Today I want to talk to you about shooting 4×5, or ‘large format’ film. It isn’t that popular amongst photographers today but that’s exactly why I want you to learn a bit more about it. Shooting and then developing the film yourself can be a really rewarding experience, so in this article, I describe the process of shooting large format film and why I love it.
First, I just want to make sure you understand what I mean by: ‘Large format film’ – it literally means ‘big film size’ and large format cameras use 4×5 film, so a lot of people alternate between calling it large format film and 4×5 film. Simple stuff but best to make sure we’re all on the same page!
Since shooting in 4×5 film is analogue instead of digital, it means that when you blow up the image from the negative, it can’t pixelate. Why? Well, because it’s analogue, it doesn’t have any pixels! That’s why a lot of people use 4×5 on big campaigns to make sure they get high resolution imagery…and as I think I already mentioned it’s actually so fun to work with.
I use black and white sheet film, usually the Kodak T-MAX 400 standard film that’s easy to develop. You can get 50 sheets in one box and you don’t even need a darkroom to develop as long as you have a tent – it might look a little sci-fi, but it works great! I use the tent as a ‘film changing room’, basically to get the film into the film holders and also to get it into my developer tank.
Here’s a really important tip: When you’re loading your film into the film holders, make sure to note the top of the film. There should be a white border – this means that the film hasn’t yet been exposed. Once you’ve taken the photo, that border becomes black so you know that it’s ready to be developed.
And another one: If you’re in a darkroom or can’t see because of the tent, put your hands in and feel along the border to find little bumps that tell you if the film is ready to be developed.
And another one: It’s really important to label the film with a piece of tape so you don’t forget what you’re shooting, especially if you’re not going to be coming back to the images for a while.
OK, so let’s climb into the tent (not literally) so you can start developing these photos.
In your tent, you can transfer the sheet films (usually six images at a time) into the developing tank and seal it with the cap so that no light can get in. From there, you can start pouring in your chemicals to start the developing process. This process is perfect if you don’t have a ton of space because it can all be done nice and easy in the tent or in the developing tank – I usually do it in my laundry sink at home!
If this process sounds a little too time-consuming, you can always post or take the film to your local developing shop. However, this can be pretty expensive and some shops don’t process 4×5, so it’s best to call ahead to confirm as well as shop about to get the best price.
One other tip: When you’re out and about taking shots, remember that you’ll see everything upside down and backwards. Keep this in mind and you’ll get better results. The camera also allows you to shoot both portrait or landscape photos, so it’s pretty versatile. After you’re done, take out the dark slide and make sure your lens is closed so you don’t ruin the piece of film and waste an entire day’s work.
Shooting and developing large format film can be a lot of work… Especially if it’s just for one photo. But, I enjoy this process because it is the exact opposite of digital photography – it’s tangible, challenging and really rewarding.
If you go out and do a whole shoot for only six images, the effort you put in to those six images will make you feel so much more excited to get home and develop them than if you shot 600 images and just have to go back and delete 594 of them.
And yes, it can be expensive and time-consuming but it also gives you the chance to fall in love with the images that you’re shooting. It’s good to try and appreciate photography as an art form and not just a job…. Just like when we all start out with our first camera.
I believe that large format film lets you to think differently compared with when you’re just clicking a button on a digital camera. Even the tripod that you’ll usually use for capturing large format film can create a unique energy, since you won’t be used to using it.
Getting out of your comfort zone and practising different types of shooting is a great way to change your same routine, and shooting and developing large format film is my favourite way to do this.
After saying all of that, this type of photography won’t be for everyone. You don’t want to buy a camera, film and developing supplies just to find out that you don’t really like the process. So if you want to try out 4×5 film without spending too much, you could try to ask a friend to borrow their camera and just have a play before making any big purchasing decisions.
If you want to get a better idea of what it’s like to shoot and develop large format film, check my video on IGTV where you’ll learn all about my camera, its parts and how I use it. And don’t forget to check out my other videos and Rangefinder articles for more tips and tricks on photography!
Hi guys, on this week’s show I wanted to discuss some practical tips and tools that you can implement right away in your creative business. Building on last week’s discussion on social media, today I want to focus in and narrow it right down to Instagram. I’ve recently completed my two workshops and got a lot of good feedback, so I’m feeling good; it was great to get offline, go and meet people and connect about their successes.
Doing these workshops is a great way to see what people struggle with when it comes to Instagram. There are a lot of different reasons for this, so I want to talk specifically about five different ways to use Instagram and do a deep dive into writing captions, creating content, using the features and using Instagram for marketing in 2020.
This episode comes with a free workbook that you can download with the link below:
Across my five Insta accounts I have around 140,000 followers, which is not that many in Instagram terms. A lot of us can feel self-conscious when it comes to followers, because it feels like the number that legitimises us in the digital world. Your follower count can say a lot about your business. It might make the difference between someone hiring you or not. But they have to be the right followers, otherwise your marketing voice is being diluted. A lot of the time, gathering followers can be a case of getting offline and connecting with people in real life. I’m always collaborating on shoots and bringing value to people. You never want to be a taker, you want to be a giver.
It’s also important to ask yourself the hard question; would you follow yourself? Sometimes, the honest answer is that you wouldn’t. If you’re posting from a place of anxiety instead of inspiration then it might be time to give up that platform. In 2020, people don’t want perfectly curated images. I follow accounts when they’re true to themselves and they inspire me. People value their time; you have to give them value back. Come from an authentic place and you’ll attract your perfect tribe. You also have to create remarkable content with a unique voice; this is not easy to do, but it is extremely important. People will come to you, and you won’t have to put as much effort (or money) into marketing.
I separated my Free the Bird personal account from my Free the Bird Weddings account. Every two or three months I’d put a wedding photo on my personal account and get a huge positive response and some work inquiries. On my weddings account, my followers were used to seeing wedding photos, but on my personal page they really stood out and attracted people’s interest.
You want to make sure that you stand out in your industry and cut through the noise. Every creative industry is competitive. What makes the difference is how people are going to connect with you. You want to build an audience in a unique way before you start selling to them, otherwise you’ll get lost in the crowd. No one wants to follow someone who is just selling. You want to follow people who add value to your life. Don’t compete with anybody. Make your competitors irrelevant.
Don’t forget about geotags too. They can help get your name out there with people who are doing general searches. Hashtags can be important, but try and find unique tags with a smaller pool of photos for the best results.
Instagram is a visual medium. When it comes to photos, you should think about how it makes your audience feel. Is it on-brand? Will people comment on it? Share it? These are all questions that should become second nature. Ask how it makes you feel first. Don’t post for expectations. If you don’t love it, your audience won’t love it. This extends to your captions, too. I want to know the journey and connect with you on an emotional level. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable.
You can post to inspire your audience but you can also post to educate people. IGTV is great for this. I put up IGTV videos of the recording of my podcasts. Whatever your industry, you can use Instagram as a platform for education. This sort of content creates high value and encourages people to share it. Any kind of content that can potentially start a conversation with your audience is valuable to both you and them.
Your profile photo is important when it comes to presenting yourself. I usually only follow accounts that show their face in their profile, as I like to follow people instead of faceless companies. It allows me to connect with them on a different level. It’s important to summarise what you do and get your brand across in your profile description. My description on my personal page is ‘F**k being a struggling artist’. I treat that like a mission statement and it lets people know what I’m about right away. That tone filters down through all of my business and how I put myself across. I use Linktree to consolidate all my platforms in one place; it allows me to quickly navigate through all my numerous projects and businesses as efficiently as possible. If you’ve got a lot of things going on, this is crucial.
Engagement is the single most important thing when it comes to Instagram. Social means connection; you want to connect people to you and your business. It’s a fantastic free tool; I try and share as much as I can and link to as much as I can. I’ve made a lot of friends from social media but it’s also resulted in tonnes of work and opportunities for me. You really need to work on building your audience to engage with you.
