Make sure you listen in, as on this podcast, Matt interviews Everardo Keeme, who is a certified professional photographer and also a professional snorer. Everardo got into photography on accident. He was working a corporate job, loved it, won a trip to Greece and didn’t have a camera. Since he didn’t have any pictures from that trip, he bought a camera, started photographing cycling events, applied to photograph the Phoenix Open (having never been or photographed golf), got the job and has been a photographer ever since. He got into senior portraits when his daughter got into high school, hence Twelve Year Senior Portraits. He wanted a studio for senior pictures, hence Photo Fusion Studio. Everardo is very passionate about education and is excited about all of the conferences and workshops available now. Overall, photographers are very good about sharing information with each other. He’s also excited about technology and how that’s only going to keep making us better.
Internet Resources: Steer away from FB groups – doesn’t want to learn from other strugglers
Podcasts – Stacey Brown Randall, Steph Crowder, Everything is Alive
Books: 5 core ways of getting referrals – Stacey Brown Randall (https://amzn.to/2LAMfVV)
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.
Speaker 1: [00:01] 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.
Matt: [00:16] Hey everybody. Welcome to from nothing to profit so today will be a little bit different because kyle is not able to join us today because she’s got a sick kid at home. But I’m with my good friend Everardo Akimi. He has a really fascinating story. So I think you guys will be interested to know what he does. First of all, he’s a corporate event and headshot photographer. If you guys follow them online, that’s what you’d probably see. Um, I know he’s also a certified professional photographer. Um, I know that because him and allison both did that kind of at the same time. And then he’s been the official photographer of the Phoenix Open from since 2010, which I think is the most interesting part because I’m a sports guy and that’s always fascinating to every week when you get it every year for a week when you get to do that.
Matt: [01:01] But then you’re the owner of photo fusion studios and the twelfth and twelfth year senior portraits. So welcome man. I appreciate you being on the show. Yeah, of course, man. Thanks for having me on. I appreciate it. So I have to tell everybody a little bit of a backstory about when we went to sync together and I’ll throw you under the bus and totally embarrass you. But that’s how we, that’s how we start every podcast around here is we try to handle it. I’m a big boy so we all stayed. Joy verts has a condo down by where sync is hosted. So um, every year we go down there and we tend to stay at her, her condo, and you know, some people can make it every year, some people can’t or whatever. So at the last minute a bunch of people said they could go and enjoy, had already kind of filled up the condo. So what happened is that we started like having to like move people around a little bit and Everardo and I were the only two guys that were staying at the condo that day because I think mentioned Shaylon will actually, we’re staying in a different condo and uh, so we ended up having to share a room. So we had two twin beds and shared a room together. And I’ll tell you what, man, you’re the loudest store I’ve ever, I’ve ever hung out with.
Matt: [02:09] It was, it was actually impressive. I felt like at moments that you were yelling at me, you start so loud. Well, I’ve always taught and uh, and kind of learned if you’re going to do something, do it right. Yeah, right. Yeah. I would say you figured out how to Snore, but all joking aside, obviously that was a super fun year in a super fund conferences always in. Um, I’m glad we got to do that. So. And now, you know, hopefully my parents live in Phoenix now where you live and so hopefully we can connect more and more every year as you know, since you’re in Phoenix. I’m definitely looking forward to it. And you know, and that’s the, one of the great things about living in Phoenix is um, we have about eight to nine months sometimes of perfect weather. And so, um, there’s always this old saying and I don’t know who to attribute the quote to, but it says, hey, don’t knock the weather because four to five people can start a conversation without it. Yes, that’s absolutely true. So is there anything else you want to share with the audience about yourself
Everardo: [03:00] or elaborate on what I said with your studio or anything like that? I’m just so they know a little more about you. Well, yeah, that was a good introduction. I mean really, I started photography by accident. I was working at a corporate job and I really liked it and they enjoyed it and I thought I was just going to be corporate for life and you know, doing the 401k thing and all that kinda good stuff. And um, I was in sales at the time and went on a vacation to, I won a as part of my bonus, a vacation to Greece and so here I am and like the, you know, the center of history for many different things and cultures and I don’t have a camera and I’m, the euro was really high, so the cheapy crappy little point and shoot camera that I had just wasn’t going to cut it and wasn’t really actually working well.
