EP151 What Does It Take?

So what does it take to be successful (at least as a portrait photographer?) In this episode I muse on the key building blocks that every successful photographer I’ve encountered seems to exhibit, at least to varying degrees!

This episode also features a quick catchup with Andy Blake from Kaleidoscope Framing (https://www.kaleidoscope-framing.co.uk/) who have been our supplier for nearly twenty years.  Why?  Because their products and their customer service are second to none!

The PMI Smoke Ninja Photographic Competition is now in full swing – deadline is 5th May so what’s stopping you?  Head over to
https://pmigear.com/pages/smokeninja-portrait-contest to read all about it.  The Smoke Ninja is genius! Actually, it should be called the Smoke Genius…

I also mention Datacolor‘s excellent products in the podcast, in particular the Spyder Cube, the Spyder Checkr Photoand the Spyder Checkr Video – they can be found at  https://www.datacolor.com/spyder/products/ We have used these products for years and years and I would never go on location without them!

If you’re interested in any of our workshops or masterclasses, you can find them at https://www.paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk/photography-workshops-and-training/


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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Meet Andy: The Heart of Kaleidoscope Framing

[00:00:00] Hi, I’m Andy I’m the general manager at Kaleidoscope.

[00:00:02] Tell me a little bit about Kaleidoscope. Kaleidoscope. Okay, so we’re coming up to our 26th year in business. We are a bespoke picture framer, mainly for the photographic industry, so we basically can make anything you want. So, as long as we can actually build it, we’ll do it, it’s as simple as that.

[00:00:18] Why Kaleidoscope Attends the Photography Show

[00:00:18] Tell me why you come to the photography show. So we come to Photography Show, uh, mainly to obviously try and drum up more business, new customers, but also see our existing customers and show off our products, ideas, what we can achieve, what we can do, and try and inspire photographers into what they can tell and display their work like.

[00:00:36] Andy’s Passion for Photography and Its Impact

[00:00:36] Why do you love the photography industry so much? I’ve always had a passion for photography. I know we’ve spoke before on your podcast, uh, from a young, young age. Um, don’t do as much of it myself anymore. Uh, unfortunately, uh, more involved in this side. But I love photography in terms of what that moment can capture.

[00:00:54] What you can hold that freeze frame, that image for time. Um, and look back at it. And just, you know, it’s memories, isn’t it? You’re capturing memories, you’re capturing happy moments, sad moments, uh, important moments, lots of different memories from people’s lives at different times, so.

[00:01:09] Uh, if you could change one small thing, or one big thing for that matter about this glorious industry, what would it be?

[00:01:17] That’s a tough one. I don’t know. I don’t know what I’d change. Um, obviously for us, for us as a company, I’d change in terms of trying to encourage people to sell more products. That was what, that’s what we would change, uh, in terms of helping us as a business.

[00:01:31] But it’s, in terms of the industry? Sorry, on that note, I’ll stop you and we’ll just drill into that a little bit.

[00:01:38] The Value of Physical Art in a Digital Age

[00:01:38] Do you think that photographers understand the importance and the role that finished artworks, whether it’s in albums, which you don’t do, or whether it’s in a frame, as opposed to the fleeting pixel base like phones, iPads, TV screens, do you think they understand the difference and the importance of it?

[00:01:57] Not everyone, no. I think there’s an element where in a day Very digital driven world. Social media and images being on screens, and I think a lot of people don’t realize how different an image can look when you put it up on the wall, when you print it big, when you put a mount around it, put a frame around it, put it onto a canvas, laminate it.

[00:02:15] There’s so many different options or ways to display that image. I think when you see an image framed up, we. Customers where we print their images and display them here, uh, as you’ve seen yours, and I’m amazed actually how often people, the first thing they say is, I didn’t think it would look that good.

[00:02:30] I never thought it could look that good. And, and it goes to show that actually displaying it large, printing it and putting it onto some paper can make such a difference to seeing it on screen, seeing it on the back of the camera, whatever it may be. So, and by extension, I’ve got a few clients that say they put their, these frames like in a.

[00:02:44] Position of prominence, not necessarily visibility, but somewhere they’ll see it every day, like the top of the stairs, or somewhere they, you know, walk through a hallway or something, and they enjoy that moment, they relive those memories every single time they look at a frame, and that’s something I think digital products don’t do, they’re much more fleeting.

[00:03:02] No, I’d completely agree with that. We moved into our new house in December, and I’m still trying to get frames on the wall, and it’s the one thing I’m missing. In our old house, we had lots of frames. Of lots of small frames with lots of captured memories and, and I used to love it walking past the stairs and you’d see 25 frames on the wall, lots of different things.

[00:03:17] And now it, we don’t at the moment. So that’s, I’m driving for that because it does, it, it, it brings back that, that memory, that spark, that emotion from that moment.

[00:03:25] Thank you very much, Andy. I’ll talk to you soon. Thank you.

[00:03:28] Honestly, it’s one of the greatest things about being a part of this industry is the people I’ve met along the way. And Andy. He’s definitely one of them.

[00:03:35] The Busy Life of a Portrait Photographer

[00:03:35] I’m Paul, and this is the mastering portrait photography podcast.

[00:03:40] So I’ve been in London this afternoon, we’ve had such a chaotic few weeks. It’s nine o’clock at night. Actually it’s half past nine at night. And I’m sitting on my own in the studio with just the whirring of the heating. And a couple of disc drives, chattering weight in the background. And if I’m honest, I’ve just found myself asleep at my desk because finally I’ve managed to get myself back into the habit of doing some exercise.

