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 019 Find Your Voice with John Dolan | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 53:52

John Dolan is best known for finding the in-between, unplanned moments that make real people look beautiful and beautiful people look real. John has woven a career of advertising, editorial and fine art photography. He is a recognized leader in contemporary wedding photography. Wedding clients include magazine art directors and editors, as well as celebrity couples Will & Jada Smith, Ben & Christine Stiller, Kate Bosworth & Michael Polish, Bridget Moynahan & Andrew Frankel, and most recently, Gwyneth Paltrow & Brad Falchuk. The modern wedding has become so much about the photographs and John takes an approach that is more about the wedding and less about the shot list. He photographs as things happen vs curating and cultivating what wouldn’t otherwise be there. This is a great interview and hope you like it.   And here’s the transcript from the conversation with John and Braedon: Braedon Flynn: 00:01 John, thanks so much for coming on the show and sharing your wisdom and all that and stoked to have you here. Awesome. Well, for people that don't know you as well, can you just give a slight background as to, I mean where you are in your photo journey and how you got there. John Dolan: 00:22 I've been in the game for a long time. I was thinking about last night. It's the only job I've ever had since I was 15 years old. Uh, so I've never had a full time job. I've never had a paycheck from somebody besides myself. So I've had 30 years freelance in New York and I started out as a magazine photographer and slipped my way into weddings in the early days of the nineties and I've always had an ambition to keep weddings as part of my business but not let them be the whole business. So I've balanced magazine work, ad work and weddings for 30 years. Braedon Flynn: 01:09 I think a lot of people either. I know a lot of commercial photographers that have just recently started getting into weddings because I know when I first started getting into weddings who was sort of like, oh, that's cute, you shoot weddings, and it was almost. It was really frowned upon to shoot weddings. Have you found that to be the case coming from both worlds? John Dolan: 01:31 Certainly when I started, weddings were the lowest form of photography, even I remember being at a party with a lot of journalists back in the nineties and people were talking about doing projects in Nicaragua or Bosnia and they turned to me and said, what are you doing? I've been shooting weddings and they all kind of frowned at me for a second. And I said, well, I just thought will smith wedding. I shot Ben Stiller's and, they started handing out business cards. Do you need a second? John Dolan: 02:08 But it was, it was a great moment because I realized that I wasn't ashamed of doing it and I was doing it my way. And also in the nineties it was wide open. There was a very small group of us who embraced wedding as photographers rather than as wedding photographers. When you come to it with that attitude that you're. I really thought of myself as somebody who was fascinated by weddings rather than by the wedding industry. I just wanted to tell the stories that I saw in front of me and and dive deep into them as if I was shooting a magazine story. So it was almost that I was naive to the ways of the wedding industry. That was a real help. Sometimes being being an amateur is a help and I feel for people who are starting these days because the wedding industry is so strong and they're so many great photographers who are. I'm making a really good living, doing big time wedding photography, but in a funny way. It was much more innocent to a movement. We were rejecting the cheesy stuff with the eighties and just doing our thing in the nineties, so it's a tricky time now. Braedon Flynn: 03:38 We'll get into that in a second, but I'd still love to go back to just going from being a journalist and then going to shooting people like will smith and Ben Stiller. How, how did that end up coming about? Like how do you feel like you started getting into that celebrity circuit? John Dolan: 03:55 It's funny when you, when you look back on a career, it really is just a series of cobblestones being laid out in front of each job, the cobblestone and you cobble it together for years and there's definitely no such thing as overnight success. I didn't start making money as a shooting photographer till I was 30, so I had a long apprenticeship, a four year apprenticeship with a incredible photographer named Sylvia Plachy. And she was a Village Voice staff photographer and then a New Yorker photographer. And her son is more well known than she is. Her son is Adrian Brody, the actor, but he was just a seventh grade kid when I worked there. And I was at their house every day for four years printing her pictures and her attic. And um, so I, I really had a slow evolving, uh, of my sort of way of seeing as a photographer before I started showing my book around and getting assignments, uh, and then it took me another 10 years of shooting to get the sort of, the first big jobs. So I think it's important for people to slow down and lay your cobblestone slowly and not rush to make it into the whatever top 10 lists you're shooting for. John Dolan: 05:31 I did, I did 10 years of assignments of various intensity and size that kind of shot everything and learned how to fail at a job miserably and how to surprise myself and how to challenge myself. But, there's also a cheaper time to live in New York City. I could live on $500 a month rent and all those sorts of things. But I really think that slowing down and working on your vision is something that people don't necessarily get to do these days. You know, we're all, we're all our own brand and we're all rushing to make it to the top. That's a long way to get there. Braedon Flynn: 06:20 Yeah, and I completely 100 percent agree with that and I don't know if you have could right off the top of your head think of what that looks like, but I mean if you were trying to either tell a younger photographer, tell your younger self to slow down in the midst of, you know, this instagram crazy world where everyone's looking at Ronell's those images and you can see what everyone else is doing or appearing to be doing what, what does slowing down and building your, your vision or laying your cobblestones actually look like John Dolan: 06:55 a great question because it's I who just gave me a lot of work that was not for a lot of money. I worked for a free newspaper in Tribeca in New York, a weekly newspaper and they would give me five assignments and I would get on my bicycle and I would go shoot a restaurant. I'd go shoot a portrait of a politician. I'd go shoot a homeless shelter. I go shoot a feature story and then I'd go back to my dark room, develop the film, make little quick prints. Then that was in the old days of faxing, so I'd fax these wet prints to the art director so he could start laying them out and you know, I did that for a couple of years and it just got me so fluid with being in a situation and having to problem solve and to know what to do when things aren't working. John Dolan: 08:03 Just all those lessons. And that was not a money job at all, but it was like being in the minor leagues and working on your swing or your throw into the plate. So if you can ever find a situation like that, and it could even be for nonprofit, it could be for your kid's school, it could be for anything right in front of you,, where you get to exercise your eyes and your instincts and how you deal with people. That's the gold at the stuff you'd tap into when you're shooting a big wedding and something goes wrong and there's no sun and no, you have to figure out what, what's in your Ninja tool kit. Braedon Flynn: 08:51 Yeah, absolutely. I'm a big advocate of. I, I was already shooting. I mean I went to school for business, but then after I got done with my Undergrad College, I went back to a community college and took all of their photo classes and think there was something about learning to make a photo versus just take a photo. But then at the same time the importance, uh, I think it's difficult for a photographer, anyone to self assign, but to, to have a class where a teacher is telling you to go create this or document this, which is. I think it's similar to working at that low pain magazine. But yeah, John Dolan: 09:35 Here's a radical premise: photography is easy. I've seen people get really good at it in just 6 months, kill it in a year. You get to a really high level. And then I've seen people get completely stuck or frozen after a couple of years of shooting because it came to them so easily. And you know - what other art form can you get good at in six months? With sculpture, painting, drawing, music. I haven't seen people soar in that way because the camera does a huge percentage of it. I've even had students in some of our workshops who just had some really great photographs with then when I asked them about f stops iso, they basically said, oh no, I just put it on 'P', whatever that means. And I shoot my kid by the window and get this great stuff. You know, it's amazing how easy it is to fake it. John Dolan: 10:35 And I think what that does is it presents an opportunity to challenge yourself where it's not about how to take pictures, it's about why and what do you have to say and what's your passion? What's your, what's your mission? Or the big one also is what's your superpower? And I think that's a great thing to kind of figure out. And I definitely had a light bulb moment as a young photographer, old days in New York, you'd see other photographers walking around town with their portfolios and you'd be incredibly intimidated by, you know, imagine what's in their book. So I meditated on my, in my, in my little apartment, like what am I good at that other people aren't? And the answer was that I get really calm around people who are nervous. So I'm the youngest of six. So, you know, chaos is kind of the norm. John Dolan: 11:43 I show up and oh good. There's always kids running around the house. So I realized that the first time I did a wedding that was a very comfortable place for me to be, to be in a house with people getting dressed and people yelling at each other where's my shoes, where's my Tuxedo, all that sort of stuff. That was just me as a kid in, in the, uh, you know, in my house with everybody getting ready to go to. So once I found that in my, in my sort of effect, found that a super power, I realized that weddings where the place for me as opposed to, you know, like a corporate portrait where I have five minutes with the CEO, that was not a happy place for me. I'd rather have an eight hour wedding to get my pictures. So it's good for everybody to dig in and say what matches your personality and how do you turn that into an asset photographer? Braedon Flynn: 12:50 No, that's really important to figure out how to switch switching direction. But you wrote on your blog a little manifesto and I want to read a little part of it and then we'd love to talk more about it. And before I get into that, you, you came from. How many siblings did you have? John Dolan: 13:10 6 and I'm the youngest one. Braedon Flynn: 13:11 That's what I thought you had told me before. Uh, yeah. So chaos would be comfortable for you. John Dolan: 13:17 Yep. Braedon Flynn: 13:18 So to your manifesto says: 'As a wedding season comes to a close. I have some reflections on the role we play as photographers. Pop culture would have us believe that a wedding must be perfect down to every last detail to be successful. I see things differently in my experience. It's precisely the unpredictability of a wedding that often makes it memorable. Photographers have a great opportunity to look beyond the shortlist list and find beauty and truth in these imperfect moments. Current trends in photography have inadvertently reinforce and unattainable ideal of perfection by focusing on flawless over the real brides and grooms may not realize that many of these images they see online are actually produced during styled shoots, a shot weeks before the actual wedding. While these photographs maybe inspirational, they often end up creating an unrealistic expectation of what can be achieved during a compressed and stressed wedding timeline. What if wedding photographs aren't only meant to depict dreamy romance, but instead chronicle a full range of emotions" - and then you go on to talk a lot more and and what you do and how you do it. But can you, and I know we chatted about a bit out at engage and you spoke out there. Could you just sort of go into where your heart is behind a lot of this and some of your passions? John Dolan: 14:34 Well, it comes from what I've seen at weddings and I realize because they're, imagining what people are going to see of their wedding, what people are going to think of their wedding based on this false ideal that they've seen at other weddings. So it's a really strange loop. Um, and so, and the other thing is that I've always been fascinated by the sort of salty and the sweet at weddings, the melancholy, the stress of all that stuff makes a wedding rich for me and to only see photographs that are, uh, don't even know the term to use, but they're, they're only showing a. it's really when you see people posting saying best day ever and the day was perfect. Everything was perfect. Sometimes feels like they're selling something to you or they're a, it's all to sugar sweet from my point of view, when there's so much richness in the rest of the wedding. John Dolan: 16:01 And it's not to say that we're not taking romantic pictures, but I'm just trying to expand the, the shortlist from the pretty to the real and to come away with pictures that ring true to the wedding, not to the ideal of the wedding. So it's funny, a little shift, but why is the wedding industry so a narrow in its portrayal of what weddings are. I'm afraid the answer is that it's because that's where the greatest profit is. There's no doubt you can make a lot of money by making really pretty pictures. But I'd take the role in a different way, I take the role of photographer as a historian, as a cultural historian, as a family chronicler. I take that seriously. So I don't want my pictures in 20 years to be the kind of.......let me take it a different way. If you look back at wedding photos from the seventies or eighties, there's something about them that's kind of fake. And it was, as I've looked at those pictures, the way the photographer's treated, the bride and groom's was in this kind of fuzzy ideal of marriage, during a time when, when marriages were in rough shape in a lot of parts of the country. John Dolan: 17:43 So I don't want to make wedding photographs that are this kind of false dream world. It's a really funny thing. It's we have an observation as photographers tell the truth, doesn't have to be the absolute truth, but has to ring true. So my hope is that the photographs that I take will be discovered by some child in 20 years and when they open up that box of photographs, they can feel what their parents were like in 2018, what they looked like and what their real personality was as opposed to some idealized version of that. John Dolan: 18:31 And also, this is my, this has always been my approach. I know that some people really revel in the other approach to make the dreamy idealized view. but I'm fascinated by finding that essence of every wedding. And that's what's kept it fresh for me for 30 years is that I don't know what I'm going to get an each wedding I kind of enter and try to discover something from that couple in particular and not just stick them in the same setting and have the bride turn back to the camera and fire away. Braedon Flynn: 19:14 Can you talk through how that plays out for you? Like how do you approach a wedding and what are you..... You know, it sounds like you're trying to come away with the authenticity, but what is, what does that look like for you and how do you feel like that's different than what is happening? John Dolan: 19:33 The first thing I do take a nap. So I have all my gear laid out, I have my suit laid out and then if I'm leaving to go to the wedding at 2:00 all just like lie down for 10 minutes and I'm sorta emptying my eyes, empty my brain and just sort of saying, "I don't know what's gonna happen today. I'm really looking at almost like a novelist or a short story writer. So I'm thinking of these two families coming together and entering into this union and so I, I really set myself as a kind of empty vessel to be filled up by the day. And then once I start, um, I almost throw away the shot list because at this point I know what the shot list is. I, I, I entered that house and I put my sensors on high alert. John Dolan: 20:42 Like what is going on with this family? What's going on between the mother and the daughter? Where's the stress point? Who's going to be complicated today? You know, there's, every family has usually one family member who calls him a little, a little bit of extra stress. I don't want to give the impression that I'm shooting edgy pictures of stressed out people fighting with each other. I'm just looking for subtlety and narrative and just, I'm trying to look at each person and imagine how they're experiencing the day. And the interesting thing is that the older I've gotten, I've shifted now where I'm seeing what the dads are going through. I'm really keyed in on father of the bride because I have my daughter's 23, 24 now. It's like all of a sudden I can see myself in these people and I go up to these guys and go, "man, you like the guy she's married because that's big." John Dolan: 21:46 You're like, you're adopting somebody, you know, so my point of view has shifted and, but still I'm, I'm just kind of um, observe her neutral observer. I don't have an agenda and I'm just trying to really feel what it's like to feel what it feels like in a house full of nervous people. I guess my goal is that six weeks later when the bride sees these pictures that I tap back into exactly what she was feeling at that moment. So that's why I don't direct people at their wedding because I don't want to be the person changing their flow of the day or you know, they're express their feelings and emotion. I don't want to mess with that. I think that's kind of not our job as photographers. I certainly guide people into good light, but I would never tell somebody put your hand here. It just feels like I'd be violating some code of a, I don't know, a little private code. Braedon Flynn: 23:14 I hear you not to be contrary, but to sort of just have a conversation on this because I would say from my, the way that I approach it is, I mean the photos that I love the most are the candid images and I think I've found over the years of shooting is that there are.... It'll be a of a question I'm going to ask him a little bit is how much you feel, you know, blogs and magazines and that sort of pressure is put on the expectation of the photographer and the bride. But going back to this is: I mean I find that as much as I always tell people, I'm getting "Both And" where I think I even at the reception I say less because I had a handful of weddings where my first weddings, the brides were very coming from the fashion editorial world. And say we want nothing traditional, just be as candid as you can. Braedon Flynn: 24:09 And I would shoot that. And then, and those weddings got featured in magazines and they came out beautifully and the couple was really happy, but then I was getting mom writing back and being like, where these photos? Why are there no photos of people just looking at the camera? And I told her that her daughter didn't want that, you know, so. So now I say, "listen, those are my favorite photographs as well and I get those, but I'm also going to make, I'm shooting, I'm looking for the laughter at the reception, but then I'm also going to walk up and say, Hey, can I grab your photo and have people look at the camera and take their picture?" So it's, I'm getting, I feel like I'm getting both, but it's in a very natural, candid way. John Dolan: 24:46 I'm with you 100 percent at a certain part of the wedding from being the neutral observer to being a welcome guest. And I think really what I, I've evolved into is that I'm much more patient than I used to be. So, uh, now I'll kind of wait for the wedding to open up to me rather than force myself into it. In other words, I start slowly and want to get to know people and I talked to people and I mingle and I hang with the bridesmaids and I make friends with the groomsmen and it's a real process to be led into a group of strangers. But it's, it's a funny thing that how I am as a photographer effects the pictures. So the, the, the older I've gotten, the more comfortable I am with, I'm just kind of putting the camera down and engaging with people first and a kind of human level and then the picture is so much better, rather than just walking up to somebody cold and, you know, just firing away. It is a real rhythm to the whole weekend. In fact, when I do weekend wedding where I'm on the outside and then I'm, I find my allies and I worked my way in and, you know, the best ones end up with me on the dance floor dancing with the bride. And um, but that's a are from being total strangers to being intimate strangers, you know. Braedon Flynn: 26:38 Absolutely. John Dolan: 26:40 And that's the really glorious thing about this. We do, we do see things, family drama that nobody else gets to see that the photographer is a privileged position. And it's definitely some reason that I've, uh, that I'm really big on leaving egos at the door, you know, when, when, when you start the job, you're this kind of invisible and then very visible and invisible and you kind of shift back and forth, um, in