picture is so much better, rather than just walking up to somebody cold and, you know, just firing away. It is a real rhythm to the whole weekend. In fact, when I do weekend wedding where I'm on the outside and then I'm, I find my allies and I worked my way in and, you know, the best ones end up with me on the dance floor dancing with the bride. And um, but that's a are from being total strangers to being intimate strangers, you know.

Braedon Flynn: 26:38 Absolutely.

John Dolan: 26:40 And that's the really glorious thing about this. We do, we do see things, family drama that nobody else gets to see that the photographer is a privileged position. And it's definitely some reason that I've, uh, that I'm really big on leaving egos at the door, you know, when, when, when you start the job, you're this kind of invisible and then very visible and invisible and you kind of shift back and forth, um, in your presence at the wedding. But it's never about me. It's their wedding. It's just there to squeeze the essence out of it. But whenever a, whenever the photographer or the videographer becomes too big a role, the wedding, it seems really wrong to me.

Braedon Flynn: 27:40 Yeah, I totally agree with that. But I want to go back to the directing, not directing because I,

John Dolan: 27:53 yes, I mean, I saw how you moved at Engage and very much a similar thing where you're, dancing with people as you're photographing them. You're engaging with them physically and with your eyes and emotionally and get the best picture out of them and then you're moving on and you keep moving. But I'm not averse to jumping in when somebody set up a group picture of five friends from college with their iphone, I jump right in on that and grab it because I don't know what the five friends from high school or college are. So, but I know I can't even say that I have one way of working. It's very intuitive and it's very dependent on what I think I need for the story and what I think is happening at that moment. And um, so there are certainly times when I could tell the bride doesn't want me to direct it all. And there are certain times when the bride through says, can you get this and this? So there's not a one size fits all. I tend to get a lot of people who are shy and a little bit older and are, I'm really into photography but not into being the center of attention.

John Dolan: 29:25 And, and those brides are just the greatest. They're challenging because they're shy, but they're incredibly grateful when you bring them 12 really beautiful pictures because they didn't expect that. I think if you have a high maintenance bride who'd love being in front of the camera, you know, that's, that can be trickier. But...

Braedon Flynn: 29:49 totally, I mean I would say that almost every single couple, whether you know, that they're going to be obsolete simple in front of the camera because they're ridiculously good looking or from couples who just like are more shy and nervous or don't like the center of attention. Generally. Everybody tells me like we're not really good in front of the camera, you know? And I say like, "listen, unless you're a model, what other time in your life are you being photographed for? You're looking at going, I'm going to have like 30 minutes where I'm going going to be the center of attention." And I think couples feel this pressure that they need to perform for the camera. So what I generally say is, "listen, I'm going to direct you through this whole process so you don't have to perform so because ultimately what you've resonated with my images is that they're really candid and natural, but I'm directing you through that whole process."

Braedon Flynn: 30:40 I can. And so I'm not telling people, put your hand here, put your hand in there. But it is still, I feel like I'm directing them so they don't have to think about what they're doing and they can just be with each other, which I think is probably what you're doing when you're saying you're directing them into light. But I think if you just leave them to do, it's almost like that, you know, will, will ferrell thing. It was like, well what do I do with my hands? You know? So it just like, hey listen, just be with each other. If I needed to look at me, I'll tell you to look at me, but just be, walk and it's moving quickly through the space and it's just so they don't have to like think that they're being photographed.

John Dolan: 31:14 Yes. The only thing I would add is that I'm sort of loving slightly awkward moments, that is if the couple is really awkward. I had one couple recently they told me they were awkward and then I did a little quick engagement shoot and I thought to myself, yes they are super awkward

John Dolan: 31:35 and but then at their wedding, even on their wedding day, they were very awkward. They're just super smart and super shy and self conscious than they're just way too smart for the camera. But the awkwardness they loved in the pictures, it just completely worked for them because it's, it reflected who they were and I know that if I had gotten frustrated with that and wished for them to no really do something magnificent, they would have just been miserable. So it's about reading. It's about knowing the people and really reading those signs of what they're capable of or what they're willing to do. And, you know, I just, my main thing is I do not want to add any more stress to the day. I want to take stress away from constantly sort of reading the temperature of a couple and you know, how they're doing, they need a break. Um, sometimes I leveraged that and if I see them being stressed by family or something, I said let's leave the tents and go take a quick walk. And people love that. People often really loved the relief of that.

Braedon Flynn: 32:54 Yeah. It's funny because I think a lot of the things that you're describing that you think through do is I don't even, it's just sort of a natural piece of

Braedon Flynn: 33:06 my personality. You know, it's that warmth of just making people feel comfortable. Like I literally tell brides like, your maid of honor is going to be a little jealous because you are my person on the day, you know, as like there's those elements where I feel like it's such a win when the bride is coming to you asking for a peanut. It's like, what do you think I should do with my hair? Or like, you know, like those little things of I think it is that element of really gaining trust. And, I mean to me that is the most special thing about the day is when, when you are so valued in that position of trust,

John Dolan: 33:48 Yes, but also your personality is that you're a positive force. We are neutral and I think sometimes I see other photographers at weddings occasionally who are working so hard and you know, just really trying to crush it. And I think that's good to remember that you've got plenty of time and the more effortless it looks like the more effortless you make it look the better it is just for everybody. And I regularly hear stories of people who went to another wedding and the photographer took the bride and groom away for two hours to take pictures. She pictures and the bride and groom missed the cocktail hour and all that stuff. And I just think he doesn't have to be that way. We can get our pictures, we can make it fun. It's not our wedding and

John Dolan: 35:00 it's not our photoshoot. And that, that gets back to the funny thing about, that's the trend of styled shoots had this accidental thing that came after it is that people think they can get that on their wedding day. Like, yeah, can we inbetween the ceremony and the reception, can we go take a helicopter up to a cliff in New Zealand photo shoot? Well, how about we just stand here and blow out the background or. No, I, I really think we can, uh, can relieve pressure and still come away with a pictures and people just appreciate it so much that we didn't take the whole day for them.

