Erich McVey is one of the more sought after and well-followed photographers in the wedding industry. He's a true artist, a film shooter and a good businessman. We hear his story, his approach to hustle and how he got where he is today. We hope you love this episode.
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Below is the text from the interview:
Erich McVey: 00:00:00 Eric. So glad to have you on the show and glad you're here.
Erich McVey: 00:01:17 Braedon, thanks for having me, man. I've been a fan of your work for a long time, so it's been a long time coming. It's an honor to be on.
Braedon: 00:01:25 Oh rad dude, thank you. I just like to start off for people who don't know as much about you and maybe have just seen your work. Can you give just a brief intro onto like what got you to where you are and sort of what got you into photography and all that fun stuff?
Erich McVey: 00:01:43 Absolutely. Well, I'll try to keep the long story somewhat short. Uh, but, but, uh, I will take it back 10 years. Um, I was, I was in college about to graduate with a degree in digital arts and my mom gave me, I'd never really been interested in photography. I'd never done any photography. I didn't have a camera or anything and my mom called me one day and said, I lined you up for an interview and you're going to be a photographer. And I said that I'm not doing that. That's insane. Um, I, I would fall flat on my face. I'd make an idiot out of myself. I said, no, I'm not doing that. She said, no, you're going to be great. I know the brand manager at this company and she's looking for a photographer. And anyways, she's, my mom is this a very hardcore marine ex marine lady who when she knows what she wants, she gets it done.
Erich McVey: 00:02:36 So she convinced me to do the interview and bought me a camera. And thankfully my best friend is Steven Wood who is one of the owners of Photo Vision, the film lab. And so he taught me how to use the camera, I did the interview and went and did like a test shoot for this pretty big company. I don't know why the hell they were me, but, but it was a retirement home corporation, so it was sort of a homes for older people, kind of who didn't live on their own anymore. And I ended up getting the job. They liked the shots that I took and the job was to shoot this whole ad campaign for them, which required me to travel around the country for weeks at a time to their different communities. And they paired me up with a gal in the marketing department who was in charge of the product and that Gal is now my wife Amy.
Erich McVey: 00:03:32 So that's the first time that we met. And so I have my mom to thank for my photography career and my wife. Everything that's good that's happened to me from that point has all been because of that. And I thought I wanted to do more commercial photography because it's just, it's what I knew and I knew like studio lighting everywhere that I went, I brought this huge, a lighting setup with me and backdrop and you know, we this whole mobile interior lighting setup and so I didn't know anything about natural light or posing because I think amy was kind of posing the people at the time because that was terrifying as well. But it was until it came easy to me. So I thought I'd keep doing that, but realized pretty quickly that there was really not a career, not any money to be had in that realm.
Erich McVey: 00:04:24 Especially because I live in Salem, Oregon, which is a very small market. So gradually people were finding out that I was a photographer. People kind of in my circle of friends and friends of the family and people who worked for my parents' company. And they started asking if I would shoot family sessions and senior portraits and finally a wedding. And it was terrifying and extremely difficult at first because again, I didn't know the first thing about it. I didn't know how to light people with natural light, I didn't know how to pose people, so like literally I was 23 and my mom and my girlfriend would come with me on shoots to pose like seniors for senior photos because I was in way over my head and I didn't. I'm not even sure if at that point it's not what I wanted to be doing either.
Erich McVey: 00:05:18 It's just kind of what people were telling me that I should be doing and, and what people were paying me to do. So I, I kept doing it and after a few weddings and a couple of dozen senior photos I started actually enjoy it because I knew how to look at light and how to interact with people and how to use my camera. So all this stuff got a lot easier and a lot more fun and things have just grown from there. At this point I shoot, the majority of what I do is weddings. I shoot weddings and I'll shoot 20 to 25 a year and they take place kind of wherever the wedding takes me. So thankfully I've been able to see a lot of cool places with wedding photography and been able to also, you know, support my family too because my wife amy came on full time with me with the business about seven, eight years ago.
Erich McVey: 00:06:15 And so this business has been able to sustain the, both of us working full time. I'm just on the photography business and we've been able to grow it, you know, exponentially over the years. And now amy, as we have a little family, she's able to be a mom and she actually does some work for Fuji Film as well. And the businesses, you know, easy enough where I can manage it myself without amy having tell about. So it's, it's gotten to a really good place, but it took a lot of years of hard work and I don't want to say struggle because we definitely had like a, we've gotten lucky that very much so throughout the entire path and throughout the entire journey. So as much as it's been, it hasn't really, it hasn't really. It's been a struggling so much that it's hard work. And, um, you know, we knew we had to work hard to get to where we are and I think we appreciate it that much more now because we did that is, I've got a lot of questions out of that story and very few,
Braedon: 00:07:20 I don't, I don't know if we will ever have another guest on the show saying that their, their mom was the crucial part in their photo directing. when I hear that. I think you have, you must have a really cool mom.
Erich McVey: 00:07:37 Oh, anybody who comes in contact with her knows that that is the case. And, and um, you know, she, she came, she came along and helped out with all of our in person workshops when we were doing those. So she has had enough. Uh, I mean, she, she, she's had an effect on a lot of photographers throughout the years and anybody who comes in contact with her, remember Sarah and asked about her and loves her. And um, yeah, it's, it's merited because she's the best. What a cool thing to have as a mom or be able to have your son to say those things about you and that's, that's really neat. Yeah. And I wasn't always an assertive person, I don't think. And she was able to kind of be that for me and say you're going to have a photography business and we're going to have, you know, dad and I are going to help you with anything you need along the way.
