From Nothing to Profit

A Photographer's Podcast

Episode 35

Published on:

3rd Jun 2019

Shannon Atchley – A Photographer Podcast Interview

Read Show Notes

On this podcast, Kia and Matt interview Shannon Atchley, who is known for her lighting skills. She teaches lighting at the Modern Senior Imagine Conference and is teaching at SYNC next year. Shannon is a photographer in a very small town and says word of mouth is so important. You have to set, and then exceed, expectations. Shannon is fired up about how good people are in our industry and how willing everyone is to help. Shannon didn’t go to conferences until a couple of years ago, but she did participate in online forums (I Love Photography). Shannon would either save the 1k for a Sigma Art 105mm, or spend it on sales education. Or a Denny’s background. You’ll have to listen in to get that inside joke. Don’t miss the best advice Shannon ever “received” and the advice she has to share.

Resources from Shannon:

Pictocolor (plug in)



Lindsay Adler posing book

Follow Shannon:

Instagram/FB: atchleyphotography


Read Full Transcript

[00:01] They said, Shannon, actually from actually photography and you’re listening to from nothing to profit.

[00:06] Welcome to from nothing to profit a photographer’s podcast with Matt and Kayak 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.

[00:22] Hey everybody, welcome to the podcast. So I’m really excited. I have my friend Shannon Ashley on from northern Alabama and we have a really cool story where we met, I mean it was I guess over a year ago now. We met at after dark, um, and we’ve been fast friends ever since. And so we hung out at sink this year and next year we’re speaking together at sync. And in some aspects I think like you’re like my soulmate of a friend because you’re hilarious and you always make my day brighter and make me laugh pretty hard. So thanks so much for being on the podcast.

[00:57] Well thank you for asking me.

[00:59] Yeah. So Shannon, we are, I’m excited to have you too.

[01:03] Oh, you guys are both great. I’m excited to be here.

[01:06] Yeah. So here’s, let me tell you a little bit more. So it’s kind of, this is how, this is how I met Shannon. So I was, I went to after dark and I was doing like this walk about with Marcy, Marcy and Christy and Shannon was there and I hadn’t met her at all, but she wasn’t, she was there and um, I was talking to Marcy and Marcy is like, yeah, you know, like we’re okay, but have you seen Shannon’s work? And I was like, no, I don’t know who Shannon is. So like as we’re walking around downtown in the middle of Wisconsin, I’m like looking at her Instagram and like dialed lighting, you know, like I would say you’re probably one of the better photographers, Shannon. I’ve ever seen it off. Um, off camera lighting for sure.

[01:41] No. Well thank you. Yeah, I didn’t even realize that. Didn’t realize you were looking at me at after dark except, but they are now. Yeah. But I did not realize that. So that’s, that’s really awesome because you’re so good. You’re in Cape Cod is it’s caught. Yes.

[01:58] Hi. Yes it is fine.

[02:00] Okay. You guys are both great. So that is a huge compliment coming from you. Yeah.

[02:06] Well thanks. Um, okay, so let’s just kind of jump into the questions and kind of go from there.

[02:10] Yeah, yeah, for sure. Huh. So Shannon, we’re going to start at the beginning here. And so, um, can you share a little bit of, uh, like your expertise or what you feel like you’re known for?

[02:22] I feel like I’m acting, I am known for lighting. Um, you mean in the photography world or with the Bobbitt yes, yes. In the photography world. Yeah. I would say it’s sliding. I actually teach lighting at the modern senior. Imagine. Um, I, I guess that’s it. I’ve really never asked anybody, but like, you know, that’s the venue noticed my art when you looked at my work. So I would say that that’s it.

[02:47] And then what about like under your photography? I’d like with your clients? Um, what do you think you’re known for?

[02:53] Well, seniors, senior portrait photography. I’m pretty much known for that in my area. I do still do everything. I’m in such a small town, the high school across the road from my studio graduates like 60 to 70 kids a year. So, and I, I will say we have about seven small schools around in the area that graduate the sign number. But nobody, we just don’t have any big schools. So I’m in such a small town that I’m really the only, which our town is not even incorporated. So when I say the, I’m the only photography studio in town, that’s not really saying a lot, but, but I really am. So I still do everything even though I specialize in senior portrait photography.

[03:35] Okay. So I have a question about that because I didn’t realize your town was so small. Cutting jokes didn’t know about that. So how, so how do you, how do you stay like sharpen on top of it? Like where that internal motivation, because if you’re the only game in town, like it’d be really easy for you to get lazy and just not do my, you know what I mean? Like,

[03:54] well, it really all kind of started last year and I had never been to really anything, any conferences. I’ve been to nothing until I went to saint class chair because my kids were home. They were getting ready for college and I knew that they wouldn’t be there that much long. You know, they would be headed to college soon. And so I wouldn’t go to anything. One time I, I wouldn’t even go to imaging when it was in Nashville, which is about two hours for me. So when I went to sync for the first time last year, it was like an entire new world just opened up for me. And you know, I realized that even though I had learned a lot on my own, I had learned through books and Youtube is, there’s something about learning with when you’re with other people, with your payers and at conferences. So I really think that motivates me to stay on top of things now because I realized just how much, how incredible it is to be around your peers and learn from them and pick up things, which since I went to saint last year, I went to lots of things since then and I think that keeps me on top of things. I just, yeah,

[04:56] but, and you’ve been in business for like 13 years, like new game in town?

[05:00] Oh No, no. I’ve been in business 13 years, but, and really I look back on the stuff that I was doing five, seven, 13 years ago and it’s, I think the quality is the same as what I’ve been doing in the last year. It’s just more fun, I guess that’s what I should say. It’s more fun when you’re around your peers.

[05:19] Yeah. So you know, five, seven years ago, all you were doing was collecting Denny backgrounds, right? That’s what you,

[05:25] your RV? It’s pretty much Nah.

[05:29] Okay. She has like the complete catalog.

[05:33] Do you shoot for them then? How does that work? Well, it’s just a, you know, if they’ve ever needed anything, if they’ve ever needed a backdrop drop photograph. But I had bought so many from them and you know, I would send them images of the one. So now I don’t know, I don’t work for Dnas, you know, I think they’re a great company. They’re my backdrop company. They’re the only ones I buy back jobs from, but I don’t work for them.

[05:57] Yeah. So you’ve that, that’s really interesting. I just assumed you did. I saw your stuff and I thought, oh well they must just hire her to photograph their backgrounds.

[06:05] No, no. Jordan is the, you know, Danny’s photographer and he’s great, but we’re really good friends and that is just such a great company. They are a family owned company. They, you know, the sisters and Deni still works there. It’s just, it’s just a great family owned company and I just lock them all so much that he bought 305 backgrounds. Call this lady and see what she’s up. I do have a lot of backgrounds. I really do. Yeah.

[06:38] For our listeners, if you go to Shannon’s a Instagram or website that you will see a lot of, uh, backgrounds that you could have similar ones from Denny manufacturing. So that’s what we’re talking about. Um, okay. So Shannon, this is one of my questions for you though, is, you know, you said you had never been to any conferences or things like that until your kids were, you knew your kids were kind of out of the house. Why is that? Did you just like to stay home with them or were you just too busy?

[07:07] Well, I was always busy. My businesses is an APP, been busy for years. I know that sounds crazy, but yeah, there was that, I didn’t want to miss anything that they were doing. I don’t want to miss anything at school, you know, any that were always involved in sports. I always involved in so many things. That was just, it felt like there was no time for that. So once I went off to college, now have tons of free time. So, well, I wouldn’t say no. I’m still busy and I don’t have tons of free time. But I do travel more.

[07:38] Yeah. Yeah. You’re not worried about missing anything. You can make your plans only on your schedule. Really. Exactly. Yeah, that makes sense. Um, okay, so our next question is what do you feel like one of the things you’ve said is you are busy and you’ve been busy all along, so it doesn’t sound like you’ve come up against like a time where you’ve worried about getting business. Is that true? That is true. Okay. So what do you feel like it is the thing that works for you or what do you feel like is really working now for you and your business?

[08:11] I feel like that being in a small town, word of mouth is the most important thing that, that I have going for me and it, it really is. I feel like if you are just good to people and you exceed their expectations and you’re good to them and you take care of them and that’s why I say I love shooting senior portraits and that is mainly what I do. But if somebody needs something else, I’m going to do that too. It may not be my favorite thing to do, but because of it’s almost like a small town doctor, you kind of have to take care of everything. And I do that and because I, I do that, I just feel like the word of mouth and the good customer service is why I’m so busy. And the model program, the model program has really kept busy too. I mean it keeps the model program. I have so many models and of course they are clients. So just right off the bat you’ve got, if I have 25 30 models, that’s 25 or 30 seniors that I’ll shoot that year.

