Episode 29

Published on:

22nd Apr 2019

Jessica Robertson – A Photographer Podcast Interview

Matt interviews Jessica Robertson while at SYNC 2019. Her first career was a high school teacher, which is something Matt and Jessica have in common. They both loved working with that age group and still do. And they both love teaching (and learning), which is why they love to share what they know with the industry. Storytelling and collaborating with clients is what is working for Jessica. Listen in to find out more about how she does that. And don’t miss what she’s excited about in the industry now. You’ll also want to hear how Jessica overcame her fears when she first started… and how she stays in business now. Jessica’s advice on what to spend money on is based on where you are in your career, which is great. The best advice she ever received she uses on a daily basis and you’ll want to too.


Rachel Martin: What to Say

Online Resources:



https://www.facebook.com/groups/630336874012039/ – Shoot it Straight with Jessica Roberton


Read Full Transcript

Transcription was done by Temi.com which means it’s an AI generated transcript. The transcript may contain spelling, grammar and other errors, and is not a substitute for watching the video.


[00:01] Hi, this is Jessica Robertson and you’re listening to from nothing to profit.

[00:05] Welcome to from nothing to profit a photographer’s podcast with Matt and Kaia where each week they talk to photographers about what is working in their business now so you can swipe those ideas and grow your business faster.

[00:21] Hey everybody. So Matt here and I’m going to, I’m recording another podcast from sync without Kaia. Maybe next year we can all convince Kaia to come back here. She comes every year, which didn’t come this year. And so go ahead and just send her an email and let her know she has to come next year. Anyways, I’m, my guest today is Jessica Robinson, so I don’t know much about you because we don’t run in the same, I know we don’t, we don’t, we don’t, we don’t run in those same circles. We should. We should. We will. We will from now. But I just saw Jessica speak at sink and I was blown away by what you guys are doing. So I don’t want to steal your flame cause you already liked did your speech and so you can just tell everybody those slides again if you want. But I’m going to do it from start to beginning. Sure. Um, so tell, tell us real quick about your studio, what you guys are doing and all that stuff.

[01:09] Sure. So our studio was in Ashland, Virginia, just outside of Richmond. We photograph about 200 seniors a year in addition to some families and babies and some corporate work that we do. I started out of my home originally or I started on location really and then to my home. And then we opened our retail space in 2005. Um, our first studio was about 1500 square feet and we lived across the street because the street that you want to be on in our small town. And um, now we have a 3000 square foot studio and that’s been since 2011. I have a fabulous team that works with me. I’m very fortunate to have, um, Karen and Robin support me and help me so that I’m able to really do the thing that I love, which is photography. Yeah.

[01:46] Yeah. And then they’re here this week at sync with you as well. They’re really awesome people. So you are, let me just tell you, you are lucky.

[01:52] Oh, I’m so fortunate. I’m so incredibly wishing. Just have this whole podcast and just talk about them as what we should really, really, I mean it’s not really mean, let’s be honest. I just do what I’m told. I, I say that all the time and it’s DDN again, so you can you tell me this, I’m like, ah, I don’t really know. Ask Karen and Robin. I just do what I’m told to do and sometimes that’s way better. That’s what I’m saying is absolutely.

[02:11] Um, so what, what’s one thing that people wouldn’t know know about you, you know, as just like looking at your website and stuff like that? Like what, you know, is there anything, what’s

[02:21] I tell everybody everything about me now. Well, I think one that I started as a, as a teacher. And so I think that that makes me come from a different place. Um, I saw I had taught high school seniors and I really connect with that age. Um, I don’t know if that’s where I had to stop my mental state or something, but I do, I love working with that age bracket and I think that my history and my life previous to being a full time photographer, that really does help. It makes me understand, um, the people that I’m working with a little bit better.

[02:49] Yeah. And so I was hoping you’re gonna bring that up cause I used to be a teacher as well, so awesome. So I taught statistics at the high school,

[02:55] Gosh, five years having points and like come on into heaven were a high school teacher

[03:01] and you taught, uh, photography and biology, so that’s awesome. So when do you remember what years you taught and what years? 2000 to 2005. Okay. So I thought 2008 to 12 or something like that. Okay. That’s probably wrong too. Right? It’s so interesting because I’ve been removed from the classroom for so a little, I’m starting to actually like lose touch with our current seniors. You know, enough has changed since I left. When I first left the classroom, Alison was running the business the whole time I was teaching, but when I first lost the classroom I just felt like I had it dialed. Like I knew exactly how to talk to them and where they were and all that stuff they were into. And now I feel like I’ve lost a little bit, but I mean people are still people, so

[03:36] absolutely. Absolutely. I completely understand that. Relate-Ability um, and sometimes it makes it funny and I’ll make fun of myself in that regard. I’m like, I have no idea what you just said. Who’s, who’s the person that’s your favorite musician? Yeah. And then what, can you spell that for me? I really have no idea what you’re saying. Like genre of music are we talking about? Okay. I haven’t heard of that genre either. You know?

