EP143 It's Up To You To Walk The Energy Into The Room

Well we’re back from The Societies Convention in London and it’s been a blast (though I am a little weary!)

However, no matter how tired I am, I am going to have to find the energy for my clients – just as we all need to.  And that is the topic of this episode.


Take care



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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Just got back. From the Society’s Convention in London. Four days of hugging, laughing, talking photography, talking crap as well, I think, drinking, eating, not sleeping, running workshops, meeting suppliers, having conversations with editors, more drinking. And generally feeling good about this industry of ours.

[00:00:20] I’ve met so many people, I’ve hugged so many people. And for people like us who work in small businesses, many of us on our own, the convention is by far the best possible start to the year. I’m Paul and this is a slightly bleary eyed Mastering Portrait Photography Podcast. 


[00:00:55] Well, hello one and all. Um, coming back down after the annual convention is a little bit of a task.

[00:01:03] I needed to sleep quite a lot and to eat, well, something sensible if I’m honest, rather than a diet of beer and carbs. On the night of the awards themselves, I look over, it’s about two o’clock in the morning, and I see Sarah sat in a corner, eating the world’s largest packet of popcorn. And you do know what it’s like when you get the munchies, there’s nothing quite like sugary, salty goodness of popcorn.

[00:01:28] The hardest part of huge conventions for me is always that I struggle to place people, so it’s slightly stressful, and it’s not really made any easier by the fact that a lot of people only know me because they’ve heard my voice on the podcast. So lots of conversations start with me saying, hello mate, and then rapidly trying to remember why or how or where I know someone from.

[00:01:51] Sarah is in a different league, of course. She seems to have an encyclopedic ability to recall conversations and characters, whereas I’m oblivious trying to figure out the light on someone’s face. The number of times I’ve met someone and all I can think is that the lighting is perfect and it would make a great portrait.

[00:02:08] Not very helpful when you’re trying to hold a normal conversation . 

[00:02:11] So this year, I jumped back into the fray and entered the print competition. Haven’t done that for a couple of years for one reason or another, mostly because I’ve been judging. But this year, as chair of judges for a different association, I’ve been relieved of my duties at the Societies convention, which frees me up to enter. 

[00:02:29] And of course it’s a good idea whenever you do get the chance to enter a print competition because it forces you, I mean literally forces you to practice what you preach. However, as always Uh, the images that I hadn’t expected to do well did brilliantly, while some I had high fa hopef bleh bleh, I’m breaking these teeth in for a donkey, while some I had high hopes for didn’t do quite so well.

[00:02:54] Overall, though, a really good show for me. Out of the 12, I entered 9 achieved merits. Uh, 2 were finalists, so runners up, uh, which is one hell of a rate. The other thing I’m proud of is that they’re all from commissioned shoots, bar one, just the one. There is in there an image of our dog Rufus, the studio dog Rufus, which I entered into the pets category because, well, he is a pet and he is really photogenic.

[00:03:23] But you can only ever get one shot of him, just the one. You put him in front of a nice light, you take your picture. He’s out of there. Doesn’t matter how many treats, how much you persuade him, you get just one shot. So I’ve had to learn to be right on my toes. Anyway, all respect to the judges, as in my opinion at least, there was no doubt that when it got to the final three images in each and every category, and that includes the ones I did and didn’t do well in, I don’t think you could argue that they didn’t warrant the placing that they gave them.

[00:03:51] Though for me this year, uh, I was a little bit of the bridesmaid, not quite the bride next year. You know, next year. Because there’s always that thing when you pick out your images that this time. This time, that’s, that particular picture is going to do well. Think about it. You wouldn’t enter if you didn’t really believe that you were going to win.

[00:04:11] You wouldn’t pay the fees, you wouldn’t spend the time prepping, you wouldn’t spend the time printing, if you really and truly didn’t believe that particular image stood a chance. But, as ever, it’s a little bit of a lottery, if I’m honest. I think I did alright. Uh, on guessing, but there’s a one image in particular that I thought would do much better than it did.

[00:04:32] And it really didn’t score very well. It didn’t quite put me on the wooden spoon. Yep, there is a wooden spoon floating around, uh, which has been going for years. My name is on it from one year, but thankfully not this year. And that’s for the entrant who scores the lowest out of all the people, um, who are involved, uh, with that particular competition.

[00:04:52] But at least you get to take one prize home. I am quite lucky, as I do know pretty much every judge personally, many of them I’ve judged alongside for a lot of years, so a few of them were kind enough to tell me what had been discussed and what I might do to improve. Even after all these years, you do have to keep developing it, it would be, well apart from anything else, it would be very boring if you didn’t.

[00:05:16] And every other photographer at the convention will be doing exactly the same thing, except maybe the overall winners, who I’m guessing are enjoying a little champagne and admiring their own work, at least for the next day or three. Anyway, it turns out one errant shiny button and one pair of shoes that I could have placed more prominently and I might just have made it to be the bride not the bridesmaid.

[00:05:40] This year’s target, the one coming up, that is 2024, is to get my shit together on the post production side. All my life I’ve constructed images in camera and not really needed to focus too much on Photoshop, though I do love the power of it and I really love The whole process of putting an image together, but I really do think it’s time for me to up my game with Adobe’s finest.

[00:06:05] Uh, there were also a ton of meetings, some formally arranged with others being far more impromptu and involving a pint. It was so good to see the people who make many of our bespoke products. So we saw Graphistudio, we saw Kaleidoscope, these guys supply the stuff that we supply our clients. It was wonderful to catch up with them, as well as the editors of various magazines that I write for.