Getting rid of your ego is the best way to do this. I make sure to respond to as many comments and DMs as possible. This has helped me to grow an engaged audience over the years. You can also share stuff that’s inspired you and put it out there to the world. When you do this, you’re curating content for your audience and engaging with them in a different way. Whether it’s through posts, stories or comments, look after the people who value what you do.
Here are links to some of the Instagram accounts I’ve grown – feel free to connect with me on there (preferably the top one!):
I really appreciate you listening, guys; if you’ve got any questions or if anything resonated with you, please give the podcast a share on Instagram or reach out to me. I love seeing where these episodes get to all around the world.
Thank you so much for tuning in and see you next episode!
This episode is brought to you by the guys over at PepperStorm, an awesome copywriting team who I have used across all my businesses for years. If you need some killer copywriting, get in touch and use the code: MAKEYOURBREAK to get $100 off when you buy one of their packages.
Hi guys, I have a special episode for you today. I’ve just finished Day One of my two-day Sydney workshop and thought that I’d get my tape recorder out to bring you an insight from a panel of photographers who have a busy, engaged social media presence and talk about some different perspectives on this popular topic.
Learning from the people around you is one of the best ways to progress. So after a long day of workshop teaching in Sydney, I chatted with Claire, Josh M., Josh J., Usamah, Keegan, and Ryan to get their thoughts and opinions on social media in 2020.
If you want to find everyone on the podcast, I’ll put their Instagram accounts at the bottom of the page, along with details of our sponsors – our favourite copywriters PepperStorm Media and our very own Posing & Lighting course which is out now!
It can be hard to decide which social media platforms you should focus your time on. One of my biggest pieces of advice is don’t go on every social media platform out there. Choose the ones that resonate with you and focus on them. So I don’t use Facebook but I love Instagram.
Josh J. agreed with this and added that it depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. As a photographer, Instagram has been the biggest return on time investment and has resulted in a lot of destination work for him. He mentioned TikTok as an example of an up-and-coming platform that generates a lot of engagement. When it comes to Insta, Josh thinks interaction is key. He tries to engage as much as possible, putting a lot of time into his captions as well as the photos. These can make or break a post and allow an audience to invest in an artist and their work.
Ryan agrees that Instagram is the most beneficial for photographers. For him, Insta stories and YouTube are the areas he’s focusing on. He may go a few months without posting on Instagram, but has found it doesn’t change his engagement with potential clients. However, he’s constantly putting up Insta stories, and offering advice and behind-the-scenes videos on YouTube. He thinks it’s important that people see that you know what you’re talking about. You can also send out tip videos to clients over email; it’s very easy to put together a two-minute piece and your clients will thank you for it. Ryan tries to shoot one video a week and thinks that they’re useful to stay visible with potential clients. He also repurposes them for his Insta stories.
Keegan explained that putting yourself out there on Instagram is a smart strategy. In the past, he’s just used it as a photography portfolio, but is now trying to make it more personal. He put a lot of effort into his hashtags to create a bigger audience. He’s trying to put himself into more Insta stories without caring about what people might think, as it’s important to show what you’re passionate about. Josh M. thinks it’s important to highlight that every creative person is going to have a different personality. So the way creatives show up in their business and on their socials is going to vary.
Josh M. thinks Facebook can still be valuable for photographers, especially when it comes to tags. There is more chance of getting tagged on Facebook than Instagram. When you’re starting out, Facebook can still be very useful. You may not get big numbers, but the numbers that you get can potentially be worth more. Each platform has its pros and cons. It depends on the creative and how they use it to their advantage.
Usamah also thinks Insta stories are the next big thing. People are leaning towards videos more and moving away from pictures, even on Instagram. As wedding photographers, Usamah thinks it’s a good idea to incorporate video into their socials. Claire admits she gets a bit anxious about posting on Instagram. She thinks that finding a unique, creative style through stories is key, as opposed to regular posts. She gets more engagement through stories because she puts her own flavour into them. I’ve also found that you can get a sense of someone’s personality through their Insta stories.
Claire thinks that there’s a lot of pressure around social media channels. You feel your work might not be good enough compared to other photographers. When you’re building your audience, it can be hard to engage people in your life and work. Josh M. thinks you have to be true to yourself.
Social media has led to a rise of copycats, so being true to yourself and your work is important. In time, this will lead to a unique style. The most artistic shot might not appeal to the masses, but you should post it anyway. Do what makes you excited. When I look at Josh M.’s account, I see his personality come through. I always try to do the same thing. Josh J. finds that this pays off too. Couples he’s shooting often mention specific things he’s posted on his socials, which is proof that people are connecting with the content.
I always think it’s important to make your content for someone, as opposed to the general audience. This way, by the time you interact with clients, they get a sense of who you are. Josh M. thinks you have to keep your ideal client in mind. You’ve got to know who you want to shoot and who you don’t. Josh is always posting things that are clearly aimed at a specific audience; this is smart as it probably means he doesn’t have to adapt his style too much on shoots unless he wants too.
Usamah agrees, but also thinks this can be hard when you’re first starting out. You can’t always choose clients. Josh thinks you should always project into the kind of photographer you want to be, even if it means having a leaner year at the start. Josh J. underlines that there’s a lot of competition and noise in the industry. You have to cut through the noise and make yourself distinct. Thinking about future clients is key.
Claire loves it when people interact with her posts and work. I recently got a thank you message for sharing something, even though the guy had millions of followers. I learned that it’s important to always keep the smaller interactions in mind and show appreciation when you can. Claire thinks positive engagement takes away some of the social media anxiety. It’s awesome when you know your work means something to someone.
I really enjoy listening to podcasts because I don’t have to spend my downtime looking at a screen. Keegan thinks podcasting is definitely the way forward. It’s great to zone out and not be bombarded by visuals. IGTV is also interesting because the content is so digestible. I always feel like I’m getting a lot more from it. Ryan couldn’t agree more. He finds himself scrolling more and more on IGTV and plans to make more content for it. He wants to focus on education. Josh M. sees one of the benefits of giving content to couples is that they’ll remember you. If they have a bad experience with their photographer, they might come back to you to book a shoot. So even if you don’t immediately get the job, you’re still in the back of their mind.
For me, it’s about connecting and putting out content consistently. You’ve got to have hustle in you and take every opportunity you can. Josh J.’s goal wasn’t just growing his following. He prefers a smaller following with high engagement. Consistency and authenticity are key. Positive engagement with other accounts snowballs into a bigger engagement for you.
Josh M. agrees that quality over quantity is important. You want potential clients as opposed to just followers who think your viral photos are epic. Too many followers can give the impression you’re too busy and keep clients away.
Social media can be manipulated almost like a reality TV show. I think you can overshare and be too self-absorbed, but sometimes people tell me they wish I posted more. For Keegan, numbers aren’t a big deal. If you’re showing the value of what you do, that’s the goal. For him, he tries to keep his Instagram grounded in his work, as opposed to his lifestyle.
Putting yourself on the line with a strong opinion can repel people. You can get negative reactions, especially if you have a lot of followers. When Keegan first signed up, he wasn’t engaging with clients. He was worried about how people would perceive him. But he thinks it’s worth getting a plan together and defining your end goal. With that in mind, he started posting more to appeal to the local market.
Instagram is still relevant, but we need to learn how to use it better. We need to engage with our audience more, specialise more and use video as much as possible. It’s also important to understand how people are digesting content and keep an eye on rising platforms like podcasts. Dig in, keep connecting with your couples and ultimately better serve your audience.
That was such an awesome conversation and I hope it brought you some useful pointers that you can use in your own social media strategy. If you want to connect with anyone you heard on this podcast, here they are on Insta:
And a big shout-out to the listeners who have been leaving me reviews on the Apple podcast app – I love reading these and it helps this podcast reach more people and be as good as it can be, so if you haven’t left me a review yet then I’d love to hear from you.
Cheers guys, see you next episode!
This episode is brought to you by the guys over at PepperStorm, an awesome copywriting team who I have used across all my businesses for years. If you need some killer copywriting, get in touch and use the code: MAKEYOURBREAK to get $100 off when you buy one of their packages.