[03:53] No. And some of the artists now have like symbols and then it’s like, I really don’t get that when for the first rapper, that’s just all emojis. It’s coming. Hey, that’s a concept. That’s an idea. I think you should pitch that. Well, I saw on the news that that license plates are now in Florida now can have on an Emoji and then there’s like, there’s like six, I saw it when I was here. I think there’s six emojis. Like the Smiley one, the heart eyes won and you can now you can have customized plans with an Emoji at the end and then the cops like what does that symbol, how do I put that on that yet? I’m just going to pull that person ever. I don’t want to do that Emoji. Right. He’s like a w e f heart eyes. I think it’s, I think it’s a Cadillac. Right? So anyways, that’s all I, I think being a teacher also brought a lot of expertise to our business too. So do you miss teaching or not really?

[04:38] Well that’s why I came back to sync and teaching. So yeah, no, me too. I, I have to do some kind of outlet like that for sure. And I feel so fortunate because there’s been so many photographers that I am still so immensely grateful for. Um, and it is kind of a way of giving back, but it’s also, um, it makes me analyze what we’re doing so that I can give, convey that message, but then it also makes me reassess, are we doing the right thing and getting feedback from others that works for them. And so it’s, it’s, it’s kind of a full circle kind of thing as well. So, and I do believe that when you teach, you are also learning and just because someone’s a student, that doesn’t mean that they can’t teach you something. Yeah, absolutely. I really believe that. And sometimes that comes from yourself analysis, but sometimes it comes from the conversations you have with people. And so I, I love it. I do.

[05:23] Yeah. And I did some teaching here at sync this week. And like just some of the, when I was putting my presentation together I was like, I need a dial that part in my business and stuff a little bit. Like I’m like, I do that, but I know I can do that better. I don’t really know for sure. Okay. So let’s talk about the industry real quick. So the question is wash it before we’d go to the industry. There’s a question before that. So kind of the general question of our podcast is like what’s working now? So when you think of your business, like what’s working now and what would you tell our audience?

[05:50] So for me, when I thought about this question, I think that we have always centered our business and and really wanting to hear that person’s story so that we can visually create an image that matches. And I, I did

[06:06] how you need to include elements that are personal to them because that makes the portrait more important to them.

[06:11] Absolutely. And it do you see it as a collaborative effort. So then mom will go, oh well I’ve got an idea, but I don’t, I don’t, I don’t want to mess this up. And I’m absolutely not pleased. You obviously know your child better than I do. Please tell me about her. And that is a question we have on there. If your friends were to describe you, what would they say? And that’s actually really insightful. Um, so on our information sheet, when we have our consultation, that is something that I look at and I think that people are drawn to images that are a true reflection of them. They want to be special, they went to look different. They don’t want what everybody else has already had. And so if you draw out who they are, which is I think part of our job and understanding who they are, then you can create images that are reflection and they’re also unique and authentic and different.

[06:49] And you also talked to that, talked about how when they look at it in the future, they’ll look back and they have different memories than it just being the senior portrait session has some real meaning,

[06:58] experience, experiences, fun about about a time in their life and stuff like that, which I think is really important. So parents are more connected as images too because they’re like, I’ve seen my kid in that leotard on the gymnastics floor her whole entire life and I can’t believe that we now have these images to um, hold for posterity. It’s really beautiful.

[07:17] So tell us a little bit, you, you alluded this a little bit, but you kind of have a questionnaire. So how do you get this information out of them so that you can use it?

[07:25] So, um, when someone calls in and typically we try and bring people to the telephone, which just current generation is not a big fan out and they’d rather text or message. But we typically have a parent call and to us and we make a connection there. We have that relationship. We tell them it’s a no obligation consultation. Just come in, kind of see what we do and we send them an information sheet and it has a ton of questions and it’s so, it is their homework. We send them videos as well so they can get excited and start thinking about what they want. And then that way they’re not coming in completely blank. So when I say, tell me about your vision, what are you thinking you want to do for your senior portraits? It’s not a blank face. They should have thought about it. And if it is a blank face, then it might be a longer consultation

[08:03] cause, but your worksheet or whatever you wanna call your intake form or I don’t know, whatever you wanna call it, it’s open. It has open ended questions on it together. I’m thinking, yeah

[08:11] it does. Absolutely. It should trigger, oh I do want to incorporate that or I don’t want to. So if something, I mean my kids are involved in so many different things, it’s amazing how they’re volunteering involving her schools. And so when you look at those different things that are involved in that they’ve listed, it can’t just be like, ah, that’s just something I do to be a part of my school. Or is it something that’s really important to them is a driving force in their life.