[09:08] Yeah. So do you photograph weddings then?

[09:11] I do not. There is one on my website or on my Facebook page, not on my website, just because it was a friend, a friend that her daughter grew up with my boys and it was just a really, really small wedding. But no, I would never shoot like a, I have no desire. I don’t, I won’t say never, but I have no desire to shoot weddings.

[09:30] Yeah. So you do say no to that you

[09:32] I didn’t say no to that. Weddings are the one that is the only thing I really say no to. I’ll do engagement sessions, but I will say no to weddings.

[09:42] So I have a question. You say, you were saying word of mouth on exceeding expectations is the secret to your business. So I think, tell me if I’m right or wrong answer if you even think about this, but part of exceeding expectations is like setting expectations from the beginning. Right? Cause like I’ll give you an example. I’m not going to go too far down on this tangent Kaia but like I have my house, I’m getting some repair work done in my house. I was giant hole in my living room from my roof. It’s a mess. And at first it was okay, but now like the contractor is like out, you know, I’ll text you guys on Monday and then it’ll be like four o’clock on Monday. We still haven’t heard from him. So then it’s like she set an expectation and then didn’t meet it. And so then it doesn’t feel like very good service, even if in the end result’s the same. So do you think about how you set expectations for people to, to exceed them or do you just naturally kind of do it or what goes through your head with that? Actually

[10:36] thank, I just naturally do it because I’m very worried about, you know, I’ll always want to make sure that my customer service is good. So I don’t, I don’t really set, I mean of course I tell them what to expect, but I pretty much try to, you know, live up to those expectations and then I do, I try to go above with everything. Yeah,

[10:56] that makes sense. So it’s like no matter what you tell them, you’re like, okay, I told them I’m going to do this and now what’s the little bit of extra I could go on it?

[11:02] Well, yes. And if, if Cya tell somebody I would have their gallery up the on a certain day and for some reason I didn’t, then I usually will message you on. I’ll be apologizing and explaining or I don’t know. I always try to make things right if I slip up. So, um, yeah. And I do, I think that’s just good customer service.

[11:23] Yeah, definitely. Yeah. Very good. Um, okay, so now that you’ve really gotten involved in kind of the bigger, uh, photography world, what is the one thing that you’re most fired up about in the industry today?

[11:38] Well, uh, you know, technical things I’m so fired up about, or of course the hospitals, saint flashes, mirrorless camera, you know, all that. But really what I’m fired up about the industry is all of the educational opportunities that are out there. All of the people that are just willing help you. Pretty much the people I’m fired up about the paypal and how good people are in our industry. I mean, do you guys not think that it’s just so incredible when you go to any of these conferences or anything like that? People are just so willing to help you all the time? Eh, you know, if you need anything, they are education or they’re always willing to just reach out and they want you to succeed. I feel like that everybody I’ve run into is trying know, they really seem to be invested in your success. I don’t. Does that make sense?

[12:28] And here’s another way I think about it too, and I, this just came to me the other day, like sometimes you meet like a salty photographer, you know, that’s just like grumpy or burnout or whatever it is. And I think they stick out like a sore thumb, not because they’re more grumpy than anybody else in the world, but because our industry is so good and so willing to help that they’re in a sharp contrast to the average person in the industry. You know what I mean? So when someone is burnout or not willing to help or jaded like you’re like, that’s not normal because the normal in our industry is like, how can I help you? You know, what can I show you? You know, who can I connect you with so that you know, you have the thing that you need to improve your business this week kind of thing. Cause that’s,

[13:12] that is exactly right. And exactly how I fail. Just every age. If you give people the chance, I feel like a lot of people don’t really give people the chance to help them if you’re standoffish. And if you don’t really get in there and interact with people, of course people don’t, are not usually going to go out of their way to just track you down. But if you’re just trying just a little bit, the people that will help you is, it’s just, it’s amazing to me. And I never realized it until I started going to things. And you know, even though I was successful in my bed, in my business was good before I ever went to anything. I’ve already just, just in the past year I have changed so much and it just so much better and it’s better because I’ve had so many people that are just out there willing to help me.

[13:58] Yeah. So, so here’s a question for you. So like when I met you at after dark, you know, you’re, you’re hanging out with all the fancy people, you know, and, uh, and that’s true. Like it’s thinking stuff too. And, I mean, did you just approach those people and just say like, Hey, I’m Shannon. Like, just talk to him. Like, I mean, how did you become fast friends with so many people?

[14:18] Well, you know Marcy, Marcy and Christy know everybody and I was friends with them. We met actually years ago on a photography for them. So even though I didn’t go, you know, out of my little comfort or out of my little studio area, I knew people online, you know, there was so many photography groups. Uh, it was back when pro forum, the one I was on was, I love photography. Y’all probably don’t. I don’t know. Do y’all remember that one? Okay. Yes, I’ll pay. Well what was true mouth? She did. She come up out of that one. I don’t think did she met with a different one for her? There were so, so many at the time. But I love photography was like my main one and I was really a frequent poster, you know. So when you would do the forums, you know, you had your people that posted a lot.

[15:05] So I was a pretty good poster. And so I probably, I knew a lot of people, I knew Marcy from there actually we still have, you know, we still have connections through that group. There are so many ways that you can have connections in the industry even if you’d never go anywhere. And because with online now, I mean, you know, you can thank you. You can know so many people without actually ever meeting them personally. So even though, but I had met Marci in person, Marcy increase the, in our little group from that I had met and the reason we went to, you know, she was speaking at same class...

Episode 34

Published on:

27th May 2019

Chris Scott – A Photographer Podcast Interview

Read Show Notes

Matt & Kia interview Chris Scott in this episode. He is based in Colorado Springs and he and his wife specialize in helping shoot and burn photographers transition to in person sales and printing. Chris and his wife started out as shoot and burn photographers and switching to in person sales changed their life. Virtual/remote in person sales is a great solution to not having a sales space or working with out of town clients. We just need to educate our clients on what they can do with their pictures. The selling happens in the planning meeting. Don’t miss what Chris would and wouldn’t spend his $1k on – if you’re a consistent listener to this podcast, you’ll be surprised! You definitely want to listen to hear the best advice Chris every received and his mantra for daily life.

Chris’s Favorite Resources

Manychat – chatbot for FB messenger

10x Marketing formula ( 


Read Full Transcript


[00:01] Hey, this is Chris Scott and you are listening to from nothing to profit.

[00:05] Welcome to from nothing to profit of photographers podcast with Matt and Kayak 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 super excited about this episode. So my friend Chris Scott is on, it’s going to be a little bit different, um, than some of the other podcasts where, where you’ve interviewed photographers because Chris, uh, and his wife actually don’t live very far from me and Carl or Colorado Springs, but they own a swift galleries as well as um, in Chris. You can tell me more about this, but you also have this whole mission right now where you’re trying to move people from shooting burn to in person sales, right? Yup,

[00:50] Yup. Absolutely. So we, we run, um, it’s a, the printmaker system, which is kind of our education side of things and a swift galleries, which is the tool itself that helps people, uh, well people helps photographers show their clients with their photos, will look like on their walls at the right size and then walks them step by step through an entire in person sales meeting. And we really kind of specialize in helping those shoot and burn photographers make the switch from shooting burden over to in person sales. That’s awesome. Yeah. Yeah. And we do that through the podcast too, which is called the print maker podcast.

[01:23] Perfect. And Chi, you’ve never met Chris before, right?

[01:26] No, but I’m super excited when you told me what he was talking about. I just feel like that, um, Chris that, you know, I want to, what I, one of the things I want to learn is why you decided to make that, you know, one of your main things is teaching people how to do in person sales. But from my viewpoint, I just feel like that is a way to really change photographers lives and change it from something that they do on the side to something that they can do full time. So that’s what I’m guessing you’re gonna say, but I’m curious. So,

[01:55] Ooh, interesting. Cause I might come at it from a different, a slightly different angle. So the reason that this is so, uh, that we’re so passionate about this is because Adrian and I did run our own photography business for a number of years and we started out at a shoot and burn photographers. We made about $150 on average per session. And in our first year of switching to in person sales, we went from those hundred $50 average is $220,000 in that first year. And it was absolutely life changing for us. You know what I mean? It sounds overly dramatic. Like it changed her life. Snow. It did. There is, it’s a completely different life when, um, you know, when you’re kind of just scraping by to like, okay, we don’t really have to worry about money. And we can really choose who we want to work with at this point.