Our second sponsor is…our own team! The Posing & Lighting course is now available and it is helping wedding photographers level-up their craft. It’s such a small investment to join a big community of people who are on the course, plus we’re always adding more content and value as well as teaching you how to get more confident and efficient on wedding days so you can create better images for your clients.
Hi guys, I’ve just finished a two-day workshop and I am….exhausted! It was an awesome experience but like any big event it can be an energy-suck and takes a few days to recover. I’ve been running workshops since 2015 and have been part of so many success stories and I’ve noticed that the people who succeed are always the ones who have the right mindset. So today I want to talk about changing your mindset and challenging the habits that have been formed as early as childhood.
We all want to live a life that’s full of purpose and passion. If you didn’t believe this, you wouldn’t be reading this blog or listening to this podcast. But the biggest difference between someone who lives their life full of abundance and someone who lives their life full of fear out of scarcity is down to mindset.
Many of us creatives suffer from imposter syndrome – we feel that we don’t deserve what others deserve. This is because of the outside influences that tell us that we can’t do something. I’ve been told this my whole life and in every business, I’ve ever started, no matter how successful they’ve turned out to be.
So how do we break out of this habit?
Believe it or not, most people have a scarcity mindset; this means that they often:
A scarcity mindset can lead people to feeling stuck and powerless – you focus on what’s not working and all of the challenges ahead of you and blame others for your lack of success.
If you have an abundance mindset, you:
If you can understand the difference between the two mindsets and recognise these signs, you can start to understand why you act a certain way and start to improve your outlook on life.
As you’ll hear on the podcast, I’ve met plenty of people with a scarcity mindset, including my old boss who actually stopped me getting my Electrician’s Licence just because he was scared I was going to steal his work.
But I also had a boss who had an abundance mindset – he’d been both a millionaire and bankrupt several times over and yet he paid us well, let us do after-hours work and was never scared of running out of jobs or money. He didn’t even mind if his workers left; in fact, he’d even help us with advice and references!
His attitude was mind-blowing to me – the guy who gives and gives and gives was really successful and the guy that just takes, well, simply wasn’t. I learned from him that there’s always a way to make money in anything you’re passionate about.
When I started out in wedding photography, I gravitated towards other photographers with abundance mindsets – and noticed that they were always more successful than those with scarcity mindsets.
I noticed that many photographers who weren’t successful always has an excuse…and it’s usually someone else’s fault.
When I started running workshops, I got accused of over-saturation. There’s only so much to go around! This is crazy to me because I don’t see competition – I’m only looking inwards and competing with myself.
As I’ve been growing as a mindset – every decision is it made out of fear or abundance? How can I help those around me, better serve my clients and create more success for everyone in my world?
If a business isn’t growing it’s dying. And now I’m in an educational business, the more people who succeed means the more my business grows. I’m open about this and that means that people are open when they come to me for help.
The weird thing is, other photographers seem to be scared of me running workshops. They won’t share my workshops. They think I’m taking up too much market share and have put walls up – not only will they not share my content, they’re actively blaming me and creating bad business practices. This is all coming from a scarcity mindset.
A lot of these same people are now running workshops – I’m not against photographers supplementing their income, but do you really want to learn from someone with a scarcity mindset?
I’m happy to share and collaborate with high-frequency players who have an abundance mindset, who care about their audience enough to share all of the relevant courses and information and are confident enough in themselves to know that even if people sign up to my workshop, they’ll still buy theirs – why? Because you are the only person who can do what you do.
If you run a workshop in a specific industry, it’s actually better if there are more workshops out there. This might sound strange, but the more workshops there are, the more it becomes normal to attend one. People will attend one workshop, recommend the concept of a workshop to their friends who can then discover yours.
I want to give you some practical tips that can help you change your mindset to one of abundance:
Thanks for listening, guys – if you want to get in touch, reach out on Insta and feel free to tag me in when you share the podcast with your friends.
And thank you to everyone who is leaving reviews – they mean so much to me and give me the incentive to carry on making this content.
I’m going to take a few days off before preparing for my Sydney workshop – see you next episode!
I’ve got live workshops coming up in New York & Los Angeles – there are still tickets left and I’d love to meet you in person and help take your business to the next level.
This episode is brought to you by the guys over at PepperStorm, an awesome copywriting team who I have used across all my businesses for years. If you need some killer copywriting, get in touch and use the code: MAKEYOURBREAK to get $100 off when you buy one of their packages.
Zoë Morley is a very talented photographer who uses her creativity for worthy causes. I wanted to get her on the show to talk about the challenges that she’s faced in fundraising her charity projects and how she overcame them.
This topic has been on my mind recently, especially with the bushfires in Australia; a community has come together and brought their skill sets to help people who are less fortunate than them and if you’re just seeing the finished product on social media, the process can seem easy. But so much hard work goes into these projects and I think it’s important to look behind the curtain to see exactly what it takes to run a successful campaign.
Zoë is a Sydney-based photographer who has been shooting weddings for seven years. She made her break in a pretty funny way. She worked as a flight attendant but had a background in photography and so to shortcut all of the grunt work of being a second shooter, etc. before she could start booking weddings on her own, Zoë put on a big fake wedding with her cousin (who’s a model), got a wedding dress from Grace Loves Lace, invited all of her friends and used the photos for her portfolio, which helped her book her first year of weddings. The really funny part is, she’d never even been to a wedding before (just like me…).
Zoë used the portfolio to get 20 bookings in her first year but it wasn’t through social media – she used Google AdWords. Not many photographers know how to use this, so understanding power of Google Ads can be a gamechanger. This is something I teach my workshop students – everyone else will be competing on Instagram but if you know how to use AdWords, you can fill up your year pretty easily.
Zoë also focuses way more on running her business than racking up Instagram likes. She’s more interested in caring for her clients, packaging, getting her name out there and optimising referrals, keywords and online bookings from Google.
Zoë was born in South Africa and always wanted to give back to that community. When she was 19, she spent three months volunteering at an orphanage called Nonjabolu that cares for the children who have been abandoned because of HIV/AIDs. She had her first film camera with her and took photos of the kids; when she got back home, she raised support to put on an exhibition to raise funds for the orphanage. She managed to get a big review on the front page of the Arts section of the Sydney Morning Herald which boosted awareness and she ended up raising $20K for the orphanage.
Ten years later, she thought ‘wouldn’t it be cool to revisit that project’? She wanted to photograph the kids who were now teens and young adults and see how their lives had progressed.
Zoë ran a Kickstarter campaign and only expected to cover flights and accommodation but ended up raising $11K, which paid for travel and putting on the exhibition. But there were so many unforeseeable challenges in actually getting back out to South Africa and finding these kids, all of which she goes into on the podcast. She’s really open and honest in our conversation and she talks about how she suffers from anxiety and self-doubt. It didn’t matter how many people were telling her that her work was great, she still lacked confidence and doubted the quality of the images that she took.
Even though her photos were accepted in the Head On Photo Festival – a life dream of hers – as you’ll hear on the podcast, the pressure that she put on herself took a big toll on her mental health. She lost half a year’s worth of income, as she didn’t shoot weddings and outsource her editing and got so stressed that it affected both her mental and her physical wellbeing.
South African-born Australian businesswoman Gail Kelly opened the show and although Zoë had expected a maximum of 100 guests, on the night over 200 people showed up. Everyone was really supportive, she sold lots of books and prints and ended up raising $32K.
This money was used to change people’s lives. She split the money between the orphanage Rehoboth, an AIDS hospice and a crèche, all of which are in desperate need of funding.
Even though the night was a big success, Zoë found it hard to acknowledge this and still doubted her work. It shows that creatives are often self-critical and can we can be our own worst enmeies.
I asked Zoë what she would do differently and she had three pieces of advice for anyone planning to run a fundraiser:
I was really honoured that Zoë shared her story with me and gave us all an insight into the hard work that goes into a project like this. You can check out the photos at Nonjabolu and follow her on Instagram.