Braedon Flynn: 35:55 I think going on that same styled shoot. Do you, because you've seen things come into existence and now they're here like blogs and, and a lot of the social media. How do you feel like that has changed the industry or even expectations and do you feel them and all that sort of stuff.

John Dolan: 36:23 I mean I just have one basic thought that's been spinning around my head for the last 15 years or so. Why does, why do most photographers stay in the herd and just kind of a herd mentality. And everybody imitates each other and I keep looking for people to break out and reinvented, um, and find her own way. And yeah, certainly bride reinventing their weddings and doing things differently and having less formal things. But photography still feels to me like it's in a very narrow bandwidth. And um, you know, I just, I'm really curious to see what people do and it gets back to this central thing that for me, the most important person to please at a wedding and the bride, it's not the planner of the mother's fried, but it's myself. So, you know, I want to, at each wedding I want to make pictures that I haven't seen before and push myself into this other area and, and not just take the same pictures, but I don't see as much of that as I would love to. And um, and I think that when, no, when I've looked at blogs, they all follow a set pattern of the bride and groom's name at the top and then pictures of the dress and the shoes and all that sort of stuff. And then 30 other pictures that all kind of look a little predictable, even though the quality is super high, it doesn't feel to me like, uh, people are pushing the boundaries or taking risks, which is what I would love to see just from my own eyes.

Braedon Flynn: 38:20 Can I ask that question or statement to give an example of where I'm going with this is let's say you were hired for a commercial job from, for an ad campaign of a particular. And they have, you know, like here's our expectations. If I feel like there's an element. If you were to just go out and shoot what you wanted, you know, it's like that element of like you're getting paid to do a job, you've got to deliver on the job.

John Dolan: 38:54 The way I flipped it in my head, if I'm doing a job for tiffany's or something, art director, no, I have great respect for the art director and their vision aiming for that. What I've seen at weddings is that the typical bride groom are 28, 29. They'd never done this before and they don't know what they don't know and they don't know. They know what they've seen on blogs and Pinterest, but they're coming to me to, to capture something they haven't seen before. So when I. So I actually think, I know I have higher standards than most of my clients.

Braedon Flynn: 39:43 Yes.

John Dolan: 39:43 So that's the difference. Our jobs are definitely different. A wedding is almost too important to leave into the hands of a person who's doing it for the first time. but it's, that's a really great window into the mindset of most photographers where you want to be professional, you want to do a great job. But I would contend that weddings are different. you are, you're a specialist coming into blow them away or to, I don't know what the equivalent is, but it's a very unique job and I treated totally differently than my, my other jobs.

Braedon Flynn: 40:33 I'm assuming you know Art Strieber? I went to one of his workshops. For people that don't know who he is, he's a pretty massive commercial photographer. Amazing work. And I went out to the palm springs photo expo a couple years ago and heard him speak and went to his workshop and one of the things that he said was he, takes on a lot of basically editorial jobs or his personal work because, you know, they don't pay all that much and, but he, he said, listen, I owe it. They have an expectation and that's why they're bringing me on. "And so I'm doing a job and. But what I do is I do, I get their shot. I just basically like one for them, one for me. So I get the shot that I know that they want, that's the safe shot. And then I go out there and I do what I want to do that I feel like is art to me."

Braedon Flynn: 41:19 And so I think I've always taken that approach is where, and I think it goes back to those first couple of weddings where I would get emails from the mom saying where these photos. I was like, listen, I don't necessarily care for the photo of the bride and groom just looking at the camera smiling. But I now say, listen, I'm going to end up getting these felt like because I want to come away with something that was better than the last thing that I shot. And I think that's a constantly difficult thing to do when you are shooting. But being able to also get like, listen, I'm getting the photo when they are walking into the light and they already are smiling. Be able to turn around and say, all right, put your cheeks together and put your arms around each other.

Braedon Flynn: 41:57 Click, click. We've got a nice classic photo and then we're gonna keep on. But I think for, I know for me and it, and it could be different for you, but the, uh, that element of still coming away with those traditional photos, but then I, the element of once you've got those are in the middle of getting those. Then being able to like take it and be a little bit more creative and do the thing that you're gonna walk away with. And I think for younger photographers, like if that's what you're trying to do, don't show the safe photos. Show show the photos that you're the most proud of and then eventually it gets to the point where like where you are, John, like if, if that person from tiffany's hires you, they're hiring you because they know you have a voice and they know that you have a point of view and so hopefully at a certain point by starting to only feature those images really resonate with you. People are going to hire you for that. And then you get to do that thing.

John Dolan: 42:51 That's exactly the core of it. If you don't have a distinct voice, you're not going to move up the ranks. There's everyone knows Jose is. Look, everyone knows, uh, if you don't have a specific vision and point of view, then you're just taking pictures every Saturday and it's, you know, you can make a living but you won't be able to stay in it. You won't be able to grow as an artist. And No, I think that along the way at a wedding I'm shooting, I'm aiming high, but even when I Miss, when I'm aiming high, I'm hitting the middle and I'll please the mom. And I definitely learned that years ago that you need that one picture for the piano or the mantlepiece, so, so, you know, that's definitely not worth missing. Um, and it's amazing how often I still forget that picture and then, oh, better get that

Braedon Flynn: 43:57 and it's so easy to get to,

John Dolan: 43:59 but it's so easy to get. But the real thing is that if I, if I aim towards the middle and then I'm down in the drink, if I aim high and miss, I'm still, I'm still hitting the middle and then pleasing a lot of people. But it's, it's about, um, again, sort of a cobbling together of images that create this mosaic of what happened that day. But um, but I need those 12 slash 15 peak pictures, high point pictures. It doesn't necessarily have to necessarily have to be as specific thing on the list and the timeline. But I just think in our memory of an event, we remember, you know, eight to 12 things in our mind, or at least that's what I want to bring to the bride and groom when I'd be over there. Pictures want to bring these, these peak moments of list or a tension or beauty or truth or beauty or whatever it is. But um, it, it's all there. We just have to sift through and find it.

