Monthly Archives: October 2011

Be Different.

It’s Jamie again.  Don’t blame Todd for this one, as I’m on a tear and can’t help myself.  Although, he’s pretty ranty, so it’s only fair that I get my turn too, right?  Here goes, today’s rant as brief and to the point as I can make it:

In mainstream, popular photography education, I keep hearing the same thing over and over:

“Be Different!”  ”Be Unique!” and all too often “Do what I do and you’ll be different, too!”

I think it’s pretty obvious how frustrating it is to try to follow that advice- you might as well go bang your head against the wall a few times and be resigned to fact that things are going to pretty much stay how they are now, no matter how dissatisfied you are.

Sure, you can go chase down other people’s ideas and spend money on all of the suggestions that have brought success and wealth to somebody else, and things might improve a little, but I would bet that it won’t bring you the same “successful” results that you were hoping for.

Or maybe you can just spend time to “Find Your Style!”- What does that even mean?  Sure, there’s something to be said for working out what your photography looks like and what you like to do, especially when you’re just starting out, but I still don’t think that’s the answer.  You may think your style is beautiful and unique, and unlike anything anyone has ever seen before, but (and I really hate to burst your bubble) with so many people occupying the marketplace, and with so much sharing and access to others’ work (and I’m not even suggesting the sharing part is a bad thing), you’d be hard-pressed to come up with a style that doesn’t look pretty darn close to somebody else’s (who is no doubt offering it for less than you)- especially to the untrained eye (and most of our potential clients eyes are not nearly as trained as ours are.)  I consider myself to have a well-trained eye, and y’all are looking just about the same to me.  I’m really glad I got married years ago, because I would not want to be a bride right now and have to weed through hundreds of wedding photographers’ websites to try to figure out what was different about each and which one was the right one for me.  It’s nauseating to even think about.

And- you may have a lot of “styles” and love all of them, and not want to give any of them up.  So being required to “Find Your Style” and stick to it would be like having to choose which one of your four children you love the best and give the rest away.  You might be completely ADD and need something to do something different every day or week or month to keep you engaged and excited about your work- so, for you, trying to solve the problem by limiting your photographic style is going to put you on a direct path to career dissatisfaction.

So, it’s like we all know there’s a problem.  We all know that there’s something missing, but we don’t know how to fix it.

The problem is we’re just not digging deep enough.  All of these solutions are only on the surface (think of them like Band-Aids).  They are the last 5% of how you build a brand.  All the Band-Aids in the world aren’t going to fix the wound if there’s a festering infection underneath (sorry for the graphic nastiness).

To fix it, you have get to the root of the problem.  You have to dig deeper.

You will discover the root and the feel good answer for everything in your business once you figure out why you’re doing what you’re doing in the way that you’re doing it.

The answer can’t be found from external sources.  You have to stop following and chasing and focus on within.

Why do you do what you do?

What do you stand for?

What do you believe?

Make everything tie back to that and you will have your answer of how to “Be Different”.

You’d be surprised and relieved to know after a couple years of working with photographers and digging deep to find what is at the root of their brands, no two have ever said the same thing.

Here’s a hint: it probably has very little, if anything, to do with the photography.

- Jamie

 

By |October 28th, 2011|Uncategorized|2 Comments

Teachers and Mentors

Got a few questions from photographer Tim Lawrence that seem to come back up from time to time.

I’m curious how you feel about finding a mentor and learning about the profession from a professional vs just jumping in and establishing yourself from the ground up.  I’m a business graduate who is starting to love photography.  I want to make money from it so that I can continue to love and enjoy it, without taking from my (future) kids college fund.  I’m just a tad overwhelmed at the options and ever increasing amount of information out there.  I love this blog because it looks at photography from a business perspective.  I hope to learn a great real from following you.  Thanks,

- Tim Lawrence

You’re right, there is no shortage of information out there, and thanks for supporting this blog that’s adding to the stack.  Advice is a tricky thing, it is almost always true from a certain point of view, and no matter how true it is often massively useless to us individuals.  There is a big difference between a teacher and a mentor.