And I just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who has left reviews on this podcast – it’s so amazing to read your feedback and hear what you’re getting value from these episodes. Please be sure to tag me at JaiLong.co if you share the podcast on Insta and I can join in the conversation.
One more thing – my Posing & Lighting course is out now and it’s the biggest project I’ve ever worked on! I’m so excited to share it with you guys and I can’t wait to hear your feedback.
Cheers guys, see you next episode 🙂
I’ve got live workshops coming up in New York, Los Angeles, Melbourne, and Sydney – there are still tickets left and I’d love to meet you in person and help take your business to the next level.
I’m going to continue the second part of this two-parter by talking about why it’s important to write your own story. I’ve already told you about my childhood story and now I’m going to tell you about my business story and how I’m still learning from everything I’ve been through to write my own story every day.
It’s easy to see people who have success and assume that they’ve had it come easy. It’s also easy to create excuses for ourselves and assume that someone is succeeding because they have money, or an education, or don’t have kids… But comparing yourself to others is toxic because you simply don’t know what they’ve been through. Instead, use this good energy to focus on building your own business.
Last time I told you about how my cafe business had failed and I was totally out of cash. I didn’t want my failed business to not become part of my identity. At the time we were going through a minerals boom in Australia, so I jumped on an opportunity and moved up to the mines in Queensland.
It felt like a prison and my bedroom was like a jail cell. The gym had barbed wire around it and the weights were old and rusty. I spent 12 months there working as an electrician before moving to the mines near Perth, which was the most challenging job I’ve ever had. I was attacked physically and mentally. I met someone who had no good in their heart. There was even a murder.
My workmates spent all afternoon in the pub and I didn’t really want to spend my time drinking. I thought that as I’m in such a beautiful part of the country, I wanted to learn photography.
I jumped on eBay and bought a Canon 5D with a fish-eye lens. My flatmate also bought a camera and we’d drive down to the ocean and take photos of the sunset and beautiful landscape.
I put together a blog called Free The Bird and posted my images on there and wrote a few captions about what I liked about the photos. The blog was perfect because I also want to practice writing and being able to tell a story. Just those few captions on each photo were game-changing. Through the blog and Instagram, I could share my art with people who knew me.
I came back home and it was like returning from prison. I had to reintegrate myself into society. I got myself a normal job as an electrician, worked up the ladder and was given my own job site. The only catch was that Leelou and I had to move to Melbourne but this opportunity was worth it. I could be my only boss, run a team and have my own life at the same time. I really felt like I’d made it and was proud of the work that I was doing. But I knew it wasn’t going to last forever, so I needed to take advantage of the situation to build for my future
I needed to learn about money and understand why do some people struggle others have so much. I contacted a financial planner and studied the mindset of wealthy people. I grew up around people with a scarcity mindset and now I was surrounded by people with an abundance mindset. This was another life lesson to add to confidence is key – there is abundance.
I wanted to put what I’d learned into practice, so I took my $100K savings to the bank who then loaned me a million dollars. Just stop for a second and think of how weird it was for someone with my upbringing looking at their bank account and seeing a million bucks. I used the money to buy two houses in Melbourne and I still have them today.
Anyone who knows me will know that I don’t want to swap my time for money. I’m always looking for ways to build wealth without having to spend a lot of time doing it. So now I had some houses, I figured I didn’t need my job and decided to become a full-time photographer. I liked taking pictures of people and I wanted creative control, so I reckoned wedding photography was right for me. The weirdest and funniest thing about this is that up until that point I’d never even been to a wedding, other than my parents’ which was held in the front room of my house.
I set myself goals for the next year:
This was ambitious even for me, so I hustled as I’ve never hustled before. I knew I had to go to the US as wedding season was over in Australia, so I put the word out on blogs and social media that I would shoot for free in return for a couch to sleep on and within a month I booked 8 weddings. Now I just needed to get myself there, so I sold my car to pay for me and Leeloou to head to America.
The weddings were fantastic but I knew I needed more content for my site, so in between weddings we would raid thrift stores for wedding dresses and I’d do a photoshoot with Leelou in awesome locations like Joshua Tree.
We had a lot of adventures and we were so low on money but I saw it as an investment in our future. Another life lesson that I learned was that you don’t get opportunities like this by playing it safe.
When I got back I was published in Junebug Weddings and Hello May magazine, so I was now an international wedding photographer and published photographer. Oh yeah, and I can now shoot in manual mode all day long…
Just 18 months after I started my business, I launched my first workshop. I taught the business and my friend Ryan Muirhead flew over to teach photography. It took a huge amount and of time and energy and in the end, I think I was about $5K out of pocket. Some people might see this as a failure but I saw it as an investment, as the ticket for my education. And it worked.
It skyrocketed my career. I was asked to talk at the biggest conferences, be a guest speaker at other workshops and it really put my business on the map.
In two years I had shot 60 weddings in 4 different countries, held a workshop, was named one of the 30 rising stars of wedding photography by New York Magazine Rangefinder, was Caption magazine’s runner-up photographer of the year and was published in all my favourite wedding magazines.
It might sound like I’m bragging, but I’m telling you this to inspire any creative entrepreneurs and show you that making it is possible.
And believe me, I got hate mail.
People thought it was coming so easily to me. My peers blamed me for their lack of success and one US professor of photography even sent me a 10-page email critiquing my pictures. He was actually 100% right and I learned so much from him – I’m sure that’s not the result he wanted but it proved to me that if you have confidence in yourself then no one can shake you.
People will get upset if you fail or succeed. Just do it for you and you will be an unstoppable force
And it’s not all easy. I’m still fighting every day to continue this life I’ve built. Leelou and I currently live in a tiny house with no TV. I make good money but I invest it back into my projects, just like this podcast. I get up on stage at workshops and I’m still really scared but I know I have to be out of my comfort zone in order to keep growing.
I want to finish up by talking about my new business, jailong.co, which is focused on teaching business to creative entrepreneurs. It blows my mind that I can just think of a fun project and make it happen and that even thoughI’ve grown up, I still get to be a kid and play on the projects that I want to do. I make decisions not out of fear, but from knowing that I have the power to change my life, to do more, be more and love more.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
Thanks for taking the time to listen to my stories – if it can help just one person then I know I’ll have succeeded.
Find me on Insta, and if you want to share this podcast then be sure to tag me in.
Cheers guys, catch you next time!
Si Moore is a hugely talented film photographer and artist from New Zealand who runs several businesses with his wife Sophie, including Bayly & Moore (wedding photography), Arcade (event furniture hire), Boxful (wedding catering), Story & Light (photography workshops), to name just a few.
He’s always working on different projects and is an expert on customer care, so I wanted to chat with him about the principles of offering and creating an amazing customer experience. I had a blast catching up with my friend and I hope it’s as inspiring to you to hear as it was fun for us to record!
If you’re a creative entrepreneur, you might think that making art is at the heart of what you do; however, as Si puts it, “Rather than thinking of it as us working in an art industry offering a service, we work in a service industry making art.”
80% of what we do as creative entrepreneurs is giving a service, whereas only 20% is actually making the art. So customer experience is crucial. Understanding how human beings work, how to build trust, how to be in the right place at the right time…all of these elements add up to creating a fantastic customer experience that is as important (if not more so) than the actual art/product itself.
Think about a Michelin-starred restaurant: it doesn’t matter how much research, preparation and passion goes into creating a beautiful plate of food – if it’s cold or just slapped down in front of you by a rude waiter then this negative experience will cancel out everything that led up to that point.
The delivery vehicle for your art is an essential part of the experience.
We hear that target markets can be mysteries to identify but if you think about it, as a creative entrepreneur, you have a ready-made test audience member staring at you in the mirror.
You may not have the same background, life experience or ideologies as your audience but you both agree on one important thing – you love your art. Build from that crossover point and you’ll be able to understand what your clients want in relation to the service that you’re providing. Why? Because it’s what you would want too.
We’ve talked about going out into the real world and learning from other customer experiences that you have with businesses that are totally different from yours (cafes, airlines, hotels, etc.). However, it’s usually been focused on how to implement the good elements…why not think about some terrible experiences you’ve had and learn from them too?!
