EP134 The Power Of Thank You!

Photographers are supremely visual, right?  Of course.  But have you ever wondered about the power of words?  Two words, in particular, can have a bigger impact than any image ever can (and I am speaking as someone whose entire life is living and breathing pictures).  The words? “Thank You”.  These two words, when given or received, can bring a huge amount of joy.  Trust me.

In the podcast, I mention the dates of our upcoming workshops:

  • 6th March, Mastering Essential Studio Lighting
  • 20th March, Mastering Available Light
  • 3rd April, Mastering Headshot Photography
  • 17th April, Mastering Your Creative Workflow From Shutter To Print
  • 15th May, Mastering Advanced Studio Lighting
  • 5th June, Mastering Available Light On Location In Oxford

These can all be found on our website.

Every workshop is limited to six delegates so we can fine-tune the content for the attendees.  They’re an absolute blast! If you’re a portrait photographer, whether a pro or looking to break into the industry, these workshops are perfect for you.  We also provide a delicious lunch!  Never underestimate the need for good food! haha.


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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Over the weekend. Our daughter was home. Now our daughter is super smart and very funny. And for her work, she works for creative agency. She has to put together a presentation about chat GPT. Now if you know, Harriet. You’ll know that wherever she turns her hand to is absolutely brilliant. And this particular presentation is no different.

[00:00:20] The one thing certainly came to the fore: it really does lift the lid on a fundamental truth about artificial intelligence. And that is, you cannot accept what it gives you without double or possibly triple checking the facts. It has no concept of truth, none, nothing. It’s not human. We think it is.

[00:00:41] Chat G.P.T is Not lying. It’s simply making inferences based on the training that it has it only infers answers from the data it has seen. And if the data is incorrect or simply not present, It doesn’t necessarily have a sense of accuracy.

[00:00:56] So purely for fun, we searched for me and two things [00:01:00] spring out. Firstly. And quite importantly, is it got some facts wrong. Simply. Wrong. They’re not true. Never happened. Never will happen. Just not right. And we double-checked which of the many Paul Wilkinsons there are out there it was talking about. No, it was definitely talking about me. It simply got it wrong.

[00:01:19] However on the flip side of that coin, the bits that he got right. It got so right, that the sales material that It accidentally produced is better than anything I could do for myself. Interesting huh?. So where it got it wrong, it got it very, very wrong, and when it got it right, it got it better than right. So from now on, in, I think I’m going to use chat GPT for all of my marketing materials provided.

[00:01:46] Provided that. You go and research to make sure. It’s true.

[00:01:51] I’m Paul. I’m an ex astronaut and portrait photographer, author of many, many books, international Emprasario father of eight. And the one thing you can [00:02:00] rely on in this particular bit of text. Is, this is the mastering portrait photography podcast.

[00:02:05] Uh, yes. Artificial intelligence. I do promise at some point I’ll do a proper in-depth. As to what’s going on and why AI has to be taken with a massive pinch of salt. Not saying it’s not useful. But I am saying it really isn’t what an awful lot of that hype is describing it as, but that’s one for a later episode.

[00:02:41] So what has happened in the past couple of weeks? Well, let’s say past couple of weeks. Technically couple of months. Seriously. I really did think that I would get to do podcasts every couple of weeks this year we’ve got it all scheduled out. Uh, our timetable has been modified to allow time [00:03:00] supposedly allow time and all that’s happened, is that like every photography studio we got busy. Uh, so eight weeks ago I recorded the last one, although I didn’t publish it, until I returned from a skiing trip. And on that note, that’s exactly what we did after Christmas. Uh, had a fantastic couple of weeks on the snow. I don’t remember the last time I did that and we did it with our family.

[00:03:20] Uh, some friends of ours and very kind generous, lovely people, have a chalet in the Italian Dolomites, which by the way, if you’ve never been is more beautiful is more reliable snow, is it’s simply stunning. Uh, and, uh, yeah, everyone heads to the Alps and they don’t. For the entire, I don’t entirely know why try the Dolomites. You will absolutely love it. Um,

[00:03:45] So we had a couple of weeks skiing got back and then of course, raced straight in to, uh, the job.