your presence at the wedding. But it's never about me. It's their wedding. It's just there to squeeze the essence out of it. But whenever a, whenever the photographer or the videographer becomes too big a role, the wedding, it seems really wrong to me. Braedon Flynn: 27:40 Yeah, I totally agree with that. But I want to go back to the directing, not directing because I, John Dolan: 27:53 yes, I mean, I saw how you moved at Engage and very much a similar thing where you're, dancing with people as you're photographing them. You're engaging with them physically and with your eyes and emotionally and get the best picture out of them and then you're moving on and you keep moving. But I'm not averse to jumping in when somebody set up a group picture of five friends from college with their iphone, I jump right in on that and grab it because I don't know what the five friends from high school or college are. So, but I know I can't even say that I have one way of working. It's very intuitive and it's very dependent on what I think I need for the story and what I think is happening at that moment. And um, so there are certainly times when I could tell the bride doesn't want me to direct it all. And there are certain times when the bride through says, can you get this and this? So there's not a one size fits all. I tend to get a lot of people who are shy and a little bit older and are, I'm really into photography but not into being the center of attention. John Dolan: 29:25 And, and those brides are just the greatest. They're challenging because they're shy, but they're incredibly grateful when you bring them 12 really beautiful pictures because they didn't expect that. I think if you have a high maintenance bride who'd love being in front of the camera, you know, that's, that can be trickier. But... Braedon Flynn: 29:49 totally, I mean I would say that almost every single couple, whether you know, that they're going to be obsolete simple in front of the camera because they're ridiculously good looking or from couples who just like are more shy and nervous or don't like the center of attention. Generally. Everybody tells me like we're not really good in front of the camera, you know? And I say like, "listen, unless you're a model, what other time in your life are you being photographed for? You're looking at going, I'm going to have like 30 minutes where I'm going going to be the center of attention." And I think couples feel this pressure that they need to perform for the camera. So what I generally say is, "listen, I'm going to direct you through this whole process so you don't have to perform so because ultimately what you've resonated with my images is that they're really candid and natural, but I'm directing you through that whole process." Braedon Flynn: 30:40 I can. And so I'm not telling people, put your hand here, put your hand in there. But it is still, I feel like I'm directing them so they don't have to think about what they're doing and they can just be with each other, which I think is probably what you're doing when you're saying you're directing them into light. But I think if you just leave them to do, it's almost like that, you know, will, will ferrell thing. It was like, well what do I do with my hands? You know? So it just like, hey listen, just be with each other. If I needed to look at me, I'll tell you to look at me, but just be, walk and it's moving quickly through the space and it's just so they don't have to like think that they're being photographed. John Dolan: 31:14 Yes. The only thing I would add is that I'm sort of loving slightly awkward moments, that is if the couple is really awkward. I had one couple recently they told me they were awkward and then I did a little quick engagement shoot and I thought to myself, yes they are super awkward John Dolan: 31:35 and but then at their wedding, even on their wedding day, they were very awkward. They're just super smart and super shy and self conscious than they're just way too smart for the camera. But the awkwardness they loved in the pictures, it just completely worked for them because it's, it reflected who they were and I know that if I had gotten frustrated with that and wished for them to no really do something magnificent, they would have just been miserable. So it's about reading. It's about knowing the people and really reading those signs of what they're capable of or what they're willing to do. And, you know, I just, my main thing is I do not want to add any more stress to the day. I want to take stress away from constantly sort of reading the temperature of a couple and you know, how they're doing, they need a break. Um, sometimes I leveraged that and if I see them being stressed by family or something, I said let's leave the tents and go take a quick walk. And people love that. People often really loved the relief of that. Braedon Flynn: 32:54 Yeah. It's funny because I think a lot of the things that you're describing that you think through do is I don't even, it's just sort of a natural piece of Braedon Flynn: 33:06 my personality. You know, it's that warmth of just making people feel comfortable. Like I literally tell brides like, your maid of honor is going to be a little jealous because you are my person on the day, you know, as like there's those elements where I feel like it's such a win when the bride is coming to you asking for a peanut. It's like, what do you think I should do with my hair? Or like, you know, like those little things of I think it is that element of really gaining trust. And, I mean to me that is the most special thing about the day is when, when you are so valued in that position of trust, John Dolan: 33:48 Yes, but also your personality is that you're a positive force. We are neutral and I think sometimes I see other photographers at weddings occasionally who are working so hard and you know, just really trying to crush it. And I think that's good to remember that you've got plenty of time and the more effortless it looks like the more effortless you make it look the better it is just for everybody. And I regularly hear stories of people who went to another wedding and the photographer took the bride and groom away for two hours to take pictures. She pictures and the bride and groom missed the cocktail hour and all that stuff. And I just think he doesn't have to be that way. We can get our pictures, we can make it fun. It's not our wedding and John Dolan: 35:00 it's not our photoshoot. And that, that gets back to the funny thing about, that's the trend of styled shoots had this accidental thing that came after it is that people think they can get that on their wedding day. Like, yeah, can we inbetween the ceremony and the reception, can we go take a helicopter up to a cliff in New Zealand photo shoot? Well, how about we just stand here and blow out the background or. No, I, I really think we can, uh, can relieve pressure and still come away with a pictures and people just appreciate it so much that we didn't take the whole day for them. Braedon Flynn: 35:55 I think going on that same styled shoot. Do you, because you've seen things come into existence and now they're here like blogs and, and a lot of the social media. How do you feel like that has changed the industry or even expectations and do you feel them and all that sort of stuff. John Dolan: 36:23 I mean I just have one basic thought that's been spinning around my head for the last 15 years or so. Why does, why do most photographers stay in the herd and just kind of a herd mentality. And everybody imitates each other and I keep looking for people to break out and reinvented, um, and find her own way. And yeah, certainly bride reinventing their weddings and doing things differently and having less formal things. But photography still feels to me like it's in a very narrow bandwidth. And um, you know, I just, I'm really curious to see what people do and it gets back to this central thing that for me, the most important person to please at a wedding and the bride, it's not the planner of the mother's fried, but it's myself. So, you know, I want to, at each wedding I want to make pictures that I haven't seen before and push myself into this other area and, and not just take the same pictures, but I don't see as much of that as I would love to. And um, and I think that when, no, when I've looked at blogs, they all follow a set pattern of the bride and groom's name at the top and then pictures of the dress and the shoes and all that sort of stuff. And then 30 other pictures that all kind of look a little predictable, even though the quality is super high, it doesn't feel to me like, uh, people are pushing the boundaries or taking risks, which is what I would love to see just from my own eyes. Braedon Flynn: 38:20 Can I ask that question or statement to give an example of where I'm going with this is let's say you were hired for a commercial job from, for an ad campaign of a particular. And they have, you know, like here's our expectations. If I feel like there's an element. If you were to just go out and shoot what you wanted, you know, it's like that element of like you're getting paid to do a job, you've got to deliver on the job. John Dolan: 38:54 The way I flipped it in my head, if I'm doing a job for tiffany's or something, art director, no, I have great respect for the art director and their vision aiming for that. What I've seen at weddings is that the typical bride groom are 28, 29. They'd never done this before and they don't know what they don't know and they don't know. They know what they've seen on blogs and Pinterest, but they're coming to me to, to capture something they haven't seen before. So when I. So I actually think, I know I have higher standards than most of my clients. Braedon Flynn: 39:43 Yes. John Dolan: 39:43 So that's the difference. Our jobs are definitely different. A wedding is almost too important to leave into the hands of a person who's doing it for the first time. but it's, that's a really great window into the mindset of most photographers where you want to be professional, you want to do a great job. But I would contend that weddings are different. you are, you're a specialist coming into blow them away or to, I don't know what the equivalent is, but it's a very unique job and I treated totally differently than my, my other jobs. Braedon Flynn: 40:33 I'm assuming you know Art Strieber? I went to one of his workshops. For people that don't know who he is, he's a pretty massive commercial photographer. Amazing work. And I went out to the palm springs photo expo a couple years ago and heard him speak and went to his workshop and one of the things that he said was he, takes on a lot of basically editorial jobs or his personal work because, you know, they don't pay all that much and, but he, he said, listen, I owe it. They have an expectation and that's why they're bringing me on. "And so I'm doing a job and. But what I do is I do, I get their shot. I just basically like one for them, one for me. So I get the shot that I know that they want, that's the safe shot. And then I go out there and I do what I want to do that I feel like is art to me." Braedon Flynn: 41:19 And so I think I've always taken that approach is where, and I think it goes back to those first couple of weddings where I would get emails from the mom saying where these photos. I was like, listen, I don't necessarily care for the photo of the bride and groom just looking at the camera smiling. But I now say, listen, I'm going to end up getting these felt like because I want to come away with something that was better than the last thing that I shot. And I think that's a constantly difficult thing to do when you are shooting. But being able to also get like, listen, I'm getting the photo when they are walking into the light and they already are smiling. Be able to turn around and say, all right, put your cheeks together and put your arms around each other. Braedon Flynn: 41:57 Click, click. We've got a nice classic photo and then we're gonna keep on. But I think for, I know for me and it, and it could be different for you, but the, uh, that element of still coming away with those traditional photos, but then I, the element of once you've got those are in the middle of getting those. Then being able to like take it and be a little bit more creative and do the thing that you're gonna walk away with. And I think for younger photographers, like if that's what you're trying to do, don't show the safe photos. Show show the photos that you're the most proud of and then eventually it gets to the point where like where you are, John, like if, if that person from tiffany's hires you, they're hiring you because they know you have a voice and they know that you have a point of view and so hopefully at a certain point by starting to only feature those images really resonate with you. People are going to hire you for that. And then you get to do that thing. John Dolan: 42:51 That's exactly the core of it. If you don't have a distinct voice, you're not going to move up the ranks. There's everyone knows Jose is. Look, everyone knows, uh, if you don't have a specific vision and point of view, then you're just taking pictures every Saturday and it's, you know, you can make a living but you won't be able to stay in it. You won't be able to grow as an artist. And No, I think that along the way at a wedding I'm shooting, I'm aiming high, but even when I Miss, when I'm aiming high, I'm hitting the middle and I'll please the mom. And I definitely learned that years ago that you need that one picture for the piano or the mantlepiece, so, so, you know, that's definitely not worth missing. Um, and it's amazing how often I still forget that picture and then, oh, better get that Braedon Flynn: 43:57 and it's so easy to get to, John Dolan: 43:59 but it's so easy to get. But the real thing is that if I, if I aim towards the middle and then I'm down in the drink, if I aim high and miss, I'm still, I'm still hitting the middle and then pleasing a lot of people. But it's, it's about, um, again, sort of a cobbling together of images that create this mosaic of what happened that day. But um, but I need those 12 slash 15 peak pictures, high point pictures. It doesn't necessarily have to necessarily have to be as specific thing on the list and the timeline. But I just think in our memory of an event, we remember, you know, eight to 12 things in our mind, or at least that's what I want to bring to the bride and groom when I'd be over there. Pictures want to bring these, these peak moments of list or a tension or beauty or truth or beauty or whatever it is. But um, it, it's all there. We just have to sift through and find it. Braedon Flynn: 45:22 If someone was listening and thinking, man, I don't know if I do have a voice in my images yet and I really want that. What, how would you encourage someone to find that voice? John Dolan: 45:39 Well, because I had written down, I had written something down, uh, after I saw and there's a great moment. We're broadly talking to lady Gaga and they're on a balcony overlooking La. It kind of says to her, a lot of people can sing really well, but what's your, what's deep in your soul that you're going to share with the world? And I thought that was just completely app to the whole conversation that know a lot of people can shoot pictures. So what gets you anything anymore? It's no dig deep. And I would say turn off your follow up following a people who are like you and dig into other sources of inspiration. So for me, that's a, uh, I love older photography and discovering new photographers from the fifties and forties and thirties and back. Uh, I love reading short stories and uh, I love reading really good detective novels because they're completely observational. John Dolan: 47:01 So the detective walks in a room and can see all these relationships that informs me as photographer. I love watching really good television. There's just an incredible time for tv before the visual aspect and the light and the camera movement. And I watched TV in a very active way. Same with, with films and older films things. So, you know, you've got to find your source of inspiration, but I wouldn't suggest following photographers. You can get caught up in that. The hyper loop of blogs and Instagram, you're gonna your brain's going to explode and that's not a good thing. Braedon Flynn: 47:49 Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. It's either been, if, obviously if you're listening to this, you probably shooting weddings to some degree, but you know, looking more at fashion magazines. I love looking at Bon appetit and the way that people shoot food and even just like the way that they shoot portraits of the chefs. There's so many amazing styles of photography and if you're just looking at other wedding photographers, it's really difficult. It's almost like it's hard not to plagiarize when you're just reading one author, you know, it's, it's hard not to sound like a muse, a certain musician if that's the only musician he listened to. I think. Yeah, there's that element of being able to look outside of your craft and even looking at paintings look like all that sort of stuff. Yeah. John Dolan: 48:36 No, I just got contacted by a woman in South Africa who started a new instagram account called counterpart and she just reached out to me and started talking, but she's featuring kind of out of wedding photographs from history or current, but I just really applaud her for trying something like that. Just curating pictures that haven't been seen before and know how do you stretch it all out and replenish your inspiration and your creative soul because uh, you know, there's always that balance between art and commerce. And I think photographers these days are so strong on the commerce and on the Seo and I'm posting and all that sort of stuff. But are you filling your art quota for the day? I, are. You feeling your inspiration that outside the wedding industry and um, it'll, it'll really make it so you can stay relevant and stay fresh and I highly encourage it. Braedon Flynn: 49:53 This was a really enlightening conversation and I hope that other people listening find that as well because I, I just love your perspective and point of view and also the fact that there is such a young industry, but it's the, I feel like the barrier to entry is so low. There's so many people that have only been in it for a few years and to have someone being it for as long as you have. And I mean I, and I'm always looking to that as well, being that I've been in here for vet as well, trying to figure out how to, how to continually do this and make a living doing this while supporting a family and then also not burning out. And, um, maybe maybe we could end on that element as I just thought of it is for shooting for this long. How do you feel like, have you gone through burnout? Have you, have you gotten out of it? How do you not get into it? John Dolan: 50:46 Uh, I definitely went through burnout. Child was born. I realized that I had shot, realized I'd shot pretty much every beautiful weekend John Dolan: 51:02 in New York. We have made June, September, October, and I used to do 20 weddings a year and like every beautiful weekend was gone, so definitely slowed down after that. And then now I do 10, the 10 to 12 a year and it's great. And I would encourage people know if you're feeling any burnout, then do a wedding for a family member for free or for 500 bucks or something and just go as a, bring one camera and just shoot completely fresh without the obligation of pleasing that big fancy wedding planner or big fancy, broad. Um, I have a big family as he knows. So my nieces and nephews are getting married and each of their weddings has just been incredible because I been a guest, I've been a relative, I fit in all these different boxes while shooting it as well. So I kind of love the spirit of that where I'm just part of the party and in it and dancing with everybody and, and I'm not trying to please anybody except just making our family history. John Dolan: 52:19 So I do a wedding for free or for, for fun every once in awhile, like once a year. And um, and that definitely helped use your winter time if you get a break during the winter, use that too. Reenergize and make a battle plan for the next year. Um, and uh, one other thing you said earlier, Bryan, was don't show pictures to clients that you don't love. Don't try to please the client. Don't try to sell them, uh, on something. It should be a really strong match. And whenever possible, I'd say meet people in person and look in their eyes and see if you want to make pictures for them and not. It's not, you're not trying to sell yourself, you're trying to see, am I the right photographer for this wedding, but showing pictures that really get to the core of your vision and your superpower during meeting is Speaker 3: 53:26 super crucial. Braedon Flynn: 53:28 That's huge. Yeah, it is. Those are the things that either make the job life giving or life sucking is when it's not a good fit, you know? John Dolan: 53:39 Yes. There is. There's a real energy exchange at weddings. You put out a lot of energy as the good ones. You've come back to your home, to your family and go, I was filled up by that weekend. Totally. And that's, that's really the guiding principle for me is if I make great pictures, I come back really fulfilled. Braedon Flynn: 54:02 Love it. Well, hey, thanks so much for just sharing your knowledge and if people want to see more of your work, is it just John Dolan Dot com? John Dolan: 54:11 There is a secret, a secret other part of the website. [inaudible] dot com slash wedding. Braedon Flynn: 54:17 Alright, perfect. And then to find really hidden, defined your manifest so they can go to blog dot John and they can read that whole article, which is great. On what? Well, thanks again and hopefully get to see us in. Fantastic man.