[08:31] Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Okay, so that’s perfect. So what’s working now is getting that information from the including picture and I saw him from your images I saw at sync this week. Like it makes complete sense when you say thank you. Yeah. So you guys definitely look her up on Instagram and see your work. It’s amazing. Okay. So let’s switch gears real quick and talk about the industry. So the question is like what is one thing that has you fired up about in the industry that may be in a little bit over exaggeration, but when you think about the industry, what do you think it’s going or what, what do you think about when you, what were you, what do you hold true to about the industry?

[09:00] Well, technologically I think we’re continuing to see a lot of changes, you know, and for me, I’ve always used off camera flash and I do think that when we think about ways to make our, our imagery look different from others, I think that that’s a very easy way to do that. Now the evolution of that has changed significantly here in the last few years with high speed sync. And that for me is a game changer. I’m having a family wanting to be done every day, at least by five, um, and not wanting to start until eight 15. That’s kind of my schedule and I only work Monday through Friday. That is huge for me so that I can shoot it on a lower f stop and then, um, be able to crank up that shutter speed. So I think that that’s a huge game changer. But I also think that we as off camera flash shooters are kind of unique because there’s so many are just natural light. But because everything now has gotten so much cheaper and easier to use, um, I think that if people are willing to change, it may be more difficult honestly to differentiate yourself if everyone understands how to use lighting. Um, so I think that that’s really important.

[10:02] Yeah, no, that makes complete sense. So while I’ve been thinking about this a little bit too, because I feel like there’s two types of shooters and I haven’t quite identified, maybe there’s probably 1 million bucks. There’s natural light shooters and there’s a lot of like one light off camera flash shooters and I’m trying to figure out like, okay, if almost everybody is that what, what is like the third group or what is the fourth group that I can be a part of that I can push myself on? You know what I mean? Yeah. I just feel like, I’m like, okay that person, I see a group of people locally and they just carry round reflectors. And then I see, I come here and I see everybody has like a beauty, beauty, a beauty dish with like a sleeve on it. You know,

[10:37] that’s what, how you use that light I think is a way to differentiate yourself. So you know, if you’re more of a fashion kind of photographer then you’re gonna put it up high and kind of shoot it down low. Um, if you want it to be more dramatic, what you do at that light I think is as significant as using. Yeah.

[10:49] Got It. That makes something that’s fair because you probably have more versatility, more flexibility with that light versus like a reflector.

[10:55] Right? Absolutely. And I like being in control and light using an off camera flash allows me to be in more control than if a cloud comes over and I’m using a reflector like, well that,

[11:04] yeah, it doesn’t work. Right. Yeah. Right, exactly. Okay, so that’s really good. So let’s go jump into the lightening round a little bit. These, we have plenty of time, so don’t feel like we have to do these fasteners. Okay. Call the lighting round email. Maybe I’ll just change the name after your son will be the last wow. More lightening round. Just get dropped the mic on that you’ll be the last lightning round ever. Cause I don’t think it fits but, so what was holding you back from becoming a full time photographer when you first started money? So like you were worried that you were worried that like you weren’t met, you wouldn’t make money or

[11:34] there’s a lot of fear as well. So I have a degree in art with a concentration in photography. So I felt very secure in my craft. I knew that I looked young and so that was a difficult aspect from changing from I’m learning this craft and then how do I make that an actual business that can be lucrative and that can pay my bills. And there was fear as well that I didn’t understand this whole part of my career that I had no education on. And so a lot of it was intuitive in terms of this is how I would want to be treated or this makes sense. But there’s a lot of education that kind of went into that. And so I think that it was fortunate actually that I had that time to kind of figure that out. And you talked about under under your sink.

[12:14] I don’t want to keep referencing. That’s great. Everybody’s going to think it’s amazing. Yeah. Awesome. You talked about how your dad helped you a little bit. Absolutely no side of it as well. Right. And asking me those questions, like if you’re going to eat, want to get paid, like how are you going to pay yourself and how much is this going to cost? And, and he talked about a business plan, which I had absolutely no idea about. You know, and I find a really good way of saying what a business plan is to cause even to me as a business person, a business plan. Scary. Yeah. But you said it’s basically just like, uh, I don’t remember how to describe it. Like a roadmap of where you’re going or something like that is, yeah. And I think we want to start with the end and we want to figure out those steps along the way.