You learn the most when you have an experience that you hate. The next time that you have awful customer experience, pay attention to how you feel, why you think it’s happening and how it could have been avoided. Learn from this terrible experience and see how can you spot warning signs in your own business so that none of your customers ever have to feel like you did.
The old marketing adage ‘underpromise and overdeliver’ is often misinterpreted as ‘underpromise…and then just deliver!’ So many businesses don’t take the time to put in the extra effort where it counts, so if you can identify these hotspots then you can win big.
Whether it’s replying to an email within a few hours rather than a few days or any other seemingly inconsequential element of your service, if you flex your empathic muscles and think about the little things that would impress you as a customer then you can be ahead of your peers with minimal effort.
Your pricing should reflect the type of clients that you want to deal with. For example, if you’re a wedding photographer and want to shoot $40K weddings then that’s great if you’re surrounded by the sort of people who drop that amount on a wedding. But if you’re not hanging out on yachts every other weekend, it’s going to be hard to jump into that world and essentially pretend to be someone else every time you have to work.
On the flip side, if you undervalue yourself then clients won’t respect you as much as if they were paying you a ‘professional’ amount. Don’t get insecure about your pricing – be confident in what you charge. You don’t always (or ever!) have to give discounts. Not everyone is a bargain hunter – some clients are looking for an experience and are happy to pay for it.
Let your clients know that you are on their side. Make them feel as if they are part of your club! And as club members care more about the experience than the price, you don’t have to nickel-and-dime them by charging an extra hour at the end of a shoot, tagging on additional shots to their bill, etc. because you’ve already covered this by charging a reasonable entry fee upfront.
Being the leader of a club means that you have to pay attention to how you interact with your clients, how you move through a room, how you engage over email…essentially tailoring every aspect of the customer experience so that at the end of the day it transcends money. What do I mean by this? I mean that you want to get your service to the point at which your clients aren’t thinking whether it was worth the higher fee but are so overjoyed that all they’ve had to do is give you some cash and they get this incredible experience.
Here’s what I tell everyone who attends my Free The Bird workshops: A business must be needed or loved. And a luxury wedding photography business is definitely not needed…so it must be loved! Work out how to get people to fall in love with what you’re doing and you will have a successful business.
As you can tell from the show, Si and I could have gone on talking for hours and hours and hours…so we have to get him back on the podcast, right?!
I’ve got live workshops coming up in New York, Los Angeles, Melbourne, and Sydney – there are still tickets left and I’d love to meet you in person and help take your business to the next level.
Today we’re going to talk about goal setting and why it is so important to success. There’s no way that I would have made my own break without setting clear, ambitious goals and working hard to achieve them. It’s what got me started in this business and it’s something I do every single day in order to keep learning and growing.
The biggest goal that I have set for myself was to quit my day job as an electrician and become a full-time wedding photographer. Breaking into the creative industry can be difficult, especially if you don’t already have a foothold in it; however, I made it even harder for myself by saying that I wanted to be:
I quickly realised that I wouldn’t be able to manage this if I had a job. I needed to give 100%. So, I quit my job and…that’s when the full weight of reality hit me. I had to pay rent, look after my partner who was in Uni, oh, and I also had two mortgages!
How was I going to achieve these goals? Well, first up I knew I didn’t need any luxuries. I didn’t need a car (I’ll take the train!), I didn’t need a TV (I’ll research photography in the evenings!), basically I didn’t need any of the monetary-focused things that you save up for when you’re working full-time as a means to an end. Now things were different. I was passionate enough about the goals that I’d set to do whatever I could to make it work.
However, we were entering the off-season for weddings in Australia and waiting six months in order to start booking regular gigs didn’t fit in with my goals of shooting internationally and becoming successful within one year. Maybe if I hadn’t set myself these goals, I would have been more flexible but I’m so glad that I stuck to my plan and made my own break instead of letting life happen to me. I booked two tickets for my partner and me to fly to the US, where the wedding season was just kicking off. I contacted blogs, magazines, other photographers, etc. and told them my ambitions and even offered to shoot weddings for free, for a couch to sleep on – it didn’t matter because it’s what I needed to do to achieve my goals.
We shot about 10 weddings all over the country and in some truly epic settings; this was before Adventure Weddings became a big thing, so the shots I got were really unique. When I came back to Melbourne, I was an international wedding photographer AND I had 10 awesome weddings on my website and Instagram, all because I had set ambitious goals and worked incredibly hard to achieve them. I booked 30 weddings for the next year, achieving my goal of becoming a full-time wedding photographer. And because it looked as I was pretty well established I managed to get sponsorship from some US companies and in 2015 I won a bunch of awards as well as being named in Rangefinder’s Top 30 Wedding Photographers.
I learned a lot about goal setting along the way and I want to share this knowledge with you.
First up, it is so important to pat yourself on the back for all of the goals – big and small – that you achieve. If you don’t, no one else will! Get some perspective and look how far you’ve come since you set out on this path. Appreciate the hard work and long nights that have got you here and use that energy to propel yourself towards future goals.
In my mentoring sessions, we talk about setting SMART goals. I don’t want to get to business-ey, as I know a lot of you come here for the inspiring stories; however, I find that setting the right kind of goals is just as important as the concept of setting goals altogether.
For example, You might say I want to make $10,000 in 3 months. OK, that’s a tangible goal but it’s not very inspiring. What could that $10K do for you? You could go on holiday, invest in your business, help the people around you…anything that gets you inspired to complete that goal. Locking in on a feeling rather than a figure will always be more motivating.
So, what are SMART goals?
The more specific your goals, the more likely you are to achieve them. Compare ‘I want to lose weight’ with ‘I want to lose 10 kilos in 3 months so I look great in my holiday snaps’. The former is too vague but the latter gives you a set target as well as a reason to achieve it.
Humans love to measure things, especially success. Have a set goal for financials, e.g. I want to hit $1K every week on shop sales. Just remember to celebrate when you hit them!
As you can gather from the story I just told, my goals were pretty unrealistic but I reached them. Although I’m really happy that I did it this way, I understand that some people will respond better to realistic, attainable goals. I don’t expect everyone to be the emailing-on-a-Sunday workaholic that I am and I totally appreciate that. So if you want to ensure a work/life balance as well as dreaming BIG, maybe set a large unrealistic goal but set smaller attainable goals that you can hit on your way there. That way you’re day-to-day life will be full of wins whether you hit your big target or not.
If you set relevant goals, it means that you won’t take on unnecessary work. For example, when wanted to become an international wedding photographer and had no real income, I would get offered money for family portrait shoots…but I would turn them down. People thought I was crazy but it’s because they weren’t getting me close to my goal. Making contacts, blogging, posting on social media were all more important to my goal than making a quick buck doing something that was just going to distract me.
Locking your goal into a time-frame will make you so much more efficient. When I started this podcast, I gave myself a four-week deadline. This was unrealistic, as we had to source equipment, outsource work, etc. but I didn’t let the date slip and we made ended up making it. And as any entrepreneur will know, there is no better feeling than reaching your goal inside of the time limit that you set.
We’ve got time for one more quick story. I have family in Norway and I thought ‘How cool would it be if I could shoot a wedding in Norway and catch up with my family at the same time?’ So, I set a time limit of a year and started putting #Norwaywedding hashtags on my Insta, reaching out to Norwegian bloggers and photographers, essentially doing everything to tell the universe what my goal was. Within 3 weeks, someone approached me to shoot their wedding in Norway. I was floored. Amazing!
What it reinforced in my mind is that you have to tell people about your goals, tell them your passions and then you will have so much more chance of reaching them. It sounds simple, but it’s something so crucial that a lot of people forget about. Let the universe in on your plan and it will help you in return.
As we come to the end of the year, I want you to think about goal setting. Think about the goals you’ve already hit in the last 12 months. Then think about what goals you want to set next year and what you need to do to achieve them. This could be signing up to a workshop, getting some mentoring or even buying a flight to go and see someone in the industry who you admire and just starting a conversation.