 018 Intention with Each Photo with Rebecca Yale | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 31:50

018 Intention with Each Photo with Rebecca Yale

 017 Refining Your Craft with Jeremy Chou | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 47:35

Jeremy Chou is an award winning photographer specializing in destination weddings. He's shoots commercially as well, educates, hosts workshops and has resources for photographers which you can find on his site.

 016 Freelancing is Hard | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 11:47

This episode's going to be a little different than our typical episodes. Usually I'm interviewing top photographers and trying to draw out some of the story of where they've been, how they've got there, the business behind their art and all that sort of stuff, but I also wanted to start just I guess giving some input or advice and little shorter clips that are in the interview format where it's just me talking and this is going to be one of those episodes. I would say that being your own boss is incredible and the dream that everyone should want. And I actually don't think it's for everyone and wanted to just. Yeah, talk about that a little bit and was listening to a podcast by Tim Ferriss and also listened to a lot of Seth Godin. Here's the article from Seth: The world’s worst boss That would be you. Even if you’re not self-employed, your boss is you. You manage your career, your day, your responses. You manage how you sell your services and your education and the way you talk to yourself. Odds are, you’re doing it poorly. If you had a manager that talked to you the way you talked to you, you’d quit. If you had a boss that wasted as much of your time as you do, they’d fire her. If an organization developed its employees as poorly as you are developing yourself, it would soon go under. I’m amazed at how often people choose to fail when they go out on their own or when they end up in one of those rare jobs that encourages one to set an agenda and manage themselves. Faced with the freedom to excel, they falter and hesitate and stall and ultimately punt. We are surprised when someone self-directed arrives on the scene. Someone who figures out a way to work from home and then turns that into a two-year journey, laptop in hand, as they explore the world while doing their job. We are shocked that someone uses evenings and weekends to get a second education or start a useful new side business. And we’re envious when we encounter someone who has managed to bootstrap themselves into happiness, as if that’s rare or even uncalled for. There are few good books on being a good manager. Fewer still on managing yourself. It’s hard to think of a more essential thing to learn.