[12:48] And you know, even for me, I’m setting those goals and trying to figure out even now what else do I want to do? What else is more important to me? How do I shift my business with everything that is changing? So it’s a constant, constantly evolving plan. Yeah, it was seniors. It feels like it’s reinventing the business every year. And I think that that’s such a gift really. Because if we just sit back and go, oh well everybody loves me, they’re going, of course they’re going to come to me like you’re gonna be out of business quickly. And I think that that’s one thing that I’ve noticed in our industry. We have a lot of people are like, well, this is how I’ve always done it. Well then you’re definitely going to go out of business. Um, and you can’t sit back and say, this is how I’ve always done it.

[13:23] And every year, typically around this time, that’s when we reassess and we figured out what’s selling, what’s not, how we can, how can we serve our clients better if we sell them more? And I really struggle with this time of year being February because it’s just like, it’s a hard time cause it’s slowness, self doubt starts creeping and stuff. That’s what’s so good about me about coming to this conference was at the time that self doubt as creeped into a point where it’s almost like crazy. Then you come here and you’re like, oh it’s okay. And for us we’re so busy right now and we’re not busy necessarily like making money because we were planning for the year but even more so we’ve already started our 2020 models. So it is has been really intense because we do all of our friends sessions and then after our friend sessions we do elite sessions for our models.

[14:11] And so it’s a busy time for us, a lot of marketing and a lot of trying to get out there and be in front of that next class. You can book them all. Here’s the next question. I give you $1,000 right now and you have to buy something photo related. Like where would you spend that money photo related? Um, I would say I think it depends on where you are in your career, right? So if you are starting out and you’re trying to figure out this whole industry and what you want to do, I would say having some kind of mentor or having some kind of education that is hands on in depth learning so you don’t know what to buy until um, you get educated on that. So I do think that it’s best to invest in yourself and your craft initially. Sure. I think that if you are further on in your career, then maybe something photographic related would be the direction that I would go.

[15:00] Last year we completely changed our lighting system over and so that was a big investment. This year we went mirrorless with the USSR and I know all that site controversial, whether it’s Sony or an icon or whatever. But for me, I’ve always been a canon person and I really love what I’m getting out of it. The eye tracking is phenomenal and amazing. There’s always an adjustment is totally different. It’s an interpretation of what you’re seeing through the Lens. But I think it depends on where you are in your career as to what you really should be investing in. We’re on the right word. They’re looking at muralists right now. I don’t know. We, we talk about it then we just don’t talk about it. Right. When if what you have is working then great. You know for me I was getting to me things that were soft, you know I was, I was like, man, why?

[15:41] Why is that soft? And I don’t get anything that’s soft now. It is so sharp every single time. But you have to change how you shoot. Because before I would send her focus recomposed center focus, we can post, which is probably where some of that softness was coming from and then now you just composing camera. It finds that I and and has done. That’s really cool. It is cool. Keep looking into it. And I don’t know, one of these days I’ll just spend too much money in right when somebody else gives you that thousand dollars has been, there’s your answer right now. I’m not in fact now, okay, so now you get $1,000, but you, what would you not spend it on in the photo industry? Well, scroll through Facebook and you can probably see some of those things as well. Um, I see a lot of people that have not established their own look or their m brand or they’re not getting what they want in camera.

[16:30] And so they think there’s an easy fix. And I think a lot of people will go towards the, you know, people’s filters or there, oh, for the love of God actions. Right? And so they’re not establishing their own look, their own style. Instead they’re saying, oh, I like that person’s photography. Look at how crappy that image was to begin with, but she can fix it with just taking this great action and applying it. And then they get the action and they’re like, oh, how come it doesn’t work on this image? So yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Yeah. You see people in the industry kind of chasing looks and stuff like that. True to themselves. And I think initially it’s hard to figure out staying true to yourself because if you haven’t figured out what visually you love to create your, how you love to create that, I think it’s really hard when you’re saying just be yourself and you’re like, I’m trying to figure it out myself is what is that, you know?