[00:04:19] And so when we got back from London tonight, I hopped onto the Peleton and did an hour, but all it’s actually happened is I’m just exhausted because it really has been a few weeks and it must have been because I haven’t recorded any podcasts and that’s in spite of me, not just promising. I suppose all of my listeners, but promising myself. I would do more and I do them shorter, but actually the reality is finding the space, not just the time I suppose, but the headspace to sit and do a podcast. Well, it’s just alluded me a little bit.

[00:04:55] So it’s me. I’m on my own. A little bit of peace and quiet and I think at the moment, Things are a little bit like playing Mario carts. I love Mario karts. Cause once you get to know the course, you get to know where you’re headed, what’s coming up, what you’ve got to do. But in spite of that, well, usually my family, uh, throwing stuff at me, banana skins Inc.

[00:05:18] Shrink me. You name it?

[00:05:20] The Art and Business of Photography: A Personal Journey

[00:05:20] Um, but then there’s also those boosts where you get that little bit of extra energy and off you go, and I think running a photography studio. Is a little bit light that. It’s kind of crazy. It’s full on. You’re running at a hundred miles an hour. Things are thrown at you that in spite of the fact you think, you know where you’re going and what’s coming up next. Well, life doesn’t work that way.

[00:05:41] So what’s happened over the past. What’s it been? Three and a half weeks, I think since I released a podcast. Uh, in that time we’ve done nine client reveals, which has been a really nice, hugely successful, which is lovely. Uh, we’ve done 15 portrait sessions, which means there’s a whole load of reveals coming up. Um, we’ve judged the monthly for the BIPP, which is something I absolutely adore doing. Um, I’m chair of the judges. Uh, chair of awards and qualifications for the BIPP.

[00:06:10] So I’m not strictly speaking. Judging. So I get to be a part of the process and I really enjoy that. Uh, cause it takes a little bit the pressure off Sarah and I coordinate it. And bring it all together and make sure everything’s running smoothly and keep an eye on the scores. But in the end, the pressure’s not on me to analyze all of these images.

[00:06:28] Having said that though. Uh, over the past couple of days, I’ve been judging for the Photographic Society of America. Uh, which is a blast as he seeing some work from around the world. Uh, the BIPP though it is an international organization is predominantly a UK photographers, but the photographic society of America is exactly the opposite of that.

[00:06:47] In fact, I’m not sure how many UK guys. are in it. And so to see work from all over the world. And he’s just a real pleasure. Um, Don two shoots for the Hearing Dogs, including photographing, uh, Chris Packham. TV presenter and natural history sort of buff. I suppose it was a wonderful thing, actually.

[00:07:09] I didn’t know quite how I’d find him, cause it’s never, you’re never certain when you meet people, who’ve been on TV. Uh, quite what they’re going to be like. And he’s quite outspoken about various things, but he could not have been a nicer guy. And at the end of all of the shooting, we sat in a park and had a quick, it was a Coke. I say it was, it was a pub, but we had a diet Coke at a hot chocolate.

[00:07:31] And do you know what. There was a window. There was a window in exactly the way I describe how to set up light in the studio is it was, it could not have been more like a one meter square softbox and so I persuaded him to sit and we had a chat about photography and production and all sorts of things. Uh, and I took a couple of portraits of him using window light in a pub.

[00:07:55] Exactly as I describe how I learned today. So that was lovely.

[00:07:59] Uh, we’ve done five wedding pitches so far I’ve lost one, but one, all of the others, which I think is pretty good going. What’s that 80% I’ll live with 80%. The one that I lost was one that. You know, when you get a pitch. And your instinct is always to want to win.

[00:08:16] That’s just inbuilt. But it was a job I couldn’t figure out. Whether it was going to be tricky. And I’m not going to say more about it than that because I don’t, I, you know, I don’t want those prospective clients, if they happen to listen, to the podcast. You know, obviously they’ve decided to use somebody else or to go somewhere cheaper.

[00:08:36] Actually, I was too expensive. The price we put in was too much. Um, and they were lovely people. Absolutely brilliant. And I would have loved working with them. But the job was such that it would have meant cancelling, some other bits to do it. A couple of, um, Extended stays and a few of the bits and pieces.

[00:08:53] And I think in the end, I though I lost it. And of course you never, ever, ever. I want to lose work, my suspicion is the time that it would have taken. We’ll drop a couple of portraits shoots in there. We’ll stand, you know, we’ll, we’ll learn about the same kind of revenue for probably a lot less work in the end.

[00:09:11] So hello, 80%. So I’ve lost one, one for. Uh, I’m going to live with that. That’s pretty good.

[00:09:17] Embracing Change and Challenges in Photography

[00:09:17] Ah, I’ve almost, almost completely finished, ripping out. I say a ripping out. It makes it sound like a gutted, the place. Uh, reorganizing the studio. Uh, for the Elinchrom kit that we now have, because of course, I’ve got to take out all of the existing adapters. Change out all of the, um, any of the sort of third party kits.

[00:09:38] So we’ve sold all of the Profoto equipment back to, uh, the Pro Center in London. Got a good price rate. So that’s makes me very happy. Sarah drove that into London and deliver that safely to those guys. So thank you to them. Ashley for having a brilliant service. They took it in on a Friday morning, checked it all over. Uh, and paid us on Friday afternoon. Um, which was really useful.

[00:09:57] I sold it as a job lot in the end. Because it was easier rather than trying to split it up. A few people had shown interest in bits and pieces. But, you know, it’s just, sometimes it’s just easy. I took a slightly lower price. And offset that against the fact it was an awful lot less. Uh, an awful lot less worry and effort on our part.