 015 Branding and Style with Perry Vaile | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 54:05

Perry Vaile is a wildly talented photographer, who shoots mainly analog film, and has built a very successful business. She is the breadwinner of her family with a husband that cares for the children -and any of you who are parents know is one of the most exhausting and rewarding jobs out there - and we talk a bit about in this interview. Perry talks about Branding and building her image and clientele. She's on the East Coast and I'm over on the west coast so it was a Skype interview. Not the normal for this channel but better than not having it. I hope you enjoy and below is the transcript from the interview: Braedon: 00:00 Well, Hey, welcome to the show. Perry, you are an awesome person. We met in person just a little bit ago in Canada at Engage, which was really fun and I've admired your work for a long time and just excited to have you on here to share your knowledge. Perry Vaile: 00:15 Awesome. Well I'm so excited. I love to talk, so I'm ready. Braedon: 00:19 Cool. For people that don't know a lot of your story, could you give, I mean you've, you have a little bit of a different background but maybe where you started out and then how you ended up getting into photography. Perry Vaile: 00:31 Yeah. So, I grew up in a really small town in North Carolina, very rural. I'm all by myself. I have no siblings, so it's just me and my mom was always into photos - but like to an annoying level so I hated it and didn't want anything to do with it. And you know, basically I didn't have any visions of being a photographer to begin with. I was always focused on getting out of my little town and getting out of the not fun childhood situation I was in and just finding my way out. And so I immediately, as soon as I could, I went to college and I was like, I'm going to be an academic because that was like, that was my vision of what the, how to get out and how to do something great, you know. So I went to school and I got my Undergrad and my undergrad and master's in history and historic preservation and all along I've always had this pull, to photos, but I didn't want to acknowledge it because, you know, my mom was the crazy photo taker and it was so annoying. Braedon: 01:29 Was she just like, just shooting photos around or was she like doing that for work? Perry Vaile: 01:35 No, she shot. She has shot a wedding before, but she said it went terribly and I'm not surprised because she's a little bit of an anxious person. So, um, she always shot, you know, she's obviously shooting on film and I tried to play with their cameras and, and high school I was on the yearbook staff and I was taking the photos and even when I was going into history and trying to become a historian, I always was pulled to, I guess the visuals of history, which is why I focused on like historic preservation, which is like basically buildings and architecture in cities because I wasn't, I mean I liked being an academic, but I really wasn't until like the book and the words I was into the visuals, you know. I definitely stuck out in the history department. I will say it was just me and a lot of, you know, guys that only watched star wars and we didn't, I couldn't. Perry Vaile: 02:26 I was like, I want to talk about stuff with people. Um, you know, and so, you know, photography I really focused on even my master's thesis was on early American photographers and I mean just very convoluted versions of what photography was and early history, but I was always drawn to it. And then I started shooting for fun and I had a girl basically message me. I had a blog early on about this is way before, it was like 2008 or 9 that I would take pictures on and I had a girl message me and basically say, oh, your photos are really beautiful when you pictures at my wedding. I was like, sure. And I like never really done that, you know, I'd taken my own pictures. So before that I actually was like, I'm going to reach out to people and see if I could shoot a wedding before that one. Perry Vaile: 03:11 Like I need some experience. So I asked a girl I went to high school with and I said, hey, I saw you're engaged, you know, like on early days of facebook. And I said, and this is so terrible, somebody should never do this. But I was like, can I just show up and, you know, take pictures while your photographer is shooting. But she was like, oh no, you can just shoot it. Which, thank God, because how rude would that have been if I actually did. But. So she just asked me to show up and she paid me $300 and I was like 'Jack Pot!' I shot her wedding and it was just so thrilling is many things went wrong. Like I had never really even been to a wedding but my own. So I was trying to remember what parts of the day happened and I remember during the cake cutting I ran out of room on my memory and I had to delete a picture and then take a picture and like delete a picture. So I started off with a bang. I didn't really second shoot, I didn't do anything. I just threw myself into it and I honestly, I didn't really pursue it. It kind of came after me after that, you know, she shared a lot of pictures. I shot another one and it, I mean I shot like 20 weddings the first year I ever even started shooting. Now Mind you, I might've been charging $500 but I got a lot of experience really, really fast. So. Braedon: 04:29 And that was in 2008 ish? Or.... Perry Vaile: 04:34 it was in 2012. Braedon: 04:42 That's incredible. And so when looking at that then, when did you decide to leave the historian route and actually pursue photography and what was that like? Perry Vaile: 04:54 You know, I think, I never..... It's one of those things where you want to be an actress or you want to do something that you really love and you never think you could get paid well to do it, you know? And I never had that as my goal. Um, I obviously spent a lot of time in school and I was almost persistent to the point. I was like, I'm not leaving this job because I went to school for it. Um, and so I worked for three years as a professional historian. You know, all the Nitty Gritty of nonprofit and all that goes with it. And I really honestly just, I didn't want to give it up. I thought for a long time I could do both. And I got to the point where I think the last year before I quit, I did 37 weddings and I was like, this isn't sustainable. Um, and you know, I honestly, I got enough money under contract for the next calendar year that it met my salary. And I was like, yeah, I don't need this. I need to just leave, you know, um, and nonprofit nonprofit isn't the best paying version of, you know, so I think when I just really started realizing that I didn't have to do that anymore, I still loved it. So I never left it for that reason. Um, but I mean, photography just took over. It became a monster of its own. So Braedon: 06:07 when you were doing that year where you had 37, still working a full time job, I'm assuming most of that was local. Yeah, Perry Vaile: 06:16 yeah, yeah. Or you know, I had a really flexible job. It was just me and my boss Gary, who was my bestie in those years, had no coworkers. I have so much personality and I had nobody to talk to you. Gary was really great and understanding, I don't think he ever knew it would take me away from the job or he might not have let me off early, um, but we, we worked together, you know, and so every now and then I would take off a little bit early on Friday or honestly I would just leave after work and dry run like long hours to get some of the distance because I've always really shot all over. Um, and I would drive five hours after work and then get there really late and then do the wedding the next day. So I kind of just made it work, which is exhausting, but I didn't have kids so it's not that exhausting. Braedon: 07:02 You were married at the time? Yes. Yeah. Cool. When did y'all get married? In 2008. Perry Vaile: 07:08 10 and I met him when I was 19, so I've been with him for 12 and a half years. Braedon: 07:15 People can do some math and figure out how old you are. Perry Vaile: 07:17 Hey. No, I know. Yeah, you add it up. It goes really fast and I met him on facebook too. Braedon: 07:22 social media brought us together. If you guys could see pictures, they are quite the quite the couple tell you he would love hearing He gets plenty picture's taken of himself, that's for sure. Well, it's got a good person to do it. So I mean, what I really like to draw out of people, because you've, you've done since 2012 and just getting started in taking $500 a wedding or $300 a wedding go into right now you're, I would consider you one of the more successful photographers, you know, in the upper echelon and so what I like to sort of draw out, like what does that look like because I mean obviously transition. Totally. Yeah. How did it, how did it go from there to there? When did you start deciding like, oh I need to raise my rates and how do you do that? And because that's, that's a scary thing for people. I mean even even at the level that you and I are out to the go like, okay, I need to raise my rates. It's still scary, you know? So Perry Vaile: 08:20 absolutely. You know, I think I've always been super intentional. I never left anything up to just, I mean other than photography coming and pulling me out of the shadows after I was in it, you know, I was very hyper focused on how to make it work. And I do remember in the early days, and I still am, I think I'm this weight. I was a proponent for what I called charging peanuts to begin with because I didn't feel like I should charge a lot more to begin with because I didn't have the experience, you know. Now with that said, I definitely think there's a line to that because I didn't charge peanuts for long. When I got that experience, my prices started going up right away and I would raise, you know, $200 a wedding. Because I mean at the time it was blowing my mind. Perry Vaile: 09:03 I can get $800 or thousand dollars a wedding. But I didn't do it for a long, you know. Um, but I, I just felt like, you know, at the time it would maybe be disingenuous to charge a lot more and not have the experience because, you know, shit happens on wedding dates and experience, you know, to me now that's what my clients are paying for is all of the experience and the talent and stuff that I hone. So I started off the first 300 and then my second was 500. I might have stayed at $800 for a couple and then you know, 12. So I just kind of raised incrementally and really, I honestly have always based it on supply and demand. Even today, that's how I manage my prices because I mean I was a historian, I studied consumerism, like I really know how consumerism works and I didn't really understand any other theories beyond supply and demand. Perry Vaile: 09:52 That's how business works, you know. So I basically, I would have a lot of people coming to me and I would feel comfortable raising my prices. I never raised him if I didn't have a lot of interests. But thankfully I feel like I've been really blessed to always have a lot of interest and I just raise it high enough that I don't scare that away. So actually for the last four, maybe four or five years, I've kept a running spreadsheet that I track every single month. How many bookings I have for the following year. So I could tell you this is November, let's say the end of October because I tracked by the last day, so by the end of October in 2018, 17, 16, 15, maybe 14. I know how many weddings, you know, both total contract but also numbers wise how many I had for the next season. And so that has allowed me because I can track it that well if I was low would be like Ooh, like I need to get a couple more to stay current and stay where I'm at. Perry Vaile: 10:49 And you know, sometimes allow like a six hour wedding to get on the books or just to make sure that I'm sustaining it. And then the same goes if I was way over booking, that is when I'm like, okay, these prices are going up, you know, and I've never dropped him back down so I try to be really smart when I raised them because it's kind of, I don't know, that would be hard to the lesson prices so I just was really intention about how I tracked it. Um, and then I just raised it based on demand for the most part. Braedon: 11:18 Totally. Yeah. And so I get all that, but just to break it down maybe for people who are listening and going - what does that look like? I guess I'm thinking about a lot of times you get an inquiry, you know, and they're going to say, hey, I like your work. What are your prices? you know, so are you. Because you sort of know what that is. Are you just changing your pricing as you're getting inquiries and sending those out or are you sending it out or how does that work for you? Perry Vaile: 11:48 You know, honestly I get a lot of inquiries and I know that a lot of them aren't going to have the price point, but I also have a family and I do not have time to individually write up proposals. I know that maybe it's terrible. I just don't, I have a set price point and the only thing that really changes is so I have an online link that I'll send when somebody inquires or planners always have it so I can change it and then the planner will always have that current rate or if somebody inquired two months ago I can change that pricing, you know, because it's live and it's online, but it's basically a link and the only thing that changes is the travel, like a quote, a different travel or something like that. It's basically just all there and I don't have to worry about it. Perry Vaile: 12:30 So when somebody comes to me and they've already seen my pricing and they want to talk, that's when I really can invest my time and that sort of thing. So, um, it's just really hard honestly to keep up with. And know who can afford, you know, like, cause I mean maybe only five percent of the people that inquire have the ability to pay, you know, the prices. So 95 percent of inquiries not able to pay was really hard to keep up. Yeah. So I just, I don't have that part of my workflow. I wait until they come back and say, well yeah, I got your pass your packet and I want to talk. And I know they've seen the prices so Braedon: 13:04 got it. But I guess with that though, if you are increasing your prices based on supply and demand, I know you have your links or are you just like as you book a certain amount, then you're like, okay, I'm going to gradually bring it up now. The now the new inquiry that's now the new packet that's going out. Got It. Perry Vaile: 13:19 Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. For sure. It's really simple. I don't make it complicated. Don't have time. Braedon: 13:25 That's great. Yeah. Well I make everything in my life complicated. Perry Vaile: 13:30 It's some wonderful, amazing proposal for every great wedding. Braedon: 13:33 I try to. I mean, I try to not give out pricing initially because I like, I like to, and I facetime with all my couples because most of them are from all over the country or world, you know, which I'm sure same is with you, but I sort of want the chance to like one chore, like Lay on a little bit of charm. And then also I like to. Because, you know, I feel like that's my biggest selling point is being able to really convey, hey, this is, this is my personality, what I bring to the table. And I mean, you know, I tell brides all the time, I was like, listen, I'm going to be basically your maid of honor. You know, I'm one of the bridesmaids and your maid of honor's can be jealous because like, you know, you'll see me more than you'll see the groom, you know, that sort of stuff. I think it's different being an ECA guy versus a girl and you know, there's pros and cons. Perry Vaile: 14:18 I think you're so right. And I honestly, I think that is a, you know, a reason for some of my success because I'm like, you, like, I love people I want to talk to, you know, I want to spend time with them, um, and one way that I've found to do that because I think I just personally pick and choose what I'll spend my time on. if I'm struggling and I need some bookings and I'll get, I'll get real up in their face making friends. Um, but I feel like a lot of people thankfully have felt like they know me when they're contacting you because I do spend a lot of time on instagram and instagram stories, you know, sharing who I am and I think that anybody that checks in, you know, they can see any of the highlights and stuff. And that helps maybe to do a little bit of that for me. Perry Vaile: 14:59 You know, across like anybody who's looking. So I don't have to individualize it. So I think that really has helped me, you know, showing personality, especially on social media. And I do have some videos on my website that are a little bit of, like frequently asked questions, but it's like me talking like I'm talking to you. So I think maybe that helps that out a little bit. And um, and you know, honestly, once, once they kind of passed that litmus test of like they can, they can afford it, you know, I don't, I just feel bad because I hate telling somebody a price when they get so excited and they get to know me and they're like, oh, we love you, let's do it. And then I'm like, Oh, here are the prices. And they're like, oh dear God, like this is not....I just felt bad doing that. But I guess there's certainly a way if you do that a few times, you can get them to change their prices. Braedon: 15:49 Yeah. And I guess for me, I like to sort of see if this is a couple that I really connect with because what I've found for me is that's what's life giving is when it's a couple of the venue, the, you know, the environment, their friends, that sort of stuff from shooting weddings for so many years. And that's what actually energizes me. So I really want to, like, if this is a couple I want to try to, like, they, if I just sent my prices, I think they might not have had the conversation. So I generally try to have the conversation so I can try to talk them into being like, Hey, actually I think it's, here's why I think you should spend a couple thousand dollars more than your budget is allowing or people are actually putting in money on top of what their parents are committing so that they can have me, you know, those sorts of things. Perry Vaile: 16:33 Great. I think it definitely helps, you know. I think for awhile I probably, I don't know, I think, you know, at this point in my life, not necessarily my career, I'm at this point in my life, I have two kids and I have a family and I really got really where I want to be. I mean I'm certainly, if I worked harder I could get hired, but I, I put, I put my focus on other things and I think for a while I certainly spent the time. Now I do still sometimes send out voice messages to texts, you know, if I get a great inquiry and I'll just send a text message out with a voice message or even sometimes a video, I'll just sell selfie videos, something just to get like a little slice of personality to them without like a lot of extra backward. Perry Vaile: 17:13 And sometimes you can get an idea of somebody can afford the price point just by the inquiry, you know, like the location or the plant or things like that, you know. Um, but, you know, I'm going to be honest because I think maybe I do it differently than you and that I honestly show up to wedding days. It's not uncommon to show up and I don't know what they look like. I don't know anything about them. I've never had a conversation with them and that used to terrify me, but I've had so many amazing experiences where I just am able to get them to open up immediately. And um, and so it's, it's not uncommon. Like I do that fairly often, you know? now I have some clients that they just have that desire to connect and I'm all about it. Like I have some clients that we text all the time. Perry Vaile: 18:03 We're messaging like, I mean honestly, I haven't clients after the fact we go, we've been on rafting trips, we've been on vacations together. So I definitely connect if they want it, you know, but I have a lot of times, you know, planners will come to me cold asking for a date and I say, yeah, I'm available. And they say, great client. Once you send the contract. And I never communicate with the client now I know, I know. Ideally I want to be friends, but I guess I don't have to. And at this point in my life I'm kind of like, I'm okay because, you know, it's a lot of time and that you do and I want to do it if they want it. But I definitely have some clients that are amazing and warm and pay well and are okay not knowing any more than that, which is kind of a double edge sword because I have the other clients who need to know everything about me and my family and stuff. But I like it. I think it balances well. Braedon: 19:00 And then, so can you talk about just having a family and how that's changed things and being a mom and how I'd love to even hear how it works with your husband and because I know he's a stay at home dad and Perry Vaile: 19:15 he always used to joke in the early days, you know, when I was making my big $500 wedding checks, he always used to joke that someday he was going to be a 'kept man' and that he was, I mean, it was just a long running thing. We'd always teased because even when I met him when I was 19, he was an older man. He was six years older, but at 19 that's a big difference. Um, and so he always joked, you know, but he was the one making the money at the time. He was the one having a full time job and I was in school. Um, and it's funny because somewhere along the line the universe just flipped us, you know. And um, I was pregnant with my first daughter and he worked, he didn't do a ton because I started to make good money, which is always awkward to say, but I make great money, and so I was like, what's the point of having paying somebody to watch the kids? Perry Vaile: 20:00 So it was a funny situation to be the one that I'm like, okay, well I'll travel and I'll make the money and you stay home with the kids. Like it just felt weird, right? Because it's not a typical dad thing, but he's a great husband and he's, he's cool with that. So that's good. Um, but yeah, it was an interesting transition and even now I'm so used to the fact that he's a stay at home dad and he does the grocery shopping and he does the tasks for the house and takes care of the kids and takes one to preschool and he does all of that stuff. And I'm the one in the office, like, could you bring me this? You know, like, I literally did that before we started the pocast, you know, and it's, it works so great for us. Perry Vail: 20:41 I think it's an interesting thing. It's hard sometimes to be a mom or you know, feel like I'm one that's supposed to be the parent, the main caregiver and the lover and the snuggler of all the kids. And I'm like, Mommy's working. Mama's got a job to do. So, I think having a family, having a husband is wonderful, but it is a different experience than having a family. A spouse is different than children but a lot, we know this and I think having kids, I, I had a point where I had to decide, how much do I want to dedicate to time with the family and how, what do I want to give up in terms of success to do this? And I think everybody has a different answer for that, but for me, I was like, they're only little for this really brief time. Perry Vaile: 21:27 I'm not going to have that many two kids and we're done. So I was like, I just, you know, I'm where I'm at and where I need to be. I have a great career. My husband's staying at home, I'm just gonna I'm going to allow this to, to relax a little bit and I'm going to take a little bit of pressure off of business and work in terms of overworking or doing a ton of stuff just so that I can have time to really focus on these years. Now those kids are in school and I'm going to turn this thing back into overdrive, but to me, that's where I put my values at this stage of my life. And I'm really grateful because I'm able to do that and able to make the decision to say, you know what, I'm taking a lot of weddings. I want to take one or two less this year. I want to take a couple of last because I don't want to be traveling so much, which I do. But it's, it's an everyday balance. Sometimes I suck at balance, you know? Braedon: 22:19 Yeah, I think that's such an interesting and difficult topic because I think there's a lot of misconstrued ideas of what that should be and I mean there's, there's so much just even looking at your marriage and you're working in that, it's like there's a lot of role reversals or, or there's a lot like I live in southern California where cost of living is ridiculous, you know, and so a lot of our, I have a lot of friends in the wedding industry, a lot of wedding, the wives or wedding planners and florists, and the husbands are there also, it's like the double jobs and so there's, there's all of these situations where it's like who should be doing what and there's almost an expectation for everybody to be doing everything and it's really, it's not possible to do everything really well. Braedon: 23:07 And so I think what happens, there's so many internal battles that happen of feeling like I should be doing this, but I'm doing that or I should be doing that and I should be doing, you know. I have two questions based on that. One would be for your husband, just socially, culturally, does he, how does he feel about being stayed home Dad? Does. I mean I understand like you can look at it ideally be like, oh this is awesome, but socially does he like how does he going out and being like, oh yeah, you know, I'm a stay at home dad, my wife is the breadwinner. Like that's, that's one question. And then the other one would be how is the mental challenge for you of making those decisions around like family and life and balance all the answers to those questions. Come on, bring it Perry Vaile: 23:55 First and foremost. I think being a stay at home dad is a role reversal because it, it's like the original feminine tasks of cooking every night. Like I had to cook once this week because my husband went out to do something but she doesn't do often. And I was like, how do you do this, like I felt like the quintessential bachelor, because I haven't been doing it. So I think honestly a big part has to do with who he is as a person because I'm sure there's a lot of different dads that would have handled that differently. Um, but he's, he's a great guy. One of the reasons I actually met him on facebook because I did a search on facebook for my perfect man back when it was for the universities and I did a search and I chose a major. Perry Vaile: 24:35 I was just thinking of like a hypothetical man and I chose a major for a guy I thought would be kind, which was I think it was like family and consumer services. I was like, I mean, a guy that's going to focus on families, it's got to be a good guy, you know? and so I had searched him on facebook and I found them he was handsome and I was like, you know, when after him the way I do things and so, you know, he is that kind of guy. He started working and family services and he works with people with disabilities before he quit his job, you know, um, and so I think that he is naturally inclined to being good at those tasks. But socially for them, I don't think he likes certain parts of it because, you know, we moved into our neighborhood and we're talking to new neighbors and they don't look at me, they're looking at him and they're like, so what do you do? Perry Vaile: 25:17 And it was just such a reminder because all talking to him, like, you know, I was a housewife, you know, and it was such a reminder of the fact, like all our friends, this is how we live our life. But I was like, Oh man, that's right. This is different, you know, especially where you live versus a little more. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. I'm in the deep south out here. We're in rural North Carolina. Like, it's not that common. And so I think that, you know, some days I think there's no overarching answer that because some days he is like, I hit the lottery. Like I'm seeing home with my kids. He's got hobbies, like he's living the life that I'd tell him he's on vacation, but he's got to watch kids. So let's be careful. This is not vacation, right. Perry Vaile: 26:00 Kill me if I had described it that way he won't watch it. It's not because I spend plenty of time with them too. But I mean, you know, there's so much free time that he does get per step and I think he's very, he loves that because we both, we both had careers where we were given all of our time, nine to five to another person and you know, and doing other difficult tasks and having the kind of freedom that it least setting your own schedule gives you. He loves to work out. He's very into triathlons and stuff. So he has a lot of freedom for that. But then there are certainly are days where I'm like, 'bye', I'm going to go to a party and it's work and thanks for watching the kids. And I don't think he likes that, you know? Perry Vaile: 26:41 and it's a constant kind of balance. He'll try to go out to movies with friends I think just purposely to add something of his own to go do. So we're always trying to do things. I do try to bring them on trips so that it's not just that I'm living a glamorous life, you know, like, um, he chose it. He actually was my second shooter for years and years before children. So he gets to choose the weddings he wants to second shoot on, which is always like Hawaii and like, you know, like he's always like, those are the ones that I want to come to. And so it's great because, we have somebody like grandmas to watch the kids and he'll travel with me and shoot a little bit, but he always does shoot those weddings and he's like, oh, that's right. This isn't all fun. And Games like this is hard work, you know, so I think it's always a balance. Some days he hates it, some days he thinks it's the best thing in the world. Um, it's just different and honestly he's comfortable in his masculinity. I mean, I think that helps. Having to manage babies and little girls especially. You may just do little girls with Tutus and stuff. Um, and I just think that he's a great person for that. So it works out well. Braedon: 27:48 And then what about for you with the balance of being a mom and then also working - obviously sounds like you love it, but do you have the internal battles and struggles and feeling like you're not, you know, it's like feeling like you're not there enough and you should be. And then how do you, It sounds like you're also very intentional, so how have you structured that? So you're okay with it? Perry Vaile: 28:12 Yeah, you know, I think that it is really hard, especially in. I always come back to that some days when I'm super stressed out, but he stressed out with children things, you know, like the kids are sick and I'm like, but I have this issue, you know, with work or something. And I'm like, but Oh, you know, you're not making, you don't have to worry about signing a contract or something. This is a different kind of weight, you know, because I feel a lot of times like I have the family wait because I'm the mother and I'm the, you know, like we can be on this phone call right now and I very well could have a three year old running here because she fell and hit her head. You know, like I don't get off from the family because my office is in my home too. Perry Vaile: 28:47 So I'm like Gosh, I have both of these things that I am having to be what feels like a hundred percent responsible for it. Because you know, fathers are great and fathers are amazing and have their own role. But there is a spot for a mother. That little girls especially like feeling always need at very inopportune times, you know, so, um, it's stressful, you know, but I, I have the perspective at least and you know, coming from a background where we didn't have a lot of money, I didn't have any privilege really other than smart parents, you know, I will say they were intelligent. But beyond that, like I see now I'm really grateful I think for, for the stress of having a lot of business, you know, so I never really tried it. I'm never like, oh, this sucks, you know, these clients are tiring or have so much work to do because I'm like, God, how fricking lucky that I have this problem, you know? Perry Vaile: 29:36 So I think, I think having perspective really helps mentally balanced the stress of me having to manage everything financially. Um, I like to save, you know, so I, I have a savings account and I just have goals that I want to meet for that, which I think helps my stress go down. So that way if the Israeli stressful financially, but I'm like, oh, that's okay. I have a savings account. Like that's what it's for, is to relieve some of this stress, you know, and then I pull out for something like that. So that helps me a lot. Um, and then what was the, what was the follow up? What was the second part of that? Do you remember it? Braedon: 30:09 Yeah, I think it was just more that, that mental game of how you, how you go. It was more because you're intentional, like how do you structure the, your sort of work life balance because obviously working out of the house too, it's easy to constantly be working and it's easy to not turn off and then it's also hard to separate with your family knowing that it's work time versus like present time. Perry Vaile: 30:31 Yeah, for sure. And I think, you know, especially in the busy season, I travel every weekend which means I leave on Fridays, sometimes Thursdays depending on how far away it is or something. And I don't get home until Sunday but I've been working and my husband I get home and he's like, oh, you're, you know, your health with the babies. And I'm like oh no, but it's Monday. And so I have to get back in, um, and so I think like, we all know that Mondays here at home in my office, those are work days. I don't really try to schedule anything because I really, when I have to get back in from traveling, I have to catch back up on stuff. So Mondays are a way that I separate that's like usually protected. Um, but honestly I tried for awhile to have certain hours, you know, like it's like, oh, I'm going to have hours and I respect people that can keep ours, but I just don't because sometimes I'm bored and I want to work at 11:00 PM, you know, or there's nothing good on Netflix. Perry Vaile: 31:22 And I'm like, oh, I might as well edit it, you know, so I don't have hourly boundaries at all. I think I just have like personal lines with how much time I want to spend with my kids and you know, and that sort of thing. So I think I just mentally, everyday try to readjust. You know, some days I'm feeling extra guilty and I'm like, you know what? Like I just blow off work for the day, you know, not a never a wedding. We're talking like office work, you know, um, and I, I take my kid out and we go do something fun or we take trips and stuff like that. So I think it's always just a constant check in and I try not to beat myself up because there are some times of the year where I'm a frigging awesome mom, like we're doing so much bone graft, you know, like, so. And then I'm a really awesome business owner and I, I think there are some weeks where I'm just a business owner and I'm trying to be mom as much as I can in the evenings before they go down to sleep or something. And I just try to give myself some grace to know that in the long run that's going to balance out. But there's no, there's no schedule there. My answer is I have no schedule. I just overarching on the macro sense, I try to make it work out. So Braedon: 32:29 yeah. And I think that is really. It sounds like your husband is okay with that. And He is good with that, you know, so I, that is amazing because that can be the situation where, you know, you're feeling torn and that's the other person feels like you're working too much and you never turn off. And I'm speaking from my own experience Perry Vaile: 32:51 for sure. Yeah. I think um, and there's definitely times where he'll check me, you know, I say I check myself, but there's definitely times where he's like, yeah, so you're wrong about how you're balancing that, you know, or something like that. Um, you know, my husband always tries to get it. He likes his, like outlet is like a workout every day when the girls nap. So, I mean I think you have to listen to your spouse or your partner if you are managing a family to listen to where they're at mentally too, because you might be in two different places. Like I might think I'm doing awesome. And he's like, yeah, no, this is stressful. You need to help out for this day or you know, or something like that. So I think listening and, and that's the beauty of these jobs is that we really do have the ability to change things up if we need to, which is like mind blowingly cool, right. Perry Vaile: 33:38 Because like if you're working a nine to five and your husband or your spouse is like, yeah, you don't work as much or like, well, sorry, it's a nine to five, you know. So I think um, you know, we just try to balance it in and he, thankfully we've been together long enough, especially through weddings that he gets. It's like an accountant's busy season. Like he knows, like right now I shot six weddings and seven portraits in the last month. So between like October eighth in today, I shot six weddings and six months. So it's crazy right now, but you know, he's given a little bit of grace there too. So Braedon: 34:11 yeah, it's, I, I, I think that there's a lot of conversation. Why, why I'm asking the question is there's a lot of conversation just in general about balance and everyone's seeking balance. And I, I've come, I think I came out of a place maybe like three years ago where I was like crashing because I, I was so mentally trying to be balanced, you know, and it's, and it's not. And the realization that I've come to us in true balance isn't actually possible. And the trick really in a lot of it, which it sounds like you're good at is intentionality and, and communication and building structure. I mean, when you're single, if I was single, I would be working all day long and I, you know, I have a lot of projects going on and I would have even more and I'd probably be traveling more, but with the family and with the kids wanting to be a good dad, wanting to be, you know, I, my wife doesn't work, she's a stay at home mom. Braedon: 35:08 We're more of that typical role. Um, but you know, it's a lot of weight to be supporting the whole family, which, you know, but then also like wanting to be a good dad, wanting to be showing up, wanting to make sure that she's not exhausted. Yeah. So it's, but, but feeling like you can do all of that, well at the same time doesn't work, but it's more so being 100 percent where you are when you're there versus like being here and being regretting that you're not there versus, you know, and then when you're, you're 100 percent working when you were with the kids, you're 100 percent with the kids, you put your phone away and you're present, you know. So those are the things that I've had to learn and then also give myself grace Perry Vaile: 35:45 with that. Absolutely. And I think that, you know, my family was so I guess I always wanted a family, but I didn't know how it would, how much I would enjoy it, you know, and I think, and maybe I caught onto that really quickly because it changes when you're the one carrying the babies, you know, your brain, the good Lord changes your brain to really make you focus on those things. You know, thankfully I never survive adolescence, you know, but um, you know, I think it's something that I realized quickly once I had children that I was going to change because I think before I had them I was like, no, I'm a bad ass. Like I don't need, I don't need them. I can't even balance, you know, like I'll, I'll make everybody happy. Um, and I, I mean for me because I was pregnant and like I said, I do think it probably changes the mother's brain chemistry faster than it does the father's, um, you know, I knew that, that my priorities would change and everybody actually said that to me. Perry Vaile: 36:41 I remember being kind of annoyed as a, as a really good, I'm a big go getter, kind of a person that so many people would say like, oh, but your priorities are going to change. And I remember thinking, you know what you say that, like that's a bad thing. But I was a workaholic. I was obsessive. I mean like to a detriment, you know, like it was just a very kind of like, um, addictive personality I think. And I was like, you know, if something is so powerful that it can come in and, and change my mindset that work is not the end all be all and I don't need to focus on that. Please let it because I could feel that I had this addiction to work and I was so focused and hyper hyper just tuned in to what I could do to improve my business, you know, to an obsessive level. Perry Vaile: 37:26 But they were right clearly. And I was. So I was like, I really hope that kids will do that. But I wasn't in the mindset before I had him that they would, you know. And so when I had children and they do change it, I'm like, oh, like this is what I need it. Like just for my own personality, you know, I don't need to be more sharpened and more focused on work because I'm just naturally really aggressive in that way. I needed something to straighten me out personally, you know? And, and that, to me, that's what family really and especially children has done is it's kind of just brought me down to a normal socially acceptable level of work, um, and it helped me to kind of reevaluate and think it will be forever, you know, I think certainly when my kids are in school that I'll probably have a tendency to like crank back up, you know, um, but I'm okay with that. Perry Vaile: 38:12 And so I'm really happy about the Phase I'm in. I'm trying to enjoy it. Um, and, and I think so far I'm doing a good job at it, but I think that's because my level of valuation is probably very low, you know, they're alive. They know I love them for all our houses going, you know, we have our house paid for it, you know. So like I think that um, I think just having the perspective on, on, on how lucky we are to have every situation that we're speaking about, you know, really helps it to not be, you know, too unbalanced for most part. Braedon: 38:44 Do you limit the amount of weddings that you shoot and do you have a number that you try to stick to? Perry Vaile: 38:49 You know, I think no I did 27 this year, which is stupid. I always say that I would really love to be between 18 and 20. I feel like that's just like the sweet spot and maybe not financially because I always want more money, but in terms of like I want to work a lot. I don't want to do a couple weddings here. I want to do, I want to work a lot because I like it. I think you and I are similar in that way. so I think I start really evaluating the weddings after about 22 and trying to say like, oh this is a nice one. Because I do take last minute weddings a lot, you know, like this is a nice last minute wedding to get some income and we're going to go on a trip, you know, something like that. And so, and I do, I take them on for that reason and it was always after 22, I will say it's a little bit more of a family discussion on like, Hey, like do I got time to do the extra, what could we use this money for? Where could it go, you know, so it's a little bit more intentional after that point. Braedon: 39:43 Is it more like squeeze in another one in October or is it like the one in November, you know, or something Perry Vaile: 39:49 like my husband, if it's like off season or just like do it, like who cares, you know, I mean I have a wedding every month. I don't think I have one in February, but I have a wedding every month for like the foreseeable future. Like they're just spread out, which I love. Um, but yeah, I mean I always take them at their off season or off days or week days. I'm always, I'm always hustling, you know, to get those extra weddings in versus portraits. I try not to take portraits. Braedon: 40:15 What. So what, what does hustle look like for you? Like, how do you feel like you're getting your work? Is it, it sounds like initially it all just sort of came to you, but do you feel like you're hustling to still get work or is it just sorta coming in or what? I think Perry Vaile: 40:27 I, I think it's kind of like tending the garden, you know, like sometimes you get out there and you're days this happened so quick and easy. But if you really thought about the work that went into it, you know, uh, you know, so I, I really constantly in fostering connections with um, you know, with planners, with vendors, um, I love to share my imagery with vendors, which I think a lot of times then they're sharing it and so then it's just, you know, a lot of people are seeing it on social media and stuff like that. So, you know, when I get down to over 25 or something, honestly I will give discounts if somebody is like, he might weddings in six or eight weeks and I'm like, what's your budget? Like I can do that. Yeah, I mean it's astounding. I don't do a lot of them, but I certainly think maybe two to three to two or three year where they are getting crazy deals, you know, like because I am, I'm just like, Hey, like this is where we want to get a little bit more money. Perry Vaile: 41:18 So I do hustle, you know, I get the bulk of my weddings and very last minute, you know, within I do get weddings, like within two months out or something like that. I'll give great deals for that, you know, and to me that's, that's how I hustle is I feel like I do have a really steady stream of inquiries and it's up me to decide what price point I want to accept those inquiries. So I'm not having to necessarily hustle for people to be interested, but I'm hustling to convince them to raise their price point or to, you know, get somebody. I had people change dates a lot. I always feel like that's part of the like conversation. I'm like, Oh, I'm not available, but if you'd move it to the next day I will give you a friggin amazing deal because, you know, I know I'm like in a city and I can do double headers or something like that. Perry Vaile: 42:00 So to me I think it's always knowing where I'm at financially and being really um, you know, not afraid to address topics of price with clients. Like I can talk about anything. I don't phone calls, don't scare me with clients. I will talk budget all day, you know. Um, and I think to telling clients like, you know, hey, this is just being open about my price point, but especially when I'm giving those last minute deals, you know, being open about pricing and not being like. So, you know, just let me know if it works. I'm like, so what, what is your budget? And then I don't necessarily, I will say this, the way that I do those, like I guess the last two or three I add onto a year that our last minute or something, I don't necessarily give them a price, you know, of what I'm going to offer. Perry Vaile: 42:46 I will say, what is your price point? And, and they could say something crazy low and I'll be like, I could give you two hours, you know, like, so I don't give them a price. I ask what their budget is because I want them to be honest, you know, I don't want them to ever try to undercut. And then sometimes I'll be like, well, I mean I could give you a couple of hours, you know, or something like that. And then sometimes they'll actually increase because I think a lot of times they undercut those anyways. They've hit you. Those parents are giving them a budget and they just have no idea. They're just pulling numbers out of the hat because it sounds like a lot of money for sure. Yeah. So, so I think not being afraid to really aggressively go after those with enthusiasm and, and you know, sometimes I think I do open up the conversation, um, because I like to think that my personality is a selling point to, you know, my images. Perry Vaile: 43:35 I think pull them in the door and get them really interested in me. And then I like to sell them on me as a person and sometimes selling them on me as a person is giving them a comparison of what the alternatives are, you know. And so I'll say, you know, please go out there. I will tell my clients I'm like, please go ask for five galleries from any photographer you're considering. And I'm sure other photographers hate me for that. Like, you know, but they should be able to do, you know, I give five galleries as soon as somebody is, is really interested in. I mean I can give them 10 for 20, you know, and I always almost to like, it's like I'm playing a poker game with the other photographer that they're considering, you know, and I'm like, Hey, like, I mean I feel like I've got the skill, I'm going to show them all my cards and I'll tell him you need to know the experience, you know, I'll tell them to go after an ass things. And I. So I think maybe putting a little bit of that idea into the client's head about what they're considering. And not just saying your pictures are pretty, but like, so were the other person's in, they're half the price, you know? I saw myself, but I also sell the what if on if they didn't choose me, Braedon: 44:40 you know, and there's something to say that people don't understand the experience, you know, and there's a lot of like the instagram world where people have a lot of followers, but it's really easy to post one good photo versus being able to consistently shoot at this sort of level. But then also like your photographer runs your day, you know. So there's that element of, you know, being able to bring that expertise which only comes from experience and you know, personality too. Perry Vaile: 45:06 Yeah, right. I know we can just talk about how great we are. Um, yeah, you know, I think that's true. And I definitely try to use it as a weapon in my arsenal of getting clients over to me and stuff. And I'll always be like, you know, well, whoever you choose, just make sure you love 'em and you know, like, I'll definitely put it in their heads, but they're like, oh, that's right. And just kind of opening them up, opening them up to that, the idea that there's more than just the photos, you know, and like that's one of the reasons I send all the galleries because, you know, I truly am certain this as a narcissistic tendency, but I, I truly think that my galleries are just as beautiful as my instagram and my website. I'm will met sometimes. I'm like, oh, there's so many pretty things that nobody ever gets to see, you know, because I just don't have time. Um, and I, and I think maybe having that confidence in my work that's not visible, I think maybe just even the confidence that that gives helps clients to, to get that it's worth the investment or something like that. You know? So. Braedon: 46:06 Absolutely. And so shifting gears just a little bit and then I won't take too much more of your time. Brandon and you, I know you're, you've got a great brand. And um, can you talk about how that plays into it? And. Yeah, Perry Vaile: 46:20 I think I've always loved branding so I've always done my own websites, my own brands, like I've never had anybody else do it because I was probably a little bit too type A, like even when somebody would do something, like I don't like it, I could do that or you know. Um, so I've always loved branding in that way and I always looked at it like, you know, there was a point in my photography career when I was first starting and I was like, who am I as a photographer, you know, the big philosophical like am I moody? And I light. And at that point, you know, I don't even when I. So I started shooting, I didn't do weddings, do thousand 12, but I was shooting in like 2009, like portrait, you know, little things. But I really didn't know. I had to figure it out. Perry Vaile: 46:58 And I started realizing what I was drawn to and what I was shooting most was, you know, certainly more of an editorial. I tried the doc, the super documentary, you know, like leave the coke can and the Bra and the table and shoot it and I just couldn't handle it, you know, and to me that extends to my rant, you know, so to me I said okay, well if I want to shoot in a way that I can continue to do and sustain it, even if I do love other people's work that is totally different from mine and I think they're phenomenal, I just can't do it and sustain it. And so I looked branding the same way, you know, there are some brands, you know, especially like the lighter in the, like the super airy and light delicate and minimal. And I'm like, oh my God, it's so pretty. Perry Vaile: 47:41 But then I'm like, I cannot do that, you know, like, I love vibrant and I love bold and extra, you know, like if my instagram handle could just be extra, I would have chosen it. So I think that finding the kind of client that I could serve best, even if it wasn't the one that I would have liked, said, oh, this is the one that is the coolest or the prettiest. I've really fallen in love with the client that I think values, you know, color and vibrancy. And um, and, and once I said, you know, I want clients, I like what I like because that's really all I can make. Um, I've started finding clients that were a little bit more eclectic or Redo different things and that's, that's really where I would, you know, get excited, you know, you spoke earlier to like meeting them and finding that connection is really what made your heart sing. Perry Vaile: 48:37 And I think really finding interesting people and interesting situations and stories. Like you don't even know half the stories because I'm not going to share everybody's like family story on my instagram. But I just really love that. And I think that the brand that I've set up, which is for me personally because it's how I am, is colorful and competent and vibrant. I really try to speak to that, that woman's specifically because I am very female centric in my branding ivy, but guys seem to like it to. But I really try to speak to the woman that would see me and say, man, I wish I could be that girl's friend. And I think, you know, at least in terms of stylistically and personality wise, being really open to the kind of clients that some people don't even want. So I say that because I really love type a clients and I mean I wish I could have on my website for type a people, you know, because I feel like there's a missing. Perry Vaile: 49:28 There's a gap out there where a lot of photographers are like, Ooh, red flags, you know, these clients are very specific about what they want. They're very like giving you like specific specifications of what they expect. And I'm like, look, I'm so type A, I know how to speak their language, you know? And so trying to brand myself towards clients that expect a lot, um, and I'm okay with that and I'm like, look, you expect a lot. I'm the girl for you. Like, I get you, you know, like I have girls sometimes and they're like, "I just don't want to fat arms", I don't want to fat arms. And instead of being like, Ugh, she's gonna be a mess to photograph. I'm like, oh girl, no me either, like I know how to help you, you know? So I think finding a way to find clients that I would genuinely enjoy being around has really helped me and using branding and, and not just, you know, the stylistic branding, which I think it is really similar to my personality. Perry Vaile: 50:18 A lot of people say my website looks like my personality, which I like. But I think just people that temperament wise, you know, like we work well together even if it's not stylistically has been such an amazing thing because I love it. You know, I just love watching their story. Even if a client's not going to bring me into their story personally, because sometimes like I said, I have clients I don't know, you know, I'm like, it's so great to meet you and we become friends, but I don't know anything about them and I don't talk to him after, I really love watching them as an outsider and being able to be that close to them, you know, these amazing, intriguing people. Um, that's what I like. Even if they're not going to be my best friend, I'm just like the little girl, frat row. Like, this is really cool. You're really cool, you know? So that's what I love and I feel really grateful that I've gotten a lot of that and so I just continue to kind of go towards that direction because I think I'm really good at surpassing those kinds of people's expectations and that's good business because they refer to this other cool friends that have high expectations. So yeah. Braedon: 51:23 Well I love that. Thanks so much for sharing everything. I know you're speaking somewhere coming up. Can you talk about that? And we have people want to come see you and then where can people find your work and all that jazz? Perry Vaile: 51:35 It's going to be next May. I know they haven't, they're going to release a little bit more information this week, but so next day in Asheville, I'm a speaking at the Hybrid Co conference, which I'm really excited about, because I do love talking. So, um, I'm really excited about that and I know they're going to announce a little bit more later this week, so they're going to have all the information there. But any chance I can get, I really try to find a place to, to speak up in chat because, you know, for so long I worked with Gary, Sweet Gary, you know, and it was just us. And I really feel like the community of photographers and stuff, like there are coworkers now and we kind of had this big world of it and I really just loved kind of broadening my base of basically friends. So that's what I'm really doing is making friends in Nashville with. I would go to them, Braedon: 52:20 love that. Well, if you're interested in learning about film and Shooting Photography and mixing in digital as well, that's what the Hybrid Co does. Check that out. And then your Instagram and websites. Just @PerryVaile. Perry Vaile: 52:32 Yeah, it's all Perry Vaile. I tried to make it real simple. Easy to follow. Braedon: 52:37 Thanks so much for just sharing your time, your knowledge, and you are an awesome person. Perry Vaile: 52:42 Keep at it. Thank you. I had so much fun, so I appreciate it. Braedon: 52:45 Cool. Thanks. Hope you loved it!