Braedon Flynn: 45:22 If someone was listening and thinking, man, I don't know if I do have a voice in my images yet and I really want that. What, how would you encourage someone to find that voice?

John Dolan: 45:39 Well, because I had written down, I had written something down, uh, after I saw and there's a great moment. We're broadly talking to lady Gaga and they're on a balcony overlooking La. It kind of says to her, a lot of people can sing really well, but what's your, what's deep in your soul that you're going to share with the world? And I thought that was just completely app to the whole conversation that know a lot of people can shoot pictures. So what gets you anything anymore? It's no dig deep. And I would say turn off your follow up following a people who are like you and dig into other sources of inspiration. So for me, that's a, uh, I love older photography and discovering new photographers from the fifties and forties and thirties and back. Uh, I love reading short stories and uh, I love reading really good detective novels because they're completely observational.

John Dolan: 47:01 So the detective walks in a room and can see all these relationships that informs me as photographer. I love watching really good television. There's just an incredible time for tv before the visual aspect and the light and the camera movement. And I watched TV in a very active way. Same with, with films and older films things. So, you know, you've got to find your source of inspiration, but I wouldn't suggest following photographers. You can get caught up in that. The hyper loop of blogs and Instagram, you're gonna your brain's going to explode and that's not a good thing.

Braedon Flynn: 47:49 Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. It's either been, if, obviously if you're listening to this, you probably shooting weddings to some degree, but you know, looking more at fashion magazines. I love looking at Bon appetit and the way that people shoot food and even just like the way that they shoot portraits of the chefs. There's so many amazing styles of photography and if you're just looking at other wedding photographers, it's really difficult. It's almost like it's hard not to plagiarize when you're just reading one author, you know, it's, it's hard not to sound like a muse, a certain musician if that's the only musician he listened to. I think. Yeah, there's that element of being able to look outside of your craft and even looking at paintings look like all that sort of stuff. Yeah.

John Dolan: 48:36 No, I just got contacted by a woman in South Africa who started a new instagram account called counterpart and she just reached out to me and started talking, but she's featuring kind of out of wedding photographs from history or current, but I just really applaud her for trying something like that. Just curating pictures that haven't been seen before and know how do you stretch it all out and replenish your inspiration and your creative soul because uh, you know, there's always that balance between art and commerce. And I think photographers these days are so strong on the commerce and on the Seo and I'm posting and all that sort of stuff. But are you filling your art quota for the day? I, are. You feeling your inspiration that outside the wedding industry and um, it'll, it'll really make it so you can stay relevant and stay fresh and I highly encourage it.

Braedon Flynn: 49:53 This was a really enlightening conversation and I hope that other people listening find that as well because I, I just love your perspective and point of view and also the fact that there is such a young industry, but it's the, I feel like the barrier to entry is so low. There's so many people that have only been in it for a few years and to have someone being it for as long as you have. And I mean I, and I'm always looking to that as well, being that I've been in here for vet as well, trying to figure out how to, how to continually do this and make a living doing this while supporting a family and then also not burning out. And, um, maybe maybe we could end on that element as I just thought of it is for shooting for this long. How do you feel like, have you gone through burnout? Have you, have you gotten out of it? How do you not get into it?

John Dolan: 50:46 Uh, I definitely went through burnout. Child was born. I realized that I had shot, realized I'd shot pretty much every beautiful weekend

John Dolan: 51:02 in New York. We have made June, September, October, and I used to do 20 weddings a year and like every beautiful weekend was gone, so definitely slowed down after that. And then now I do 10, the 10 to 12 a year and it's great. And I would encourage people know if you're feeling any burnout, then do a wedding for a family member for free or for 500 bucks or something and just go as a, bring one camera and just shoot completely fresh without the obligation of pleasing that big fancy wedding planner or big fancy, broad. Um, I have a big family as he knows. So my nieces and nephews are getting married and each of their weddings has just been incredible because I been a guest, I've been a relative, I fit in all these different boxes while shooting it as well. So I kind of love the spirit of that where I'm just part of the party and in it and dancing with everybody and, and I'm not trying to please anybody except just making our family history.

John Dolan: 52:19 So I do a wedding for free or for, for fun every once in awhile, like once a year. And um, and that definitely helped use your winter time if you get a break during the winter, use that too. Reenergize and make a battle plan for the next year. Um, and uh, one other thing you said earlier, Bryan, was don't show pictures to clients that you don't love. Don't try to please the client. Don't try to sell them, uh, on something. It should be a really strong match. And whenever possible, I'd say meet people in person and look in their eyes and see if you want to make pictures for them and not. It's not, you're not trying to sell yourself, you're trying to see, am I the right photographer for this wedding, but showing pictures that really get to the core of your vision and your superpower during meeting is

Speaker 3: 53:26 super crucial.

Braedon Flynn: 53:28 That's huge. Yeah, it is. Those are the things that either make the job life giving or life sucking is when it's not a good fit, you know?

John Dolan: 53:39 Yes. There is. There's a real energy exchange at weddings. You put out a lot of energy as the good ones. You've come back to your home, to your family and go, I was filled up by that weekend. Totally. And that's, that's really the guiding principle for me is if I make great pictures, I come back really fulfilled.

Braedon Flynn: 54:02 Love it. Well, hey, thanks so much for just sharing your knowledge and if people want to see more of your work, is it just John Dolan Dot com?

John Dolan: 54:11 There is a secret, a secret other part of the website. [inaudible] dot com slash wedding.

Braedon Flynn: 54:17 Alright, perfect. And then to find really hidden, defined your manifest so they can go to blog dot John Dolan.com and they can read that whole article, which is great. On what? Well, thanks again and hopefully get to see us in. Fantastic man.