[00:10:18] So Sarah drove that in, but of course I’ve got a ton of adapters. Softboxes kit that is sort of, I dunno, got ox or aperture, different manufacturers that were all based around Profoto in of course now I’ve got to change all of that over, put new adapters on. So that, um, I can use the as the light source.

[00:10:38] And on top of that, all of the charges are very different. All USB C, and they’re great. I wasn’t certain how I was going to react to having. USB C charges everywhere. Uh, but I bought a couple of very long cables. for them and, they’re 60watt. I mean, they’re pretty meaty these things. I’m going to have to remember not to leave them plugged in.

[00:10:56] Cause I don’t know quite, I got to get a measurement on them because I don’t know if they’re left, plugged in whether they’re still generating or absorbing that kind of power because they’re digital transformers. So they must be absorbing some power. But they’re great. And you can run the lights off them continuously, or you can unplug them.

[00:11:13] And of course their batteries. Uh, but more on the, on the telecom side in a bit. Uh, another thing that happened is that a friend of ours, who’s a wine collector. Everyone should have a wine collector as a friend. I delivered on, uh, where was it? Beginning of the week. Must have been Saturday. He delivered six more. Of the wine crates, the wooden wine boxes that he gets his really valuable, very beautiful wine delivered in, and they are amazing for storage, but also great as props. So, um, that was really, really nice. To see him and also to get these crates.

[00:11:47] So it’s helped me organize. Uh, stuff in the studio. Uh, also, I, I saw some video there’s some behind the scenes footage of one of our workshops. And there’s a pan around and it’s brilliant. It’s vibrant and it’s fun. But I looked at just the ount of stuff we’ve got in the studio. And made the decision there and then that we needed to get some of it out of there.

[00:12:08] So I’ve been redistributing things that don’t get used quite so often as other things that then are scattered around the studio, probably never to be found again, I’ll be scratching my head one day thinking now where’s that particular softbox well, that particular modifier where’s the beauty dish con the things that I don’t use very much. Where are they? Uh, and I’ve got to go on a hunt in the attic. Uh, to find them. Uh, what else?

[00:12:31] We’ve written three or I’ve written three magazine articles, one for NPhoto magazine. One for Digital Photographer, magazine, Digital Photography. Uh, magazine and one for Professional Photo magazine says three in one week. I had to turn. That was quite lively. A lot of writing, a lot of scratching my head about the different things. Eh, love writing.

[00:12:52] I’m loving, writing more and more and more. I’ve surprised myself. I think I’ve certainly, I would surprise, surprise my English teacher. If only he knew the effect that ultimately many, many years. Uh, down the line, he had had a lot of fun that, so please do look those guys up that’s NPhoto, which is the unofficial Nick on magazine. Uh, that’s also assay, technically I’ve written four. I’m just thinking I’ve also written a piece on print and its place in this ever. Digital and file based industry and why actually a lot of us still use it. Uh, that article. Is part of a whole debate in the BIPP magazine, in The Photographer. Uh, magazine, but look up Professional Photo it’s online look, up NPHoto, and also an article isn’t out yet, which is about the bit I’ve looked after is about switching digital backgrounds. Uh, in Digital Photography magazine.

[00:13:46] We’ve had two one-on-one coaching sessions or master classes, which is always a blast because you get to spend the entire day just figuring out stuff with one person, a couple of models on each different things, whether it’s off-camera flash or whether it’s dedicated to daylight or both.

[00:14:03] Of course, when it’s only one person. You can do whatever you want.

[00:14:06] Uh, we ran one of our workshops in Oxford, which is the, uh, walking around the streets, looking for interesting places to photograph workshop. I said a name for it. Uh, streets. It’s not really, I don’t like calling it street photography because street photography is a thing.

[00:14:21] And it’s not that it’s finding places, finding light, figuring out how to create imagery and how to invent shots when all you’ve got is the space you’re in the face in front of you and the camera in your hands. And I love working like that. In fact, today I sit to sound away in, so on the way in for the shoot I’m doing that, I was doing some headshots for a Harley Street, um, clinician.

[00:14:43] She’s a psychologist in London. And I was doing some headshots in Harley street. And so Sarah and I packed up. Uh, the two, two of the Elinchrom lights into the rucksacks, couple of, uh, small, soft boxes. Camera gear. A couple of stands in case he wanted a white background and plowed our way into London.

[00:15:02] And I was laughing with Sarah as we hold this stuff. Through the station and into a cab. Is I lay you a bet. We don’t use any of it. I’m just going to use one camera and a big grin. And that is it. And sure enough that’s exactly what happened. So in spite of me taking all of this kit in all we did was just have an absolute blast with one person laughing our way through it. Taking pictures I’m using daylight is in the light for the windows in her Harley street, uh, consulting room. Out in the street itself. Uh, on the steps and things like that.

[00:15:36] And it was just brilliant. And that’s exactly what the, the workshop in Oxford was about. It’s about where, when you find yourself and who you find yourself there with, what do you do?

[00:15:45] The Importance of Storytelling and Community in Photography

[00:15:45] Uh, another thing I’ve done this past couple of weeks is had a presentation to the Village. Uh, Society.

[00:15:51] Yes, Hunnam has a Village Society. You couldn’t make this stuff up. It’s like Midsummer murders is brilliant. A room full of, uh, retirees, mostly one or two of my clients as well. That’s quite a few of my clients were in there. Uh, all sorts of people came. A busy room in our local library. And on top of that, my mum came now, my mum is a legend. Uh, she’s an absolute power of nature is my mother. Uh, but it’s the first time I’ve done one of these presentations or with my mum in the room.