[02:45] So we just started teaching some of our friends, this is back when we lived in Nashville. We started teaching some of our friends who are also photographers about what it is that we were doing. And that evolved into starting an APP. It was preveal, uh, that was an iPad app that that was kind of the precursor to where we are now with swift galleries. So, yeah, and, and you know, my, my goal at this point is not necessarily to take people through the exact steps that we did were where it’s like, okay, now I’m going to show, I feel like there’s so much six-figure hype in the, in the industry right now, and there’s really, there are a lot of photographers who don’t necessarily want to go full time, but they want to make this worth their time. And that’s really where we’re focused is let’s take those, those moms, uh, you know, the stay at home moms or the weekend warriors or the, you know, these shooting burners and let’s figure out how we can help them make this worth their while they’re spending this time away from their families.

[03:44] They’re spending this time away from, you know, other commitments. How can we help them just make it worth their time and help them feel as fulfilled as we did? You know, I mean, there’s something, we talk about money a lot. We talk about, Oh yeah, we made you know, x number of dollars a year and all of that. But that doesn’t even touch that feeling that you get as an artist when a client hands you a check for $3,000 and then is like crying and hugging you and thanking you like that is the most surreal thing ever. And there’s something to that as an artist that’s like, wow, I made this money. I didn’t just clock in and clock out. This person thinks I’m worth this. So if we can bring all of those things to these people who are just kind of slogging away day in and day out, then then I think that we’ve done our job.

[04:33] Very cool. Okay. Math, what’s our first question here? I think the start with kind of won’t Chris, what you see that’s working, um, in the industry now. So you know, and you can talk more about how that relates to the printmaker thing or whatever, but in the year, what do you, what do you think’s working for photographers now that you would want our audience to pay attention to? Yeah, so virtual or remote in person sales right now I think is, is a, um, something that a lot of photographers are not really tapping into. So this really fits in line with what it is that we’re doing. You know, trying to take these people who, who don’t necessarily have a sales space or you know, all of this time to travel to and from their clients’ homes or you know, any of that stuff and saying, hey, you know what, you don’t need all of that to do in person sales.

[05:21] Really all you need is a laptop and an Internet connection. So being able to run a full in person sales meeting using something like zoom and obviously I’m going to say swift galleries and being able to get those benefits of in person sales without really all of the, the uh, the overhead commitment, the, you know, the space having to clean up after your kids before somebody comes over, you know, the travel time, all of that. Um, we’re seeing just a huge amount of success with our members doing remote in person sales. Basically just doing an in person sales meeting in realtime. Just doing it all online though. Yeah. And so the right and then in person

[05:58] sales is that you’re going to guide the customer through the purchasing process and not just put it on a website and let them just figure it out for themselves and justify everything up and down and you know, you’re actually there to help them. Exactly. What you’re saying is like you’re still doing that guide and you’re just doing it virtually because you’re on a zoom call where you know, Jeff, maybe chair sharing screens are looking at each other through webcams or whatever and you’re able to still guide them through that process.

[06:20] Yup. Exactly. So the reason, there are a handful of reasons that we believe in person sales work. So number one is you are there, you’re, you’re that guide, you know, and there’s, man, there’s so much to this, there’s a lot that really needs to happen before the sales meeting. But just with respect to the sales meeting itself, you’re there, you can guide them through it. Um, another really big aspect of it is that everyone is setting aside that time to do it. So that’s a real big problem that we see with online sales is, you know, you send over an email that says, hey, your galleries ready and your client’s going to sit there in their boxer shorts at, you know, 11 o’clock at night or, or worse at five in the afternoon. And then life just gets in the way the kids need to eat and it’s time for bed and you know, all of that stuff.

[07:02] And those images that they genuinely are excited about, they just don’t, they never set aside the time to do anything with them to do something about it. And then you layer on top of that, uh, what we were just talking about, this idea that the clients really don’t know what to do with stuff. You know, everybody talks about, oh my clients only want digital files. Well that’s really our fault. We as an industry have taught our clients that that’s all they need. So if you can step into that cap now and say, hey, you know what, there are other things that you can do with these. And, and if you truly believe, and this is what we believe, that my job is as a photographer isn’t done until I’ve helped you figure out what to do with these, you know, so that, so that I’m doing more than saying, Hey, here are your files. Good luck figuring out what to do with them, you know, something like that. So instead I’m saying, Hey, I can walk you through this. And you’re exactly right. I’m doing this all online so that they don’t have the time commitment and the space commitment. Basically. I just need a blank wall behind me and a laptop and an Internet connection. So

[08:05] that’s awesome. Well, and this is really, here’s a really cool example. Like I’ve always believed exactly what you said that like, we just need, you know, we’re, I mean an educate our clients that there what they can do with their portraits because most people never buy photography. It’s similar to like them buying a car, but the auto industry spends billions of dollars a year trying to educate them on how to buy a car. Yeah. But we, we have, we have an uphill challenge of having to do that without all the advertising dollars. But, um, it’s really interesting. So we just did a dance. We just photographed as dance studio and um, did a lot of tips that we learned from Rose Coleman, who we had on the podcast a months ago. And it was amazing. We actually did more print sales and digital sales. At this and that. And it wasn’t really an incentive to do prints over digital. We just use some of her systems to kind of educate them what, what was possible. And you know, it was definitely 70% sales and 30% digital. This was really cool. Yeah, that’s incredible.

[08:59] Well, I was just gonna say, I, you know, I’ve had, I’ve been doing this for 20 years and so I was totally print and then a partial digital. And then, uh, I started a new studio and I was just like, I don’t want to deal with this. And so I was mostly digital and now my clients are coming back and saying, we don’t want digital files because we’re not doing anything with them. And so I’m actually transitioning all my pricing to have prints go with everything. And I even, I don’t know, I have a sad story that goes along with us. I don’t know, you know, how, what all you guys do to tell to convince people to do it. But, um, I can’t get into my digital archives from 10 or 12, 15 years ago. Like my, those old hard drives, I can’t get to link to my new computers.

[09:49] And so I just had a friend pass away about six months ago and I had photographed her, but I could not get to those files. And so I ended up, we had printed albums of her and I photographed images from the album and use those. And so I’m just like so, so convinced. I’m like, you have to print these because there’s no guarantee that there’s, you know, I mean, apple changes, they’re a little dongle every time they make a new thing. Right. You know, there’s no guarantee I’m going to be able to get to these.

[10:16] Yeah. We, we, we jokingly refer to it as, it’s cool. I backed all my photos up on my space. Yeah. You know, it’s like, yeah, nobody’s ever saying that, but you know, at some point that’s what everybody was thinking and, and you know, this technology’s gonna Change.

[10:31] Yeah. Yeah. That’s awesome. Okay. So real quick and kind of want to you to tell us a little bit more about your story in terms of like, just kind of quickly how you ended up into the, in the software space, um, and kind of that, and then right after that we’ll, we’ll take a break and then we’ll ask you some more questions about where you see the industry going and stuff. So, yeah. So how did, how’d you end up like, and like, I mean in software, I don’t know what you want to call it, but I mean maybe sales as a service, but our software is a service, but how’d you end up there?

[11:00] Yeah, it was, um, it was really just kind of dumb luck. We, uh, yes, we were shooting, uh, weddings and portraits full time, uh, for a number of years. And we were waiting for pro select to make a mobile version of pro select cause we were approached select users at the time and they didn’t do it. They didn’t do it. We literally waited a year and then we, um, we just said, screw it, let’s, let’s try this. Um, and it was one of these things where it was like a, the husband of a friend and I knew nothing about software development at the time. Like I was like, Hey, your husband writes code. Right? Like, and that was to me, that was like, oh, so clearly he can do this. And, um, and we just got really lucky and a, and he could do it and, and that’s, you know, preveal kind of took off.

[11:47] Right. I mean, just immediately took off. It was very surprising to us. Um, and, um, and yeah, that was right about the time that we, we had our, our first kid, we have a, now we have a, gosh, a six year old daughter and a four year old son. And, um, yeah, that was about the time that we had our first kid. We moved from, from Tennessee to Colorado, and it took over our lives, you know, as we jokingly or not, not even jokingly, we thought, you know, okay, we’re gonna, we’re gonna launch this thing and it’s gonna make us money while we sleep. And then like, now we just don’t sleep anymore. You know, it, it just took over. So it actually ended up being a really good transition for us. I, I was, um, recently diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and was starting to, I’d now that I look back, uh, I was starting to really deal with a lot of those symptoms where I couldn’t, you know, we’d get to the end of a, of a doubleheader wedding weekend and I wouldn’t be able to pick things up for a few days or you know, worse.