Intent in Your Images with Rebecca Yale

Rebecca Yale is a talented photographer who got her degree in photography out in New York. She takes her photo school and art history background and applies intentionality and thought into the images she takes. In this interview, we chat through the importance of knowing why you’re taking the images you take and how Rebecca approaches her work.

Below is the transcript from the interview with Rebecca Yale:

Rebecca Yale: 00:00 I'm always asking myself, why am I writing it this way? Why am I? Because everything you do is a choice, like every time you put your shutter, you're making decisions, and I think like most people again who maybe haven't really thought about it, don't realize that they're making these decisions.

Braedon Flynn: 00:13 Welcome to the photo report podcast where we talk to top level pro photographers about the business behind their craft, their journeys to get them where they are and the lessons they've learned along the way. I'm Braden Clinton. Your host and this episode is an interview with photographer Rebecca Yale, who unlike most photographers today, actually went to school for photography and share some powerful insights into how she approaches her craft and thinks through design and composition while shooting her subjects or styling decor. Before we get into the show, want to tell you real quick about our sponsor film supply club. If you shoot film or you're interested in film, I love film. It is the best place to get it at the best prices than amazing community of some of the top photographers in our industry. You can check it out@filmsupply.club slash. Join now onto the show. Welcome to the show, Rebecca. So excited to have you on. And I just, for people who are not completely familiar with you, can you give a brief little intro on just your background in photography and sort of catching us up to where you are right now?

Rebecca Yale: 01:08 Sure. Yeah. Thank you for having me. So I've been doing photography my entire life. I started when I was basically 10 years old and fell in love with photographer, went to NYU for it where I was intending to be a fashion photographer when I started and quickly decided that wasn't right for me. And went and documentary photography and worked in that for about four years. So two years in school period. And quickly realized that wasn't right for me either. And um, wanted something that I could do everything in one day, a fashion still life documentary and was really kept being told but that didn't exist. And then I had to pick something to specialize in and I never had thought about weddings. I was not the little girl that dreamed about a wedding by any means. I am not married myself. And I thought weddings were like my parents really like old school, 1975 awful photos like no room to be an artist in wedding photography. And then in 2011 my cousin got married, um, and a beautiful estate in Vermont and I followed her around her wedding photographer. The whole day was so that I know and get that like I would be like, leave me alone. Um, but luckily she was really nice to me and I fell in love with weddings and seven years later I'm in 100 plus weddings. Later I'm shooting weddings.

Braedon Flynn: 02:24 Went from shooting that one friend's wedding. How did you go from there to then getting booked, you know, and getting your name out because obviously people have shot a wedding before. But then going to book, I've shot a wedding, now I've got a full business.

Rebecca Yale: 02:38 Yes. that is not how it works. Luckily I had been, for lack of a better word, beaten down a lot when I was doing the documentary photography and had kind of learned humility already when I, uh, when I graduated from Nyu, um, I was definitely a little bit big headed. Um, I had just won a big award from pen and I spent six months traveling around Africa and Asia and I was like already for Nat Geo to give me a contract and they certainly did not and the editor ripped me to shreds and made me cry, but then became my mentor for the next two and a half years and changed my life. So I'm very grateful for that. And that's why I'm such a big fan of mentorships and critiques because I think that's how you grow. But yeah, luckily by the time I started in weddings, I had already gone through that experience and already had been kind of told, um, I'd been an instance of a mission and told that you needed to pay your dues.

Rebecca Yale: 03:27 So, I started by shooting a bunch of city hall elopements. I was living in New York and those were kind of an easy way to enter the genre. And then I was really lucky that two of my sister's friends were getting married and took a chance on me. My first couple to ever higher me, I will never forget this. I literally just told a prospective client this on Sunday, the first client to ever hire me outside of one of my sister's friends said: well, you photograph elephants well, and if you can do that, you can probably make me look good. They hired me. So, for $3,000 by the way. And that included whole day coverage and an engagement session. So good times. And I was already shooting film. So I definitely lost money. I lost money probably my first year and a half if not two years on most of my weddings because I was building my portfolio and I was shooting almost anything that would come to me. And I really did because being an artist was so important to me. I didn't want to sacrifice my own standards. So I've basically been a team of three. I definitely shoot a lot more film that I used to, but I've been a team of three had been shooting films since I started

Braedon Flynn: 04:32 What do you mean by a 'team of three'?

Rebecca Yale: 04:33 Yeah. So I always have a second shooter and an assistant basically, unless it's like under 15 people I always have that I shoot on average 80 to 100 roles at a wedding. Um, especially if it's like an outdoor California wedding. So I really need, I always need that team can't function without it.

Braedon Flynn: 04:49 I get that. Well, can I go back to when you had the mentor from Nat Geo? What? Yeah, how can you talk about how that was impactful and like obviously it sounds like you got beaten down, but then you said it like how powerful it was and changing for you. Like what, what in that, in that process I guess was helpful.

Rebecca Yale: 05:08 Yeah. So that's actually something I talk about all the time that I feel like we've talked about at WPPI and it really bothers me that I feel like WPPI is the only conference for photographers that doesn't have a critique process. So I met this editor at NAMPA, which is the North American Nature Photography Association, and I did a paid critique with her as you can do at the Santa Fe, New Mexico Workshop or the palm springs, like anywhere else in any other conference has critiques except Wppi and any kind of wedding started. But um, I paid for a critique with her and I was super excited. I had my old book, this was 2010, so I had my, like 11 by 14 leather bound portfolio that I spent thousands of dollars on and she opened it up and I had a photo that had won PDN, photo annual and I was super proud of and she was like, okay.

Rebecca Yale: 05:54 And then flip the page and saw the next photo and kind of.me and then flip the other page and close it and was like, we're done here. And I was like, oh, I can I have a contract with National Geographic? And she was like, nope. Your first photo showed me that you can take a good photo. Your second photo told me it was by chance and your third photoshop me, you have nothing, you should not be in front of me right now. and I burst into tears and ran out because I was an immature 22 year old and ran out crying. But luckily it came back later that evening and apologize for running out and asked if I could because I paid for that and like wasted by time by running out. And I was like, I don't owe you, don't owe me any more time.