[00:16:21] I’m not going to tell you the whole story, but there is one bit of it where I show a photograph of my mom and dad actually. And it’s a photograph that Dorling Kindersley wanted to use and they wanted to use it on a book called Sex And The Older Couple. Uh, of course I never, ever, ever. Let them. That, that image was never going anywhere near, uh, the cover of a book.

[00:16:43] Uh, but it’s the first time I think my mum has ever seen me do that routine. And it’s, it’s really, uh, it’s just me laughing about photography and imagery in telling stories. And it’s just one of those stories. And of course, it’s my mum and dad who I think the world of, and they’re the people that gave me. Well, they gave me everything. And so much of the confidence, I guess. And the drive to do something. Whatever it is in life to do it and do it well. Comes to my mum and dad’s having a moment.

[00:17:09] The audience was a real privilege. Uh, because she now lives here in the village with us, but it is a little bit weird. I’m doing a presentation that I’ve done over and over and over it though, at least that particular story over and over and over. Uh, my mom’s in the audience. She didn’t look too surprised. Uh, I don’t know.

[00:17:26] I don’t know how she felt about that. Particularly. It’s a shot of course of my dad who died 10 years ago. Um, this year. Uh, we’ve also, uh, we’re working with a couple of people. We filmed a new video.

[00:17:37] So we’re working hard on creating new content for mastering portrait photography, not just the podcast. But the training materials and the videos. And so we’ve spiked that we’ve gotten, we’re getting some more people involved. We filmed one new video. We had to took two filming days to do it. Absolutely exhausted. I was so tired at the end of it.

[00:17:57] Maybe that’s why I’ve just found myself asleep at the desk. Um, and we started to work on our social media and all sorts of other bits and pieces. Just trying to get on to get things out there. Uh, it’s hard when your primary objective, you know, if you’ve ever seen Little Shop Of Horrors and there’s the, there’s the, what’s the, I dunno what it’s called, but it’s the, it’s the monster plant. And he says, feed me, Seymour, feed me now. And they were running a photography business is exactly like that.

[00:18:29] We have one client. And that’s the bank account because you have to keep running. It doesn’t matter how many other things you have in the pipeline. Or things you want to do or ideas you’d like to explore or portfolio images you’d like to retouch in the end is a huge, great plant. Just going feed me Seymour, feed me now. I was laughing with Sarah today. Everything we do in, you know, all we have to have is one phone call that says, can I get five days of paid work from you?

[00:18:56] And you drop everything and go do it because you have to. And that’s the reality of this kind of business. You don’t turn down work or at least, I mean, maybe that maybe some of you who are listening are in a privileged position. Where you can and you do. I’m not in that position. When work comes in, we take it.

[00:19:13] We do a good job of it. And we get it back out to the client and then we sit and go, right? Where was I? Here I am recording that podcast. Uh, what’s the Dune Part II actually with our daughter. I don’t know if anyone’s seen it is brilliant. I’ve no idea what was going on. It was excellent. He was. An absolute mystery to me.

[00:19:33] Um, over the past week, couple of weeks I’d spent watching. Uh, Dune part one. Uh, trying to understand, because of course I never watch a film properly. I sit with a film on my second or third monitor on my iPad while I’m retouching or writing for a magazine or something. It’s in the background. It burbles in a background.

[00:19:52] So usually I can’t watch anything with too much of a plot. Uh, but Dune part one, well, I kind of passed by, it was really pretty. I think I understood some of it. There appear to be some telekinesis kind of stuff and some mind reading, he kind of stuff. Lots of sand. Uh, and then I went to the cinema to watch Dune part two.

[00:20:12] Now, what I will say is it’s worth the watch. Brilliant. Big screen. Theater 7.1, Lucas, whatever THX, whatever it is, sound. Huge bucket of popcorn. A large thing of diet Pepsi and on top of everything else. Uh, class a beer. And then I realize after about two hours, That I’ve got another three quarters of an hour to go because it’s a long film and I’ve got the bladder. Of a 55 year old bloke because that’s how old I am. This, all of this came to a bit of a head. Now I stayed put in my seat, but honestly, by the time we got to the end of the movie, I was sweating. I was sweating beyond sweating as the first pixel of the first credit. Appeared at the bottom of the screen. I made a run for it.

[00:20:59] Well, I’ll tell you what I was still peeing. When pretty much the cinema was closing. People came and went. I think people got married, had children celebrated anniversaries in the time. I was like that scene. I’ve Austin Powers. I’ve never been so pleased to get inside the gents. So I’m sorry if that’s a bit lewd, but you know what I mean? Uh, when you’re in that sort of, oh my God, I’ve got to go now. Uh, but it was brilliant. The film, at least the first three quarters of it. I paid a lot of attention to, I think I was getting a little bit distracted by the end. There’s a lesson, a beautiful people. If, if you’re going to watch a really long film, Don’t drink too much. Anyway, it was great. Uh, now what I need to do is watch Dune part one again. In the context of having seen what happens now, I’m that guy anyway, a very often, if a film is or a series or. Uh, you know, a box set or something is stressful. Drama. You know, tension, those kinds of things. I will hop onto, uh, something like, uh, I MDB or Wiki and do a plot spoiler because I don’t need to stress.