Erich McVey: 00:08:30 And even if you say no, we don't want you to turn the Rv port into a studio, we're going to do it anyways because that's what's best for you. And, and it was. And I, yeah, I have everything. I owe everything to them because um, I, I mean I was kind of a, a Turd for the first few years of business. Like I was just out of college and I wasn't, I didn't, I mean I knew how to work hard because my parents taught me that, but not in the sense of making a successful business and, and, you know, treating clients the way they need to be treated. Um, I did not have that figured out and it, it, it, it helped to have some, a couple of parents who were supportive and pushed me, uh, as well as a girlfriend who knew what was going on because I probably wouldn't have made it with the business through those first couple years if I didn't have the support systems are good.
Erich McVey: 00:09:25 I also think it's to understand someone or like where they are and where they've come. It's always interesting to hear sort of where they came from and you know, how much your parents impact to you and, and those sorts of things. And probably was your mom actually in the military? Oh, she was? Yeah, she was for 11 years. Yeah. And she was, she was in the marines. Um, she graduated early from high school and she was in the marines from 17. I'm on for four years and then she was in the air force and she was a, a load master on a C141. I always get them mixed up, but C141, 130, 140, and one of the first female load masters in the air force. So she was pretty cool.
Braedon: 00:10:10 That is really amazing. And then did you have siblings or do you, do you have siblings?
Erich McVey: 00:10:15 Yeah, I do, I'm the oldest and I have a couple younger siblings.
Braedon: 00:10:19 How Fun. So back to your photo story, you sort of breezed over something where it's like, yeah, I was never a photographer at all. I went to school for this, I went and took this job to then be this commercial traveling photographer and then you started talking about how you were like really proficient with studio lighting and bringing your lighting system around. So how did you go from not having any photo background to getting hired for this Gig? Which is pretty cool. They hired you but then actually knowing what you were doing?
Erich McVey: 00:10:51 Dude. Well I think first of all it came down to whoever hired me did not know what they were doing because I was not proficient at all at all.
Erich McVey: 00:11:07 I think I got very lucky in and of course, luck paired with seizing an opportunity that was there, which again, I have to credit other people for that, but I got a lot of, it was luck when I say that. Stephen taught me how to use a camera. I mean he just, he basically showed me how to use it on auto. Yeah. I mean he showed me I had like 48 hours or something and no photo experience. So I mean I just went in there and did what Steven had told me, which actually it didn't require any lighting for, for the sort of interview. And then once I got the job and they told me what I'd be shooting, I bought the gear that Steven told me to buy and I put my camera on the settings that Steven told me to put them on.
Erich McVey: 00:11:57 So I was using this recipe that someone else had taught me and trying to learn little bits along the way, but really for that whole first summer shooting for that company, I was pretty much doing the same thing all the time and all I needed was that little bit of information that, that my friend had given me in order to, you know, not completely screw it up. And so I would not say in any respect that I was proficient at studio lighting. I mean I would take two soft boxes and put them up and point them at the, at the subject and hooked my camera up. And that was about it. Um, but the funny thing is that when I started to get booked for outdoor work with seniors and even weddings, that's the only type of photography I knew. So I had a battery pack that I would love around into fields and you know, through forest it would, I would hook up to soft boxes to the battery pack and I would use external lighting while I was shooting out on site because I mean I had to create my own lighting, a sort of little world because I had no idea how to use existing light out in the world and I don't remember how I actually transitioned to utilize natural lighting, but a certain point I had to, it was just from getting out and shooting and overtime it was just repetition and, and cart before the horse kind of.
Erich McVey: 00:13:22 I just booked a bunch of stuff and had to learn how to shoot as I went.
Braedon: 00:13:27 I mean, it definitely says something to your personality because a lot of people would be fearful, petrified to even say yes. You know, I take the moral of the story though is the photography is easy. Just kidding. But I would say like similar to me, I guess my first gigs I was. Well, I mean I would, I'd been shooting for magazines and I was sort of self taught for a lot of stuff and I was shooting bands and concerts but I went back to photo school after I went to college for business, but ended up taking. I wanted to learn how to like make a photo versus just take a photo, Iwanted to print in a dark room. I wanted to shoot large format. And so my first class taking, shooting 4x5 where you can do the tilt and shifts and deal with perspective.
Braedon: 00:14:17 We had this assignment to shoot these high rise buildings and I was actually in commercial real estate for a period of time and through that had relationships and got someone said, oh you could shoot this building. So of course I can, you know. And so I took a job for like $2,500. I had never done it before in that sense. And so I basically said, oh yeah, of course I can do that. But I probably shot the building 20 different times like in the mornings and the afternoons. The lighting just to like get paid to learn, you know, but, but pulled it off. Exactly.
Erich McVey: 00:14:52 Know that I, I feel like that's the best way to learn. It's kind of a baptism by fire and especially when there's like somebody put their faith in, you buy a, you know, a paycheck or a big project like that. You feel like you owe it to them to do it right. And that's just going to force you to figure it out. I liked that because I, that probably you probably felt comfortable shooting commercial real estate because you've sussed it out from every different angle and you learn what worked and what didn't work and that's kind of what I had to do as well. Yeah. So I mean we go from that stage of, you know, figuring it out with lighting and all of a sudden you're doing senior portraits. You get a couple of gigs then going, you know, cause I, I would assume that people are looking at the whole social media world.
Erich McVey: 00:15:42 It's like people are looking at these other people that they look up to and feel like I could never be there or they feel like they've got it all made and they didn't probably even like how basically like Poof, it's overnight success when it's like, no, actually this was about 10 years in the making, so just to sort of give a little bit of the journey of not just being like, okay, I was taking these cheap gigs and all of a sudden now I'm an overnight success. What are some things that you like once you started to get it? What are some of the things you started doing in your business that you feel like gave you traction? I think as in terms of skill, I think the thing that helped the most in terms of skill was just getting out there and shooting and booking 30 weddings and 50 senior portraits a year and this can talk about film as well because I started shooting digitally when, when I became a photographer 10 years ago and then a few years into that, which is seven years ago, I found out about film.