Rebecca Yale: 06:30 Like, that was awful of me. But I'd really appreciate if I could buy you dinner, take you out for a drink. I'll pay for more of your time. Like whatever it is, can I have a little bit more of. I'd love to hear more of what you have to say. And she like, you know, I've had, I've had a lot of people run out on me, which I was like, yeah, your name. But like I've never had anyone come back and I'd be happy to. And we had, we had drinks and she talked to me more and afterwards as I could, I said, you work in the future, like as I take in some of the things you said. And she said yes. And for the next two years, um, as I was traveling and working and that's when I was still working with a lot of NGOs.

Rebecca Yale: 07:04 I would send her work and she would be really, really harsh. I don't think I ever got good words from her. I got like an okay, it's better or like an acceptable. She never gave a ton of praise, but it really has so changed my work that during art school there was a ton of critique. But I think a little side of me like I was and again, like being young and stupid that like I wasn't really listening to the other students because I was like, Hey, like I'm better than them. They don't know. They're talking about and it was rock and you need to listen to your people. You respect and internalize that feedback to become better. Yeah. One of the, it's actually one of my first things that I give to my mentees and it's one of my first assignments when I actually tried to do it at least once a year.

Rebecca Yale: 07:42 This is why when I was going to Rwanda and Uganda Baptist editor gave to me as an assignment, she said that the entire time that I was there I couldn't, I had to shoot Jpeg, I couldn't associate and digital because I had to send photos to get a from the field says working for getty images at the time. Um, and I would shoot 100 percent jpeg. I wasn't allowed to crop, I wasn't wanting to do anything, so I had to nail it in the camera 100 percent. I had to look at every corner of my frame, every angle, make sure it wasn't tilted and that one assignment changed the way I look and see the world. Um, and it's the first assignment I give to my mentees. And I love seeing how things change for people doing that. And I still, again, I try to do it once a year now because it just makes you think differently.

Braedon Flynn: 08:21 Yeah, that's really great. With the background, having photos school and because there's a lot of photographers out there that didn't go to photo school, how do you feel like, I guess going through that program has. It hasn't been beneficial. Like how, how is that sets you up for sort of what you're doing now and how you're shooting?

Rebecca Yale: 08:41 Yeah, absolutely. I'm a big believer so I went to a school at Nyu called Gallatin School of individualized study, so it wasn't just a photography major. I was art history and aesthetic philosophy and basically the main, the core of my thesis because it like you're an Undergrad thesis was semiotics, so it was how do we derive ideas from imagery and specifically it was when I was still working in documentary photography, it was how do we use photographs to motivate social change? That was my study, but it's the idea of semiotics is it's the study of signs and symbols. So it's wire brain interpret things the way we do and in retrospect like, well, weddings were never what I thought I'd be doing. I was basically doing a master course and being a wedding photographer because I was studying all of these concepts that I use every day and I think there are so valuable and I completely, I understand not everyone, like I feel so lucky that I had the opportunity to go to photo school and I know that not everyone does, but you hopefully can take the time to learn these on your own.

Rebecca Yale: 09:38 Um, uh, well again, like I found my mentor after photo school who helped change me so much and I took a lot of persons that ICP and you work the center of photography that I talk about this all the time, that like 99 percent of wedding photographers, especially film shooters, are fine art community, don't know how to light. They say they're not light because they don't know how to light. I learned a little bit of lighting in school, but then I took a course from Uj camp at ICP. Like we can take the initiative and the time to learn these things sell just because we didn't go to school and there's just so much online that when I was um, I was like literally pulling out my dissertation notebook when I was just making related to the ecourse and working on like these 10 elements of design in it.

Rebecca Yale: 10:14 But I was like, oh, like I couldn't find certain things and I was like, oh, like I want to do claimants who have been accused spiral and there's so much information on the FIBONACCI spiral. Like you got like people can take the time and it's just, it's the prerogative. And I think a lot of people don't even know that they should be doing that. But it changes. It changes your life. When I say all the time about at least the courses that I'm doing now is that my goal is when you look at a photo. So many times people don't understand why it was good or bad and like they're like, I noticed photos better, but I don't know why. And I want to change that. Like it should be so easy to understand these concepts and be able to figure out what you need to sit. So that's what I'm trying to teach is the basic elements of visual language, how to read a photo, how to know if it's good or bad is subjective term. So like I try to say like visually interesting or dynamic or engaging.

Braedon Flynn: 11:02 Yeah. So if you were to, if you were to go through, obviously we will talk a little bit more about the courses that you have, but if, if you were to give just examples of a couple of things in a photo that would make, like as you are looking at a scene or you're looking at a couple or whatever it is that you're shooting, maybe details, what are the first couple of things that you're looking for that you will owe that you're always looking for? Does that make sense? Yeah,

Rebecca Yale: 11:25 yeah, totally. I mean it depends on what the frame is, but the overall I think always is why did I take this image? Like that's always the number one question that I'm telling people and it's not the same as like Angela Adams story that's told, although I just ruin the punchline by saying it that way, but there's a story that's told and like all photos, so all photo school, like there's this man on the side of the road taking an image of Yosemite and this old man comes back to them and it's like, why young men? Why are you taking this photo? He's like, if you were somebody of course, and he was like, what? Why are you taking that photo of Yosemite? And he was like, Hon, it was Angela Adams. And he was like, open up your frame and like shoot it this way. And it's the idea of thinking a little bit deeper about what's in your frame and why you're taking it that way.

Rebecca Yale: 12:09 So whether I'm shooting a detail, whether I'm shooting a couple, like a documentary moment, I'm always asking myself, why am I writing it this way? Why am I. because everything you do as a choice, like every time you click your shutter, you're making decisions. Even if you don't like most people again who maybe haven't really thought about it, don't realize that they're making these decisions. Um, I just had a great talk with um, another amazing photographer in New Mexico about that, that we, we've really different styles and how we should our reception. And she was like, no, I never really thought about even like white, like shooting it differently. Like this is just what works for me. Um, and she likes what she does and she can stand by it and that's totally fine if you can, but I've seen yourself like why am I shooting with off camera flash or why am I shooting with on camera flash and dancing it?