Whatever it is, you need to take charge of your business and make your own break – setting SMART goals and working hard in order to achieve them is the best way I know to do this.
Thanks so much for listening and I’ll see you next episode!
Danelle Bohane is a wedding photographer from New Zealand and regarded by many as one of the best in the world. She has a unique approach to business, which is why I’m very excited to have her on the show to talk about the importance of building a trusted brand.
Big businesses spend tons of time, effort and money in working out how they can get their customer base to trust them; however, this is something that a lot of small businesses overlook. When you look at how much trust is imbued within Danelle’s brand, it’s clear to see why she has been so successful over the last 10 years.
Humans rely on trust in every aspect of life, even if it’s subconscious. We don’t want to be lied to and are repelled by danger and discomfort. As soon as we sense any danger, we won’t buy a product or sign up to a brand. This is clear just in day to day shopping and it’s especially true when customers choose their wedding photographer.
Danelle talks about how she puts a heavy focus on the consistency of her imagery and creating a comfortable experience for the client from Day 1.
We discuss how Danelle made her own break, from the humble beginnings of her first job out of university, how she survived the different ebbs and flows of starting a business from rock bottom, sacrificing a lot in her twenties in order to build her business and how scary it was to market her first workshop to how she was selling out new workshops in 20 minutes just a year later.
We talk about how luck and hard work played a part in her rise to the top and why both are important. Now that she’s had a child, it’s important for her to shoot locally, so we touch on why building relationships with favourite local venues is crucial to establishing a work/life balance.
One thing that we’ve both noticed is how the format of launching a small business has changed in the last decade. The traditional method of spending a lot of money to go to college or university seems to have been supplanted by new business owners attending workshops and learning directly from industry leaders. This fast-track option is not specific to wedding photography and is present across several industries.
Danelle and I talk about how we feel about this method of learning and why we think that having the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them is just as important as formal education.
Danelle is one of the most trusted wedding photographers around and the longevity of her business speaks for itself. She explains that her customers know what they’re getting when they book her and she taps into the natural human instinct of not liking surprises – especially on their wedding day.
If you give someone an amazing experience and pretty good photos, they’re probably going to recommend to you. If you give someone a terrible experience but incredible photos, chances are that they won’t – they might even warn others away from you.
This is why she puts such an emphasis on client care as well as streamlining the focus of her marketing and social presence. Work out who your clientele is and ask yourself what they want to see on your social media – no matter how cute your dog is, do you really think that potential clients want to see it popping up on your Insta?!
Danelle explains that while online reviews are really important, nothing carries more weight than someone praising your name directly to another potential customer. Word of mouth is the way she gets a lot of her clients, which is why excellent client experience is essential.
We agree that as our prices increase, so does the level of trust coming from our clients. We get micromanaged less, we get sent fewer mood boards and suggestions – basically, our clients leave us to do the thing that they hired us to do in the first place. Danelle explains that clientele that pays higher prices also don’t have any time for sloppiness, so slick communication is paramount.
How to get people to trust you enough to fly you around the world to shoot the biggest day of their life? It’s a key question and one that Danelle answers by saying, “Keep it personal.”
She tailors everything to the couple, including putting their names on the pricing guide (rather than a standard PDF), shows that she is in control by doing all the research for flights, accommodation, and car hire, and asks them specific questions about what it is that they want as opposed to just delivering the same boilerplate service to everyone
Danelle Bohane has created a trusted, client-centric brand that will keep going and going as long as she maintains that trust. She’s booking weddings well into 2021 and in her own words, “Life is great!”
Check out Danelle’s work on Instagram at @danellebohane and join us for a new episode of the podcast next week!
All images by Danelle Bohane
Alex Cohen is one of the hardest working entrepreneurs that I’ve met. She knows what she wants and she goes straight after it and this is why she is so successful. Because she spends so much time, energy and money on fast-tracking her career, I thought this podcast would be the perfect opportunity to talk to her about how to be resourceful and give yourself the best education.
First up, who is Alex Cohen? She is a wedding photographer she’s based in Perth, WA but she travels a lot…and I mean A LOT. Every two weeks she catches a flight to an (almost always) exotic location that gives me extreme wanderlust. How did she achieve this career?
Well, for people like me and Alex, fear simply doesn’t exist. We jump in at the deep end and don’t want to wait around for success. It’s not about taking shortcuts, it’s about being resourceful and fast-tracking your way to the top – we talk about five ways to do just this.
Alex thinks paid mentoring and workshopping is the best thing that she has done for her career. (I’m honoured that she mentions my Free The Bird workshop as one of her favourites!) It can seem like a lot of investment but in the long run it can give you massive returns. Plus, you can’t put a price on the benefit of instantly joining a ready-made, likeminded community where everyone is at a similar stage and eager to learn.
It’s important to note that all workshops are not created equal! Choose carefully and make sure you go after the speaker who might be charging a bit more but is killing it, not the one who may save you a bit of money in the short-term. If you implement what you learn then you and make your money back in no time.
By the same token, you have to make sure that you hold on to the information that is relevant to you and our business and leave the rest to the side. Be careful – if someone suggests massive changes, it can render massive results…but just as this can go really well, it can go really badly. If your speaker is offering quick fixes then you should be suspicious. If it’s a wedding photographer that isn’t booking lots of work and is just trying to boost their income, be very suspicious. Do your research, request social proof, ask around and then double, triple, quadruple check before you pay for advice!
Podcasts are (usually) a free resource that we can listen to every day. I certainly do, every morning when I’m walking my dog. It doesn’t have to be about photography, it can be anything, just as long as it’s interesting and I can learn from it – in fact, I can’t remember the last time I listened to a photography podcast! As Alex and I discuss, people go deep on podcasts and can get really personal; however, they also give away a lot of tangible information – prices, numbers, copy wording – and this helps us understand their business.
Alex thinks that online courses are incredibly useful to a wedding photographer’s education; once you have bought the videos, you can go back and watch them again and again. She recommends Lilly Red and India Earl and sometimes still revisits their videos before a wedding for inspiration. Templates (emails, guides, etc.) are very useful too, especially if (like Alex) English is not your first language. It’s a great way to save yourself trawling through YouTube to create the content and spend your time on something more profitable.
Personally, I put together Album Academy to give photographers a complete roadmap to selling and creating an album. I only want to put courses out there that give 100% value. I make $1000 from one album and the course is just $350. If you take the course – and do the work! – you will sell albums. To me, this is a no-brainer! It’s crazy to me that people wouldn’t buy this course and that’s probably true of other good courses too.
We agree that social media is absolutely essential for education. Alex reckons that YouTube is great for absolute beginners learning to shoot but now the platform is a bit “dusty” and IGTV has taken over! We both love following inspiring stories on social; it doesn’t even have to be about photography – we get revved up by the success stories on Chef’s Table!
Community is the most important thing for business – we wouldn’t be where we are without the help of our friends. Alex says that so many of her best friends have been made online and in her words, “It’s how I made my break!”
I totally agree and anyone who has done my workshop will know that I stay involved well after the course. I’ll organise get-togethers, Christmas parties, etc., whereas some workshop leaders are out as soon as the final talk is over. I think this is the difference between ‘networking’ and ‘communicating’ – ‘networking’ hints at selfishness and greed as you are only out for yourself, whereas we think you should be all about ‘connecting’. Make friends first with no conditions and if something happens for your business then that’s great – if not, at least you made a friend!
Instead of thinking of what you can get from people, think of what you can do for them – then the world will open up to you and people will fall over themselves to pay you back.
Nowadays we live in a world in which education is at our fingertips, whether it’s YouTube classes, mentoring or workshops. This is awesome but it can also be overwhelming, as there are so many ways out there to learn and a lot of them are free – but are they worth it?
Alex thinks that free resources only touch the shallow end of what you need, whereas paid content is tailored to give you everything you require. I certainly agree that you value things differently when you’ve paid for them compared with when you get them for free. In my courses, the people who have traveled, hired a babysitter, etc. will be the ones who are paying the most attention.