[00:22:01] I do the same with books. If I’m watching, if I’m reading a book that I think is a bit stressy. Then I’ll go to the back couple of pages and read them, just went out what happens and then I can enjoy the plot knowing what’s coming. Don’t ask. I just don’t like the stress. I don’t need it in my life.

[00:22:14] I have enough stress in my life. I’m a photographer. Life is stressful enough. Without me adding extra stress by watching something that, uh, I don’t know what the ending is going to be.

[00:22:26] All right.

[00:22:26] Exploring New Horizons: Reviews and Competitions

[00:22:26] Uh, in the middle of all of this, this is a message from our sponsors. Well, not really sponsors. I’m not paid, by anybody, but I have had a few things sent my way to review and have some fun with, uh, and the first of those is the Smoke Ninja.

[00:22:41] So this has come from PMI company called PMI. I will put the links to all of this in the show notes, but PMI very kindly sent me a piece of kit I’d already bought from them on the CA. On the Kickstarter. Campaign it’s the Smoke Ninja, which is a tiny EDBD. You can’t believe how much stuff comes out of it. Fogger.

[00:23:00] It’s absolutely incredible. So this thing we’ve had this for a while, talked about it before, but I’ve, uh, I now have two of them. Excellent. Great fun. But it’s all to do with a competition they’re running and I’ll give you the URL now. So it’s, if you go to PMI smokeninja dash portrait dash contest.

[00:23:22] So. HTTPS colon slash slash usual stuff. P M I gear all one word.com/pages/smoke. Ninja will one word. Hyphen portrait hyphen contest. Now they have a contest and I’m just bringing it up now on my screens. And there’s $10,000. They say total prize pool. There’s a prize for the best solar portrait. There’s a prize for the best wedding portrait.

[00:23:47] There’s a prize for the best family portrait. There’s a most creative award and there’s the most viral award. Everything has to be done. Uh, or rather everything, everything you do for the competition has to use either the Smoke Ninja or its bigger brother. The Smoke Genie. Uh, you have to do some behind the scenes footage of it.

[00:24:06] Send up your final picture and the behind the scenes footage to prove you were actually using their equipment to do it. I think as well as it giving some social media content, you have to put, you have to upload it to there. Their portal, as well as putting it on your own social media feeds. So it’s a great competition and the prize is absolutely stunning.

[00:24:26] Unveiling the Prize: The Smoke Ninja and More

[00:24:26] Uh, each prize has $500, $500 us dollars. Um, The cash, uh, but also has, uh, some stuff from, I don’t know how to pronounce this is Yoon. Um, some stuff from Small rig and you also get the smoke genie pro kit. If you’re a prize winner.

[00:24:45] Exploring the Wonders of Smoke Ninja

[00:24:45] And the smoke genie. Uh, is like, oh, I miss the Smoke Ninja, but on steroids. Now we’ve been having a blast with the Smoke Ninja recently.

[00:24:54] It’s a really good bit of kit. The only thing we’ve had to learn how to do here is to disable all of the smoke sensors. So that’s actually been a little bit of a head scratch. Is figuring out how to turn off the smoke detectors in the studio before we use it. Because the last thing I need is the fire brigade turning up to find me sort of with a family or a teenager, flinging smoke around and laughing my head off.

[00:25:15] Uh, I’m not sure that we’ll go down that well. Uh, but that’s the, the competition and I in return for them sending me, uh, the Smoke Ninja. I’ve also got to enter the competition as well, but if you fancy it, so it’s PMI gear.com/pages/smoke, ninja portrait contest. And I’ll put that. Uh, in the show notes that, so it’s worth a worth a look.

[00:25:37] And I can honestly hand on heart say that the PMI. Uh, Smoke Ninja is well, it’s just, I would call it the smoke Genius, not the smoke Genie or the Smoke Ninja

[00:25:47] . I think the thing is absolutely fab. And even the other day, when we were filming the video we’ve created is actually I ran the fogger as a hazer.

[00:25:56] So just so I had a little bit of haze in the air so that when we put the lighting across the studio for all of the pieces to camera, it just adds atmosphere. Uh, it picks out little bits of light and it just softens those backgrounds. It’s. It’s it’s only when you start watching how a film. Directors and directors of photography and lighting engineers use this stuff.

[00:26:16] You kind of think, oh, okay. That’s something that’s entirely applicable. In our world to photographic stills, photographic world too. So. Head over to them. Have a look at that competition. If you’re interested. Uh, you might just, you might just find some inspiration for some angles on photography. Maybe you haven’t thought about.

[00:26:32] Diving Into the World of Color Calibration with Datacolor

[00:26:32] Uh, the next one is Datacolor also is it’s been a couple of weeks of stuff arriving.

[00:26:38] I think I mentioned this in the previous podcast, but Datacolor sent us the Spyder Checkr, the spider, sorry, the Spyder Checkr Photo, the Spyder Checkr Video and also. Uh, thing of genius, the Spyder Cube. Now this is one of those gadgets. So. The color check is I’ve used a Datacolor. Spyder Checkr Photo or the older version of that. For probably, I don’t know, six years, seven years, maybe even longer at the beginning of every one of the shoots off site, because obviously once you’ve set it up for your studio, I don’t need to recalibrate this.

[00:27:10] I’ve changed the lens or a camera on my lighting, which of course I’m doing right now. I don’t need to recalibrate, but every time I go out into location, We take a safe shot with the Spyder Checkr Photo as it is now called. And I’d be doing that for a very long time, so that I’ve always got a reference point for my white balance and for my color. So the color spectrum under the lighting that we’re using. well the Spyder cube is sort of the next level genius.