Erich McVey: 00:16:38 And how beautiful it was, I realized that all of the work that I saw online that I connected with had one thing in common and that it was shot on film. And so I said I've got to do whatever it takes to get my work to look like that. And obviously Jose via was like all over the place like you couldn't, you couldn't go on style me pretty or a wedding blogger like look up film wedding photographer without seeing tons of his images and being inspired. And if my work could look like that, oh, would die happy. So first thing I did was I signed up for Jose's workshop and that is by far and away, you know, I always, if someone asked me, what's the turning point in your career? That's what I tell them is I signed up for Jose's workshop in 2011 and I bought a context 6:45.
Erich McVey: 00:17:28 It showed up the week before the workshop. I didn't even have time to shoot a roll through it. And I brought only the context to the workshop. I left the digital at home and I said, you know, I'm gonna learn as much as I can about film at this workshop in Mexico and not allow myself a crutch to fall back on with shooting because I knew that in the I felt comfortable with digital, you know, what was the point for me, I'm not going to. There was much less to benefit from having that available and so that was what sort of spring boarded me into being able to shoot film and hard work is another thing when I'm asked what is the difference maker, what got you to from point a to point B to, to kind of be comfortable with where you are today.
Erich McVey: 00:18:18 And I think that a lot of photographers starting out, it's a very romanticized job. I think wedding photography and it, it, it sounds super fun and happy exactly. But when it comes down to it, the photographers that really succeed and the people that make it ahead, that, that separate themselves from the masses I find are the people that are willing to, you know, get their hands dirty and work 80 hours a week for a few years to get their business off the ground. I mean, you have to, you have to beat the guy, the guy or gal next to you because there's, there's always a certain amount of business to go around. And while we're all in this together and while it's definitely a collaborative effort and we should all be very, we should all be on a team out. Working the competition is one of the thing.
Erich McVey: 00:19:11 Like there's so much talent out there, there are so many talented photographers, but not everybody is willing to put in the work. And I knew that if I put in the work that I could make it happen. And when, when I mean five years ago, every single one of my weddings was taking place in a 60 mile radius basically. And that was really just, yeah. Uh, five, six years ago. And when amy and I said, you know, we want to branch out into California and beyond, we targeted those markets specifically. We didn't just say, you know, I'm gonna work hard and keep doing what I'm doing and if I keep my nose to the grindstone, good things are gonna happen it, that, that is true in many respects. But we also had to work smart and we kind of made a game plan for how we were going to branch out into other markets and targeting those specifically and that so that, I mean, that immediately started showing, giving us good results and we started looking stuff in, you know, in California and then across the US and then started getting stuff in other countries and it just kind of went from there.
Braedon: 00:20:25 So I completely agree with all that stuff. And that is what sets people apart is you know, it, it sounds like a very sexy job. And, and it really, I mean it can be, and it can be a really amazing. But I don't think people actually realize how much, if you're going to do it well, how much you're hustling and how much like you are putting into this thing, you know. But can you, you said like you decided you need to put in work, you've got to outwork the next person. You get your hands dirty. Can you define like what is? What does that work look like? Or if someone is in a place where like, man, I want to be there, I'm willing to put in the work. I just have no idea what to do. What were you doing that you felt like was the hustle that the next person wasn't doing or just what were you doing? Regardless of what anyone else is doing.
Erich McVey: 00:21:14 That is a good question because when I think back on that, I'm Kinda like, oh, how do I answer this? Like, I know that I was working a lot, but I'm like, where was that work going?
Braedon: 00:21:25 I think maybe to start back, let's, let's say five, six years ago, how many events were you shooting? Because obviously the more you're shooting, the more work is happening.
Erich McVey: 00:21:36 I think early on, not feeling like I was too good for any one job had like a two pronged effect. It generated more income and it developed my skills a lot faster with film, so I was out shooting every day or every other day and that made my photography that much better. I got that much better that much quicker and when my work gets better it's more marketable and more people are going to take notice, so I think it came mostly down to to actually getting out there and shooting and not being afraid of that type of hard work. And then there's the smart work which is like answering emails went on the weekend or when I'm on vacation or at night at 12:00 at night because I want to be the photographer who gets back to the couple first to impress them.
Erich McVey: 00:22:29 That has booked me weddings over the years. I'm connecting with people on instagram and commenting on photos and doing the research to follow the right people and be connected with the right people. Those are all kind of the extra little work here and there that takes up time. It's not something everybody that you know you're supposed to do, but um, when you're going the extra mile, those are things that you do totally. And with the shooting every other day or shooting every day back then was how much of that was gigs that you were taking or was it just you are setting up your own chutes and trying to do that and, and I would probably believe that question into now, today, how often are you actually creating your own chutes versus just doing stuff for yourself? Yeah, I mean for clients, totally, totally. So I would say that 99 percent of those were paid gigs because I knew that if I applied myself, I could book the work, you know, to be getting paid for these things. And most of these were senior photos or family photos or. I mean I did, I did random commercial stuff over the years, um, and weddings and things of that nature. But that again, built up my portfolio and that got me in my mind. That's how I got good at film
Erich McVey: 00:23:46 quickly and I knew that if I got out there with the context, you know, almost every day that I was going to get a leg up on some of the other folks who were trying to do the same thing. So I, I would say that the majority of these jobs were paid gigs. Now in 2018, that is still the case, but I'm not shooting a hundred and 20 times a year. I'm shooting more, like 45 times a year or something like that. And that's where I want to be. Of course, of course. Um, and these days it is hard obviously, you know, do you have four kids? Four kids. You're crazy. So I have one kid and I hardly have time to do what I do, especially when weddings required travel and you know, shooting weddings require editing and, and keeping this business afloat requires many, many hours a week put into it.