It’s the same with clients -the ones who pay top dollar are the ones who understand the experience and leave us to do what we do best.
Take Alex, for example – in under three years, she has gone from new on the scene to recently booking a $15K wedding. That’s my biggest wedding fee to date too and it feels amazing to be valued at that price. However, we deliver at least $20K of value and those clients will walk away thinking that we were worth more than what they paid. Be confident in your product and yourself and you will earn what you deserve.
I had such a blast having Alex on my podcast and I have no doubt you’ll enjoy listening to it too! You can find Alex on Instagram either at her Wedding Photography account: @alexcohenphotography or her personal one: @alexcohen.
And before I forget, I have two courses coming up that will cover Posing and Lighting. We’ve been working so hard on these and they are going to be game-changers!
See you for the next episode!
Imagine taking a break from work and earning more money than when you stayed in the office. I discovered that this dream can actually become a reality, so today I want to talk to you about avoiding burnout and reclaiming your creativity.
In the world of western commerce, we’re told how important it is to hustle, work hard and that free time is wasted time – we’re rarely told how important it is to take time off. This is is crazy to me, because when I take time off I come back recharged and actually create much more of an impact than when I’m toiling away at my desk for months on end. It might sound incredible to you but the years in which I’ve taken the most ‘holidays’ are the years that I have made the most money.
As a creative entrepreneur, I can guarantee that you work harder than most regular employees; you also almost certainly wear several hats – marketing, building websites, creating content and even working for free. All of this you do because you love it but it can also be exhausting. So how do we avoid burnout at work AND increase productivity?
Realistically, we can’t always jump on a plane to an exotic location every time we feel a little overwhelmed at work. Saving up for a holiday abroad, getting someone to look after the kids, dogs, house, etc. – this can add to your stress levels. The answer? Take a mini-vacation every day. This can be just one hour that you set aside for yourself in which you go for a walk, head to yoga, listen to podcasts – anything that just takes you out of the world of work and into your own space. I go for a walk every morning with my dog and when I arrive at the office, I’m so much more energised than if I’ve just rolled out of bed. It’s also when I get my best ideas, which, for a business owner, is crucial.
I’m all about creating the biggest impact with the work that I do, and this means more time brainstorming and less time actually at my desk. That’s why I start every day by creating a To Do list on Asana and then as soon as I finish my tasks, I can go home. If this happens at 11 a.m., great! I can come back and start a new day tomorrow.
Full disclosure: I want to practise what I preach, so I need to tell you that right now is a very busy time for me. I run several businesses that are going full-pelt at the moment; I don’t remember when I last took a full day off. But that’s why my mini-holidays every day are SO IMPORTANT! They allow me the space to recharge and come up with new inspiration.
Everyone has that friend who’s always working, rarely available to hang out but never really seems to be progressing very quickly (if at all). Then there are those other friends who always seem to be travelling, hanging out and partying but always show up on your social media, growing their business and having a really good time while doing it. This is because when you step away from your business, you have more space to view it from the outside and see how others see it, which in turn will allow you to improve your services.
When I go on holiday, I interact with other businesses – not necessarily ones in my industries but hotels, airlines, etc. – and I think about how I interacted with them, how they made me feel as a customer, what their booking process was like, etc. and then I look at how I can put that into my business. This is something I could never do from my desk!
Last year I took three months off work and travelled around the US and Europe. I had a lot of time in airports, on planes and buses, so I made myself a deal – every time I was in transit, I’d get my laptop out and write an eBook. It was such a fun project and one that I would never have the time to do unless I stepped away from the office – and by the time I got back I had an eBook!
I’m a big proponent of this concept and I’m always thinking of how to repurpose and repackage the little amount of time that you have each day to make an impact. For example, if I’m meeting a friend who works in business or a client with whom I have a strong relationship, there’s an opportunity to get the microphone out and create a podcast.
I employ about 10-12 staff across all of my businesses, so I know think what can I do now, what can I postpone to later and what can I delegate to someone else? As I said, right now I’m incredibly busy so I’m actually looking at doubling the impact I make by delegating a lot of the really impactful jobs to someone else so I can look around for new trends and fresh inspiration. This isn’t always the best way to run a business, as organic growth is usually preferable – but it’s how I have always approached business and will always want to push growth that little bit extra.
If you’re a business owner and you feel underpaid, stressed and don’t get enough time off then I have to be honest – you’re a crappy boss! I wouldn’t want to work for you, nor would other people and I don’t think you do either. Make sure that you are treating your main employee (you!) well and look after your mental health with regular holidays and rejuvenating breaks.
When you go to the gym and work out, it’s actually the rest days when you grow. It’s the same when you’re at the office – build up when you take a break and you’ll come back and see a marked improvement.
As we head into the festive season, many of you might be tempted to power through and work, work, work – it’s so important not to do this and take a proper holiday, see your friends and family, put aside time for yourself and come back and start 2020 well-rested and stronger than before.
If you’re a wedding photographer that wants to add value to your services as well as increasing profit with every single client then one of the best ways to do that is learning how to sell wedding albums.
Maybe you already offer wedding albums, or maybe it’s an add-on that you’re trying to work out how to assimilate into your services…or maybe I’m totally wrong and you’ve never even considered them!
Either way, if you’re not yet offering wedding albums to every client (or you are offering them but not in an effective way) then not only are you leaving a lot of money on the table, you’re also depriving your clients of an incredibly valuable service that they’ll treasure forever.
With the Album Academy course (available from 4th – 18th November 2019), I present a straightforward guide for any photographer looking to start selling wedding albums to every single one of their clients.
I’ve been working as a wedding photographer for several years and I offer albums to all of my clients and the vast majority of them sign up as soon as they hear my pitch. I rank so highly in Melbourne (my home city) for ‘wedding albums’ on Google that I actually get other photographer’s clients coming to me to add my wedding album service on to their existing package!
While this is great for my business, it does make me wonder why other photographers aren’t offering wedding albums as part of their service? Or, perhaps more accurately, why they aren’t offering it as effectively as I am?
My success in selling wedding albums doesn’t come from years of honing a super-slick sales approach or putting the hard sell on my clients; I simply present what is a really valuable option as part of the package in a way that lets the couple envision holding their very own wedding album in their hands even before a single picture has been taken. And I’m going to show you how you can do it too.
The answer to this question is simple: Wedding albums are timeless memories of the most special day in two people’s lives.
Remember when you were a kid and looked through your parents’ photo albums? How much longer you spent taking in each picture instead of just clicking to the next image? This is what couples will want their kids to do. The finite quality of an album also works in its favour; online you can put endless reams of photos up from the big day but in an album, you are limited to around 50-100 images, so it puts a massive emphasis on quality over quantity by condensing the absolute best moments from the wedding.
Nowadays there are a ton of different ways to show people photographs – you can show them on a USB, a CD (or even a floppy disc, depending on how retro you want to go!) – however, I haven’t found anything that beats the tactile experience of holding an album in your hands.
That’s why I never take a screen to a client meeting (no phone, laptops etc.) but instead I show them a selection of sample albums so they can envisage what their own album will look like.
In this course, I will show you my process – this is how I sell wedding albums and this way has been really successful for me.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that the exact same process will be successful for you; maybe it will and you can copy it verbatim or maybe you’ll need to adjust it to fit your own style.
There are so many factors that can affect this – your budget, location, specialism, etc. – so bear this in mind when you watch the course and look out for the general takeaways that I will highlight as we go along, as these will be effective for every wedding photography business.
When you’re watching the course, focus on the parts that resonate with you and assimilate them into your business model; don’t worry, I’m not precious about my personal approach – I want you to remodel what I do and make it perfect for you!
In the Album Academy course, I’ll show you a refined method of how best to sell wedding albums as part of your regular packages.
You’ll also learn tips and tricks to securing sales, including how to give your clients a tactile example of the finished product, how to source swatch samples, making sure you’re covered in terms of a contract with the right T&Cs, and so much more.
There are entire modules dedicated to the three most important elements of selling wedding albums: Design, Sales & Marketing, and Delivery.