Rebecca Yale: 12:50 Or why do I want it everything dark? Why do I like those apps? Like every decision you make is the decision. So that's Kinda the first thing I would say when I look at an image is I asked myself why did the photographer take it this way? And then what is it telling me as the viewer looking at it. So that's like. And that, that change. Then you get into all the specifics, but that's really the most basic thing because then you get into like movement and flow within the image. Like where does my. I enter it, where do you pass through the image? Like where's my ibm cloud? Is it being led to the subject? Is it being bounced out of the frame? Am I seeing if it's a pride issue like posed in a way that she's going to hold, like, is that a good angle on her? If they're walking to their legs, look crooked. I'm like all of those little things that like get like way, way worse, but it all starts with why. Why that image.

Braedon Flynn: 13:38 That's great. And so when you're directing a couple, and I'm, I'm assuming you're directing them a lot more than just documenting. Yes. Yes. And so you're directing them and how like how do you, are you structuring that? Let's say, let's say you've got a pretty backdrop and you've got a couple and they're standing there. You can be using the backdrop. How are you directing them? Are you getting them to movie directing the interact? How much are you just using them as sort of subjects in the frame and really using the aesthetic, the backdrop, just maybe like if someone was listening in and wanting to hear like, okay, what, what would be a good strategy and like looking at this, how are you going into that?

Rebecca Yale: 14:16 I definitely, I really interact with my couples and it's funny, I actually um, I didn't even realize this about myself until a couple of years ago. I will physically move them by myself. Like I did not realize how hands on I was until someone was watching me do it and I think it was like my mom was watching me and she was like, I understand like I used to love like Barbie dolls as a kid and she was like, you're a couple of their, like Barbie dolls. Like you're literally moving their arms like you did when you were a child. And I was like, yeah, I guess I do really think about it like that. But yeah, I really like it is. Or like humans, all you get to play with it. So much fun. But I do, I want my photos to look as genuine and as authentic as possible.

Rebecca Yale: 14:51 So even when they are posed, I want them. It's like, I know Christian off kind of coined this term of like the pose pose, but I really like, I like it so I stolen it or given him credit, but I really, I want, that's what I always want my photos to see. Like I like to think of them, it's like kind of be cinematic moments that like someone like prep pod, so it's like this beautiful authentic looking moment, but it's the, it's the decisive moment. So it's like the army, Mccarthy, a pinnacle of the action, but everyone also still looks amazing, which you kind of can't do if they're not posed. And that's where like, I totally understand like the fear list and like kind of photographers out there don't really care about that stuff as much. Um, and they just want that genuine emotion and that's great.

Rebecca Yale: 15:31 And I think there's totally a photographer for everyone. My background coming from fashion as well, like I spent six months working in Abidjan archives, scanning one shoe of Lauren Hutton in the sixties in Paris and it was her walking towards the camera and her walking away and it was all shot in a heartbeat and I just spent like a month and month scanning the exact same thing of her walking and then I could see like Alexey brodovitch and I've Bene Lieberman which they had circled in which avalon his circle and that again, like that experience that happened outside of art school was so informative to me of seeing the difference of like a Pinky by her faith or pinky farther away from her face that the care that's put into these images and that the care that I believe it's on was the first one in a million dollar contract from vogue.

Rebecca Yale: 16:15 I'm certainly not getting a million dollar contract and vogue anytime soon, but I want. I want to shoot everything at that same standard. Which is why I was saying when I started in 28, when I was doing 2012, 2013, I lost money because I was not willing to compromise my standards and luckily it caught up and the investment was very worthwhile. But yeah, that's a huge. That perfectionism is a huge part of my work, but I do want it to. It's like, it's perfectly, it's perfectly imperfect. Like I want it to look authentic and awesome and so many of my couples don't realize, I suppose like when they are, when I'm talking to them and they're like, I want on my part, like totally natural, like within your portfolio. And I'm like, oh, point to what you like. And I'm like totally posed. So

Braedon Flynn: 16:52 yeah, it's the same thing where it's like, yes, every. Yeah. Basically everything is directed, you know? And I, I always say like, listen, I'm, I'm directing you to interact. So it looks incredibly natural and comfortable and directing. So you don't have to think about what to do, you know? So, so often people feel like they have to perform in front of the camera. So if you can take that away from them, it's like, oh wow, this is really easy, and then then you're able to really sort of construct and frame around that. But yeah,

Rebecca Yale: 17:18 yeah. I think a big part of our job is just getting people comfortable in front of us. It's weird to be in there. I hate being in front of the camera. Like I'm so glad that you guys can't see me right now. I'm recording the intro to my course. Took me nine hours to get three minutes of contact because I literally could not like words would not come out of my mouth when I had the camera in front of me. I don't know what happened. I was really surprised by it. But uh, it's really, it's hard. I always joke like the Alec Baldwin from 30 rock when he has to be on camera and he has two mugs and advantage, like what do I do with my hands? And he looked like crazy. I always joke with my couples, but like that's what happens when I point the camera at them and I really, I feel like it's our job as portrait makers to kind of break down those walls and make them feel comfortable.

Rebecca Yale: 17:58 That's like going back to avid on like there's this amazing photo that he took a Marilyn Monroe. He vomits famous and amazing and beautiful and it's kind of, it's her dying and it's at the end of the photo shoot and she had spent the whole time performing for the camera as she was used to doing. And then she thought he had put it away and she kinda just slumped down and he took this one last frame and it's now very famous work of art and that, you know, there's very few true photos of Maryland's essence and that's amazing. And that's always. I feel like my goal is to get the essence and just let people drop their guard. So I feel like again, like you can't really have too much of an ego as a wedding photographer or a portrait. Just in general. I'm like, I joke, I'm adapting my pee on wedding days. I will do anything to make my client files and make them happy to make them laugh. Yeah, whatever it takes.

