049 Strategies for your Business with Stephanie Fishbein

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

Stephanie started out as a photographer and has now been with an e-commerce company for several years, learning marketing strategies and she is passionate about them.

In this episode, Stephanie and Braedon chat through several marketing strategies that you can apply to your own business.

Follow her on Instagram: @stephaniefishbeinphoto

Check out her website, you can go here.

You can stream the episode below:

048 Weddings Editor of Bazaar.com - Carrie Goldberg

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

This episode is a special treat where we get to hear from Carrie Goldberg - wedding and travel editor for Bazaar.com.

We discuss trends in the industry, things to do, things not to do, elements that she looks for and how to stand out in a crowd. We think you're going to love it.

Big thanks to Carrie for taking the time to share with us.

Follow her on Instagram: @carrielauren

Check out the membership deals Carrie talked about, you can go here.

You can stream the episode below:

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

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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.