[00:27:36] It gives you not just your white point and black point. There’s a hole in it. What. Uh, brilliant idea. There’s a hole in it with no lights you get. So that should be exactly the same darkness is the nostrils. It’s just dark. Uh, but it’s also got white and gray and a mirroball on the top or a little Chrome. Uh, marble, it looks like a little Chrome sphere. And that, of course, if you were lighting, it gives you your white point because it shows you your specular highlight.

[00:28:00] The thing is great. It’s absolutely brilliant. And of course, as we’ve just done right now, we are, re-engineering all of our lighting. So I now have from Elinchrom, four Fives and two Threes, and I am loving it, but not just because the light that these, these bad boys are giving is stunning. But on top of that, we’ve used the Datacolor Spyder Checkr Photo to calibrate all of the new gear in our studio.

[00:28:27] So have profiles in Light Room for the new Allyn crumbs. And although it gives you a very flat finish, which is not my look. It gives you a very, very accurate starting point. So I just thought I’d put that in there. So thanks to Datacolor for sending me that kit. Um, if you have the opportunity head over to that Datacolor with no ‘u’, by the way, it’s a American English, or I suppose these days international English. Uh, as opposed to the British or English, English, C O L O U R.

[00:28:54] It’s not that it’s da as you, but I’m sure you know, it C O L O R a Datacolor. It’s worth going to have a look. The thing’s not that expensive. It’s less than a hundred pounds. It’s only about 40 quid for the spider cube. Uh, and then the spider checker photo inspire the checker video. We’re all in that sort of 90 quit. Mark, I think anyway, it’s very kind to them to send it over and, uh, I will put out some, uh, befores and afters on some of our feeds as to just how good it is.

[00:29:20] And of course, having had. All of the new Elinchrom lighting and the Elinchrom theme is going to run for weeks. So we’ll leave that. I won’t talk any more about that on this particular episode, but rest assured the four Fives and two Threes. I am having a blast. It’s so nice. To have stunning light back in the studio.

[00:29:40] Absolutely loving it


[00:29:42] The Building Blocks of a Successful Photography Business

[00:29:42] anyway, onto today’s little, sort of the actual bit, the rest of it. I’ll tell you what the diary of a working pro is getting bigger. Uh, um, I need to fix that. I need to do something about that, but at the moment, it’s just because the episodes are so far apart, a lot has happened since the last one. So this, the theme of this particular episode, and I was puzzling over this. Uh, or rather what triggered it was a series of conversations and the reviews from our Oxford. Workshop and I kinda been chewing on what is it that makes a successful. Photography business.

[00:30:23] What is it? What really is it I’m still working on? I don’t have an answer. I doubt there is an answer. But what I have observed is there are building blocks. You need. And sort of you stack them up. I think. And on the top of it is you as a S as a successful photographer or a successful. Photography business, but you build it on certain pillars. And the four I’ve kind of identified, and this is based on S on feedback and it’s based on observations. That I’ve made as well. You need, I think the following four things. At the very least you need the following four things.

[00:31:04] The Essential Attitudes for Success

[00:31:04] Anyway, you need energy. Optimism enthusiasm. And confidence. Now you’ll notice in there. I haven’t said camera craft or. And I for an image or I dunno, technical knowledge, or I, I’ve not said any of those things, you do need those things. By the way, it’s not that you don’t. But underneath that. To learn to be able to absorb ideas, to be able to push through. The fear and doubt that is inevitably part of this world.

[00:31:35] You need energy, optimism, enthusiasm, and confidence. And these are things. That I’m very blessed. To have I’m lucky in that my parents gave me those things and on the whole I’ve normally got, I’m going to say I’ve normally got three of the four. It’s any one moment. There are days when I have no energy, but I’ll be optimistic that I’m going to get it, get it there the other day.

[00:31:56] There’ll be other days whenever turn of energy, but it’s being in channeled entirely in pessimism. Um, there are days when I’m not enthusiastic, but it doesn’t stop me thinking tomorrow will be better. And there are days when I’m, I have no confidence at all. But I’m still energetic and optimistic and enthusiastic about I, what about what I do now?

[00:32:16] I could probably do a podcast on each of those things. And maybe in the future, I will maybe I’ll interview. Some photographers and talk about these various aspects, but why, why have I brought those out when I could have said. You need to understand cropping. You need to understand your color wheel.

[00:32:34] You need to understand how to process digital images. You need to understand how to use your camera when all of these things are undoubtedly. True. But if you don’t have the energy and if you don’t have the opt or more importantly than enthusiasm, I think you’ll never get around to learning those skills.

[00:32:52] They just will never arrive.

[00:32:54] Before you even start. You have to have energy, optimism, enthusiasm, and confidence. They are the building blocks. They’re the attitudes. Maybe that’s what I should have called to maybe attitudes there, what you need. I think. And I’ve never met. Uh, top flight photographer, successful photographer. Now by top flight, I don’t necessarily mean award-winning images.

[00:33:16] I mean, people who’ve been successful in the industry. Some photographers are successful because their business just. Fly. Some people are successful because they are amazing on stage. Some people are successful because they images. Or well, simply glorious. There are lots of reasons why a photographer may or may not. Be successful.

[00:33:37] So when I say a top flight photographer, I mean, someone who’s known for some aspects, some skill, some quality. In industry and every single one of them that I’ve ever met. Shows energy, optimism, enthusiasm, and confidence.