Braedon Flynn: 18:45 Yeah. It's always funny the what you were saying like taking yourself too seriously when you think about wedding photography and when there's people who are like really famous as a wedding photographer. He was like, but just remember your wedding photographer and that sort of thing and you

Rebecca Yale: 19:01 know, it's funny. I feel like there is a little bit like having the celebrity wedding photographers that are starting to happen a little bit of a back side to that culture of like again, like we have to remember what we're there for that like I especially when I moved out to California, I found it way more than you work have. Like these workshop dog refers who we're taking all these workshops weren't actually spending the time to learn how to tell a story and we're just learning how to take a pretty photo and nothing more than a pretty photo and so much more than pretty photos. And I had a second shooter way, long time ago that I asked him or her not going to call anyone out to shoot some cocktail, just like a, like Robin grants. Um, while I was shooting the couple and details and the person came back to me and was like, after five minutes he was like, I'm done.

Rebecca Yale: 19:44 And I was like, there's 200 people out there, what do you mean you're done? They're like, oh, I thought I like, I got everything. Like this is boring. Like I got a few, it's fine. And I was like, are you kidding me? Like go back out there and do it in person was like, stuff like I wouldn't like why am I doing this? And I was like alright, I'm gonna if I fired them it was, it was awful. But I just like, we are never are they actually. And they told me too that like I said for a photo and they didn't want to take it. So when they just pretended to take it and I was like, that couple is going to ask me for that photo and you are not going to have it in your gallery. Like what are you thinking? And it just, it blew my mind.

Rebecca Yale: 20:19 It was one of my first weddings in California and I was just like, oh my God, I'm, we're not above anything at the end of the day. Like. And I used to do photography at Nyu my whole four years there I was. Skeletons, events photographer. You're, we're not above anything. Like get over your ego, get over yourself, take the photo to your client wants. It's not. You don't have to show it. Like if your groom, what? I've had so many rooms, lobbies like awful photos, but I'm like Oh God, please do not post this and tagged me in it, but I'm going to take it for them. Like just ego needs to be out of way and I feel like anyone, like the most famous people will tell you that that's why they got famous. That's why they're good.

Braedon Flynn: 20:53 Exactly, exactly. One, something you and I have talked about before in an other conversation is being financially savvy and knowing your numbers. Can you talk about that and sort of and what do you, I guess, what do you do and what are you looking at and what are you. What are the pitfalls? You see?

Rebecca Yale: 21:09 Yeah. I think that's so interesting. I think so many people are getting into this without any business plan in their head and if you don't see yourself as a business person, then so many people were like, oh, like I want to be. I mean, forget weddings. I want to be a photographer. You don't think of yourself as being a small business and you are in. You need to pay ty had it like a two hour call with my accountant yesterday. Now that I'm getting into education stopped like it complicates things and I'm like, oh joy, but you need to. You need to have a plan and you need to be smart. When I work with my mentee is one of the things I do. I do a whole. One of my whole sessions is all about finances and your business plan and how you're getting business and how you're keeping it.

Rebecca Yale: 21:51 And I run metric sheets for people and for many people it's the first time they've ever, like, they don't even know what a metric sheet is and it's the first time they've seen these numbers and realized like cost prohibitive pricing and what their cost of goods sold are and how just lowering like I hate, like I've never wanting to tell people to lower their prices. Usually I'm telling them to raise them. But for people who aren't looking for them to understand that if they lower $500 in their booking more weddings, the difference that makes is like mind boggling because when you're something like so expensive, when you're like four to $5,000 or four more, booking one or two weddings can be a $10,000 difference. And I feel like people don't always think that through. So like, yes, demand what you're worth and know how much you're charging and uh, make sure you're making profit.

Rebecca Yale: 22:40 Because that happens a lot. Is like people will add more film into their work more. Second shooter is a not raised their prices enough to do like you need to know your pricing, but you also should know when to invest in yourself. I do not think it's a mistake by any means that in 2013 and 2012 I lost money shooting some weddings because it has paid off off a hundred times. You have to think like any small business tography, forget any kind of any, any business, forget small loses money their first two years of business. If you can be profitable and under two years like wow, and you're probably not doing it yet. You're not even doing something right. You're honestly probably doing something wrong because you're probably not investing in yourself enough for growth. If you're just complacent, you're not ever going to reach the next level. Um, and I'm not telling everyone to go out and lose money by any means, but no pick and choose when you need to invest in yourself to be able to get to that next level of what you want to charge and the people you want to be working with,

Braedon Flynn: 23:34 things that you were doing to invest in yourself that were causing money and causing you to like what, what would be a wise way to be spending your money to be investing in yourself so that you can be more profitable down the road.

Rebecca Yale: 23:46 So a few things. Um, I would say a bad investment is a big style, especially a big styled shoot workshop where you're not learning. I think a good investment is, uh, in your own real wedding. So I'm shooting more film. I'm at a wedding that I knew that might be publishing the or I knew just maybe a little bit nicer. I would shoot more film than I would add like a country club wedding. But I knew that I wasn't ever going to show anywhere. I knew that my clients really probably weren't being able to see the difference between the film and digital and that they wouldn't really care and they just wanted my great photos and they wanted the moment and there would be super happy, but if I knew that it was something I could send a family pretty or to Martha or to bribe, I would shoot more film and it would, my numbers would be very off balance.

Rebecca Yale: 24:34 So sometimes it was more that I was being paid, but that was a wise investment. Um, and then investing in education. I continued to take courses at ICP until I left New York. I learned lighting from Uj camp who has the most rolling stone covers of any photographer in the country. And I was able to assist her and learn from her. And she's incredible. I think investing in actual like actual education sounds really snobby because I really do. I think there are great photographers working in education, but I think that there's a trend right now that we have talked about of photographers doing these workshops and getting great portfolio pieces, but then not actually being able to recreate them or walking away with any, any skill and that that's what I'm frustrated by. I think we need to get back to skill.