[17:15] So I understand that place too. Cause I think there’s a lot of searching you have to do but then you also have to just become self aware. Absolutely everything in life. And you know, your style photography is just one of those things. The ascension of that. Yes. Okay. What is the best advice you’ve ever received so many years ago? I have a good friend Kevin Tobin who is one of the best humans I know. And I told him I was really nervous. I was teaching a class and I said, I’m just really nervous. And he said, he said, Jessica, you know, go back to what you already know in your own business. Think about how when you treat someone the way that, um, you, you, they want to be, you want to treat that person the way that you see them themselves. And then in the end, it doesn’t really matter what you say to them.

[17:55] It really matters in the end how you’ve made them feel. And so for us, we try and treat every client that way. And that was great advice for me because it didn’t really matter what I was actually saying. It really mattered how I made people feel around me and we hold that true to our clients as well. And here’s the people when I’m teaching, that kind of thing. Yeah, that makes sense. And I think, yeah, I think I wish that, I wish like I could wake up every morning and just like some of those fundamentals like treating people well and all that stuff was really my grained and who you are. It is because I’m a good person and absolutely. Yeah. It’s so easy by like 15 minutes into your day, you lose track of some of that stuff, honestly have that stuff. So dial. I think that’s why some people are successful because they’re just really good at that, you know?

[18:36] And some of us have to fake it sometimes too. You know, I said that, you know, sometimes you’re not having a great day or not feeling that great. But for me, knowing that when I’m photographing that senior, that that is the only time that they will ever be photographed in this moment of their life. The magnitude of that is pretty significant. Right? We’re looking forward to it for a long time. I absolutely, you know, I’ve got some kids that will come in and they’d be like, oh my gosh, ever since fourth grade I knew I was going to what? I’m like, are you serious? You’ve been thinking about as fourth grade. That’s awesome. You know? And so the pressure of that is significant. But I will say that that motivates you to be the best that you can be. And so I think that some of that feeds off of the senior, and that’s why I love seniors because they’re all unique. They’re all different tags still on them.

[19:22] I’m like, you’ve never worn any of these 10 outfits before? No. My mom told me I couldn’t until we had our senior portraits. Like dear Lord, you’ve got like $6,000 of the close right here. How many pair of Frye boots do you have? But it also tells me where someone is financially as well. So I used to feel really bad when I’m like, man, you just spent like $2,500 with me. No, I’m like there’s $2,500 with a boot sitting right there. You know? And so it gives you perspective as well that you’re a portraits from you around a lot longer than those proper boots. You know, that they’re gonna hate next year cause there had a season or somebody else has the same boots evil. So what is one personal habit that you think contributes to your success? I think that my work ethic is probably the thing really motivated, really hardworking.

[20:08] And I am, I am. And I think that we get motivation from a lot of different areas. You know, I’ve been a provider for my family and I really like my house and my car and I like to feed my children. You know, these really crazy concepts here. But I think that that is a motivation really. And so I, I don’t mind working really hard. I do want to be the best I can be. And I also know that it can be ripped away from you really quickly. And so if I’m not on my a game, if I’m not the best me that I can be, then I don’t want to fade into the wilderness there, you know, just becoming irrelevant and absolutely, and that’s part of why we’re here at saint too, because we want to make sure we’re aware of what’s going on, where you are aware of what products are out there that we’re giving the best to our clients.

[20:50] We’re educating ourselves. Most industries require continued education and a lot of people don’t invest in that. And it’s important as a teacher, you know, every three required and the kids have, they’re all having a good time. And you and I were like in the classroom or sleeping in the back corner is what you’re really doing. Cause it was God off when we brought somebody in and wasn’t a teacher or cutting jokes with the gym teacher. Putting snapchat filters on them on this beaker. Yeah. I mean I’ve never done that before. I’m always really respectful. Students recommend an internet resource for our audience. Something that word like maybe you go for inspiration or something you find yourself using all the time. Did you know I have a Facebook group. I do know about this shameless plug. Shameless plug is coming soon so I can plug it now and then we’ll, we’ll triple plug it in a minute.

[21:44] No, I don’t. I don’t do that because I am trying to give a plug really, but I do think that you said a lot of these Facebook groups or Internet groups or whatever it is can be really negative and especially this time of year, I don’t know what’s happening. My senior model applications are way down. I think that they’re just going to have all their friends take their images and it gets yucky. It’s really, it can be really Yucky or you know, I just blame all women and moms with a camera. That’s why I’m failing. Cause you know, I’ve got testosterone in my body or whatever it is. I mean, I don’t know. And so I built the whole platform, the whole platform on, on dispatch and mom with camera. Right, right guys. I’m totally joking. I did not do that. Someone would really hurt you. He’s like, I’m not dumb.