[00:03:51] A couple of weeks ago, uh, saw Peter Kay. Oh, man. If you get a chance to go, you should go. It’s absolutely brilliant. I [00:04:00] think the only fly in the ointment was, or probably is. Cause I doubt this is going to change anytime soon.

[00:04:05] Is that London? Transport for London, TFL. I dug up the Jubilee line, which meant that essentially you couldn’t get to the O two arena. That’s 80,000 tickets, uh, every night and they dug up the one underground ground line to get there. Brilliant. Well done. TFL, that’s that’s really smart of you.

[00:04:25] So London, certainly that part of London just heading across the river, was utterly gridlocked. We had booked with some friends to go and have a meal, and then go see Peter Kay. So a whole afternoon and evening. And in fact, we spent the whole afternoon in a traffic jam. It was so bad that at one point the taxi driver started to panic that his car was visibly overheating. You could see the needle just climbing. We’ve been sat in a traffic jam for an hour and a bit and, for whatever reason, I suspect he hasn’t had his fans serviced for a while. Uh, it was just going to overheat. We were going to end up stranded. And [00:05:00] luckily for me, the ghost of my father. the ghost of my dad. In my ears because me and him always owned old cars. And the trick, the trick is to turn your fans on full turn the heat up to maximum, and just open the windows because you’re going to sweat, but having the heat, being extracted through the fans, draws the heat out of the engine. And gives you a fighting chance of keeping the thing alive. And it did. We arrived. We managed to just about grab the most important thing a round of gin and tonics and a beer for me.

[00:05:29] And, uh, had a little bit of sushi. And had the best night in ages, Peter Kay was absolutely. Ah, brilliant.

[00:05:38] Uh, we’ve had some beautiful shoots you’d expect me to say that. I suppose hearing dogs have been absolutely flying, uh, photographing for those guys. It seems that we’ve run into a, a sequence of every week being down there, which is always, always good fun.

[00:05:52] Plenty of portrait shoots.

[00:05:53] Uh, weddings haven’t done any weddings this year. Uh, they come up in the next couple of weeks. Uh, we didn’t take any bookings for the early [00:06:00] part of the year, cause we weren’t quite certain. Uh, what we would be planning, but we are winding those down a little bit. Hopefully. anyway . This year. We’ll see how that goes, because right now we are really focusing on mastering portrait photography and all of our portrait work.

[00:06:15] Uh, what else have we done? Sorting, judging, sorting the judging for the British Institute. Of professional photographers. Now, you know this, you know, I love. Judging and being chair of awards and qualifications for the BIPP is not just an honor. And it is an honor. It is also a complete pleasure because I get to judge regularly. I get to sit with other photographers learning, critiquing, encouraging, cajoling, just by, assessing people’s work. And it is one of the highlights of the year. So the planning for that is very much going in.

[00:06:51] And it’s Sarah who is making that possible as you might expect, because I am not the world’s greatest planner. Uh, I can put [00:07:00] together the schedules, but then it takes just someone who is list oriented and I am anything but list oriented. Uh, I’m really not. And I’m sitting, recording this podcast without a script as normal.

[00:07:12] I’ve got some bullet points to hit, but that’s about all. Um, and so Sarah has given me a hand getting that all organized and in the diary. So on that note, if you are a BIPP member and you have been thinking about and putting off no doubt. Doing your qualifications. Uh, the first round there’s some spaces on the first round.

[00:07:30] It is the 28th of March 28th and 29th of March. You have just about enough time to get your panel sorted and get them in. So why not have a chat with your mentor? See if you can do it because. Now. Qualifications, are not everybody’s cup of tea. I do understand that. I really do. Um, not everybody thinks that having letters after your name makes any difference at all. And again, that’s absolutely true. Not everybody has letters after the name of some of the best photographers I’ve ever met never went near an [00:08:00] association or a qualifications process and they’re stunning photographers. They don’t need it. But I don’t think you can argue that going through the process. Isn’t a good thing. I’m not saying not going through the process will necessarily inhibit you. I am saying that going through the process will definitely create opportunities to improve. There’s no doubt about that I don’t think :the whole process, the thought process, the self. Analysis going through your images, sitting with a mentor, putting together a panel of 20 images. Everything about that process makes you a better photographer. Or at least gives you the opportunity to be a better photographer. So, uh, I know it’s expensive. I do understand that. Of course it is. And at this particular period in our economy, that may not be something everyone can stomach. But think about it the other way around. Think about the value that it will bring to you and your business, or think about the things you might be missing out on. For instance, with the judging, we can only have fellows who are judging. And yet I know some incredible [00:09:00] photographers who I’d love to have on that panel of judges, but you must be a fellow Why?. Is it because you’re a better photographer? Not entirely. , it’s because you know the process, you know what it takes to, to get to that level. That’s why we choose fellows. That’s why we use them. Um, so if you have the opportunity to, why not talk to your mentor? 28th, 29th of March for the BIPP. Uh, and I simply cannot wait.