Braedon Flynn: 25:17 Yeah. And so on skills you've got, you do have a couple ebooks you just came out with ecourses ebooks.

Rebecca Yale: 25:24 Yeah. Yeah. So my first one is um, more than pretty tone, which I came out with right after Wppi and it actually came from the talk that I did at Richard Photo lab and it's basically, it's my major, like wrapped up into like a little 45 minute packets and replied to wedding photography. But it's the idea of semiotics. It's how can you use visual language and the idea of reading imagery to create stronger images. So it's kind of like this little 45 minute intro into thinking deeper about why you're cooking your shutter and wire lighting things in certain ways while you're opposing things in certain ways. I tell the story of working in abstinence archive and I actually showed some of the photos and getting into it. It kind of skims over a lot in 45 minutes. I'm not able to like go way too deep into any of the concepts, although that is something I hope to do down the line more specifically into each of the like into posing and lighting and all of these things, which led me into my second course that.

Rebecca Yale: 26:23 Because having this art school background so much critique really with super important to me, I wanted to make sure that whatever I did in education was able to have that feedback loop. So I was debating. I was really struggling. I figuring out like I want to do lighting or posing, but I was like, I would need to have like 20 different models so each person can have their own model and then I would need Richard so overnight all the film and it would be so expensive and I want us all to meet the second day so we can go over it and it just became too crazy. I was like, there's no way that there's going to be at $20,000 a student, like I don't know how to do this. So I was like, what can I do that we'll start this feedback loop? And I decided on details that slightly photography has always been something I've loved.

Rebecca Yale: 27:03 And what's really great about it is when you're shooting, when you're shooting something flat, you are simplifying it to its most basic form and shape and composition is everything. Like there is no photo. The composition matters more than a flat image because that is all your, all, you have to literally, you don't have interesting light, you don't have interesting faces, you don't have a moment, you just have competition. So I was like I can use it as a vehicle to get out all this other knowledge that I've been wanting to share with everyone forever and didn't know how to. So that's honestly why I picked details. I also just really liked them and I won rangefinder awards for them. So it was like a good, like, launching place for me. Um, because I had some like a credit, like I dunno, like I had some qualifying things worked in it, but yeah, I, the, the course that I have out is that beginning of it is an hour long introduction that goes over all of the elements of composition and then how you apply them to flat lays but they've really go way beyond that.

Rebecca Yale: 28:00 I talk about like everyone knows the rule of thirds but we don't pass that like we don't really think about and like some people know Golden Triangle's but a lot of people like it's like it's a new thing when I say it like spiral and the idea of like movement and taking the eye on a journey. Like when you enter, when you enter a frame, like where does your eye enter it and then where does it go next and where does it exit the frame and what are you being drawn to. And that's something I didn't even learn in photography that was married history classes. Like I sat on the floor of the Lou for six months with my art history professor in Paris looking at history paintings in Jericho and does he need and being like, where do you enter this freedom and where do you leave it? And we literally spent, and I'm a horrible drawer, but we spent hours like sketching all of that, um, and like making weird little doodles and that. So that's all the knowledge that I'm now trying to get out there.

Braedon Flynn: 28:50 So where can people find that and where can people follow along with you and all that. So at Rebecca Yale, on Instagram,

Rebecca Yale: 28:57 Rebecca are you on instagram? And on facebook, Rebecca Yell, I have a facebook group called sadly styling at where I am. I'm giving critiques and feedback and teaching within the group, which I really loved. Um, it's been really like there's nothing more exciting to me than watching something clicks. So now my ecourses are all out now, which you can get on my website, Rebecca Palm. Um, it just click on the education and the courses are all there. And what's so exciting is now that people are taking them and practicing, I'm getting, I'm getting some before and afters and there's just like nothing could make me more excited than see it because again, like these are concepts, like this is something teachable that's posing and lighting are teachable, but they take a while. This something that like can click really quickly and then it can actually help with those other things. They can help with the rest because it's all competent as composition is composition, but it. So like there's got nothing makes me happier than like watching someone get something. So seeing these before and after photos that are like the, I call it like the paper pop where you just put the paper down and take the photo because you don't know what to do with it versus creating like a dynamic visually interesting frame. Like, oh it makes me feel happy.

Braedon Flynn: 30:06 Oh that's really fun. And so I don't know if, did he say it, but where can people find the courses?

Rebecca Yale: 30:11 Oh, on my website, go to http://Rebeccayale.com. And then there's a tab called education and it's right there. E-courses. And there's some freebies on my website too, so if you're not fully ready to take the plunge yet, you can download. I do a series on instagram every Monday called behind the frame, which is all of the semiotic stuff that I've been talking about. I talk about how I created an image every week and sometimes it's more technical of like lighting or so stuff and sometimes it's really more of the like, speaking of how I'm reading this frame and the visual language element to it and I've been doing it for like almost three years. So I created an ebook out of some of those and you can download it for free. Um, and then I also have a flat lay styling guide for free that you can download that has some of the basic concepts that should hopefully really help people. And then the facebook group, if you just search for valet styling, you'll find it.

Braedon Flynn: 31:02 Oh, how fun. Well, I think you all should go check that stuff out though. There's some incredible free giveaways. But Rebecca, thanks so much for taking the time, sharing your knowledge. And if you have not seen her, wear it, go check it out because it is beautiful. Thank you. Welcome. Thanks so much. Really helped you love that conversation and found something you can go apply to your own business. If you didn't know, there's a ton more content from before this podcast was started over on the photo report dot Com. Or you can search youtube for the artist report for even more. There's a bunch of interviews just with amazingly talented people talking about their business and how they got there. So please, and if you did like this podcasts or liked a couple of the episodes, please go give us review on itunes. Really helps spread the word and gets his podcast notice for other photographers. And thanks for listening and go be well and shoot well and don't forget to enjoy the journey on the way.