Erich McVey: 00:24:45 I don't have a ton of time to put together a bunch of other artistic shoots or different things to kind of develop other sides of my business. Maybe the editorial side, I wish I did to keep my artistic juices flowing and stay excited about what I do, but realistically, you know, this job requires this job in this life require so much that it's, it's hard to put those sorts of things together on a regular basis. So what I try to do is, is a couple solid solid shoots each year that, that I'm going to be really excited about and inspired by and that are going to show people hopefully something different that I can do.
Braedon: 00:25:26 Are those things you are setting up on their own, are you setting them up for like a workshop that you're doing? No. So this would just be something that I would set up on my own.
Erich McVey: 00:25:38 So for example, last year during my slow time, I, I wanted to, to, to, to do a shoot with this awesome stylist, art director named Benjamin Holt trip who lives in the same town as me. And first thing I know is I don't want to do something wedding related when I shoot wedding related things all the time. And if I'm shooting something for my own workshop or someone else's workshop or paid work, it's probably going to revolve around weddings. So I want to do something like some, I want to do something different that pushed me artistically. So I put a whole shoot together with a few models and it was cool because I decided to shoot the whole thing on black and white film. I also decided to shoot the whole thing like on f eight rather than f two, two, eight. And for like, I would, I never go beyond that for lending basically. So uh, and use a lot of direct light and thin and things of that nature. And I mean it was the shoot that I was most excited about and happiest with myself of anything I've done in probably a couple of years. And that shoot, we were able to get on the cover of
Erich McVey: 00:26:44 a cool magazine. So it paid for itself in that respect. And obviously in this industry, anytime you can show that you can do something different and show that you can stand out, I think it gets you kind of cool points in the industry. And it also, I've been able to book. I booked couples for weddings off of work like that, that was completely unrelated to weddings because because they saw something that they didn't see somewhere else. And so one thing I always tell photographers is if you're going to pay to put a shoot together and you know, pay for models and attire and stylists or flowers or whatever, don't do a wedding shoot. If you have a bunch of wedding work, unless you really need it for your portfolio, do something completely different because not only are you going to be more inspired by it and sort of revived after probably a long season of shooting weddings, but you're going to standout and get noticed more so than if you just have another bride wearing a white dress and holding a bouquet and an empty table scape.
Erich McVey: 00:27:54 Like we've seen it how many times. And it's always pretty. But when you're scrolling through your instagram feed, what is going to stop you in your tracks? Probably not that know. It's I think for photographers thinking about like what is there the type of couple or like what are their actual interests? You know, it sounds like we're probably similar in the side of like, I mean my background is shooting music and bands and then I loved, I've shot fashion and lifestyle and therefore having that in my portfolio has attracted it's non wedding work and I've been able to book couples that are from that world because they're like, oh you, you get it, you know. And, and that it said versus some people who were really love interior design or really love like food styling. Like if that is, they might be attracting couples that have those similar tastes.
Erich McVey: 00:28:43 But I think that's something really important to think through is that like, I mean if you are just hiring models and shooting models but like you don't really like connect with fashion and that and maybe that's not the thing that you should be shooting. Then really figuring out like your heart and what is it that you are drawn to and then that's going to translate to the type of couples that you're booking. Oh, completely. Completely. Yeah, totally agree and yeah, just like you said, I'm sure you have booked the third of the work that you've done with bands or interiors or fashion. You have booked people for weddings, you know, with W, with a real well take it back a step and say weddings, weddings, weddings, weddings often have a nice paycheck to them more so than some of that other work and so even though sometimes that other work might not have the same kind of paycheck, it's so often worth it to not only try out and get
Erich McVey: 00:29:41 out of your comfort zone and do something that's going to like inspire you a little bit more and get your artistic juices flowing, but also to and to show, to show something different than you can do, but to connect in a different realm in the non wedding world because you're going to connect with a whole different group of people than you probably would connect with otherwise. On a normal day to day basis, so it's cool to hear that you have seen actual, you know, but probably book stuff that you had no idea was going to come from something like that. And I feel like when you open yourself up to those opportunities, good things happen. Um, and, and that's, that's another one of those things. One of the biggest things I think that I tell people has been a game changer. And uh, one of the reasons why I am where I am now, it was always being open to an opportunity.
Erich McVey: 00:30:37 I never just shutting it down because it was something I was uncomfortable with or not in my wheelhouse. You always have to be on the lookout for those and you don't take everything but you at least you as you consider things and you never know where some opportunity and some connection is going to pop up. Totally. And when, when you're first starting out, you sort of like, you've got the one side where it's saying don't diversify too much because then you're, you're sort of a jack of all trades, master of none. But at the same time, you sort of need that stuff to hone your craft and then also like teach you, which is actually the thing you want to be master of completely. I want. I'd love to make a note to on the Jack of all trades, master of none. What? Another thing.
Erich McVey: 00:31:20 Just in my journey that I decided right when I started shooting film, it's really easy. I just see so many people have given me overwhelmed early on and they're overwhelmed because you know, on forums and instagram is you see all these people shooting all these different kinds of film and they're talking about pushing and pulling and different scanners and different things. But my biggest suggestion and one of the biggest things that I think made me learn and grow quickly was that I decided on a camera and I stuck with it. I decided on a film and I stuck with it and I didn't mess around with like pushing and pulling nothing against these methods at all. Nothing against trying different things out. Because I think as a photographer you don't just want to like look at Jose Baez work and go, okay, I'm going to use this formula and do this, this and this and make my, make my photos look exactly the same.