 014 - Business Advice from Brian Greenberg of Richard Photo Lab | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 45:43

Brian Greenberg is the owner of Richard Photo Lab - one of the top film photography labs in the world. He has talked with and counseled many photographers and in this interview, we dig into the recurring issues he sees and advice he gives to help build a better creative business.

 013 Erich McVey - Process, Growth and Business | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 01:03:46

Erich McVey is one of the more sought after and well-followed photographers in the wedding industry. He's a true artist, a film shooter and a good businessman. We hear his story, his approach to hustle and how he got where he is today. We hope you love this episode.

 012 Nancy Ray and Building a Team | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 39:26

Nancy Ray is a photographer who has done an incredible job of building a team around her so her whole business isn't resting solely on herself. She has a team of other shooters, she runs educational courses, and built a team around the post-production of her work. In this episode, Nancy talks through how she hires and what she has done to make her team so successful. 

 011 Side Projects and Content Creation with Braedon Flynn | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 49:49

Braedon, typically our host gets the table flipped on him in an interview he did for the Bokeh Podcast. In this episode, he talks about his various side projects, managing family + a destination photo business and shooting at a high-end level of weddings and events.

 010 Taking Care of Yourself with Eric Kelley | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 51:51

Eric Kelley is a top level wedding photographer shooting some of the highest end weddings with the best planners out there. In this conversation, Eric and Braedon talk through Eric almost burning totally out and what he did and has been doing to recover and get some gas back in his tank.