[12:46] I wouldn’t be able to grab a glass of water in the mornings or something like that. And I thought, wow, I’m just really out of shape. Come to find out now. It was all of this stuff kind of coming up. So all of these kinds of culminated in us moving markets and all of that and saying, Hey, you know what? This is actually a fulltime job. Let’s treat it like one. So we bowed out of, of shooting full time and then just started running software. And from there we made our, our education a little bit more formal, a as opposed to like just sitting down and having milkshakes with friends and talking about what it is that we’re doing. We started, you know, putting together some courses and stuff and that’s kind of led to where we are now with the, with the printmaker system. So what we do now is, um, is a course called the path to a printmaker and it kind of walks people through how to attract the right clients to their business, how to excite them about products, how to, um, and then how to delight them with the sales process that feels nothing like sales. And then we pair that with, with the swift galleries tool, uh, and then a, a community that we call the per maker coalition online.

[13:49] Cool. Yeah, I think so. I think so cool about your platform is like, I think the power of your, of what you’re doing is in the education. Yes. And then it’s like, but you know how the education goes, you watched the new, you’re like, oh yeah, well this sounds all great. Like, okay, I get it. But you know, in the ideal world, of course I would do all this stuff, Chris. And then you’re able to say, well like here’s swift galleries. That’s kind of the shortcut. Yup. You know, to make this happen for you, you know, like where you don’t have to like wreck, wreck your brain around it. It just makes it simple for you. So that’s pretty cool that like, you know, they, they kind of go together.

[14:23] Thanks man. That’s, and that was really our goal was this idea that like, you know, education and tools, it’s all theirs. I mean, education at this point is a diamond dozen. You know, you can find this stuff online, but it becomes this, this kind of mass of like, so we refer to it or to me it’s sort of like I’m dumping like a dozen different puzzles into one pile and then trying to make sense of the mess because I have a ton of access to education, but I really don’t how this fits together. So you know, if you look at like the Facebook groups that are out there like yeah, they’re a wealth of free information, but it’s literally coming at you every few seconds in no discernible order. And you’re like, well how does this tip from this person fit with this thing from this person fits with this step from over here.

[15:11] So we wanted to look and say like, you know what? We’re really stinking good at this. So let’s just build out this full end to end thing that says like, look, we’re going to show you how to sell....

Episode 33

Published on:

20th May 2019

Brianna Gamble – A Photographer Podcast Interview

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Matt and Brianna originally met at Seniors Ignite and just reconnected at SYNC. Brianna is in Northern California and is most well known for her destination sessions with her high school seniors and her model program. Last year, Brianna brought on 3 associate photographers, to help her photograph her hundreds of clients and bridge the gap between tweens and seniors. Brianna’s favorite part of her photography business is running the business. Brianna decided what she wants her life to look like, then worked backwards from there to make sure her business could provide that. You’ll want to listen in to how Brianna runs her underclassmen program. Brianna’s team does a retreat every year to plan the year based on their mission statement and core values and also their financial goals so they know what to try and whether it’s working. This podcast is full of amazing tips and advice – this is one you’ll want to listen to again and again.

Internet Resources

Megan Dipero’s FB group – Rise to the Top – actionable tips


Profit First


Connect with Brianna:

Instagram @briannagamblephoto


Read Full Transcript

Transcription was done by 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] This is Briana Gamble and you are listening to from nothing to profit.

[00:05] Welcome to from nothing to profit a photographer’s podcast with Matt and Kayak. We’re 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, welcome everybody. Another week, another podcast. I hope you really enjoying these this week we have my friend Brianna gamble from northern California and she sent me a bio but I don’t know if I really need to use it but because we have, we met years ago at seniors ignite and just, you know, had some conversations and I’ve always followed you on social media and your work is top, top notch in the senior world. And so yeah. And we reconnected. Where do, where do we reconnect? Just a few weeks.

[00:50] Um, we were at the sink. At the same conference.

[00:52] Yeah. Okay. Thank you. I’m sorry I’m been to so many conferences lately. I can’t even keep track. I’m like, why would I have seen you in Minnesota? But, um, yeah, so we saw each other at the sink and we talked and you told me what was going on and it sounded like you had, you know, your business is doing great and you’d have some associate photographers and so we can talk about any of that stuff that you want to talk about. But what I guess what our audience needs to know is that, you know, you have an awesome, fun, youthful style around senior portraits and you live in northern California. Um, and you’re probably best known, you know, for your model program and your destination session. So, um, go ahead, cover whatever I missed. Okay.

[01:24] So, um, thank you for the intro. So yeah, my studio is in northern California, so we are kind of writing between Sacramento and San Francisco. So we do a lot of beach sessions and we are probably most locally known for our destination sessions where we take a group of girls and we go out on, um, some trips. You’ve gone to Palm Springs, Vegas, La. Last year we went to Disneyland and Portland, Oregon. Probably the most memorable trip was to Hawaii. And then this year we’re going back to palm springs cause it’s probably my favorite place to shoot. And our senior model team also is something we’ve been doing for the past seven years and people have been following our senior model team locally. And so now we kind of have girls who they’ve been following us maybe since freshman year. And so when they get invited into the CDO, they’re already really excited.

[02:14] They’re already kind of pumped to be a part of it. And like you mentioned, we do have associate photographers. So that’s a little bit, a little bit new. Last year, every year I’ve been shooting around 300 sessions, not all seniors, seniors probably account for about 50% of our business. So 300 sessions a year. That was a, you know a lot for one person. Got It. Yeah. To, to photograph but also to be managing the business and the studio itself. So last year he started bringing on a team of associate photographers. So I have three amazing photographers on my team now and they, they also shoot senior sessions. We offered tween sessions and then we’ve been doing a lot of sessions recently for personal, and then also kind of a bridging the gap between the tween age and the high school seniors. So the underclassmen that actually we just kind of launched a new program specifically for them that’s modeled a little bit after our senior model program so we can kind of get them in as freshmen and sophomores and start working with them in their families.

[03:19] And then when it’s time to sign up for the senior model program, it’s a no brainer. So yeah, we’ve been kind of working on that. And then we have also been revamping our studio to be a little bit more of like a rentable space for shoots and events. So, um, today’s actually our opening day. Um, so it’s a little crazy we have opening today and then a launch party on Sunday. And Yeah, we’ve, I just have had a lot of interest locally from other photographers for my studio space. So we’ve kind of, I don’t shoot a whole lot inside of my studio unless I’m doing blue Duar or personal branding. So, um, we’ve just kind of change things around and got it ready a little. It took a little bit of our personal, um, photography brand out of it so that others can bring their clients into tissue and do meetings and also people are using it for events.

[04:10] So that’s kind of everything we have going on right now. So you’re definitely hitting on all cylinders right now. So, well it’s funny cause I was like, okay. I was looking online going, okay, what do we, what are we talking about here? So, so I had to have a couple of questions for you about your, the scope of your business. So 300 sessions, uh, and then you’ve hired on three more photographers. So how many employees do you have altogether? So, um, in total we have a team of eight. So we have the three associate photographers. Um, I have a studio manager and then we have a production girl who does all of our, so I like to keep my editing in house. Um, and so she does all the editing and all of our print orders and things like that. And we have a couple makeup artists on our team as well, so that we have, we always have a makeup artist available.

[05:01] I don’t like to use too many makeup artists in locally just because like to keep our sal really, really specific and we have really high standards for our team and the experience we want to give to our clients. So I like to have those also kind of in house. So they’re just kind of standing makeup artists on our team. And so is everyone full time or are that some of them contract or how does that work? Yeah, so, um, two of them are full time, the studio manager and our production girl. And then the rest, the photographers and the makeup artists, they are all contracted. And so typically the makeup artists are working a handful of days a week because we do have so many clients that we offer here and make up for most of the sessions. And then the photographers, um, right now they’re each working maybe one to two days a week, just depending, um, how many sessions they have going on.

[05:52] Uh, they associate photographers. We just kind of started having them last fall. So a little bit in a transition period where I’m trying to take, bring on a gamble as a person and turn and bring on a gamble in to more of a brand name for our studio so that people know when they come to us. It might not necessarily be Brianna doing your session, but you’ll still get the same experience no matter who you shoot with. That’s exciting. So how long have you been a photographer? Um, I’ve been a photographer for about eight years and really have just been in business for the past seven. So, um, it kind of started, um, when I was pregnant with my son, uh, just kind of, you know, how to camera documenting life and kind of started getting into it. Um, but really photography for me has always kind of been about the business aspect.

[06:43] I do love photography, but I would say for me, my most favorite part about running my photography studio is the business side. And so that’s also part of why I started getting associate photographers and kind of started outsourcing even the shooting aspect of it so that I could work on building the brand and kind of expanding from there. Um, and then we’ve been in our current studio for three years. We just hit three years in January. So that’s been really exciting. And it sounds like you’ve got a lot of room for growth too as far as number of sessions and that type of thing. Absolutely. I feel like one piece of advice that I’ve heard before that was really great was to grow slowly and intentionally. So I’ve tried to not grow too quickly and adding team members or adding more sessions per year and just growing the business in general.