Remember, a wedding album is something that your clients already want – you just have to offer it to them in the right way.
In this episode, I talk about hiring your perfect team and how to go about it. I have been hiring people to work for me since I was 20 years old, when I ran my first business, a cafe called, Buddha Belly. Diving into hiring and creating a team without any experience was a huge learning curve for me and something I continue to learn about every single day.
I’ve hired and sometimes had to fire people but what I really want to tell you about is how I have grown as a leader, which didn’t come naturally. No matter where you start in life, you still need to hone your leadership skills to be able to steer the workforce.
If you have the ability to listen to the people that work for you, you are off to a great start because most people just want to be heard. We’re all human beings, and when I talk about my employees or hiring someone, I am talking about a real life human that experiences the same things I do that has dreams and goals, and all those wonderful things that I have too. They are real life humans and step number one is, treating them like so.
The other thing about working with humans, is that we are emotional. As a leader, you need a certain degree of EQ, emotional intelligence. In fact, I would argue that, it’s the most important attribute you could have as a leader.
I have a full time editor at Free The Bird Weddings and he basically runs the daily tasks of the business, including editing. It is amazing having him here with us and taking a chance on him was definitely one of the best decisions I have ever made. He started back in 2016 and he really was fresh. Still at university and didn’t really know what he was doing. I made sure to put in as many hours as I could to train him up and today is produces incredible work. It’s not all thanks to me sitting over his shoulder though. But it is thanks to the experience I have had, being a leader. I give him the space and time he needs to learn and I listen to him. I push him enough so he is always growing and I make sure he learns it all on his own.
So before you decide to hire anyone, take a step back, and think, do I have what it takes to be leader?
ALBUM ACADEMY is LIVE!!! Hit this link to see what it’s all about.
I’ve always pushed myself to do the things that make me most uncomfortable and, truth be told, this is one of the main reasons why I’m starting a podcast. Yes, it’s a business podcast, so listeners will glean a lot of advice, tips and tricks from each episode, but the underlining (selfish!) reason why I’m doing this is to push myself and encourage me to grow.
I’d been asked to do several podcast interviews and I noticed that I kept saying no. It wasn’t because I didn’t have time to do them – it was just because I was scared of recording a conversation and making a mistake in front of an audience.
That does sound scary, right?
Make Your Break is a creative business podcast show that’s aimed towards helping my community push their businesses to new heights. I’m packing it with stories, inspiration and tangible tips designed to help anyone at any stage of their creative business take action to improve their situation.
I’ve been recording it in my bedroom, which isn’t the quietest place even at the best of times. We live behind a busy café and are surrounded by shops and public transport. But you do what you have to do and I actually think the sound quality is working out really well!
I’ve also received some help from a company that specialises in podcasting and who do all the post-production. We have so many projects and businesses on the go at the same time and it would be crazy for us to try and do everything ourselves.
To be completely honest, recording the first episode was much harder than I thought it would be. I overthought it, ruminating on it for days on end. I changed the subject a few times and did too many script rewrites. By the end, I had to apply one of my personal rules to the process: Done is always better than perfect. And I know that the show will only get better, so I can’t get too caught up in perfecting the first episode. I fumble my words in some parts but I actually like this real, authentic feel. Plus, it gives me a great chance to improve! I want to get more confident when speaking in front of a microphone and this is the perfect opportunity for me to do just that.
So, if you love listening to podcasts before work for that extra bit of motivation as much as I do, I invite you to take a listen to the trailer and subscribe on your favourite channel – let’s start spending our mornings together!
Oh, and if you have any suggestions for the shows then I would love your input, so please leave a comment below.
In this episode, I have a conversation about the (sometimes uncomfortable) subject of money.
Ah, money… It’s so interesting that it sparks such different views and personal relationships within all of us.
I know for a fact that, as creatives, many of us feel guilty about making money; this sounds odd but it’s true. We actually often stop ourselves from making money without even knowing it.
It all comes down to our individual mindset and relationship with money, which can be formed from so many different experiences in our lives. Some people may associate money with evil, perhaps because their parents used to fight a lot over finances when they were younger.
Maybe your parents worked hard to earn a lot of money and therefore weren’t around when you were growing up?
Or maybe you have a different view. Maybe your parents made a large amount of money and you saw them help all the people around them; you got inspired by how they could help your family and community and provide everything that you needed and wanted. Or maybe they were around all the time exactly because they weren’t hung up on making loads of money.
Maybe it has nothing to do with your parents at all and you’ve become inspired by other people around you. Maybe it’s not even people but movies that serve as your inspiration? Only you know where your mindset and relationship with money comes from.
But the chances are that no one ever taught you about money. Not your parents, your teachers or your peers – this is usually because they also don’t know about money.
Ah, money! We all make and use it in such different ways. Some of us swap different things for it, some people are able to make a lot of it and others struggle to make any at all. Some people save it and store it and others use it.
One thing that I believe is that money isn’t talked about enough. And that is why today we’re taking a deep dive straight into this hard subject. I think that the more we open up and have conversations around money, the easier it will be for people to understand its whole concept, function and utility.
Here are a few reasons why I think people don’t talk about money:
We can feel insecure. Maybe we don’t make as much money as our friends or co-workers, or we suspect that we don’t and would rather not know.
Or maybe we make more than others and don’t want people to feel bad…or jealous, or envious.
Another reason is because we tend to shy away from things we don’t know much about.
Also, we don’t get taught about money in our schooling system, besides the fact that you need to get good grades so you can get a good job and start working and essentially exchanging your time for money.
It may lead to an argument, especially if it’s a topic you don’t talk about much with your partner.
We also don’t like to talk about it because sometimes we know we’re in a bad situation and would rather bury our heads in the sand rather than dealing with it directly.
Another reason why we don’t talk about money is that we often associate our personalities and character with the amount that we earn: what class we’re in, what friend group we’re in, etc. If we admit to people that we don’t actually have control over our finances, we may feel as if we could lose our identity.
You see, we usually associate ourselves with earning more money than we do. That’s why we borrow money that we don’t have to buy a car we can’t afford, all to build an image that we’d like to portray to the world. If we admit to our friends that we’re actually not doing as well as we may seem, we may lose the identity that we’ve created for ourselves.
In the show, I chat about my free eBook Cashflowing Like A Boss. I want you to download it to discover ways in which you can save money in your business. Even if it’s just a few dollars, it all counts. As the saying goes, “A small leak will sink a great ship.”
Every year I go through the steps outlined in this eBook and find ways that my businesses can save a few dollars in order to relieve some of the financial pressure. This year alone, after a just day’s worth of work, I was able to save over $5000.
As always, if you have any questions about this episode, feel free to leave a comment below and I will respond.
“Thank YOU Jai!!!! It was honestly life-changing for me. I’ll be doing more one on ones with you. I’ll see you next year to shout you that drink when I book those 40 weddings!”
~ Prue Peters
It was no suprise that this Melbourne workshop SOLD OUT in record time, full of keen creative business owners ready to take control of their business and up their game. The feedback has been incredible and it is so rewarding to read through all the reviews, emails and listening to feedback. It just confirms to me that the workshop is making such a huge impact on so many creative businesses.
This workshop was held in a warehouse in Abbotsford called Small Talk. It was the perfect venue and it really had that cool Melbourne vibes. Such an easy location for everyone to get to, especially when they fly in from interstate and book accommodation right in the city.
For me, every workshop is different and every student is at a different level or different part of their journey. So it can be hard to navigate around and make sure I don’t teach anything that will go over their heads and it has to have enough so they can see the middle moving for their business. At the end of the day, everyone has a goal and this workshop is a BIG stepping stone to get them that one step closer.
The workshop is spread over two full days and you would think that is plenty of time, but even at this workshop, we didn’t get all the way through all the content. There is just so much to go through when you are knee-deep in business and trying to take it to a new level. Even if you are just starting out, you still have a ‘to-do’ list longer than you want. But having said that, I made all the content digestible and easy to implement in a step-by-step format.