 009 Children Photography Using Film with Sandra Coan | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 38:24

Braedon: Share a little bit about your history of photography and how you got into where you are and doing what you're doing?   Sandra: Yeah. So, I always tell people that I kind of became a photographer on accident. When I started my business, I didn't actually think I was starting a business. So at the time I was a teacher, I used to teach kindergarten, I was honestly just kind of struggling to make it on a teacher's salary I was single at the time and Seattle is an expensive place and I was fresh out of graduate school and had all these bills and so I started doing photography on the side kind of to supplement my income and within three years of deciding that was going to do that to supplement my income, it kind of took over and I decided to quit my teaching job and launch SantaCon photography and so that's how I got started.   Braedon: For people that maybe are in a place where they're doing photography on the side and wanting to be in a place where they are able to support themselves as a photographer, how long do you feel like that took you to be able to quit your teaching job and just be a photographer?   Sandra: Yeah that's a great question and honestly it's a question I get all the time, so for me what helped me was I decided that I needed to be able to replace that salary so I was a full-time teacher and when photography really started working for me I went to part-time teaching and then before I could really go full-time photography, I wanted to make sure that I could consistently make my full-time teaching salary through photography and so once I got to that point where it was pretty consistent. I was like okay let's do this and that's when I decided to go for it, and you know, it was a little bit rocky so I think I made so many of the mistakes that so many photographers make when they get started and trying to you know chase what's on trend or do what they think that they should do them but the beginning of my career was a little bit rocky. So I would say it was probably it was probably six or seven years into it before I really kind of found my groove and it became what it is today. I was figuring out what I was doing in those early years but financially I was always able to make that teacher salary and you know teacher salary so it wasn't a super high goal.   Braedon: With just even starting out with photography though and starting to get gigs how did you go from not really having gigs and deciding like I want to start shooting photos to then all of a sudden you know being able to start booking stuff and was it did you start out shooting families is that how you started out?   Sandra: No. I kind of lucked out in some ways so when I decided to do this, this all this all started for me in 1999 and I had this group of friends and my friend Ginger was the first to get married in our group and the first to get pregnant in our group and you know is that it was the s and we were all still kind of reeling from that great Annie Leibovitz shot of Demi Moore right that kind of launched the Eternity photography industry and so I had always done photography on the side it was something that I just love to do. We had a dark room in my house growing up you know so it was something that I always did I just never thought of it as a career and but when Ginger got pregnant I said you know what we should totally do one of those like Demi Moore photos you know and so we did so we took off all her clothes and did the dramatic Demi Moore pose and we got one gorgeous photo and she was the one actually it came to me because you know all my friends I was living in Seattle in the 90’s all my friends worked in like the dot-com world and then I was this teacher who would go out you know with all these people who worked in the dot-com world and they'd all be ordering steaks and wine and I'd be like a glass of water and a side salad please and so they kind of knew where I was financially and so it was my friend Ginger who said you know I love this picture maybe you should offer this to other people and see what happens. So lucky for me at that time maternity photography wasn't what it is now it was kind of the very beginning of that genre and so there wasn't a lot of people doing it I think when I started advertising I was like one of two in of Seattle who were really pushing it and so I took that one picture of Ginger is kind of adorable actually and I turned it into like a little postcard with my contact information on the back and I drove all around Seattle and I put them in every maternity store and baby store and coffee shop I could find and people started calling so it was very boots on the ground kind of old-school marketing but that's how it started. So it started kind of trickling in maternity clients maternity clients maternity clients obviously lead to newborn clients and so I started doing that kind of work I you know I was a teacher I had a history of working with kids and little kids so I'm really good with working with kids and so as my maternity clients turned into newborn clients and those newborns grew up it was just kind of a natural progression that helped build my business to what it is.   Braedon: Oh, that's a great story. Yeah, I think so interesting with people now in just strictly we're in our digital age where you know with marketing and everything and so much is online the actual getting you know I have a background a little bit in commercial photography and like having your portfolio and actually go into New York and shopping it and but like that physical aspect of promoting yourself is sort of sort of lost today but it's powerful.   Sandra: Yeah and I tell people all the time because I mentor photographers now I'm like don't just rely on Facebook and Instagram there's so much more that you can be doing and when I got started my original goal I kind of started small like I'm like okay I want everybody who is pregnant or has a newborn in my neighborhood to know me right and then when that happened you know I was like okay and you know a three neighborhood radius I want everybody know me now I want everybody in Seattle to know me you know and it kind of grew and that's advice I give to people I mentor it's like don't underestimate that boots-on-the-ground marketing I go into the coffee shops and see if they'll display your work go into stores where your ideal clients going to be shopping and make a relationship like that stuff still works and it's still important to do.   Braedon: Love it and so you you've been a photographer now for a few years and with that you also have a blog called little bellows and you teach on creative LIVE and so you had obviously you have a teaching background which I didn't know you had the kindergarten teaching but it totally makes sense because you're so good on the education side but can you talk about sort of how it got to a place where now you are really teaching or how you maybe even how you started little bellows or why you started it and what it is?   Sandra: yeah so I started little bellows actually with my sister-in-law who was also a family photographer at the time and little bellows came out of a night sitting on the floor in my kitchen with my niece her baby who was crawling back and forth between us and we were drinking wine as moms do and talking about the industry and we were just frustrated that there was really no place for family photographers to publish their work or to be published or to be recognized. I believe and Kath believes that family photography is really important and you know I always say like this is I would say the most important you know we capture people's families and we create heirlooms and we tell your story and it seems you know maybe I have a little chip on my shoulder about it but it seems like it's a genre in the photography world that is kind of pooh-poohed or not taken seriously and we wanted to change that dialogue and perception and we wanted a place that not only family photographers could show their work and be published really showed family photography as the art that it is and how important it is and so that's kind of the goal behind little bellows and why we started it. We had no idea what was going to happen we had no idea what we were doing at that and that kind of took off and I think it's because of little bellows that I kind of saw like oh maybe what I have to say is important and as an educator and I could help people because I have been doing this a long time and I do have a background I'm teaching I'm actually really passionate about teaching I love it. The other piece of how that kind of evolved into this education space again goes back to this idea of family photography being really important but also this career was life-changing for me you know I could I told you a little bit about my back story when I was teaching like I was struggling and I'm happy to share that with people. I was you know I drove this a horrible car I was living in this kind of crappy apartment I was on food stamps even though I was a teacher with a master's degree I qualified for food stamps which is insane. I was in a really, really hard place and I feel like photography completely changed my life in that way and has allowed me to live the lifestyle that I have now and so I know that that's possible for people and I see so many women in particular who are artists and who are so good at their craft and they just need to be told how to do it so they can change their lives and they can change their family's life so that was always my inspiration behind all of it I know this is a very wordy answer.   Braedon: I love it you've done.   Sandra: It kind of it kind of evolved into that so little bellows started as a place where we were just featuring other photographers it kind of evolved its involved with me so it evolved into where I was talking more about it a teaching platform when I started went back to shooting film it kind of evolved into that and then I've had things kind of go off of that so now I have another business with my friend Elena Blair called lady-boss-workshops and we speak directly to this this mostly female photographers and we teach business foundations and kind of like what you can do there I have an education site just through me Sandra Cone education where again I talk about this stuff where I do a lot of my teaching there so I guess I've got a lot of irons in the fire but all with the same purpose you know to elevate family photography as an art form to teach people how to run successful profitable businesses that they love and that they it will change their life and their families lives and I really believe that so that's kind of the background of how that started and then yeah teaching just kind of evolved organically from that and I think I have a really interesting weird thing that I do because of the way I shoot and how I shoot so that's also curiosity which has led to me speaking and talking about it.   Braedon: What it what is it the way that I know the answer but what what is it that the way these shoots and how you do it that that draws people to that curiosity and what it is that you're doing that's different?   Sandra: So I shoot exclusively in studio but I always.   Braedon: As your weather is exceptional where you live.   Sandra: Yes I'm in Seattle and I need to be inside most of the year so that was kind of a natural progression for that but also I just really love I love clean simple work and so a studio is a great place for me to be able to create that and I shoot exclusively on film and I don't even though I'm a studio photographer I think I have kind of a different approach to posing I don't use props I don't pose babies it's more of a kind of almost like a lifestyle feel in studio so it's like I have my own genre I don't even know what to call it but I love it passionate about it.   Braedon: Lifestyle studio. So for people that are wonder like why would you shoot film with kids because they move around so much they blink so much they make they cry all of a sudden film is not cheap why do you end up shooting film especially with studio lighting which is like more difficult for someone probably who doesn't even understand studio lighting that well.   Sandra: Yeah so I started with film remember my story I started back in the 90’s right that's how I learned that's what I did and then I switched to digital I think 2007 when everybody was switching and I thought ok this is the way the industry is going and I honestly I just spent five years kind of fighting with my digital camera trying to get my images to look the way that they look when I shot film and it burnt me out I feel like the whole process of digital photography that switch that happened in the industry things really changed and I didn't necessarily like the change. I'm a portrait photographer my goal and a session is to have one beautiful photo that you're going to hang on the wall and I found that when I made that switch to digital everybody's expectation is including my own really changed around that where suddenly people wanted hundreds and hundreds of photos and I found all this pressure that as soon as somebody walked through the door I just had to shoot you choo, choo, choo, choo, shoot. I couldn't miss a single expression or a single moment and it was really stressful and it burnt me out and so a combination of that and the fact that I just was never really good at getting my images the way to look the way that I wanted them to look I was like in the end I was like why aren't I just shooting film that's what I want to do anyway so I went back to shooting film I was decided I was like okay this is what I'm going to do this is my commitment and then the studio lighting came really out of necessity because I do shoot inside and I live in Seattle and it's dark and there were days you know when I'm even when I was shooting digitally that I didn't have enough light you know and with the digital camera you can crank it up to like 60-100 ISO or whatever okay you can't do that with film so I knew that if I was going to shoot film and if I was going to shoot film exclusively which is what I wanted to do I was going to have to learn lighting and I didn't want my lighting to look like studio lighting I wanted my lighting to look like beautiful window light and so I taught myself how to do that I probably took me about a year and a half to get fussing with it playing around with it to get the look that I really wanted until I was happy with it and once I had that down then I was able to transition full time back into film and I'm so glad I did I feel like shooting film you know people say all the time like isn't that hard with kids and I honestly feel like it's easier because I'm able to connect with them you know I'm not racing to try to get every single expression or image I'm like I'm in conversation with these little people we're having fun together and then I take the image when it's time you know kids move kids have always moved they're still moving they're so toddlers run around my studio like little tiny crazy people all the time and if you I don't know the film doesn't change that relationship necessarily what they're going to do it just changes the way I'm going to approach it which is a little slower which brings the energy down and anybody who has kids or works with works with kids know that kids really mirror your energy so if you're frantic they're frantic and when you can calm down they calm down right does that make sense?   Braedon: Absolutely. Having four kids myself I know that well.   Sandra: Yeah that's like when you start whispering they can take whisper too and they go.   Braedon: Yeah, this I mean you that that's the longer I was even like if they teach you in psychology or in communications courses like people mirror how you are in a conversation so if Like you're wanting someone to engage and you lean forward and you're engaging then they're going to end up mirroring that body language as well but yeah for sure that makes a difference with kids. When people ask you who don't really know the difference like let's say a client and they say what like why do you shoot film like what is your response to that like in so as a client I'm assuming they wanted to know the aesthetic value like what is it your response. I have my own responses but what's your typical response?   Sandra: I have a client once ask that because I don't necessarily advertise it on my website that I'm a film shooter I feel like it doesn't matter to my clients as long as they're getting a product that they love but what I do say is when they come in I just say hey, just in case you didn't know I do shoot film so it might be a different flow than you're used to or sometimes because the way the camera sound people think my cameras broken that's called   Braedon: What is that?   Sandra: So I do tell people that and then I you know sometimes I do get you know well why do you do this and when I tell people is that I just I feel like I like the process of it better so that instead of doing all the post-production I can shoot the way I want it to look in camera I would say the way the Lord intended just nice and easy and then it frees me up to take on more clients it frees me up to do other things with my time like see my family but or you know just and then people get that they totally get that and like I said my clients as long as they're getting a product that looks like what I'm selling they're happy and it doesn't matter.   Braedon: Amazing. Yeah, I tell people it's come for me it's completely an aesthetic choice and I just I'm so drawn to the look of film and that's really why I shoot it. Could so for any family photographers that are out there listening or anybody that just it also shoots families on a business side so instead of you know I'm a pretty big advocate of not just shooting and burning and handing them everything especially as a film shooter but I would say even as a digital photographer you're pretty much just thrown the baby out with the bathwater and really I think it's devalue in your work but how do you approach sales with your family shoots from like a studio sitting fee to then your prints and what is your end goal and do you end up sort of pre selling and that way to sort of let people know an expectation of how the flow is going to go?   Sandra: Yeah, I feel like I started educating my clients before they ever even contact me that's a huge part of this and I have kind of an interesting sales technique especially because I am a film shooter so I have a sitting fee and then I have different product that people add on to that so I push albums I think it's important to have something I like albums and I have some what I call signature printers your wall prints and then digital packages. Everybody once the digital and so I've incorporated those digital files into my album packages so different albums come with different amounts of digital files but what's interesting and this might be interesting for you or for your people is that I don't necessarily do an in-person sales meeting so how it works for me is people come in, we do our session at the end of the session while they're there in my studio we sit down and I say okay this is your session fee these are the album's I offer these are the wall prints I offer what should we what should we add on to your session fee what do you think you're going to want to do with your images and so my people then order their albums at their session or and order their wall prints at their session and I know this is weird people always like how do you do that they haven't even seen the images and I always remind people I haven't even seen the images at that point because I'm shooting film but it works for me and it works for my clients for a couple reasons I have a really strong brand so people are pretty confident in my work and what it's going to look like and I'm I know the needs of my clients so I always tell people when it comes to selling or that sort of thing you really have to get in and know who your client is and that my client is a busy working mom these are my Amazon moms and my Microsoft moms that Seattle clientele they don't have time to keep coming back in for multiple sales sessions and all of that so for them the convenience of ordering everything right there is a big selling point so that's how I do it but I do agree that you should be offering something to your client beyond just the shoot as far as like shoot burn and that sort of thing goes.   Braedon: No, totally I mean going back to the ships from film to digital back then and I think on a commercial level or even if it was like a family session what you would do is you would end up having your shoot you would send your film to your lab and then you'd get stuff back and then from there people would buy images or prints you stuff printed because everything had a cost associated with it but now it's just digital's becomes such a come I don't know commodity if that's the word but it's just become this thing that's expected but yeah I don't I don't feel like it has created more value for the photographer right it has creative more work for the photographer.   Sandra: Yeah absolutely and I saw that shift you know back when everything moved from film to digital that like I was saying in the beginning like the expectation from clients changed and so for me it was a learning process because I went along with it I'm like well I guess this is what you're supposed to do now so I'm going to do that and so then to come back and like pull that ship around and be like no actually this is what we're going to do this is the purpose of our session this is what we're, we're getting I really try to educate my clients around the idea of a portrait of one or two photos that you're going to hang on your wall that are going to be there forever you know that are going to become family heirlooms that's really the purpose of our sessions it's not I'm not a storyteller you know photographer necessarily and you know a lot of lifestyle photographers are like well it's all about the whole day and the sessions and that for that those people I'm like well then you should be selling albums that tell that story or like a wedding photographer as a portrait photographer you know an album my albums only have 10 pages so a nice small album or a beautiful portrait for your wall that's our end goal but it I had to really work to educate my clients back to that idea after being in the mindset of no you just get everything if I did that I made all that I did all the things I made all the mistakes that everybody makes I did also so it's definitely important to make sure you know what you want and who your client is and be able to communicate that.   Braedon: When you're mentoring somebody and they're maybe just on the more starting outside of shooting families or I mean whether or not you want to say what your price disparity is between like sitting versus prints but what do you typically recommend somebody to start you know it's like you either have like $2500 sitting fee and then prints are still really high or maybe prints are then cheaper because you already got most your fee and you're sitting fee or you have a cheaper sitting fee and then your prints are really expensive or your albums how do you how you usually suggest people go about that?   Sandra: I think that that boils down to knowing your business model so being really clear on what you need to make and what your expenses are and the kind of workflow you want to do you know all of that plays in right so it's never a one-size-fits-all its who's your client what do you do like what is your where's your model how many clients do you want to take a week or a month and then running the numbers from there what are your costs you know that sort of thing so for me I have a pretty low sitting fee my sitting fees 350 walking through the door and then I said everybody adds something from there but I have a space a studio space and I shoot film so I don't have a lot of post-production so my model is high-volume I work with six to ten clients a week which is a lot but I can do that because of my workflow so I really when I'm mentoring people I really try to coach them on figuring out what their system is what their workflow is and what they need to make to be profitable.   Braedon: What, how many roles do you typically shoot per session?   Sandra: I shoot medium format and typically between three to four roles is pretty standard.     Braedon: Yeah that's great I mean and then it's just sort of just for you its shoot and send off and then you get stuff back and it looks like magic.   Sandra: Yeah it is magic.   Braedon: Really fun. Well let's talk I want to ask maybe two more questions regarding like the business side and then I want to get into more of like what you are now currently doing with your education and creative LIVE and where people can find you but if you were to think of your sort of business trajectory and how it's gone what do you feel like are one or a couple of things that you've done that have really impacted your business in a good way?   Sandra: I think the best thing that I did for my business was when I decided to stop looking at other photographers and comparing myself and stop trying to figure out what's on trend, stop trying to figure out, like do I think my clients want and just put on blinders and look at what I do, what is my vision, how do I shoot and then focusing on that I guess that I've made all the mistakes and I think the number one mistake that I see photographers make is trying to be like everybody else you know, we get so caught up in what's being published on blogs, what's on trend, what do my clients want, and we try to do that and what happens is when you try to do that you just become one of many and there's nothing special about your work, but when you can focus on your voice what it is that you do that's how you build a brand that's really unique and stands out and that took me a really long time to learn and it got it was for me it was at the point where I was so burnt out I was ready just to quit because I was chasing everything and trying to do what everybody wanted and I was when I was able to just like stop and look at what I do and just kind of focus, like laser focus on that that's when my business started to really grow because my voice is unique everybody's voice is unique, there are no two people on the planet who see things the same way, so yeah that's the best thing I did for my photography business and I think it's easy to look, I think the success thing is you know you kind of hit the nail on the head, it's easy to look at people who are successful and want that because we all want that and then think or tell yourself well if I do what they're doing I'll be successful too, which by the way is how I ended up shooting weddings for like four years which is a whole other story and a disaster, because every other photographer I saw who was making money was a wedding photographer and so I thought if I was going to make money had to be a wedding photographer too I'm not a wedding photographer, you know, not what I do yeah we all do that I think that that's human nature but you know if you can remind yourself just to keep pulling it back, that's where that that's the secret.   Braedon: Yeah, I like the adolescence, growing up analogy.   Sandra: Yeah, right.   Braedon: So, with the other stuff that you're doing now is like you have multiple classes on creative LIVE where people can basically just type in your name on creative LIVE and find some your courses but maybe talk about what are those different courses and what would people find if they went there and then you're also doing your own education stuff off of the creative LIVE platform.   Sandra: The creative life classes I have I have a couple of classes on film photography beginning film photography and then a class on how to use studio lighting as a film photographer and then I also have a class on branding where I talk a lot about what we were just talking about this idea of knowing what it is that you do knowing what your voice is and then how that how you use that in building your brand I believe that you can't have a strong business without having a strong brand they go hand in hand and so learning how to build that brand and what it is that you want it to be is really important so I have a class on that on creative Life too which is really fun and I have some more what's that one called I think it's called how to build your brand or how to build and market your brand or something I have to like on the catalog and see but yeah if you go into creative LIVE and search under my name I'm like all my classes come up and we have some things planned for the future that I'm excited about and then I have that teaching the business side with my friend Elena at lady-boss-workshops and then I'm Sandra Cohn education that's the place where I'm really talking to portrait photographers whether you shoot film or digital it's all the same process so I talk a lot about business foundations there but I also talk about shooting and little things that I have learned as a portrait photographer and a family photographer over 18 my years and teaching that I'm getting ready to actually launch a new class on posing which is really excited about I think posing sometimes is treated like it's a dirty word like nobody wants to pose but the reality is you can lead your clients into poses and help them relax and get those really natural candid photos so that's what I'm working on right now.   Braedon: That's amazing and if someone is going to be or wanting to be interested in that course it is there, can they go to sander Cohen education and do you have something to sign up for?   Sandra: I do I actually have an awesome freebie right now so if you go to Sander Cohen on education I have a link right on my front page I have a couple but I have one that is a free family posing guide, it's actually my system to how I run my newborn sessions, my newborn family sessions and it's a 32 page posing guide, it's really good, and it's free so people can get it there and then that will get them on my list so when I launched the big class they'll be the first to know.   Braedon: That is incredible yeah well if you are a family photographer just if you want to get better at posing that sounds like a really incredible guide.   Sandra: Yeah it's a good one.   Braedon: Oh, so thank you so much for taking the time to share your vast knowledge and yeah, but I think that what you had to share and especially I could on your creative live courses it's really helping the industry and for anyone who's trying to get into this Sandra is an amazing resource and look up her stuff but thank you so much for coming on and sharing with us.    