[07:40] I’ve tried to do really intentionally because I don’t, I don’t want to lose the personal touch that we have with our clients and I don’t want to kind of expand too quickly and then lose everything that people loved about working with our business. But I am excited about the growth and I think we’ll be able to take on a lot more clients every year. And eventually I’m planning to open more studio spaces to kind of expand to other locations. Yeah. Well California is a great area and I feel like there you can develop the business anywhere. Absolutely. Like it did. The Midwest has been traditionally known for having senior photography whereas the coast Dee Dee, you know, don’t necessarily, but I feel like you can, if you go to an area you could just develop it because people want pretty pictures. Yeah. And we’re really lucky because we can shoot year round here.

[08:32] We don’t really, we don’t have to worry about snow. So the only months we don’t, we aren’t really shooting seniors anyway is December and January, but 10 months out of the year where shooting senior session. So it’s really easy to keep that as a year round business. And then even over the winter months we have booed wire and branding sessions going on and um, some in studio tween sessions as well. So it keeps us busy year round, which is really awesome. So what does your like for you specifically, what is your ideal week work look like? I’m assuming when you were shooting 300 sessions, you were shooting a lot of the time. Yes. And so what will it look like now? I’m so now pretty much starting the beginning of this year. I’ve always had a work schedule and um, then really schedule oriented. But the beginning of this year, knowing that we were going into a year where we were going to have a lot of growth and we have some associate photographers on board to take over those clients sessions.

[09:28] Um, I created a schedule where I’m only shooting one or two days per week. And for me that’s really ideal. I last year was shooting like five, five days a week and I usually on a lot of times I had multiple sessions per day and it’s just exhausting and you can’t stay creative and you can’t really give your client 100% of yourself when you’re exhausted. So I’m shooting one or two sessions a week is really great for me. Um, so I have it set up where may work week, looks like pretty much Monday through Thursday are may work days and I’m off Friday through Sunday to spend with my family and helping my son’s class at school. And usually I shoot in the middle of the weekly Tuesday or Tuesday and Wednesday. Um, Mondays we keep for marketing and team meetings and we do a lot of ongoing training with everyone on the team.

[10:23] And then Thursdays I kind of, it’s a little bit of like a, like a flex day. So if we have, if it rains or something and we have to reschedule one of our seniors that can put them on Thursday and I don’t feel stressed out about kind of cutting into my family time over the weekend. But then I also do a lot of stuff just in the studio and kind of planning and things like that on, on Thursdays. So I’ve kind of changed my schedule to be less shooting and more, um, like working on, on the business instead of in the business, which is what I love. Yeah. That’s brave. Yeah, it’s been really awesome. I’m, I’ve, I’m kind of a, um, jump in with both feet kind of a person. So with the whole associate’s char for idea and even renting out our CDO, it was kind of like went from idea into just taking action right away.

[11:12] And that’s probably been my biggest thing is just taking action on things that I really want to do. And I’m, I think Nate from sticky albums said one time, he said, if you take too much time to deliberate about things and go back and forth, you won’t, you won’t be taking action in your business. And I would rather take action quickly and I would rather fail quickly and be able to just recover and move on and bounce back. And so I’ve kind of taken that approach as well after hearing that from him and being like, yeah, let’s just do it. If it’s something we want to do, let’s kind of plan it out. But you don’t need to have everything planned out from a to z to kind of go straight into doing what you want to do. Yeah. Gotcha. Cool. So that leads into my question. Like you’re getting all stuff done, but

[11:54] so, you know, do you have a business coach? Are you modeling after somebody or you know, like where’s your inspiration coming from or are you just figuring out as you go?

[12:02] Um, I do feel like I take a little bit of inspiration from, from people in the industry. I honestly try to, um, I try not to pay too much attention to what other people are doing. Um, I know a lot of people try to kind of keep trying, keep almost like a little bit of tunnel vision on just like what my goals are. And My, my biggest thing is just deciding the kind of life that I want to have and then working backwards to create a plan with my business to be able to give that to myself and my team and my family. And so, I don’t know, I did take a class from Nancy Ray of Nancy Ray photography about team building and leadership and that was really awesome. And she, she’s kind of in the same boat. She is a wedding photographer though. And, um, she has a couple of associate char graphers and a small team. And that was kind of the starting point for me of really adding associate photographers and starting to build on my business without having to sacrifice any family time or any of the other things I wanted to do outside of my business.

[13:10] Cool. Okay. So then my other question is, can you talk a little bit about your underclassmen program? I mean, whatever details you want to share, but yeah, kind of what you’re doing. I mean, I think the concept makes sense to me, right? You’re trying to get people in earlier and earlier, but you know, what are you offering them? What’s, what’s the pitch and stuff like that.

[13:27] Yeah, absolutely. So, uh, we’ve been asked about doing an underclassmen program for a couple of years and I’ve just never really seen any way to go about it without it taking a lot of time and I just didn’t really know the value that we can offer to them. Um, and then David Beckham mentioned he was doing some kind of like a sophomore program and basically the, the girls, they pay a few hundred dollars and they get in and they do a shoe or two and it’s, it’s really a flexible program. It’s not kind of as structured as the senior model program and it just gives them an opportunity to kind of try you out. So for us with our senior model program, they’re committing to doing senior portraits with us up front and they’re paying for that upfront. And for the parents that’s a huge commitment time wise and financially and I wanted to kind of give them, take a step back and say, okay, well what if we just give a program before they even get to that point where they can try us out for a few months.

[14:26] So the program is only six months long. It goes from the spring to the fall. And I did open it up to freshmen as well. Um, we were, I had a lot of parents inquiring about freshmen and so I’m letting the freshmen be involved in it too. And they’re just going to get a couple of photo shoots out of it. And they’re really, they’re really, um, casual shoes. So they’re not styled, we’re not sailing wardrobe. Um, we’re not offering and makeup for these shoots. It’s just a chance for them to get in front of the camera and have a lot of fun and see how, how much fun we can add to their junior and senior year. And I want to make it something where it’s a no brainer that they would come to us for senior portraits because they’ve already worked with us and it was such a small financial investment and time wise that um, it’s just like, well, it’s worth at least trying out.

[15:16] And then what we’re gonna do is we’re, well, here’s another thing, we’re starting a magazine, which I got the idea and a lot of information from a few people at sync when I was there. So the local, it’s going to be a local teen magazine and it’s going to be written by teens for teens. And I’m really excited about that. It’s going to be really just to kind of promote teens in the area that are giving back to their community and reaching goals and doing really awesome things. And um, that kind of goes hand in hand with the program. We’re calling our junior influencer program for the underclassmen. And so they can be part of the editorial team for the magazine and submit articles and interview the people that are going to be in the magazine and things like that. So I don’t know, our, our program, we’re just starting it this year, so they’re going to start next month and we’re going to see how it goes. They’ll do a couple of shoots and then they can do the

Episode 32

Published on:

13th May 2019

Molly Keyser – A Photographer Podcast Interview

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Matt’s pumped to interview Molly of Boudie Shorts with Kia on this episode of, From Nothing to Profit. To make a long story short: Molly started with photographing weddings, had a client request a boudoir session, she fell in love and switched to boudoir photography full time, and now teaches boudoir; referring her client inquiries to her certified students.  Don’t miss how Molly uses Facebook Live! Molly is fired up about attitudes in the (boudoir) industry and practicing what you preach. It’s about empowering women. Listen in to hear how Molly would recommend you spend (or save) that $1k. Routine is something that really contributes to Molly’s success and she “plans tomorrow, today” – you want to hear how to do this! Don’t miss the important conversation about burnout and depression on this podcast episode. And as Molly says, if you want to become the best you can be, quickly, get a mentor to learn from someone who has already done it so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

Internet Resources:

Subscribe to Molly’s email list while on the blog

App: Talkspace (therapist on your phone)


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[00:01] Hey, this is Molly Kaiser 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.

[00:22] Hey everybody. So welcome to the podcast. I’m really excited today because we have my friend Molly Kaiser and you guys may know her from her Boudreaux work as well as booty shorts, but Molly and I have been friends for years and she’s been on some of my summer nights and I’ve done some work with her and stuff so it’s really excited to actually have this conversation with her. But if you guys don’t know Molly, so Molly, like I said, lives it and the Boudreaux hour, I can’t even say that word correctly. I’m going to fumble it all day long, but that’s okay. Through the associates does all that, you know, by using like appropriate marketing and sales and pricing. And she really focuses on customer experience where she took her business from 81 cents to six figures a year, which is, which is amazing, but like I said, now I know her really well through the fact that she helps other photographers build their business and years just like such an open book to our industry in terms of, you know, your business strategy is you’re shooting your lighting and your pose in your clients’ experience, all that stuff. So, um, thanks so much for being on this. And um, yeah, just tell our audience, you know, a little bit more whatever I missed and go from there.