A teacher can teach you what they do, and can tell you what they know.  A mentor helps you be a better you.

 

The world is full of teachers, but it is awfully hard to find a mentor.  Teachers can tell you what is working for them.  They can parrot off what they have done/are doing/will do.  They see the world through their own prism and if you see things through the same prism then that advice might work out.  A teacher has something to offer.

A mentor makes an effort to understand who you are, what you do, and why it matters.  The mentor then helps you achieve more.  A mentor pushes you to be more like you, not more like them.  It is a subtle difference that makes all the difference.

If you can find a mentor, that’s what you want.  Teachers can certainly help with tips, but you’ve got to apply some critical thinking to make sure that the tips are relevant to the system you’re building.  Trouble is you can pay a teacher for their services, a mentor has to be willing to care about you.

My advice is to learn as much as you can about what needs to be done to run a business, not just learning how someone else does it.  You actually will have to establish yourself from the ground up.  Kind of terrifying, but it is totally worth it.  And if you are looking for a mentor there aren’t any hard and fast rules.  Like I said, getting someone to care is a case-by-case thing.  I’d recommend showing incredible respect for the craft and a willingness to do the work.

OK, I’ve just re-read that and while I agree with it all it sounds a little discouraging.  That isn’t my intent.  If I learned this stuff then anyone else can.  To be honest, solving the business oriented problems is as much fun (or more) than solving the photographic problems.  Something else that we really haven’t discussed yet is peer-support, which can be just as beneficial as anything else.  A network or colleagues can rise the tide for all boats and share experience.

Above all else, make sure what you are doing is about being the best you, not being the next other guy.

If you’re looking for an intensive group mentoring experience, that’s fortunate because it is all we’ve got to offer.

What Your Brand Is Not vs. What Your Brand Is

Jamie’s post yesterday was so popular, I had to post up another one of her articles today.  While I often talk about and around the concept of branding for photographers we perhaps don’t spend enough time clarifying what we mean when we’re talking about branding.  Leave it to my wife to clarify and organize my thoughts in a way I never could.  Check out her thoughts on what branding is and isn’t.  Thanks!

- trr

Your brand is not your logo.

Your brand is not the colors you choose and the package your products are wrapped in.

Your brand is not a copy of mine or anyone else’s or even a conglomeration of tips and tricks and success stories you’ve found along the way.

Your brand does not require comparison to be.

Your brand is not even your work or your “style”.

Your brand is not what you do.

 

Your brand is why you do it.

Your brand is what you believe.

Your brand must come first, or there will almost certainly be inconsistencies in your business.

Your brand directs and informs every decision that you make for your business.

 

All of those items above are part of your business and of your brand, but they are secondary and supportive of your why.

Your logo makes sense and supports your brand.

The colors you choose and the products you sell and the packages they are wrapped in make sense and support your brand.

The process you follow makes sense and supports your brand.

Your work and your “style” support your brand.

 

Make sense?

- Jamie

 

Make sure to follow us on TWITTER and like on FACEBOOK.  If you like what you’re reading here please share it and help us grow.

Love talking branding as much as we do? Want to spend 3 days talking branding? 

By |October 26th, 2011|Branding|1 Comment

Why Should I Hire You?

Hello A Man to Fish followers!  I’m Jamie, the unknown, and, until now, silent better half of A Man to Fish, and I have taken over the blog for a day to share some brief thoughts following our experiences with the inaugural Sexy Business Workshop here in Atlanta (which was a bit exhausting- but ridiculously exhilarating and satisfying as we witnessed the transformation of each studio involved).

As we began to dig into each studio, we proved that the question of “Why Should I Hire You” was an incredibly difficult one to answer at the start of the workshop.

Can you answer this question?  In a way that is not generic or easily duplicated, such that, in a room of photographers, nobody else can call out “Me, too!”?

If you can’t answer this question, this is likely at the root of your business problems and frustrations, and the reason that making decisions for your business is like self-torture.