[00:09:26] Uh, what else? Oh, workshops. We have set out a program of workshops. The last workshop we ran was the mastering advanced studio lighting.

[00:09:34] All of our workshops have the word mastering in because as you might’ve gathered, we piggybacked off the brand of mastering portrait photography, which is the book Sarah Plater and I created back in 2015, um, still, still selling. I still get requests for signed copies, um, which is flattering. It’s just lovely.

[00:09:53] Uh, but we’ve piggybacked all of our workshops off the name mastering. Because as a brand, that seems to be a really [00:10:00] good idea. So we ran the first workshop of this year, which is mastering advanced studio lighting, which basically was modifiers gobos gel scims. You, you name it. We tried it and when I say try it, I mean, that so although we put together with every workshop, we put together a kind of schedule, a tick list of things that we think we’ll cover, in the end, when we meet the attendees or in advance of the workshop, we ask the attendees as well. What would you like to go through? So we have a very limited numbers, only, ever six. Uh, six attendees on a workshop, which gives us the flexibility to change and adapt each of the workshops to allow us to truly represent what people want to learn.

[00:10:43] And sure enough, we got a load of request for different things. So we did a ton of work with gels. We did work with scrims. We used some gobos. Uh, to project different patterns onto walls and onto model’s faces and things. It’s none of it’s particularly complicated, but [00:11:00] sometimes it’s not the complexity of the actual techniques, but it’s just having a go and firing off each other. It’s just brilliant to be in a room actually with a whole load of people. Uh, having a ball and that’s something, I don’t know that necessarily. I appreciated when we set out on this road, but absolutely I love running the workshops.

[00:11:19] They are brilliant. They’re funny. We get a room full of creative people. I come away with stuff. They come away with stuff. And on top of that, we have the best lunch. In the world, which also as you’d know, cause I’m quite stomach oriented. Uh, or food oriented. Like a dog, really? Um, I have to have a really nice lunch. So we have set out the program of workshops for the coming few months and I will talk through those at the end of the podcast. So either you can listen to the rest of this podcast or you can crank your way to the end and Get pen and paper out. Uh, but I’ll also put them down in the show notes. So that’s what we’ve been up to a very busy. Uh, lots [00:12:00] going on. I thought, well, the idea has been to slow everything down and give me plenty of opportunity to record podcasts. Get on top of the training side of it. Uh, and in fact, all it’s really happened for a moment. Uh, is we filled it with a client work.

[00:12:12] Anyway, onto the topic of this particular podcast.

[00:12:17] So one of the things about being a photographer of course, is that we are all incredibly visual people. You might use other words. I suppose for photographers, slightly flaky, creative. Obviously visual. People people, most of us, although I suspect those that like to sit in a hide or up on a mountain top for weeks on end. Maybe they’re not people, people, maybe they’re purely.

[00:12:39] Visual people, but for the people in the sectors that I work in, very people, very huggy. On the whole very huggy. I love that. I love that, but we tend to think of everything about being pictures, but words, words, I mean, think about this podcast is all words, our blogs are words. I will guarantee. That 99% of you, the first time someone said [00:13:00] they loved you. They used the words I love you. They didn’t show you a picture of it. And they might’ve hinted at it, I suppose, but it’s the words, it’s the words that can truly build you up or truly knock you flat. So here’s a note that dropped through our door last week. Now this is handwritten.

[00:13:19] I dropped through a door last week. It’s handwritten. So it’ll take me a minute. And it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve read it. I still get caught up. Uh, in the words.