[01:27] Thank you so much for having me on this is, it’s always a blast to talk with you. Uh, so yeah, basically I always loved photography. I’m sure a lot of you listening, you can totally relate to that. You know, the whole young with the camera story. Right. But I remember in high school I would always get like notes to get out of my boring classes. I would call them like science and math because I want it to go play in the dark room. And so I always kind of knew that I wanted to pursue photography full time. I just didn’t always maybe believe that I could make money with a career in photography. So I interned with some photographers. I ended up going to college to study art and photography. And what I’ve kind of learned in college was it was a lot more about, you know, showing an art galleries and things like that.

[02:15] There really wasn’t a structured, uh, major, if you will, in the UWU system, at least that, you know, taught me how to be a professional portrait photographer. So I actually told myself, I kind of gave myself an ultimatum, like, if you can book x amount of portraits and weddings, like you can drop out of college to pursue photography. Um, and that’s exactly what I did back in the day. Uh, Craig’s list worked pretty well for me, but not a super good strategy today, Fyi. So, um, yeah, basically I shot weddings and very low priced portraits for a really long time. And until I really came across this, I was doing this engagement session and she was a bride to be and we were doing her engagement photos and she took me aside and she was like, Molly, would you be willing to do duar photos of me to give as a gift to my room and I had no idea to be honest with you guys.

[03:10] Like what would work was I, it wasn’t even on my radar at all but I was just like, yeah, when you own a business I think it’s really important to say yes to a lot of things, especially in the beginning. And I’m really glad that I did because what I learned from that session was not only that I love doing good work photography, not only that it’s profitable, but that I can really truly make a really big impact on women’s lives. Like this client in particular, she, she thought she was ugly. She did not like, I didn’t know what she saw in the mirror. She had like no confidence and just from that one photo shoot, like it sounds crazy, but just from the one photo shoot before and after she was a completely different person. Like she was sort of skipping out of the hotel room with confidence and in that moment I was like, this is what I need to do. So over those next couple of years I transitioned out of weddings and interviewed war photography full time, which I did for many years and as of January of this year that are recording the podcast, my fulltime now is on helping my students and actually send any of my inquiries to Mike who are certified students. But um, yeah, I’ve been and I still do photo shoots, just not clients. So I’ve been a photographer for about 14 years now and that’s kind of where I’m at today.

[04:27] That’s really cool. I love hearing your story about the dark room in high school because I was very outgoing, so involved in lots of things. Yeah. And the dark room was my favorite place, just to be able to go there and be so quiet and away from everything and be creative with nobody around. So I definitely identify with that. That’s, that’s neat. So you’ve been doing it for 14 years, full time. And does that include your college years or when you built the business afterwards?

[04:55] I think that includes about one or two of my college years. Um, pretty much all the years that I was shooting professionally and getting paid.

[05:04] Okay.

[05:04] And so you and you built this business in Wisconsin and then you just recently moved to Austin,

[05:10] correct? That is correct. Yep. I built it in a super small, actually you’d like several small towns in Wisconsin with, you know, people are like super conservative there, so people always thought and told me like who are, will never work full time. Um, but it did an adult. Yeah.

[05:26] Yeah. Which is awesome. And I love the watching your, you know, you and I are personal friends on Facebook and watching your journey of you transitioning to Texas. Like, I think you posted the other day, like you were so excited like that spring was already in like in Austin and where all your friends and in Wisconsin are still buried in snow. And like you’re like wandering around like blooming trees and stuff like that. I think it’s hilarious. Like how much you’ve embraced the warm climate of. Awesome.

[05:52] Yeah. So it’s just crazy how much my mood has changed. Moving somewhere with sunshine, like every day I look at my husband and I’m like, I just, I just love it here. So I don’t know, this is off topic, but if you’re ever thinking about moving somewhere, you should definitely do it.

[06:07] Yeah, Phoenix was amazing. I came back and I was like, we did so much every single day and it was cloudy and rainy when we got back to Kansas. So I definitely understand that. So the next question we have is what is working now? And it sounds like you have transitioned out of full time photography work into teaching, which I think makes you even better for our podcast because you kind of can see an overview of the business. Uh, but what would you say like, or what are you teaching your students is specifically working now? Because you said, you know, Craig’s list, obviously advertising on that isn’t something that works. So what would you, what, what, what do you suggest? Yeah, and

[06:47] really quickly too, just for those of you listening, if you’re thinking like, how would she know what works if she’s not taking clients? Which is a totally valid question. So I have several people on my team that are photographers and I test everything with their businesses. So it’s actually really cool. Instead of just testing with my business, I can actually test with several photographers, businesses that live all over the world. So it’s really cool that way. I’m only teaching strategies that are working everywhere. So what we’re seeing right now that works the best, and it’s going to sound really simple, so hopefully you guys liked that. Simple is awesome, right? Uh, building your know, like, and trust factor through Facebook lives. And I know people have been talking about Facebook lives for years, but they still work. And that’s a huge thing is, um, you know, and you don’t always have to be looking for like, what’s new, what’s new, what’s new, you know, you have to find something that works and then stick with that. And for us, that is consistently, so again, keyword consistently doing Facebook lives, uh, to build that know, like, and trust with your clients because especially with boudoir photography, they’re booking more for the trust with you and how comfortable they feel with you. Then your portfolio, which might sting a little bit, but it’s the honest truth.

[08:04] So dive a little bit deeper real quick. So kind of explain like what a Facebook live looks like, you know, for, for your students and stuff like that. You know, I mean obviously it makes sense that they’re, you know, you’re doing it so that you build, you know, that trust, but like kind of, you know, just give a little bit of a glimpse of like what it actually looks like.

[08:23] Yeah, sure. So first thing is you want to come up with a really eye catching title because people are just scrolling through Facebook. They’re just scrolling through social media and you have literally like less than a second to actually catch the retention, let along get them to push play and like watch that Facebook live. So one just one example of a title would be something that I think would really catch people’s attention would be, you know, uh, why do I photograph women in their underwear for a living? I’m pretty sure people would scroll through. And like, definitely you want to know why you do this for a living, right? And then what you would do in that live is you would simply share what you’re going to share, like a breakdown of the Facebook live. So you would say, okay guys, like today I’m going to tell my story about why I photograph women in their underwear.

[09:11] Oh, we’re going to get into the story. And then at the end, you know, if you, if you want to do some kind of fun call to action, you can say like, oh, I’ll be choosing a winner if you want to do a good way. But a basic Facebook live would just be, um, sharing with them. All right, I’m going to tell my story and then I’m going to give you guys a chance to comment below for something really fun. So in the Facebook live itself, you just start out with sharing, you know, this is where I was, this is where I am today. This is why I photograph women in their underwear. And you really want to address any of their concerns throughout the Facebook live. It doesn’t need to be like bullet points scripted. You can read it into your story. But for example, you know, women’s biggest fears with good voir are are they going to look like the people on your website?

[09:56] You know, are they gonna know what to wear? You know, are they going to be too nervous? Are they actually going to go through with it? And stuff like that. So you can kind of weave that into your Facebook live so that way you’re catching their interest, they’re getting to know you, you’re answering those false beliefs that they have. And then in the end you can invite them to do some kind of call to action, like common below to get more information. About a shoot or common below to be entered to win x, Y, Z or something like that. But you definitely want them to be commenting and liking you cause that will boost the post up and get more people to see your life.

[10:25] Okay. Awesome. That is awesome. So let me ask a couple questions. Is this on your personal profile or on your business? So you definitely want to do,

[10:33] do it on all the different avenues. So the, the two biggest ones would be your personal page and your private booed war. A Facebook group if you have one. That’s like a big proponent of our food, our certified program business pages. Okay. I really think this, this page is more for running Facebook ads, but um, you’re going to get seen more in the group and your personal page.

[10:57] Okay. And then do you do like, this sounds to me like you’re sitting there talking in front of the, you know, the phone or whatever. Very like casual, like not a behind the scenes, not putting samples of your work in it, but it’s just like you and the, and the person you’re kind of view and the audience.

[11:17] Yeah, you can do either one. So for this title that I just named the yeah, no. Why do I photograph reference their underwear that I feel like could be really cool just like sitting in your studio or like on your couch. Just super casual. But you could also do one that’s like, you know what, what would you actually do with good work photos? Cause that’s a big one that people ask. Like what am I actually gonna do with these photos? And then in that you could do like a studio tour, you could show off your albums, you could show off the different products you have. Um, so I think a mix of both would be really good. Yeah.