Erich McVey: 00:32:18 But I would say at least once you're somewhat into your journey and, and you've, you've tried a couple things, stick with something for a little while and, and figure it out and get good at that one thing. I try to get good at shooting food Z 400 on the context and rating it a certain way and I got to be really good at it because I focused all of my energy on that one thing. I didn't try to shoot all these different black and white films. I didn't try to like pull and push film or you know, shoot Codec this day in Fuji and the next day. Like doing that and getting results back from my lab day in and day out and being able to look at those results right after I had shot. And, and having that consistency in the way I shot and getting those scans back enabled me to analyze things and know exactly what action created, what results and learn and grow from that. And I just, I just see too many people who get so overwhelmed and confused because there's so much information out there and so much conflicting information and I just hate to see people do that.
Braedon: 00:33:31 No, I love it. I'm laughing over here because if you were to see my setup you'd probably vomit a little bit in your mouth. On the flip side. Oh No.
Erich McVey: 00:33:41 I, I, I love and respect like and now I worked more and more into my workflow. I and, and I love and respect the ability to do a lot of different things. But you've been shooting film for how many years?
Braedon: 00:33:55 A lot. But mine, mine is more like I can't, I can't live without. I carry a minimum of four cameras on me at a time. I'm generally like, I used to mix up and I'll still go from 400 to 800, but I used to like throughout a day add shift from 160 to 400 to 800 and then the, the mental. I'm very ADD so the more I have going on the more like hyperfocused and like things go into slow motion for me, but at the same time it's like you I've had to learn what you were suggesting makes things so much more simple.
Erich McVey: 00:34:32 I just think for, for, in the, in the, if the number one goal is to learn how to shoot film and to learn your camera and to understand metering and uh, working with the lab, the best thing you can do for yourself is to simplify things early on because I just think you're going to learn so much quicker that way. And then you.
Braedon: 00:34:53 And then you gradually add weapons to your arsenal. Yeah. And it also gets you to a point where you can walk up and you're putting a couple underneath a tree that's backlit and you can say, all right, I think in this it's going to be at F2 at 2,000, that's going to be F2 at a thousand or it's going to beF4 at 500. And just like, know, because you shot that film in that exact situation so many times. Absolutely. Absolutely. So. And that, that really helps too because then it's like, oh you, you can start getting your meter. I'll be like, oh, I was right. You know?
Erich McVey: 00:35:24 Exactly. Exactly. There are so many different factors at play on, especially on a wedding day and when, when the pressure's on, things are moving quickly. So simplicity is your friend. I mean,
Erich McVey: 00:35:38 I know what I always say I beat the dead horse, but I always say keep as many constants as possible so that the variables are easier to manage essentially because there are so many variables. And when, when you have this set of constants that you don't have to think about, you can more easily attack all the different things that are at that are variables in the different factors that play. Yeah, very, very wise advice that I should start taking them. No, no, no, no. You shouldn't change anything. Oh Man. If you only knew, but back to you the how. How has having a new baby in your lives changed the way that you are working and now have you, has it? Are you doing everything? It's just a little bit more exhausting. Or are you setting up. Has it forced you to set up structures in your work?
Erich McVey: 00:36:33 Thankfully, so. Well this is only relevant because of the timeframe, but we adopted so and it's relevant because we knew for four years that we were, that we were, we were in that process for four years before we actually met our daughter. So. So we had lots of time to build up to the lifestyle that we knew we were going to have to have once we had a little one in the mix. So I would say it was just, it was true, it was always building towards working more, working less and making more. And thankfully each year has gotten a little bit better. And now I'm at a point I would say finally just this year where I have been able to step back a little bit and work less than I have in the past. So whereas if, if, if, if she had come into our lives a year earlier, I would probably be pulling my hair out right now because I was still in business building like crazy work mode and not established to the point where I could take my foot off the gas pedal.
Erich McVey: 00:37:42 And just just this year I'm. The fruits of our labor have kind of come to fruition in the sense that I can work maybe maybe 30 hours a week rather than 50. Like the past couple of years. And I can still manage the business and take care of my clients and edit photos and get and still and promote the business and do everything that I need to do. And you know, design albums for clients and do submissions. And all that stuff, I'm a big part of that is shooting film though too, because the editing is far less, requires far less time and that's a big part of why I switched to film in the first place because I knew that the, the investment of money would allow me a lot more time in the future to do, to do other things, whether it's to promote the business and do the things that I need to do for my business to grow or have more time for my family because I knew that it just wasn't sustainable to, to be shooting digitally and editing the amount of time that, that required me to, to edit a.
Erich McVey: 00:38:52 I Knew I couldn't do it for 10, 15, 20 years and that I've just seen the burnout in other photographers who have been doing it for a long time. It's just hard to sustain. So thankfully with, even with the little one, uh, I've been so lucky to be able to like to be able to be a dad. At least half the time she's only two. So she is with amy and I pretty much know the majority of the time, five, six days a week when she's not with grandparents or something. And so we pretty much split time. I'm able to be a dad half the time and the time that I met doing that, I'm doing business halftime and it's. Thankfully my business hasn't quite tanked yet. We'll, we'll see if this is a sustainable lifestyle or if adding another kid to the mix just completely blows, blows me up. But for now it's working out just fine
Braedon: 00:39:46 from having more than one kid and I'm thinking, oh boy. Yep.
Erich McVey: 00:39:51 Okay. You don't because I'm pretty worried and I do not know how in the world you are doing it. Especially with as many things as you do.