If you don’t know why someone should hire you, how will a potential client know why they should hire you?

Start here.

 

- Jamie

 

Need help figuring out the answer to the question?

By |October 25th, 2011|Uncategorized|12 Comments

Sexy Business 2 – Even Sexier

 

Hot off the heels of the first Sexy Business Workshop we’re kicking it into gear and announcing the next.  We’ve made some adjustments based on the feedback from our inaugural class of sex machines (hey, its more fun to carry out the shtick, right?) we’re making a few adjustments to improve the experience.  First, those studios that came with multiple members really seemed to benefit, and those that left their partners or significant others at home expressed that they really wished they had the input.  So going forward each registration will include 2 people from the same studio.  Also, in order to maximize the one-on-one time and still maintain the significant benefit of the small group environment we are capping the workshop at 5 total studios .

Check out the MANIFESTO for the philosophy behind the workshop.  If you’ve been on the waiting list and you’re ready to book now head to the REGISTRATION link, if you need more details read on.

It’s for anyone who cannot clearly and proudly answer the question “Why Should I Hire You?” Or for whom the answer to that question could be applicable to any number of fellow photographers.

It’s for anyone who struggles daily with the need to compete.

It’s for anyone who is not happy with their current financial situation and realizes that a change needs to happen within his/her business to fix the problem.

It’s for anyone who struggles to make business decisions, and so they follow trends, or suggestions from other photographers because it sounds good at the time, but eventually it just doesn’t work or feel right to them.

This is a workshop completely dedicated to you, booking the work you want to do, with the clients you want to work with, at the price you need to make.

 

If you haven’t read the MANIFESTO yet check it out now. Long story short we’re hosting 3 days of business/branding madness. The intent is to leave with a business plan, pricing strategy and brand value proposition. The goal is for you to book work that you are thrilled to create, for clients that are thrilled to own it, at the price it takes to support your life. If you know you need to make a change in your business, but aren’t sure what to do we’re going to help provide that direction. In addition, we’re also providing some additional support beyond the average workshop. I’m adding in 3 Skype consultations to help make sure that you implement the changes that you need. We’ll set up a time to talk prior to the workshop so I can understand where you are and what you want your business to be.  I’ll let you know what you need to bring and prep you for what we’ll be doing once the workshop rolls around. We’ll be using the information to tailor the second half of the workshop to address what your brand needs to thrive. We’ll also set up 2 consultations after the workshop. I want to make completely sure that we’ve provided as much support as possible to help you implement the changes you need to make. Kind of cool, right?

We’re working towards the breakthrough – the discovery of what you have/do/are that is worth hiring and being associated with.  This is the brand identity that you align everything behind.  It motivates every decision, every interaction, and it becomes the words that client use to refer you out in the market.  It is the core of the brand.  Not the ribbons, packaging, logo and all that other crap that the brand is represented by (though we’ll talk about that stuff too).

The SEXY BUSINESS workshop will happen December 5-7 at the Artmore Hotel in Atlanta, GA. We picked the Artmore because it is comfortable, hip, the rooms are great and have all the amenities you could want, and the bar stays open late. This was the site of the first SEXY BUSINESS Workshop and it received a total A+ rating from all the attendees.  What more could you ask for?  The room rate has been negotiated to $129 per night and that includes your breakfast every morning – just tell them you’re there for “sexy business” (no really, say it with a straight face – totally keeps them on their toes) and the rate is yours. But (!) you have to book by November 21st to lock in the rate – 800.548.5631. We recommend arriving Sunday night and plan to leave Thursday morning (or stick around, ATL is awesome, but we’ll be done running off at the mouth late Wednesday night).

3 days of business/branding work, morning till night.  3 consultations to support you when you get back home.  $1500 for up to 2 members of the same studio.

If you’ve got any questions send them to [email protected].  It costs $500 to retain your spot for up to 2 members of your studio.  Book it now, like I said – 5 spots only.  Hope to see you there.

 

 

- trr