[22:27] I’m just using. No. So, um, so I, and I hadn’t been very active is that, I’ll be honest with you because I’m kind of like jump starting it right now. I do think there’s a place where we can go and tell funny stories. I think there’s a place that I want there to be a place and that’s why I created, shoot it straight with Jessica Robertson and it’s kind of an extension of, of the coaching that I do. And, um, I just think there’s a need for this. A little positive, a little funny. I mean, I make fun of myself all the time. I think that we glorify photographers in the world. You know, he’s like, oh my gosh, you’re a photographer. People say that all the time. And you’re like, yeah, and I swept through three shirts today and it’s not really that sexy, you know? And, but I do think there’s an opportunity there if you wanted to say your little happy joy, joy or anything that you want to bring this positive or celebrate or, or just even like ask a concern without like, okay, here’s another, what kills me about Facebook and judgment. You voice a concern and then like everybody tells you how to do it and it’s not, it’s not like you’re looking for advice, but you’re not like it’s condescending. Nature of their conversation can be really devastating itself. Yeah. You’re like, oh thanks. I was already down now.

[23:40] Just be nice to go somewhere for positivity and stuff on. I’m really glad that you created that group and

[23:47] do good things with this year. That’s one of my goals. And so to tell everybody the Oh, the name of it again, it’s shoot it straight with Jessica Robertson. Okay, perfect. So you guys should go. Definitely join. Thank you. Recommend a book that you wouldn’t want to share with the group and why?

[24:02] Sure. So I think one of the scariest parts of being a photographer is the sales aspect. Sure. And if you don’t have a good hold on that you won’t be able to just survive. So no matter how great of a photographer you are, unfortunately without sales and without products and without clients coming back to you for those products, you’re gonna fail. Sure. And we’ve learned a lot over the years in terms of sales, how to do it right or wrong. The things that I think all of us have and for me that book recently, um, is Rachel Martins book, what to say. And I think that it’s super quick read. I think that if anybody is doing sales for you, it should be like, hey, go and read this right away. And it changes your mindset on that sales process. Yeah. So

[24:46] no, that’s really good with it. Well, and I think the other thing that’s dumb numbers in our industry get thrown around ourselves too, right? So you’re already selling wise and numbers and lies. Yeah. So you’re already self conscious about it and then you then people like inflate their numbers a little bit too. Not everybody but so like, yeah, but it took me like 10 years to like kind of just build up a thick enough skin to that. But like I started ignoring those numbers. Some people would have huge sales and you don’t know the circumstances. Some people have small sales and they’re doing just fine. But lately I just think, yeah, as long as you’re moving forward in your business. Right. It was awesome. And that’s what I’ve heard great about her book is it kind of meets you wherever you are and just moves you forward. I heard it’s worth reading a couple of times even cause the first time you read it you pick up on certain things and pick up other stuff like that yourself.

[25:29] Absolutely. I was, I was talking to someone last night and she said, well I only do like 90 seniors. And I was like, what? Only what? And she’s like, well I know like you do more. And I’m like, you do 90 seniors. That’s phenomenal. And she’s like, well, it’s just me. And I was like, you do 90 seniors in this, just you. I’m like, why didn’t y’all like, how do you do? How do you do that? That’s a large number. And plus families plus, you know, and I think that we should be proud of where we are and if it’s not where we want to be, then figuring out how to change that.

[25:58] Right. And at the same time, you, you may want to not want to build a business that does 300 seniors, 4,000. Our average is like, it may not even,

[26:06] I mean, you’re making more money either. I think that that’s the thing, you know, um, someone said to me, well, my average is this much. And I said, well, that’s great, but you want to do 25 seniors a year? I do 200. And so you have to have that perspective. I have staff I have overhead, right? And so someone that is working out of their home, they might not need the same profit margin that I have to have literarily to stay, you know, paying my mortgage.

[26:27] Yeah, exactly. Yeah, no, it’s so interesting. And when PPA comes out of their benchmark, they break out retail versus, I love it. And it’s like so cool to see like a quick reference. Yeah. It’s like, oh, there can be more than one model in our industry, which is awesome. Sometimes you forget that when you were at a conference and you hear somebody saying, this is the way to do it. Then like, well maybe that’s the way to do it. Maybe we’ve been doing it wrong the whole time. And you can’t think that.

[26:46] Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And there’s lots of different ways to be successful and I think that that’s where the, one of the really cool things about being here at sank, you know, you know, first person gets on the stage and they say, this is how you have to do it in a second person says, no, this is how I do it. The next person says, no, this is not any new what? They’re all successful. Figuring out their own formula and being in different communities. You know, even today, um, Marissa said, you know, we sell a ton of metals. I can’t sell metals mine, that’s not my clients. That’s not my brand. Right. So it’s wonderful that one product is not great for everyone in every part of our country. So figuring out what works for you, I think it’s really good.