Braedon: 00:40:00 Yeah. I am a piece of work and a very interesting way. Um, yeah, man. Kids are gnarly with trying to work and do that and be. And especially if you're traveling, I mean, my wife is a trooper because really it's like I'm, I'm having months where I am gone four days out of the seven every week for two months straight, you know, and she's, we don't really have family support around us. My Dad helps out a bit, but it's like she's just by herself with four little kids, you know. So she's, she's a stud and I'm super, super lucky to have her. Wow. Wow.
Erich McVey: 00:40:45 Women are amazing that I need the motherly instinct. It's, it's something that I admire maybe more than anything in the world.
Braedon: 00:40:55 Yeah. I think if, if the world was just men want, it wouldn't be possible to have kids at the same time. There'd be a lot less kids out or is it your men are the ones that had to have the babies.
Erich McVey: 00:41:07 There'll be a lot less painful there. You know, we're, we're wimps
Braedon: 00:41:14 totally. Well I won't take too much more of your time, but as just a few more questions in regards to going from the family stuff too. Then just like workflow, what does, like, do you have a typical pretty standard workflow like this happens that happens, that happens?
Erich McVey: 00:41:31 Yeah. You, I mean you mentioned that you're ADD, I'm very ADD with like my organization and my workflow, so I mean I could, I could go. Do you want me to go through it? It's pretty like, I don't know if it's very interesting. It's kind of what people would expect. The main thing to say would be yes, that I try to do things the same way every time, which keeps me sane and keeps me organized.
Braedon: 00:41:55 So let's, let's just go, like post wedding. Yeah. Do you have an exact routine of like what you do?
Erich McVey: 00:42:02 Totally. Totally, totally. Well, not too good. I'll try not to get too nerdy or deep in light room speak.
Braedon: 00:42:09 And in, in that question too is do. So you're shooting mostly film? Are you missing in digital? So are you shooting hybrid and then like the reception, is that hybrid?
Erich McVey: 00:42:19 Yeah. So, so what I, what I do is I shoot as much film as I possibly can on a wedding day and when I'm able, when there's enough light to shoot film, I'm not shooting any digital so I don't consider myself a hybrid photographer, but I also, I'm not an all film photographer. I love digital for, for a lot of things. But when, when there's enough natural light to use film, I'm shooting 100 percent on film. So this makes my workflow super nice because not only do I not have to match digital images to film images, which is like a pain point for a lot of photographers, but I also don't have to, you know, timeline wise I want everything in chronological order when I deliver it to a client. So I don't have to sort of drop images into chronological order and mixed digital and film because usually I'm shooting film for this part of the day and then digital for this part of the day.
Erich McVey: 00:43:13 So workflow wise I'll have, you know, I shoot digital for pretty much the whole reception and I call those images with photo mechanic, which has been such a lifesaver. I only started have more than my room and then I bring them into light room photo mechanic. More than like for cooling? Yeah. For Cooling. Do you, do you use photo mechanic? I mostly just use light room and I did up until last year because you know I said I only shoot about 500 digital images per wedding. Like how much time could, it really saved me but I will say it's a huge, I mean I can call like 800 images in like 15 minutes and be down to 100 or 150 and then it's not going to bog down my light room with and, and I shoot on this stupid Nikon d 100 that takes 45 megapixel images which are just a nightmare in light room and it's so slow to sort of coal and edit and photos.
Erich McVey: 00:44:16 Photo mechanic's been huge for that. Um, it's worth the $100 and they're not paying me to say this, so maybe they should be everywhere. Everybody I know uses it anyway. So I pull those images, I pulled the film images in and then I kinda just attack each. I like color label each different set of images, so like my color, one 20th red and my color 35 millimeters yellow and so on and digital's blue and so on and so on. And then I just attack each, set each of those sets individually, um, and put them in order, then edit them and then put everything in order after that. And then I rename the entire set of images so that it's kind of locked in stone. Everything's in chronological order. It's named, it's named, you know, Oh, one dash the couple's name and forever. Amen. It's always going to have that title on it, you know, wherever I export it to, wherever it is on my computer, on an external.
Erich McVey: 00:45:21 And that helps me to stay really organized. And, and then from there I will, I should say that I'd go through and I pull images to be retouched. So anything that you know, needs a little bit of help, I'll, it'll usually be somewhere between like 20 and 50 images per wedding that I send to retouch up.com and I use the same photo editor over there and it's like, I want to say it's like 2:50 per image and saves me hours and hours and hours and she'd just, yeah, our gal, Olga, Olga at retouch up does some insane retouching and, and worth every penny.
Braedon: 00:45:59 Wow. That's fun. Um, and so when thinking through the actual shooting, do you have a second shooter? Do you have an assistant? How is that working as you are shooting and then about how many rolls of film do you shoot?
Erich McVey: 00:46:14 Amy, my wife, used to come with me to every single wedding for from 2010 until 2017. And knowing that we were going to have little ones on the way we started, I started having amy stayed back at home and having assistants help me out here and there and we kind of built into what we have now, which is that amy always stays at home and I either bring an assistant with me from Oregon and this is just a, a film loader slash assistant, but that is always there. Always a photographer, a good film photographer. And the main thing that they're doing is that they're loading film and that they're helping with the timeline. But I also have them pretty much shoot throughout the day and I'll have them shooting black and white film while I'm shooting color, you know, to get some different artistic perspectives.
Erich McVey: 00:47:10 I might have them shoot, like just to capture some, some more candid stuff with 35 millimeter. But they'll also be shooting all on film when I'm shooting on film. So they're not, they're not shooting like backup. I've never done digital backup. I trust in. I trusted my setup, I trust him, film and my camera. And I know that because I've educated myself on film and on the process and on my camera that I can trust in that process. So my, my assistant is there really to add complimentary imagery to, to what I'm doing. So I bring someone with me from Oregon. I have a couple of people here or I pick up someone locally that I know personally who has either is like a colleague who I've, you know, from the Mexico workshop with Jose or someone who came to our workshop who is just an awesome photographer in their own right.