[00:33:53] So let’s have a think about what each of these. Uh, attitudes sort of are. So energy and having energy doesn’t mean you’re bolshy or pushy, or like a bull in a China shop. It doesn’t mean that it just means. That, when it comes down to it, when you pick up the camera, there’s something about what you’re doing. That drives you, that keeps you going because there are going to be days when you really aren’t feeling it. And it’s your energy. That you need to draw on.

[00:34:22] Now for me, I’m kind of lucky. In the, when the client walks into the room, they give me the energy that I need. Somehow, no matter how flat I am, how tired I am, how fed up. I am sometimes. When the client appears, they give me energy. That energy drives everything. Sometimes I’ll be honest.

[00:34:43] My own insecurity gives me. Energy when I’m having one of those days and I’m not feeling it. I don’t often get to the point where I’m like, you know what, I’m done it, it does happen. People have to talk me out of it.

[00:34:56] But sometimes my own insecurity is all of the energy I need. But always when a client walks in, that triggers something in me and off I go.

[00:35:06] Optimism. Optimism is I suppose an odd one. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone else write down optimism. Um, certainly in the reviews, no one’s ever said optimism is not a word.

[00:35:16] I think the associate. With any of these conversations normally, but here’s why. Here’s why I use the word and I don’t mean in optimism. I don’t mean unrealistic. So I don’t mean that you late. I don’t know. You think you’re going to always make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear? To use the expression. I just mean. It’s that thing of, well, let’s give it a go.

[00:35:42] What’s the worst that can happen. You know, I’m a photographer, not a brain surgeon. So the worst damage I can do is to take a crappy picture. That’s essentially it. Now, if you’re doing a wedding, okay. That’s a little bit more pressure, but if I go, if I get it wrong, I’m going to make someone look fatter or older. Or thinner or. I don’t know, less attractive than they think they should be. Those basically are the limits of the damage I can do with a camera.

[00:36:10] Let’s say drop it on someone. I suppose I could drop the camera from a great height and it would cause damage. Um, so having optimism is almost baked in why wouldn’t I have optimism? Let’s take a picture and see what it looks like. But I have met a lot of photographers who don’t exhibit that they’re nervous of trying things that. They think might fail and I think it will make. They think it will diminish. They’re standing in front of their client, whereas I’m, I think the other way round. Is that I think the client loves it when we try things.

[00:36:42] And I’m very open about stuff I will say to the client, look, I don’t know if this is going to work, but you know, let’s give it a go. And if it does work, I’m going to show you, I’m going to. Claim credit for it, and I’m going to enter it into awards. If it doesn’t work, you’re never ever going to see the image.

[00:36:58] And that’s basically it. Um, optimism is about the idea that you can. And that today, what do you know what I will. Uh, enthusiasm, enthusiasm runs through me most of the time. And it’s a, it’s a derivative of energy. Rarely, I suppose I could have fused. Those two words, but I think you can be enthusiastic without being energetic and vice versa. He can be energetic in your pessimism if you want to be.

[00:37:24] So enthusiasm has a real place for me and enthusiasm. I found when I’m in, in the company of a photographer who is enthusiastic about what they do, who is full of positivity about what they do. It’s it’s captivating and you kind of get drawn along on that ride. Now I don’t mean naivety. I don’t mean. That. You’re enthusiastic to the degree that we can know what could happen.

[00:37:51] I’m not saying that. Similarly with optimism, you know? I’m just saying that if you’re enthusiastic about what you’re, what you do it carries now, does that mean all of your pictures have to be happy, bubbly pictures, new, not at all. But it’s much easier to take enigmatic, gentle, moody pictures. When you’re being enthusiastic about it than when you’re not trust me on that. Uh, so enthusiasm is what it is.

[00:38:16] And I think I’ve every successful photographer I’ve ever met is enthusiastic about what they do now. Occasionally you time it and you talk to them and they’re like, they’re not being very enthusiastic or optimistic for that matter. But on the whole, you feel that they would be the rest of the time.

[00:38:32] Confidence, Feedback, and the Art of Adaptation

[00:38:32] And then there’s confidence. And now confidence does not mean. Arrogance.

[00:38:37] And it certainly doesn’t mean. That I don’t have, or the photographers I’ve met don’t have insecurities or imposter syndrome or all of those words they do. They really do. But something in them. Says that it’s going to be all right again. Allied to optimism, having the confidence to say, I know what I’m doing. To ground yourself with the camera in front of your client and say, it’s fine.

[00:39:04] I know what I’m doing. And I know I can do this. Or having the confidence to take. Feedback critical or otherwise to take. feedback from your peer group or from your client. It takes confidence and it takes. To an extent, a thick skin. I think I might’ve missed an attribute. I think sensitivity might be an attribute that I should add to this.

[00:39:26] Let me think about that. I’ll come back to you on that. one, but having the confidence. To say, yeah, I can learn that. Or having the confidence to take. Feedback in a way. That you turn it into a forward facing energy. Oh on the Peleton tonight. Honestly, I have done an hours exercise. That’s like nearly a thousand calories burned, which is why. He likes snoring.

[00:39:48] I’ve lit. Honestly, I’m not kidding. I woke up at my desk. Uh, with the microphone over my head. Uh, waiting to record. Um, and that’s because I’ve done an hour and it’s been a long week. I submitted an article last night, or this morning at three o’clock in the morning. I submitted one of the articles much as I love writing.

[00:40:04] Uh, sometimes the inspiration doesn’t come until the wee small hours. As my Scott’s friends. Uh, I would say, um, anyway, during the exercise class. That was on tonight.