[00:06:27] Though that does now mean there’s a load of work for me to do and the corresponding deadlines to contend with. And if that weren’t enough, and there was certainly plenty going on, there is of course an entire program of workshops. And this year, Sarah and I were having a ball running two. A superclass on headshots and a masterclass on simple but effective lighting.

[00:06:50] Both of the workshops, thankfully, were chock full. The second, the masterclass, was standing room only. So a huge, huge, huge thank you. Know who you are to everyone who came and laughed our way through many hours of creating images. One of the best things about the convention is it really is all about energy Which brings me, neatly, or maybe not so neatly, depending on your view, to the thing that occurred to me this week.

[00:07:17] And it’s a very simple thing. It’s that you walk energy. into the room. 

[00:07:24] Simple thing, huh? 

[00:07:26] It doesn’t matter whether you’re running a workshop or you’re with your client, the energy of the room is almost entirely down to what you bring in with you. And if you don’t have it, you can bet your delegates, your audience, or your subjects won’t have it either.

[00:07:41] I am not saying, I’m not saying you need to be loud. I know I am quite loud or out there, uh, but you need to have an energy about you, a positivity. You need to be on 10. For me, it’s reasonably easy. The fact that I have someone in front of me just seems to trigger something in me. It brings out the performer and it’s important that it’s a performance and not an act.

[00:08:04] Authenticity is crucial. The lie of acting will very quickly be found out. A performance, on the other hand, is exactly what it is. You and you at the fullest of your ability being truly present, truly engaged in the moment and the people around you. Sometimes, if I’m honest, I really don’t feel up to a shoot or I’m not massively full of energy and I have to take a breath and remember that it’s me that drives the shoot.

[00:08:32] It’s me that provides the pulse.

[00:08:35] It’s me that defines it. 

[00:08:37] I have to find whatever it is in me that will define how the shoot or the workshop is going to go. I have to be on a 10. Always. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of it, there’s a thing called the Laughter Club. It was first popularised by an Indian physician called Madan Kataria.

[00:08:57] I think I’ve pronounced his name correctly, apologies if I haven’t. And this is where groups get together and deliberately laugh. But the effect on the brain, even though they’re doing it deliberately, and not necessarily for any good reason, has exactly, is exactly the same as if you went to a comedy club.

[00:09:16] The effect on the brain, it doesn’t care that the laughter isn’t because you’re out being entertained. It doesn’t care, it doesn’t know that the laughter might not be real. It has the same effect on your brain. The trick to this, and this is to take a quote from Wikipedia, is that the brain does not know we’re faking it.

[00:09:38] It’s as if you were genuinely laughing. It’s as if you were genuinely happy. Well the same is true when you put yourself on a 10 The same is true if you talk yourself into being energetic, if you talk yourself to being present, you will feel energetic, you will feel present, just as laughter in a laughter club makes you feel like you’re having a funny moment.

[00:10:02] The same endorphins, the same processes. So it’s not just that you will give out, but that you will end up feeling the same way. Not only will your clients feel it, you will feel it. And this is also the same way I prep to record this podcast. It can’t work if I’m not feeling it, so I have to feel it every time.

[00:10:22] As an aside today, I’ve been sitting here waiting for the moment to record it, uh, because there’s been, uh, an Amazon delivery waiting and waiting. It’s eight stops away, six stops away, and all the way up until it’s nearly here, and then I realized I can hear the van. I can hear the driver. So I’ve just had to leg it down the road, uh, knock on his door and say, look, they’re going to the wrong house. They should be at the studio and got my delivery. And of course that puts you in the wrong frame of mind to come back and do the podcast. But I still had to sit, get my head in it and figure out what I wanted to feel, what I wanted to convey. And why bother? I mean, why is it important?

[00:11:02] Well, if your clients are having a good time, they will to put it absolutely simply, spend more. Partly because if they’ve loved it and you’ve formed positive associations and memories with the shoot and partly because if you’re working at a hundred percent, you’ll be more creative. But if you bring the two together Well, that can only increase the odds of getting your best sales.

[00:11:25] Anyway, back to the here and now. As I’m busily rebuilding our Mastering Portrait Photography website, something that is slow going, but I am honestly really enjoying it. We will release it in the next few weeks. And I’ve always loved being a coder, though I was never, ever particularly talented at it. But it is quite nice to spend time absorbed in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, API documentation.

[00:11:48] Uh, you know, if you know, you know what I’m talking about. 

[00:11:51] Anywho, thank you for staying here until the end of this podcast. My target this year is to get back to doing them weekly, which is how I started out. This might not be entirely realistic given the diary that I have, but it is still my ambition.

[00:12:07] Shorter episodes, But more of them. And, well, we’ll see. As always, if you have questions or feedback, please do drop me a line. I can always be reached at paul@paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk, that’s paul@paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk. Or leave us a 5 star rating on Apple’s podcast app as it helps to drive SEO up massively and every little helps.

[00:12:28] If you’re interested in any of our upcoming workshops, please head to paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk and then just search out the coaching section or more simply just Google Paul Wilkinson Photography Workshops. If you’d like to hear more episodes they can be found on all popular podcast players or head over to the spiritual home masteringportraitphotography.com where you can find the entire Back Catalog and a whole heap of other resources dedicated to the art, the craft and the business of portrait photography. And whatever else you do in the coming week, remember, be kind to yourself.

Take care.

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