[11:47] But not professional. Like, like live like interactive. Oh yeah, definitely. Like you need like a special camera. Yeah. Just your cell phone. Yeah. That’s so scary. This is like Kyle’s biggest fear. We’ve talked about this. I just cannot handle her face on a computer screen or a camera. Like she just hears it. Don’t get me wrong, I like my face, but I just get nervous. Like what am I going to, I mean, what will I say? Who knows what I would say on a Facebook live, you know, like I can edit things. I just loved the edit process of retouching and editing and finishing things off and so I’m like, oh my goodness.

[12:26] Hello is, I mean, think about it this way, like what’s your favorite social media platform? Consuming wise. Instagram. Okay. And like what do you love about Instagram? Like do you like the feed better or the insta stories better?

[12:39] I liked the feed and then I specifically choose who I look at on the insta stories. Like I don’t look at every single instance story. Like some people go through just everything. Wow. I haven’t met anyone with that answer, so you kind of threw me off there. That’s okay. Just go look at people who’ve junk. I’m like, I don’t want, this needs to be looked good to me.

[12:59] I feel like most people like the stories because they’re real. Yeah. And so like for example, if you’re on a Facebook live and you mess up or like supposedly first of all there’s no way

[13:08] I mess up, but let’s say you do something that you think would be a mess up. People love that.

[13:15] Like they want to feel like they’re actually in a room with your sitting at a table with you. But just to know like, just so you know, this is super normal. My students, they joined my program, we have them do a Facebook live right away and they all completely freak out. So, um, what I tell them to do this for their first Facebook live, simply just

[13:33] take your phone, go lie. And you know, I just have them share in the group like why they’re here. Something simple. So you could go live in a group too. So it doesn’t like not everyone sees it. That’s kind of Nice because it’s like these are the people that you can trust,

[13:49] right? Like I would recommend starting, they’re starting small, like a group of your close friends. But yeah, I do think it’s really important to get comfortable with going live because it’s only going to become more right.

[13:59] Popular. That’s really interesting. So you, so you do that with the people, like you’re going live, you’re creating people that want to know what you’re doing, essentially. You’re creating a following then.

[14:11] Yeah, because like I said, people, you know, they like following wives. But then the important thing is consistency. So even though we’re talking about Facebook live, we can use Instagram as an example. Yeah. If you’re following somebody and you’re watching their stories every single day, and then all of a sudden they just like,

[14:27] don’t make stories for a week. You literally like forget about that person. And it’s the same thing with Facebook class. Like I recommend going live every single day and people will start to really look for those lives and be excited for those lives and they really feel like you’re their close friend. Yeah, I believe it. That’s fun. Wow. What a discipline. So like, I’m assuming you do that yourself for your, like you’re selling to photographers business,

[14:58] Facebook lives. Yeah. I actually just did one right before we started recording.

[15:03] Yeah. And you do it daily?

[15:06] I would say maybe not every single day, but I recommend for my students every single day. Yeah.

[15:11] Okay. So how do you do it? Do you like, say I’m going to do it every day at 10 do you have a list of things you’re going to talk about? Do you put on makeup first?

[15:20] Yeah, so I, I, we actually have a list of different topics that we give to our students and...

Episode 31

Published on:

6th May 2019

Carla Lynn – A Photographer Podcast Interview

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Matt’s last interview from SYNC is with Carla Lynn and you need to listen to this one! Carla is bilingual and hearing impaired. She is from Bolivia and came to the US (Nashville, TN) at 18 years old with her new son. She worked 3 jobs and met her husband at one of them. You DO NOT want to miss Carla’s inspirational story. Carla photographs 140 seniors a year and is bummed the rules don’t allow her to go to prom with her street team (model program). Authenticity is what is working for Carla in her business. We should never stop learning, we don’t ever know everything. Carla’s husband is her tech guy, payroll department, etc – just like Matt is to Allison. Make sure you buy a leaf blower (you have to listen to find out why). Rachel Martin taught Carla at Texas School and that was the turning point in her business. Don’t miss what happened next in Carla’s story.

Online Resource:

Creative Live


Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done – Jon Acuff  (

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World (

Love Does – Bob Goff (

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@carlalynn (instagram)


Read Full Transcript

Transcription was done by 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] This is Carla Lynn and you’re listening from nothing to pop it.

[00:05] Welcome to from nothing to profit of photographers podcast with Matt and Kaia. We’re 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.

[00:22] Hey everybody. So Matt Hogan here, um, one, I think this will be the final interview from sync. Um, I’m with my friend Carla Lynn and so I’ll go out with a bang, right? Go ahead and do this. I can go out with a bang. We got that. Okay. So I have to tell you this crazy story. So I met Carla two year, not, not last year, but the year before. And so I was hosting the Millers Lounge and you had come out to hang out with us and we had like free beer or something like that. And we’re talking about pricing and say yes, Joe was there. Yeah. Yes. And so, um, we were talking and you, and you said, you know, I, I, I want, I want to figure out how to sell my albums better when we’re talking about this. And I was like, and you were talking about how good, you know, just like what you were doing.

[01:06] And I was like, well, sounds like you’ve got all figured out. And then I said, how many albums do you sell? And you said, you said, I don’t know. I saw him to like 80% of my clients. And I was like, why aren’t you talking to me about cells of your selling your albums to 80% of the clients? You probably should be teaching everybody here. But anyways, um, I do remember that. And so as one of those things that I just think, yeah, obviously you guys do really well and your business and I think you’re more humble than then you probably should be. Cause I know you guys really kicked butt. So anyway, so I just, thanks for being on this interview. I, I’m so excited. I know. And, and Carlos says she’s never done a podcast like this. So I’m just going to Mike, I feel like I’m a big time person, but this guide, okay, I’m just going to throw curve balls that are left or right.

[01:43] It says that she thinks it’s just doesn’t know it’s coming anyways. Okay. I introduced you. I don’t, I know you from here, but tell us like, tell us about your studio, where you’re from, all that stuff too. Okay. So, um, I guess I will start with, I’m from Bolivia, South America and I have lived between both countries. My hose, I, I am bilingual. I speak Spanish and English. Should we do this whole thing in Spanish? I can’t speak that much. So you might try that and Spanish, if anybody understands what we’re saying. I don’t, I don’t know enough Spanish to keep up with you. Um, so I am bilingual. I lived in both countries. I am hearing impaired. I have lost more of my hearing, progressively started about 30%. Now I have less than 10% of that and both of my ear. And when, when did this, when did it start from birth.

[02:28] Okay. Nope. Damage from birth. Okay. So you may catch my slurred speech at times. Um, I do here right now. So when I hear myself and I do videos, I’m like, oh my God, do I really sound like this? But anyways, so it’s a good thing. I know here my stuff right now, I’m just like talking to you, you better. Um, but I do need it. Listen to this podcast once you play it back. But anyway, so, um, I was in Bali, I went to Bolivia to do high school and then, um, I actually got pregnant with my son when I just started my year of high school is, I’m 17 years old just starting and I went to a private school and they told me I would not be able to stay in graduate with my senior class. So I, um, finished my junior year, got my credits early and I came to the states with my baby, a suitcase and my mom came to help me and I was 18 years old.

[03:18] Where did you move to? When I moved to Nashville, Tennessee and that’s where I still am. Yup. I came, I was 18 years old when I moved here. My brother lived in Nashville. Um, I needed a male figure in my life to just kinda be there to help me get through it. And I was determined to come and give Sebastian a better opportunity. I wanted him to have a chance. I was like 24, now he’s 23. He’s 23 went now. And so, um, I had them on Christmas Day. Oh Wow. So I have to share that because it wasn’t where they wanted to put in seasons of my life. And um, the Lord gave me a blessing. He’s really blessed me and showed me that he was there with me in the midst of it all. Yeah. So I am 18 years old, no senior year, three jobs.

[04:01] Um, I worked doing data entry, I worked doing retail, and then my third job was at Chuckie cheese at nighttime. So once I put Sebastian to sleep, I could go clean the bathrooms and new restaurants. I could have tokens and free pizza to take him. So I had to share that story because it is how I met my husband. Um, and so he was my boss. Don’t ever date your boss. I dated my boss and John and so anyhow, I married him. We have been now married for 20 years. We’re celebrating 21 years of marriage and I have another son, so we have another son. My husband ended up adopting Sebastian at the age of three. Cool. So that was really a big thing for us. Does your husband speak Spanish? My child does not know Spanish. Your husband? No, my husband’s a green guy.