[27:16] Critical. Yeah, that’s, that’s a really good point. So the very last point is first of all, tell everybody where they can connect with you besides your Facebook group, because I know you do sell a few products, like some stuff that you use in your studio and stuff that you share with people that they can buy, like your forms and things like that. Um, so make sure you share that so they can connect with you. And then, and then at the end, just what some parting guidance you could give the audience. Sure.

[27:39] And there was one thing that I really wanted to talk to you about as well. There a question. She’s got questions for me. No right way to drive the car here. Um, this is not how the podcast is. We’ll start tacos. I’m in charge. Yeah. Um, he’s writing letters to me saying he hates me now. He’ll never welcomed me back. Now. So there was a question when you said there was a question that you had something about a product that has changed your business or something like that. I can’t remember. But anyway, it was for me, we noticed that we were not selling our sports images the way that I want it to. And I referenced this, you have to yesterday, which I think is really important. Um, and I love damn free vault and I love Ben Shirk and their composites, they’re amazing. But our brands a lot cleaner.

[28:18] And so for us, we started selling 10 by thirties simple composites. We’ve got some samples and one on our website. But for those that aren’t selling what they want, I think analyzing why they’re not selling those things. Sure. And figuring out how to actually sell them to describe the 10 by 30 you’re talking about, they were like five images there are kind of just key. They’re like keystroked around. Exactly. Super Clean. Yeah. They’re not as fancy as Dan and Ben, right. Smoking lightning and stuff like that. Like it’s just, it’s just a long, skinny ones. Five images. And they’re all, yeah, that’s really cool. So it’s clean, you know, and it works for my clients because their homes are a little bit more traditional and so it really does work with our brand. Yeah. Um, as far as connecting my website is Jessica robertson.com. And on there there’s information about education and coaching and there are areas where you can buy certain things.

[29:03] Part of our success is coming up with a process that really works for us, right? It works for our clients and works for us and we’re very clear about that for your staff so that everybody can work at their own speed and absolutely not waiting on everybody. Yeah. Right. And so part of that success has come from the creation of a, um, a book we put together and it’s a downloadable PSD. You can change everything, but it goes through our process. It goes through what clients need to do to prepare and it goes into hair and clothing and makeup, um, and color harmony and not wearing too many patterns and that kind of thing in preparation. Then it shows you all of our collections and all of our, yeah, cause

[29:42] one of the things that you said this week that was really interesting actually David Beckham said this, I think his podcast will come out before yours and he talked about this, um, that you’re so transparent about your pricing and that that’s kind of controversial in a sense because so many people are like don’t show them pricing until the sales, the till they’re older. Imagine being treated that way. I know. So, so you’re like, you’re like I show them everything up front.

[30:01] Absolutely. Answer any questions that they have. I mean it’s a process there. So when they come in and we go over everything and after I gave her the first collection, we literally stand up and I go, hey, you know what? It’s probably easier just to touch and feel it. So let’s go walk across the room. So I take them all away from the pricing and then they show me what they fall in love with. And if they fallen in love with something that may not initially have been a thing that they were going to select based on the price point. Yeah. And so at that point they’ve fallen in love with it and they want that. So then they have time between our consultation, their session, they’re ordering session that they can figure out how to make that work. And if that means breaking in debt payment plans, that’s awesome.

[30:35] We love to do that because then that means our clients are actually getting what they want. Sure. Um, but we do go over the pricing in full with each person in detail as part of this book that you should. So we print an 11 by 14 from h and h color lab and it’s beautiful. It’s professional, it’s clean. And for me, we don’t miss anything. So if I’m just supposed to remember when I’m going to say to my clients, I’ll forget something. Yeah. But it’s a, it’s a process. Again, like I said, it keeps me straight with every single client. And then we followed that up with some videos as well. So we’re trying to hit on all those ways we can educate our clients. Um, whether they’re reading it, they’re hearing it, and they’re also seeing it again. So there’s constant reminders. So they’re really ready for their session. Yeah.

[31:12] And so, and so this is like, you can just go to your website and the option to purchase all this or whatever

[31:18] you information about our model program too, which I think we do a little differently than a lot of folks in the country.

[31:24] Cool. And then you’re also doing a workshop with David Beckham, right?