Erich McVey: 00:48:01 And it's just so, so great having this network of film photographer. So you kind of know everybody and no matter where I go, whether it's Bali or Portugal or Florida or New York, there's always somebody close by that I have a personal relationship with and can trust to do what I need them to do. And usually this year, but I'd say for the past 12 months, I would say 70 rolls per wedding is, is a pretty good estimate of what I shoot.
Braedon: 00:48:31 That's great. With that second basically assistant, you're not also having a second shooter, so you just have one person dedicated to you, but they will go and shoot.
Erich McVey: 00:48:41 Yes. Yeah, that's correct. So I would say 95 percent of the wedding sex shoot I do with just me and an assistant and the couple and the planner know that that's not a second shooter, you know, in quotes.
Erich McVey: 00:48:53 They know that I'm very upfront about, you know, we don't, we don't split up on the wedding day. Like my, my thing is, my clients are hiring me because they like my work and if we work together closely on a schedule and a timeline that we can create a timeline that will allow me to be the different places that I need to be throughout the day. And if we run into some sort of problem, you know ahead of we're going to, we're going to see this, you know, say it's a month before the wedding or whenever we're creating the schedule. We can either add an hour of coverage which is cheaper than booking a second shooter and will allow me to shoot everything I need to shoot or I can suggest that we do bring on a second shooter because we're running into a problem that you know, it is not going to that I'm not going to be able to handle or I've got a great assistant with me.
Erich McVey: 00:49:51 Maybe just for this 20 minute like problem period. We can split up. I can load my own film and I can finish the couple's portraits while they go shoot the reception space. Or they go shoot the guys while I shoot the gals and you know, it's usually just that. It's like a 10 or 15 minute period in the day when you really need that. Like that second shooter and it's an expense for the couple and I just really want to. I'd rather than put their investment into an album or an engagement session or an extra hour of coverage so I can be there for longer. And so that I'm the one who's shooting all of these special moments that they hired me to shoot. So that's just my personal, I have nothing against second shooters other than I don't like having tons and tons and tons of images and I just feel like, like I said, there's only a few instances through the day when you really, really need someone like that and the majority of the time if, if I put in the work on the front end with the schedule and have a conversation with the planner on the phone or with the bride on the phone where we can work things out without them having to make that additional investment.
Braedon: 00:51:04 Yeah, that's great. What's your black and white film of choice?
Erich McVey: 00:51:06 So I shoot all the Ilford Delta films and I dude, I mean I have such fomo like when I see different photographers, black and white, like it's so easy to get pulled all over the place with black and white. But I've kind of just decided I like Ilford Delta, because they have the 100, 400 and 3200 and I can really, I shoot all three of those films on a wedding day just depending on how much light there is. And I just liked being able to shoot a film that has those three different speeds and simplify things in that respect. I think it just streamlines, you know, but, but again, I have FOMO when I see Kodak Tri-x, I'm like, man, I want my stuff to look like that, but I have to just resist and say, you know, I've got a pretty good thing going.
Erich McVey: 00:51:53 I know what I'm doing with this film in the, in the maybe maybe on some artistic shoots or in the future I'll play around with that. But for the time being, I like where I'm at and I've just stuck with it. No rhyme or no really, really good rhyme or reason.
Braedon: 00:52:08 No, totally. I mean, I, I've been doing a bunch of film tests and looking at the differences between Ilford and now that Kodak especially just brought back their 3200 where I would describe Kodak or Ilford, their Delta versions. There's almost more grain in them, but it's a finer grain where then Kodak is a little bit chunkier grain, but it's, it's like cool. Yeah, it's Chunkier, but there's not as much of it, if that makes sense. You know, so I know exactly what you mean. Yeah. So I mean they, they both have such striking lux and Ilford has this almost like this softness to it as well. That's. Yeah, I would say it's really, it's a prettier film. Where Kodak is a little grittier film.
Braedon: 00:52:53 I know what you mean. I think what I've noticed from triax is, and I'm no expert and I haven't shot it very much, but it has that. It's got that more. It's got a grittier look to it, but I've noticed that I really liked the way people look on Ilford, like it's flattering and when I'm shooting weddings I want, you know, number one always has to be to make people look good and I think it definitely accomplishes that where I could see Tri-x being like on a, just a normal, like a normal person being not quite as having that flattering vibe to it.
Braedon: 00:53:31 Yeah. No, I mean they're, they're both extremely beautiful, but they, they definitely have their own little looks. - I, I agree. So you've also going from, you know, being where you are and then you also educate and you have court, you do your own workshops and then you also have online courses. Yeah? If people want to come and learn from you, how does that happen?
Erich McVey: 00:53:55 Sure, suso we still, we did our own workshops for a few years and then when we knew we were going to build the family, we knew that we did, we wouldn't have enough time to keep doing the in person workshops as much as we love them. And as great of a responses we got from them, it just wasn't realistic to think that Amy would have the amount of time required to do two of these 30 person workshops in remote locations. And so we said, well, we, we still want to still wanting to be, ha, have an educational proponent to our lives because we love working with photographers and imparting the knowledge that we've gained over the years from doing what we do. And so we decided to put all that into an online course that we put out almost two years ago now.
Erich McVey: 00:54:43 And it's through If I Made. They do different online educational courses. And really, I mean we, we, we've built a course for about a year and we put, I mean it's 750 pages and like three videos and 15 worksheets or something. It's literally ever everything that we could possibly think of everything that we've learned since in our time as put in our time running a wedding photography business and being photographers and you know, I'm, I'm a perfectionist and I thought there's no way we're going to write this course and I'm going to look back on it a year later and say, Oh, I'm happy with the way it is. Or I didn't leave something out that I'm not going to be some regret. And it's crazy because I have no regrets. It's, it's, and I still have not gotten a single thing that I, that we left out because we took such such care and time in developing the course materials and making sure that no stone left unturned.