[04:53] He’s American white boy knows Spanish, but he doesn’t have his name in Spanish. That means the mad at him. So just know that one. Um, but now no Spanish. My kids don’t know Spanish either. We just stuck to English, which shame on me. I know publish shouldn’t have done that. But you know what, I’m not perfect. I own it. So it is what it is. So then how did you end up in the photography? So I um, I started, my kids were little, we’re going to Disney world. My mom, my husband’s like, you need to get a camera. So he gets me a digital, like one of the first kind of level STI or something. So that’s what I had. And we go to Disney world and I take a million pictures and he does that so that I can delete the ones we don’t like so that he’s not spending a fortune and all the film.

[05:38] Right. Which is what we were doing. And I didn’t even really realize that I had this talent. And so, um, I just like taking pictures with my kids on the trip. And then our son played little league, so we started, I would take pictures of him playing baseball and then just posted them in, showing them. And people would literally say, Hey, can you do my child in sports? Can you do my family photos? So I literally had the title of a mum with the Kimma. Yeah. So I’m taking you way back. Right, right, right. Cause now I know that’s not the case anymore. You’re like, no, no, it is not the case anymore. I was a mom at that came for a long time. I did it part time. I did it on this side and I kept the little league portion because it was a good gig that I got where I just photograph the kids when they’re planning to ball games and stuff.

[06:24] Yeah. But I ended up having to, I worked for the, so I’m taking you to about 11 years ago, 1112 years ago, and I worked full time and I’m actually managing and medical practice and so I have a great title, like 25 employees. I am, I work with my doctors and my nurse practitioners. I dress with a cute every day. I have authority title, everything that people would say, this woman has got it, she’s successful and I was broken. I was empty. I actually thought I didn’t want to stay married anymore. I thought I wanted to, I was going to allow my family to become broken and I had to walk away from that to find myself and I was already doing photography in this side, but it wasn’t a full time thing. Yeah. And so I can honest, right. And consider yourself a photographer at that point.

[07:16] Like yes, I did consider myself a photographer, but kind of like the shooting barn photographers because you’re not with charging $75 for all 150 fully we touch image cause you’re not felt like I had to do a lot to give them for the money. Cause you know, I thought they needed a lot of images to get something of value and worth. And so, um, so yeah, I consider myself a photographer in quotation marks, you know what I mean? Yeah. And so, um, I hit rock bottom. I walk away from that and I kid you not, the Lord uses this talent. He had given me all along that I didn’t know to restore me, restore my marriage, my family and say we’re going to do something different. And so I decided to then pursue photography full time. So we’re about 10, 11 years now, 10 years.

[08:07] And I’m like, okay, I can do this. And I had people telling me, no, you can’t, you can’t make a living at it. And it’s a hobby. And some like, oh, just watch me. So, um, and I had to try, I had to give it my all because at the end of the day I felt like I needed to be able to look at myself in the mirror and say I did everything I could and it didn’t work so well. Obviously it has worked out as it has. I have, I mean, I worked out of my home for a while. We did that for a couple of years, but then we quickly got tired of having cereal every single night because we had clients coming into our home and we couldn’t have it smelling like Taco night, you know, so though, a lot of limitations. So I decided to find a space brick and mortar space, retail space, and my husband was freaked out.

[08:54] He’s a numbers guy, analytical, everything needs to add up. Everything needs to make sense. While we’re doing that, I’m like, no, we have to just try this. So I had agreed with him, even if I didn’t earn a paycheck for three years, I had to try this. And so I, um, we gotta be to space. And immediately my husband realized she can do this. So I was there for three years, had shared space with two other photographers and then realize I liked being alone and like being in control of my own space. And so then, um, I went through this place where I asked my own self a lot of questions about who I was as a person. Yeah. What God wanted me and how I needed to manage the gifts that he had given me and then decided to take the leap and go by myself into my own space where I have been for the last three years.

[09:42] Awesome. So yeah. And you do mostly high school seniors? I do, I do. Just high school seniors pretty much. I do little league still on the side, but I do high school seniors. Um, for the last three years in a row I’ve done 140 seniors. So the non contract seniors you’re doing just fine for yourself? Yes. So I talk too much. I did talk to much. Right. Somebody telling me that dead. Okay. So the next question is just like, what’s working now in your business? So like when you think about your business, what’s working now? What’s working out at what’s working good? Um, I’ll tell you, one of the things for me has been just being authentic mouth entity, being real and sharing that to my street team. So my model program, my street team program that I have has been very, very successful for me in my area.

[10:30] It started really as a marketing thing, trying to reach out to the kids in this school is because in my area or the schools have a contract with their school photographers so I can’t go and drop off any brochures or any inflammation. So I had to decide how I could get my name out there. And so at first I would created my street team. Yeah. Um, because the, my clientele is not modeled light material so to speak, even though the definition of models, it’s really changing in the industry. Um, but you know, not like blonde and tall, blonde, tall size zero. Yeah. It’s not my client. My client is a girl that is quirky, that is on struggles with social anxiety, may even have depression. Um, my girl is the one that is walking down the hallway and nobodies glances at her. Yeah. My girl is the one that doesn’t have a prom date.

[11:19] So we’re trying to figure out how to let me be her palm date. But the school was not letting me get in that one because I’m not 20. Got To be under 21. Dang it. Anyways. Um, so that is my client. And so I have these group, but what started as marketing for me with these group of girls has really turned into so much deeper. So it’s building more relationships and teaching these girls or it is okay to be who they are and teaching them to be authentic and true and to know that they are in nap. So I can imagine that they don’t get looks in the hallway. Um, and dates and prom dates. I’ve heard they have pictures taken by you cause I’ve seen your work and it’s excellent. So they probably get a lot of, a lot more attention after people see their pictures because you’re right, they don’t realize how I see them.

[12:07] So I have to show them to and show them and teach them to see themselves different. Yeah. Yeah. I think so. They just do all the chattering for me, which is awesome. That’s really cool. Okay. So let’s just let, let, you’re not talking too much. Uh, so let’s talk about the industry. Okay. Um, and just general, like what are you fired up about in the industry or what, where do you see the industry going or talk about the industry? What do you, when you think of the industry, what do you think about? One of the things that I do love about our industry is I feel like we, especially having been here at sync and hearing the speakers that we’ve had here is really about the connections with the people. That it’s about how we make in them, how will make them feel. Sure. And to me that’s just so much more important than others.

[12:58] The lighting, yes. And all that kind of stuff up for like, it really boils down to what is the impact of that photo having on that person. What kind of impact are you having? So I think that to me is huge. And I worked really hard to come out of the digital world into artwork and products for the home. Cause at first you were just to turn the burner, always a shooting by $75. Carlin is $75 and 50 images retouched. We all want that deal. Now what’s funny is I have had a client, I have photographed all three of her children do that entire span. Her first child with at $75 shooting bone and the latch arts spend $4,000. Right? Isn’t that amazing? So talk about, so talk about your journey and turn into products and stuff like that. So, um, you know, when I first started I was shooting heroin.

[13:43] I didn’t know that there was a whole world out there to pricing. I didn’t know that Ashley, you had to charge more. I could charge for it. Then I just, I don’t know. I lived in my little bubble. I’ve, I just didn’t know there was more to it. But I started going to conferences, educating myself, asking people, learning. Um, I think that’s really important that people need to continue to do in the industry. I don’t know that we have enough of that. I think some people, some of us think we just know it all and we don’t need to keep learning. I don’t think anybody ever stops learning. Right. And when I wear at sync right now, and it’s so interesting because you see a lot of people like here that have been around forever and you realize that you’re sitting next to him, the class that they, they’re, they’re still learning.

[14:21] And so you hope that you continue to be like them or they’re in the industry for 25 years and they’re still learning. Absolutely. I don’t think we ever stopped funding. If we think we have thought, if we think we know it all, then we become way too overly confident about herself then someone who’s going to be better than us at some point. Cause we never stopped. And if you don’t stop learning and changing you, you would still be a Chucky cheese cheese. I know. And you wouldn’t be Carla check he at one point. That was pretty cool. I love being Chucky the kids would start crying and one off and it was the thing for me just to chase those children. Was that the horse nightmare anyway, doing that stuff, I probably still have nightmares about it. They’re like, they’re all like, they’re like your son’s age.

[15:02] They’re like in their twenties probably. They’re probably telling their friends right now. There’s this lady dressed up and chuck e cheese and if she would chase us, but change it from meek. I went from digital damages while my client, we’re not printing, which ironically that story I just told you, if that client had $75 TD once I did who had the two children and a high transition geopolitics, she hands me the CD and says, I need you to order prints from me now. I was like, oh my God, it’s such a me. It was like, oh my gosh, got to do this. Um, and even my own brother had taken a photograph that I had taken up his girls and Cancun and he went and printed it off at Walgreens. He had it setting in his home in...

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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
A Photographers Podcast with Matt Hoaglin and Kia Bondurant