[31:28] I am, yes. In May. So May 17th through the 19th. Uh, this is our second one. We had such a great time in Florida last year from our class and it hang some great feedback. And so, um, by popular demand we are coming back. Yeah. And this time we’re at my studio and there were a lot of people that had said, you know, I really just wish I could see this in your studio. And so, oh, great idea. So we’ll do that. And it’s nice to have all of our studio lighting. It’s nice that they can go into our ordering room. It’s nice they can feel and touch all of our products. And it’s great because if you live on the eastern seaboard, you can ride the train, the train stops right in our town. You can stay at our end right there. You can literally walk to the studio and we’ll be all around there with models and all inclusive.

[32:12] We say ask anything. Um, no. The tagline is anything. Learn every there. Yeah. Yeah. That was, I think they’ll learn everything. There we go. I haven’t said that how long time. Yeah. Um, but it is really that authenticity that in our businesses true as well. So if someone says, I need help with this, we sent out a questionnaire ahead of time. What are their top goals, the things that they want to do. So we really do customize the class based upon what people want to learn. Yeah. And so it’s not like, well I’m sorry, we’re not, that, that’s not in our class will cover anything that they need help with because we really want them to leave feeling like we’ve given them so much information, so much hands on learning and that they can go back and apply the things that they’ve learned.

[32:50] Right. That’s, that’s, that’s really awesome. And so yeah, I mean David, tell us about that and it sounds like, I mean it’s a really fun, cool. It makes me mad. I don’t want to do some workshops and stuff. I haven’t, I don’t do much of that stuff, but it’s so rewarding. But here’s the two things I always hear when it comes to think, hey, I wish I can be at your studio, see all this stuff and I wish I could come to Colorado. And I’m like, yeah, okay. I probably, I should probably look into that. Yeah, no I can just draw, drive him around and like a jeep all week. Like it was like a seven day ride with Matt. I’ll just get like, I’ll get like a church van to drive people around and talked to him the whole time. We don’t actually do any shooting. They just go see every mountain peak in Colorado. And that’d be kind of fun too. You’re the tour guide. Yeah, exactly. So any parting guidance for the audience?

[33:31] Hmm. Wow, that’s a heavy one, isn’t it? I know. Um, so I think that, uh, for me, figuring out who you are currently, where you want it to be and having that plan to get there is really critical. And I’m not being disappointed and where you are, but just wanting to make sure you’re moving forward in a direction that is ultimately able to achieve that goal, whatever that looks like.

[33:54] Yeah. And I think as I’ve been in business longer and longer, you could probably just talk, speak to those too. Sometimes it takes you longer than you would think to accomplish some of those goals, especially the first couple of years, that seems pretty easy to accomplish goals. But now sometimes I take longer. So not only just knowing where you are moving forward, but just giving yourself the patients to actually get there.

[34:11] Good. Not to be satisfied. You know, even for me now, like I’m never satisfied, you know, you look at some of the work of the people here and it’s just inspiring. It makes me want to be better. And so I think that again, if you stay, if you’re stagnant, then you’re not evolving and changing and you have to in this industry, you just really do. Okay.

[34:27] That’s awesome. Well, Hey, thank you so much for being, and now we’re now we’re friends. Yeah, I know. So I’m now I can, I’ll DM you like at 11 o’clock at night while you’re trying to rate for your kids to bed and stuff like that. Anyways, thanks so much for being on here and taking the time. It’s a pleasure. I’m so everybody, Jessica Robinson, um, check her out online and check out our materials. Some of the best out there I’ve seen. Yeah. And that’s all we got for this week, guys. We’ll see you next week.

[34:52] Thank you for listening to from nothing to profit a photographer’s podcast with Matt and Kaiya. Be sure to subscribe for more business strategy and ideas to help you create a profitable and successful business you’ve always wanted. See you on the next episode of from nothing to profit.



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About the Podcast

From Nothing to Profit
From Nothing to Profit join Matt and Kia as they interview professional photographers and found out what is working now for their photography business
Welcome to “From nothing to Profit, a photographers podcast”. Every week Matt Hoaglin and Kia Bondurant interview successful photographers that own profitable portrait studios. The goal is to find out what is working in their business now and see what is making them so profitable. From marketing tips to business secrets, Matt and Kia will ask all the difficult questions so you can take your business from nothing to profit. If you listen to this every week, not only will you have an action plan to grow your business but you will know what the best photographers in the world are thinking about right now. Your competition will have no idea what hit them. You will steal market share and have a list of amazing marketing ideas to use all year long. If you want your portrait studio to supply for your family this is the podcast for you. Stay tuned as we interview the very best photographers in the industry so you can swipe their marketing ideas and business practices.
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