[00:40:16] One of the instructors said, there’s this thing called? Yes. And now I’ve never heard of this as a thing before. Yes. And not. Yes, but, or no, but, or no. Yes. And. And that’s having a confidence to take feedback in a positive way and move forwards with it. There’s a scale in and of itself giving everyone knows that giving feedback in a positive way. Is a skill, but I don’t know how many people think that. Taking feedback is a skill.

[00:40:49] It’s a practiced. Skill to know how to take feedback and. Extract or distill what’s useful. Actually is a lot of confidence. And I come back to the same thing. Don’t get me wrong. Of course there are days when I’m absolutely terrified. There are days. When I can’t feel it, there are days when my confidence is not for whatever reason, you know, it, I’m not at all saying you disassociate. From your normal character.

[00:41:20] And my normal character is I’m very, very confident in what I do. And I’m confident in my ability to learn stuff. I’m a quick learn. I can certainly do that. And I’m very good at the yes. And. But it doesn’t change the insecurity. When you show an image and somebody doesn’t like it, there’s still that burning sensation. That you get when somebody points out something

[00:41:44] , if you go to any art gallery, any and have a look at people, enjoying the pictures. Isn’t it curious how some people will head towards one artist and others will head towards another artist. But they don’t always like the same artists. And that’s similar to photographers and feedback. So having the confidence to give feedback and take feedback is a thing.

[00:42:06] Having the confidence to stand in front of a client and say, Genoa, I can take this picture. Don’t worry. You’re fine. Giving confidence to your client through those actions. Well, that’s the thing I think. So these are your building blocks.

[00:42:20] You’ve got energy. Optimism, enthusiasm and confidence. And I also think. You have sensitivity in there. You’re going to have to leave that one with me. I thought of that while I was talking. Why does that happen? Why is it just as I think I’ve got my podcast nailed. I’ve got my things I want to talk about. During the actual recording.

[00:42:38] I think of one item thought about. I think sensitivity might well be in there. If it is, I’ll bring that up in another. Another podcast because having empathy and sympathy, when you’re a portrait photographer, I don’t know if that matters when you’re out there doing landscaping, but this is the mastering portrait photography podcast.

[00:42:56] And so I guess that’s, pertinent.

[00:43:00] So you need those things

[00:43:02] . Of course, you also need practice. You need perseverance and hard work. You need creativity and your craft. They don’t go away. But in my experience, Those things are built. . On your energy, your optimism, your enthusiasm, and your confidence without those. You’ll do no work. You won’t have what it takes to pick up your camera and develop and push forwards and change and evolve. And that’s another thing, , having those four things.

[00:43:31] I’m going to go back to the four. I think. Having those four things gives you what you need to be adaptable and pliable. It gives you what you need to develop and change. And trust me in this world. Particularly now AI has arrived on the scene. You’re going to have to adapt and evolve to be competitive in this market.

[00:43:51] Not just as a business. But visually too, because what’s out there in terms of the visual arts is changing at a pace. We have never experienced. It’s changing at a pace. When I did my PhD in AI 25 years ago, nearly 30 years ago. That could not have envisaged where we were going to end up. We talked about this stuff back then as a fantasy and here it is. You know, type a few key words into half a dozen of the different image generators. And just see what comes back,

[00:44:22] Wrapping Up: A Look Ahead and Gratitude

[00:44:22] but on that happy note, On that happiness.

[00:44:24] I hope that’s. I. I’m quite curious about this episode. I hope that’s useful. I might write this one up as a, an actual article kind of thing. Uh, thank you for listening. To the end. Um, please do go across to PMI Gear. To Datacolor and to Elinchrom, all excellence suppliers of the stuff we use here at our studio. Uh, we stuff I use with enthusiasm, energy, optimism, and confidence. Now, it just sounds really corny.

[00:44:50] I’m so sorry. Uh, but please do go ahead and look up the competition. Uh, it’s a really cool one. I will be entering mostly because it gives me a chance. We’ve got someone coming in on Sunday. Uh, to, uh, create some, uh, very fogged work. Can’t wait for that, but thank you for listening to the end of this podcast.

[00:45:09] If you’ve enjoyed it, please do subscribe wherever it is. That, uh, you consume your podcasts. Thank you to the people that left us reviews last week. That’s been quite a few. It’s been really rather lovely. Um, if you do feel like leaving us a review, please, do we read them all wherever we can find them?

[00:45:24] The most obvious place of course is iTunes. I represents about 60% of the world listening to podcasts at the moment. I believe anyway. Uh, so please leave us a review and a rating up there. If it’s a review where you think I should change things, uh, then please do email me. Don’t write that in a review.

[00:45:42] Nobody wants to read that. No matter how confident I am, it stops me being optimistic. Uh, so please do email me. It’s Paul at paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk dot co.uk. That’s Paul. Uh, Paul Wilkinson photography.co.uk. Uh, also head across to the spiritual home of this podcast and mastering portrait photography podcast.

[00:46:02] And of course that home is mastering portrait photography.com, where there’s a whole heap of articles and ideas, all dedicated to the business, the craft, the art, the creativity, and well. Frankly, the enjoyment of portrait photography. We’re about to hit that with some reorg. I talk about that in the coming weeks.

[00:46:22] Um, and some new content, uh, we changed in the way that’s all working while I’m in the process of putting together thoughts on how we’re going to change that. Uh, hence the fact we’re now filming videos, uh, on a more regular basis. It’s all quite exciting. There’s a ton of stuff going on. Hopefully I won’t be asleep at my desk with too much of it because frankly that’s a big waste of time. But until next time stay awake and whatever else. Be kind to yourself.

[00:46:48] Take care.

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