Erich McVey: 00:55:46 And we really. I'm not. I mean, as you hopefully can tell, I'm not a photographer that keeps a lot of secrets. Like if you asked me something, I'm gonna. I'm not gonna. Like even if I don't really want to know about, you know, some special thing that I do, which there isn't really anything, I'm still probably going to tell you anyways because that's just how I am. But that's all to say we didn't leave anything out and it's, yeah, I'm really proud of it and yeah, it's, I'm not going to go and tell everybody to buy it. But if you could go to, if I made.com and just search your name. Yeah, yeah, exactly. And it's kind of good for the three. I want to say we kind of categorized it into three types of photographers. One was, you know, a photographer who is just starting to learn film and wants to transition from digital to fill in then and wants to hopefully avoid a lot of costly mistakes and learn what film is all about. Then another would be a photographer. A photographer has been shooting film for a long time but is looking to reinvigorate their, you know, what they do and get excited again and look for more inspiration. And the third is, I can't remember, so I'm going to leave it at that.
Braedon: 00:57:00 Well, we'll definitely have a link to that in the show notes and then in the blog post as well. And lastly would be Make and Stow. Where did that come from? And if you don't know what Make and Stow is for the people listening, Make and Stow are these beautiful handcrafted wood boxes that you can get a discount for on Film Supply Club, but they are absolutely gorgeous. I send client gifts, about 250 prints to all of my clients afterwards. And I included my package. But it's this box that people get so wowed by. How did you start that and. Yeah, tell me about that.
Erich McVey: 00:57:39 Yeah man. And thank you for all your support with making stuff. Dude. You're like, you're like the. I want to say you're the all time. Like number one the clients have of making stuff. You're keeping us alive and we appreciate it.
Erich McVey: 00:57:58 We've, we've been making wood boxes for over years now and it all came about really randomly. My parents own a picture framing business so they actually, they make custom picture frames for art and so my dad has always, he, you know, his, his whole life has been cutting picture of brains and working with saws and wood and all that stuff. So when amy and I decided we wanted to start giving client gifts and send prince to clients and we wanted to do something that wasn't just something that was already available because there were a lot of people doing the linen boxes which are beautiful.
Erich McVey: 00:58:54 There were like some glass boxes and things around, but we were looking for wood boxes because we thought that that fit with my brand best and we couldn't find anything. We couldn't find anything out there. And we even tried to commission like a woodworker to make us a run of boxes and the quote was just something really too high for us. And so we said, my dad said, hey, we can just make the boxes if you want, just show me a blueprint and we'll make some up. And so we did a run of like 20 of these boxes just from kind of some inspiration. We all hung out in the shop one day and, and drummed up a design and made 20 of them. And I was, I sanded and stained them and sent them to my clients. And I think what happened is that other photographers just started seeing them.
Erich McVey: 00:59:49 I'm having the hardest time remembering what brought about the actual us taking the step to start to make it into a business. But basically other people, they got a lot of good buzz, a lot of people. We were getting a good response to them and people were asking where can we get them? And we kind of just decided we could have a nice little business that I could do with my parents. And so amy and myself and my mom and dad started making so, which is just, you know, this little business and we make wood boxes for, for photos and we make cutting boards and my dad makes them all and my mom ships them all and I kind of, uh, amy and I do some of the marketing and backend and website stuff and social media and all that good stuff.
Erich McVey: 01:00:34 And it's really fun because, you know, my parents are cool and it gives us something, they're all about business. Like I said, they're small business owners themselves so they know their stuff and it's just a fun thing to do with them. And photographers like yourself obviously have a use for them and appreciate them. And we, I mean for some reason, there haven't been a ton of copycats so far. So we're, I think we're still, you know, we started selling them in 2014 then it seems like the market hasn't been flooded with wood boxes yet. So that either means we don't have a really good idea or a or it's a, it's a hard one to carry out.
Braedon: 01:01:20 That's funny. I think one of my favorite realizations without talking with amy at a couple of WPPI years ago and she was, she was like, there's this photographer in California, but it's a girl that orders them all. Her name's Emily and basically it was my office manager and it's like, oh my gosh, that's great. You guys are making. I had no idea that you all were behind making steel. We just loved the boxes and it was like a really fun realization to make that connection with like buying all your boxes. So awesome. So awesome. But yeah, dude, thank you so much for coming on here and for sharing your knowledge and it's just good to see her face across the screen. Everyone else gets to just hear your voice, but you do incredible. Basically, really incredible work and you've been doing really good things for this whole photo industry and thank you for that. And thanks dude. Check out his work online at [inaudible] dot com. And it's er, I c h don't mess that up. Don't get it. Don't get it twisted. I'm no man.
Erich McVey: 01:02:28 Thank you so much. And again, it's an honor. You're one of the of the photographers that when I became a photographer, I remember seeing your stuff online and being like, Whoa, I, I specifically remember this sunrise wedding from the that you're nodding your head. I mean, what year was that? maybe 2010? Okay. Okay. I think so. And it still sticks in my head. I don't look at a lot of work, but that one's still sticks in my head where I was like, Whoa, this is, this guy is really good and I love film. So I think, yeah, you were an inspiration for me too. So it's cool. It's come full circle and glad were able to connect this way.
Braedon: 01:03:17 Really hoped 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 artists 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 this podcast noticed for other photographers. And thanks for listening. Go be well and shoot well and don't forget to enjoy the journey on the way!