 008 Good Customer Service with The Shacklefords | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 34:05

  Braedon:   So, Daniel with your background and customer service what can you say what company that was you were working with or what's what industry and what did you learn there that you've been able to apply to your business you might not have. Daniel:   Sure, I studied finance in college and then I did a few a few jobs right out of school before landing at, my last company was called E-vestment. It was a software company but we worked with in the investment industry and I started in the client service world. So, my job was to, me and my teammates were to essentially be the front line of defense for any of our clients or vendors that were calling our company and you know had problems or whatever they needed help with, we were that first line of defense. So, we learned a lot of tactics on, you know how to quickly identify problems and get out ahead of them and of course keeping the mood light if someone was upset just being able to really carry them through whatever their issue was, all the way to the finish and making sure that they left with a better feeling towards our company than when they were coming in. And it was a really fun environment, it was a very young team, we all got along really well and our bosses were very hands-on in a good way and so I learned a lot in that that space and I've transitioned from that role to a more of a product management role. So, then my communication became less reactive, at that company and more proactive. So, I was doing more reaching out on my end talking to customers who are using our product and just identifying, you know how they were using it, why they were using it and then even if they weren't having problems identifying where problems could end up showing themselves down the road and things like that. So, I'm also very outgoing, I think in my just my personality and so I enjoyed being able to constantly interact with people and then I also got a lot a lot of interaction with our sales team. So, there's a lot of relationship building and things like that. So I think that aspect of it just transfer directly right over this you know when a bride and her groom, when they're signing up and becoming clients of ours, you know you beginning a very long relationship in a lot of cases, you know a year I guess on average you could say eight months and through that time there's a lot of touch points along the way and so why can't I said we like to be very proactive with our clients and so you like to identify things ahead of time and get out of a head of those and just make sure that their experiences is just flawless you know they don't, they don't ever have to think about what's happening on our end, you know we're carrying them through that and everything that I learned in that role I think just transferred very well right over to what we're doing now. Braedon:   Yeah that's great. Anna:   We very much have different strengths and it plays very well in our business. Daniel is very, he's incredible with people and so outgoing and great with Excel sheets and all that fun stuff that creatives don't necessarily well quite as much so I'm really grateful to have them as a teammate. Braedon:   Those traits don't usually go together. The spreadsheets plus extroverted. That's amazing that you have both those. Daniel:   Yeah it is fun. It’s fun being there together especially even so I did an engagement session when previously it would just be Anna and you know the bride and groom. Now we're there when we're moving from location or in between shots or something and there's that moment of conversation that kind of has the opportunity to unfold. Now that we're both there, Anna, I kind of can free it up to be a little more creative in thinking about what we're gonna do next. We've already done planning but she can do a little bit more thinking internally and I can be interacting with the bride and groom and you know just keeping the conversation fun and nice and easy going and so they're just continuing to have a good time while Anna is able to maybe step back mentally and focus on what we want to do next. So, I think that's another area where the husband-and-wife team really in handy. Braedon:   Yeah I mean having a team in general, I think for anything from like running a business to run it you know like running a fan there's reasons why there's a team because it is like there's a lot riding on your shoulders to be doing it by yourself and a lot of people are doing it by themselves and it's a struggle or it's like if you're having if you are so low but then you have different assistants for each job like that consistency is really nice to have someone who exactly knows the system and can fill in your gaps. Anna:   Yes. Braedon:   So, something else which I'm guessing that Daniel you've got a nice expertise in, is handling sort of the business side on the financial aspect of your business and one of the things that I really have a heart for and you know where I hope that this is encouraging maybe for younger photographers that are listening that are like wanting to be doing this, is, one I find a lot of photographers are not making enough money, in their business. Basically, from either not charging enough or just like running bad business but what are things that, have you set anything up in your business on the back end on the financial side to like know a strategy or know your numbers, what is that that you've done? Daniel:   Sure, yeah, I think you know, we of course are using like a QuickBooks setup on the backend, so everything's flowing through the QuickBooks system, so we have a very clean record of everything and we were pretty diligent on going in and tagging all of our transactions into the various buckets that we need to identify for tax purposes at year-end which we we've just completed of course and glad to be on the other side of that. I think Anna and I actually built on a tag team that's really well together. I think I may have more of the knowledge on just financials in general but Anna's got a really good. Anna:   I’m very goal-driven. Daniel:  Very goal-driven. She's got a really level she's very level-headed when it comes to this kind of thing and she's very adamant about things like she mentioned staying out of debt and just little things like that that I think are extremely important and that one that one in particular is just a pitfall that is not necessarily gonna wreck someone in their business but can certainly slow you down and really put some more anxiety on you and more pressure on your shoulders and things like that and so I think you know we'll probably just continue to use the word that we balance each other out so well but it is nice having Anna really pushing from that side of things, on the financial end, on the back end, just with what her hopes are for the business from a finding financial perspective but then you know me being the one going in and actually digging in the weeds and seeing where the money has been going and at this point we definitely know on a per wedding basis what you know, what we can expect from an expense stand point and things like that and we do a lot of thinking ahead on you know what our runway looks like and I think one thing every photographer in the wedding world struggles with is maybe you're coming into the spring and your spring looks good but your follow is so empty and it just stresses you out and it puts more pressure on you but you know we just trust that things are gonna work out and we keep doing the right things in preparation and the fall you know like it always does up until this point at least it you know the fall fills up and before you know it you're through fall and you're worried about spring. I think one thing I would I would share it's just that you can't let those stressors get you down because they're so easy to stress over and there's nothing that's stressing over those things is going to do to improve your business unless you're taking that stress and channeling it into okay, if I am worried about filling up my fall, what can I do today you know to start to fill that void or what business practices can I be implementing to help ensure that we're booking more weddings things like that. Anna:   And I think that from a financial perspective that like I said I'm very goal-driven and so every year we make financial goals of what we need to accomplish that year for this is what we need to you know meet all of our needs and meet all of our livelihood if we want to excel and have more business more money to pour back into the business, this is what we need to make. If we want to you know have more for retirement and savings and to pay off our mortgage or things like that we have all these separate goals and we understand what that looks like quarterly and monthly and the numbers that we need to hit. So, having that mental space of knowing like this is how much I need to bring in this month, makes a huge difference on knowing what needs to be done and how much harder we need to work to meet those goals. Braedon:   Do you, being a goal-oriented person? Do you have like how do you organize your goals? do you have like a journal that you use and maybe can you share what some of those like goals are for your business this year? Anna:   Yeah sure. I do know this is I don't know why but do you know thinks I'm kind of crazy but I love at the end of the year I like to make new goals for the year and so for this year we hope to grow by 20% but we want to do less weddings. We're hoping to do 20 weddings this year in the past we've done about 30 on average. So, this is where we would like to be and we're almost there. So, we're excited and we also are more we are working more on our sales process for albums and prints and collections and things like that. It's really important and one of my biggest passions and loves is seeing the work printed and in someone's hands and what we do is not meant to be on a computer or on someone's phone. It's meant to be on their walls and sitting in their laps with their kids in there, like looking through the photos together like that's what our work is meant for and so I'm really passionate about finding ways to express that to our clients and educate them on the best practices and that's one area that we're really putting a lot of focus on this year. But we're working on a few promo films. Thanks to Daniel's skill. That's something that we hope to just kind of grow excel in this year and in the coming year. Braedon:   Neat, so if you're going down from 30 to 20 weddings but you're hoping for a 20% increase and therefore you raised your prices this year? Is that what happened? Anna:   We did. We raised our prices and we're working a bit more with wedding planners this year and that's been really helpful and also like I said we are, through our sales album sales and things like that. That's been able to bring our numbers up quite a bit that's been really Braedon:   Okay. If you were to give like look at one piece of something that you've done in your photo career that you feel like has really been a catalyst. Is there anything off the top of your head that you can think of that you've done or is it just like this consistent smile that you've had on your face with your customers? Anna:   I would say if anything, I don't think it's been one thing. I think it's been the consistency of providing every client with a great experience. Even the clients that you're like man I really hope that I excel and I know that there are all of these issues but I just want to serve them well like there have been times where I've gone into a wedding day especially the beginning of my career. I was like I don't know that I can make this person happy like some people are just difficult to work with and going into those types of atmospheres with the goal of I'm gonna do the best that I can and provide them the best experience. I think doing that at every wedding and knowing no matter what your situation is you need to do your best and giving everyone that effort in that care constantly and consistently has really been what's helped us build our business, build such a strong business. Braedon:   Well that is an amazing, I would say piece of advice for anyone who is out there either in business or looking to build their business, is that giving that sort of experience to customers and I would say good job on you guys. Anna:   Thank you. Daniel:   I think you also have this personality but Anna is just a light on a wedding day when the moment we get there, she's just you know I feed off of her energy for sure. She brings me up from that perspective but you know she's so just friendly and outgoing. You know being like she mentioned you know interacting with everyone in the wedding party. Getting everyone's names and making the bride just feel unbelievably gorgeous and you know just making everyone feel so warm and cared for around her and I think that that consistency of that every single wedding. You know, it's not something you can put your hands on obviously it's just you know they leave that interaction that wedding day they'd go on their honeymoon and I think that they just feel so taken care of and they feel so just like cared for and I think that just come so naturally for her and she does it was such a smile and just a beauty that it's hard and it's not an easy thing to learn. Anna:   I will say too, that I think that a lot of times whenever mistakes happen and when there are issues that need to be resolved. I think a lot of photographers shy away from those things and a shutdown immediately if there is a customer service issue but I find that as an opportunity to excel and to serve them better. So, when we've had issues in the past I just think you should take every experience as an opportunity to learn and grow and so if bad things have happened we know how to deal with them and we know how to like face that head-on and I think that's really important just like talking with your client and understanding what happened and how you can be better and how you can resolve issues with them. Again, like I said I think people shy away from it when it's really a great opportunity to learn. So, I think that's been good too. Braedon:   That's another really good piece of advice, is for sure. I think I think what's so hard about being like an artist or a photographer in business is that being able to like wear all those hats of being that creative person but then also be good with emails and be good with finances and you know as like then also be good with marketing and then discipline and you know it's like there's so many different things that you need to have, to be able to actually run a good successful business but it sounds like you guys are doing a great job. Anna:   There's always room to grow, for sure. Braedon:   Yes, there is. Else it would be boring. But hey so if people want to check out your work and see more of what you do maybe what's your website and then what's your Instagram handle that they can go follow? Anna:   Yeah, so our website is and that's a-n-n-a-s-h-a-c-k-l-e-f-o-r-d but that's also our Instagram handle is just AnnaShackelford as well so you can see our work in our recent life happenings in our cute little boy and all that good stuff

 007 Developing Your Style with Max Wanger | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 34:03

This interview with Max Wanger goes into his background and start in photography. How he fell into shooting weddings but then strategically curated his brand and style. Max and Braedon discuss the transition from weddings to commercial work, balancing work, life and family, and how he stays creatively motivated.

 006 Strengthen Your Brand with Dane Sanders | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 51:22

Dane Sanders is a business coach for independent creatives and photographers, an author, a photographer, and founder of The GoBe Collective, which he started to help creatives increase the value they are bringing into the world. In this conversation Dane has with Braedon, they talk through common mistakes small businesses and photographers make. They go over what it takes to run a successful and sustainable business, balancing (or un-balancing) family and work, and some efficiency tools Dane uses and suggests. Life is too short. If you want to make a mark, you can't be lazy. Balance is actually not what to strive for, it's being present where you are with what you're doing. Intentionality is key. We highly suggest you check out The GoBe Collective and listen to Dane's Podcast called Converge - you can also subscribe in iTunes or whatever podcast player you use. Find out more about Dane at Fast Track Photographer and if you're interested in exploring his coaching programs, go to Fastermind Coaching

 005 Creative Identity with JonPaul Douglass | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 29:41

JonPaul Douglass is a Los Angeles based commercial photographer and director.   He spoke at Connecting Things, a gathering of creatives, designers, photographers and artists on the topic of your Creative Identity.   As you listen to JonPaul talk, you can really see how his personality comes through in his work and has done a good job himself cultivating his style, leaving his thumbprint the images he makes.   He's funny, quirky and smart - and you can see that in his photos. This lecture is great, challenging, and will get you thinking about your creative identity.    "Cover bands have never changed the world. Don't be a cover band" - Todd Henry


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