[00:13:26] Dear Paul. This is a long overdue, but nonetheless heartfelt, thank you to you, Sarah and Michelle. For the astounding. I think it says astounding and beautiful photography, exceptional experience and service for a wedding day on the 6th of October and our follow up visit to the studio in November.

[00:13:47] We cannot express enough gratitude for the energy you brought to our special day. And also your understanding going above and beyond on the day’s events or sorry, as the day’s events unfolded, as we were relocated [00:14:00] from our original venue to a new venue and even giving us a lift there to boot. So it’s good. That’s a nice phrase to boot. It’s not one I use very much. I might adopt that. Uh, you were a huge part of our day and we are so glad we chose you. You have created a very special experience and service from our first meeting the day itself. To our show show real reveal with Sarah.

[00:14:22] Who is wonderful. And the generous lunch served up to the X. It goes back to the lunch. Notice back to the lunch. We always have a nice lunch. To the excellent served up. Uh, sorry to the generous lunch, served up to the excellent coordination with Michelle. It felt like we were being looked after by a very professional and friendly team who cared about our day, our day, as much as us.

[00:14:44] We cannot. Thank you enough. And we are so looking forward to seeing the final album. And our chosen prints.

[00:14:51] With enormous gratitude, very best wishes to you and all the team.

[00:14:56] So that note dropped in our door. Uh, I guess probably 10 [00:15:00] days ago now. And we are still smiling. Now we get a lot of thank you notes.

[00:15:04] Uh, but usually a they’re usually a bit shorter than that. And I love every single one of them. Just someone writing to us to say we did a good job. Now we charge for the job. We’re a service industry, right? This is the photography business. Not the photography hobby. So I’m charging for all of this work and yet still having charged a client that is still, the thank you note that they wrote to us. And it got me thinking a little bit about saying thank you. It’s one of the most powerful tools we have in our toolbox. And it’s not just when our clients write to us. It’s when we say thank you, to the people that make our job possible.

[00:15:44] To our clients. Of course I’m always grateful because they’re the people. That put money in the bank. Now I went to, a photography seminar 15 years ago, I think. Uh, probably at focus on imaging as I think it was [00:16:00] back then, at the NEC in Birmingham and I went with a mate of mine, to go and see a particular photographer who I’ve been a fan of for a long time.

[00:16:08] So I went to see his seminar and for the entire thing, all he did was bitch about his clients. He didn’t have a nice thing to say about them, everything he said, was well, pretty horrible, to be honest. And I came away. Demoralized. I w I was just on the cusp at that point of deciding to come into the industry.

[00:16:30] And I nearly decided it wasn’t the place for me. Everything. He said he was derogatory. He was rude. He thought he was being funny, but I took away that, he really didn’t like and respect his clients. Now that’s fine. If you work in a sector where you don’t have to deal with your clients, you can be as rude as you like.

[00:16:50] But imagine being face-to-face he was a wedding and portrait photographer, imagine being face-to-face. With people that actually in the back of your mind, you don’t like everyday. And I would highly recommend that [00:17:00] if that’s how you feel about people. Go do something else. It really, really upset me.

[00:17:06] We here could not be further from that. I am forever. Thrilled that I have our clients I’m forever grateful. Even this weekend. A photographer actually, and her family came for a shoot. It was an absolute joy. It was full of energy. Full of laughter. A little bit of nerves, obviously, whenever you’re photographing a photographer, there’s an added layer of insecurity, I suppose. Because people bring in with them, their own expectations. Uh, it’s not the first time. Photographed them. Um, so it wasn’t that I was worried, but there’s still, I don’t know. You get an additional adrenaline kick. But it was just a ball. And I’m forever grateful. And I think it’s important to know.

[00:17:50] And to say, so. Tell your clients. Tell your clients, thank you. Say to them. It’s just been an absolute pleasure. Working with you and not because you don’t [00:18:00] mean it, not because it’s a marketing line. It isn’t, you have to actually believe it. Be grateful for the people that put food on your table.

[00:18:07] Also your suppliers. We have the most incredible suppliers. I talk about them fairly often and I meet them reasonably regularly. Whenever I can, to be honest. And. Thank you goes a long way, just saying, thanks. It’s easy to pick up the phone or drop an email. Where your, where something has gone wrong.

[00:18:24] Where something isn’t quite right. And so you’ve picked the phone up and said, can you fix this? But then remember to pick it up at the end and say, thanks. Say, thanks for doing a good job. Sometimes even if when everything is running smoothly , just say, thanks. And it’s lovely listening to my team. Michelle and Sarah, because they are supremely good at this.

[00:18:43] They will email back or ring. A supplier. And just say, thank you. That was brilliant. Thank you ever so much. They’re really, really good at it. And because of that, we have incredible supplier loyalty. The guys I work with, well, they’re the best in the world and I absolutely love it. But for [00:19:00] me to, to Michelle and Sarah, probably I need to say thank you more.

[00:19:04] I do try. I do try to say thanks for an incredible job for thanks. Just thanks for being there sometimes. Thanks for laughing when I’m feeling down. Cause I do. Just thanks. I think that’s just a really lovely thing far more than any picture. I know they say a picture. He says a thousand words, but I think the words thank and you say 10 times that. Try it. You might just like it.

[00:19:29] Right. There you go. Sometimes, sometimes it’s podcast is me just floating along and then sometimes it does sound like I’ve climbed onto a soap box. So on that happy note. Thank you to you. Our listeners. For being there and listening to this podcast. I didn’t lovely note last night.

[00:19:46] That’s from a landscape photographer in north Wales. It dropped in and it just said is a landscape photographer. I don’t do portraits. But having landed on mastering portrait photography and listened to that and loving it. I think he said he’d loving the podcast. Uh, he’s [00:20:00] thinking about doing portraits, what a lovely thing.

[00:20:02] So, thank you. Thank you to each of you for listening. Uh, it’s an absolute pleasure to have you there to know that I’m not just recording this and it’s disappearing out into the ether.

[00:20:13] Uh, right. So here’s the end of the podcast. And here are the dates for the workshops that we have in the diary.

[00:20:19] 6th of March, that’s a week today. I’m recording this on the 27th of February, 6th of March. Mastering essential studio lighting. Which is a day messing around in the studio, trying things out, showing just how much you can achieve. With very little, to be honest. I laugh a lot at photographers because we do love a bit of Rembrandt lighting.

[00:20:43] And then we, we sort of hold it up as the epitome of moody light and it is. But it was lit with one light. You end up in the studio with 25 lights and really well, you just need one and know where to place it. So that’s essential studio lighting, uh, 6th of March.

[00:20:58] 20th of March, [00:21:00] mastering available light. Available light portraiture, technically. This is all about people. Uh, every one of these is about people. I am really a portrait photographer, so that’s the 20th of March mastering available light.

[00:21:11] 3rd of April mastering headshot photography. So, unusually for us, this is one that’s topic driven as opposed to technique driven, if you see what I mean. We’re trying some things out to see whether it’s more fun or more useful to arrange it, build it around a particular topic such as headshots or child portraiture or whatever, as opposed to techniques such as studio lighting.

[00:21:31] 17th of April mastering your creative workflow from shutter to print. Uh, this is one that is always slightly harder to sell.

[00:21:39] But it’s probably the most important of all the workshops that we run. It’s all about getting results quickly. Because at the end of the day, this is a business. And the, all of these courses are premised on being pro or semi-pro or earning money from your photography. And getting your workflow, right, making sure that [00:22:00] from the minute you import the data, onto your computers., that it’s managed correctly, it’s managed quickly, it’s managed efficiently. And then all the way through some very fast Photoshop techniques to absolutely lift your images. These are not full on beauty retouch techniques. I can do those too. Uh, but 99% of our work here is not that it’s normal family portraiture. And for that, there’s a certain level of retouching that’s useful. Beyond that yes, it’s lovely to do it for competitions, and it’s lovely to do it when you get the opportunity to do it. But unless you can find a way of monetizing all of those, all of those hours, all of those hours sat in front of one image. Uh, then it’s probably not economically the right way to go. So that’s the 17th of April mastering your creative workflow. Workflow can’t even say workflow from shutter to print. Maybe I should actually only do courses where I can say the words easily.

[00:22:53] Uh, right. 15th of May mastering advanced studio light. So that’s a rework. That’s a [00:23:00] rework of the one we did. A few weeks ago. Uh, it was just brilliant. That was a wonderful day. Uh, seriously, I came away with as much energy and enthusiasm as the guys who were attending it, it was such a ball being in a room with creative people, seeing everyone’s faces light up with new ideas and techniques to take and use in their studios! a lot of fun, a lot of inspiration and lots of really beautiful images came out of that one.

[00:23:24] And then on the 5th of June, this is the last one that we’ve got in the diary just yet. Uh, but we’ll keep them updated. Uh, that’s mastering available light, but on location in Oxford, that’s quite different. So we’re going to do essentially a walking tour of Oxford with a camera. Uh, finding pockets of light. Of course, I’ve no idea where we’ll end up because it depends entirely on the weather, whether it’s sunny, whether we have a flat light day, whether it’s cold, whether it’s warm. Uh, we will use every bit of light that we can from the beautiful sandstone streets in Oxford, uh, probably down to the greenery. Cause [00:24:00] it’s, June so it’ll all be lush and green, uh, down near Christchurch college, down by the parks. Uh, we will see where we end up. Usually I end up on a back street with some graffiti on a corrugated iron wall. Uh, and I find that just as interesting. So that’s the 5th of June mastering available light on location in Oxford.

[00:24:19] Although each of those workshops is we’ve already set out. If you go to our website at paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk, you’ll find them, we set out what each one likely will include, but just to be clear again,

[00:24:31] Uh, the attendees help us drive the shape or help us shape each of the courses. So if everybody turns up and they want to learn a very particular thing, then of course we simply adapt and change. Uh, it’s a majority driven thing. So we set out the kind of baseline topics, but then it’s down to everyone who comes. So that truly you get, you all get something out of it.

[00:24:54] Uh, what was I going to say? Oh, and of course at the end of each of the sessions, if you want to stick around for a [00:25:00] bit, if there’s something we couldn’t cover. And you want to just come and stick around and ask questions. Then, of course you’re very welcome to do so I’ll stay around though. I can’t guarantee the models will!

[00:25:08] So if it’s something photographic, uh, we might just have to grab someone, uh, someone else who stuck around and put them in front of the camera.

[00:25:15] So those are the dates. 6th of March, 20th of March, 3rd of April, 17th of April, 15th of May and 5th of June. If you Google Paul Wilkinson photography workshops.

[00:25:25] Uh, you will find our site at the moment. All of these are on paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk. Uh, eventually I think we’ll move them across onto the masteringportraitphotography.com site. Uh, but that’s a piece of work that I haven’t got to yet. Uh, we’re slowly piecing together what we’re going to do with each of the different brands we own: Paul Wilkinson Photography and of course Mastering Portrait Photography.

[00:25:48] There are places have sold pretty quick. Um, For the courses we’ve announced so far, the one I’m cause I’m going to push today. We have a few places available. Is the one next week, which is the 6th of March mastering essential [00:26:00] studio lighting. So if you fancy that it’ll be lots of techniques, some of which have a headshot, some of which are for, uh, family portraits, we might do a little bit dramatic low key, but it’s lots of things that you can try with very simple, very simple lighting in your studio, ranging from. Umbrellas bare head. Uh, we probably use a soft box or two. We might play with a bit of continuous light. If somebody fancies it. Uh, we have all of it, our fingertips, so we can do anything you like.

[00:26:27] Actually as an aside, one of the things I’ve always hated about studio lighting workshops is you have to keep switching to triggers. We even have a set of triggers so that once they’re bolted to your camera, you don’t need to change them. That. A pet peeve of mine. And I think it’s important.

[00:26:44] So If you do fancy it, there are places available. Just search for Paul Wilkinson photography workshops and book your space now. Ooh. That was quite salesy. Book your space now. Call to action. I think that’s called in sales parlance. [00:27:00] Uh, it would get me being all salesy anyway. Do it. So, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

[00:27:07] For listening to the very end of this mastering portrait photography podcast. I’m sorry if I’m rambling on, but Hey, you know, we’re an episode, episode, 134. I still can’t say the word episode, but we are on episode. 134. So there must be people out there listening. It keeps itself in the charts for photography podcasts, which I think is just wonderful. So thank you to each of you for listening and thank you in particular for getting to the end. Remember, whatever else. Be kind to yourself. Take care.

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