Everardo: [03:43] Um, and this is before cell phones were they started getting used as cameras and so I had a blackberry. And um, so long story short of that is, um, I have no pictures from that vacation. And so the next year it was like, alright, I need to get a camera. And I actually just rented one and then I was racing bicycles at the time. And um, it kind of evolved into this thing of taking pictures at the races and because I had been involved in cycling and racing for pretty much my whole entire life, I was kind of well connected in the cycling community and just on a whim, just went to go photograph the tour to Utah and the tour of California. And that just kind of what launched me into photography. And it was, I guess the funny thing is a very, very good friend of mine, her name is Mary Schwamm.
Everardo: [04:26] I’m going to give her a shout out. She is, I believe the only or one of the only female photographers inducted into the nfl hall of fame. And so I would always pick her brain for advice for photography. And for awhile there I was asking, it was like, Hey, can you give me some feedback and give, give me some advice, like how am I doing? I don’t want to do this full time. I just, you know, trying to be a better photographer. And she didn’t really respond. And about a month went by me sending her photos every week. And finally I just said, hey, come on, I need some feedback please. She’s like, well, I’ve been trying to figure out if you’re lucky or good. And she’s like, you know, why have you never thought of doing this? I’m like, I didn’t know I could make money doing it.
Everardo: [05:00] And so that’s kind of how I got into photography as it went by accident and I’m right place right time, wrong time, I guess how you look at it sometimes as you know, I’m in the interview for the Phoenix Open. I don’t even know how I got it. Like I’m barely just starting out to have a portfolio and experiment and the guy’s interviewing. He’s like, all right, cool. Well we’ll tell me what’s one of your favorite things about the tournament and being here. I’m like, uh, I’ve never been a kind of chuckled. And he was like, really? You’ve never been to the tournament but you want to be at the tournament photographer? It’s like, no, I just, I don’t like big crowds. I like other. I’ve been to other tournaments at that point. He’s like, okay, well, you know, we can, we can get through that somehow.
Everardo: [05:39] And I said, but I know everything about the tournament, like quiz me on it and asked me about the course or ask me about past winners or things like that. And so he kinda did and he was like, okay, well I guess he does know his stuff and he does know golf and he’s looking at my portfolio and he was like, you know, well you’ve got some good shots in here, so where’s the golf shots? My, I don’t have any golf shots. And he kind of looks at me again. He’s like, again, do you know what you’re applying for? And I go, look man, I know the game. I love the game. I liked the tournament, it’s in my backyard, but you know, gave me a shot. That’s all I’m asking for and if you don’t want to, I totally respect it if I’m in over my head.
Everardo: [06:11] I said, but you know, I’m also coming at this with a, a corporate background and a good work ethic and I’ve been working full time ever since I was 13 years old. So like, I can do the job, you know, if you just give me a chance I can do it and if I don’t then how about this, you can ruin my name and my reputation around town. And he’s like, alright, well, you know, we’ll give it a shot. And so yeah, now it’s been coming up to nine years now of doing the tournament photography. That’s awesome. So how did you get into senior portraits and stuff like that? Uh, that really started with my daughter, um, my niece and my daughter are about the same age and when they were going through high school kind of same thing as through cycling and through sports and through everything, you know, he’d slowly evolve into becoming a portrait photographer.
Everardo: [06:55] And so since I started with sports and started with events, it just kind of came natural to ask, well, can you take a headshot or can you take a portrait of someone? And so again, because it was sports related, I started working with the cheer team at the high school that I graduated from and I, I knew the cheer coach, uh, my niece was on the school at the time and, and then like I said, my niece and my daughter about the same age and going through high school together. And so I just started actually working with the team and it was really just not even about senior portraits. It was just about taking the action shots of them on the field or the activities that they’re going out and doing in the community and car washes and food drives and you know, uh, bringing toys to the needy during Christmas time and stuff like that.
Everardo: [07:35] And then that’s what it turned into was, you know, well, can you take senior pictures? And like every photographer starting out the answers like, yeah, absolutely. And then behind the scenes you’re like, oh crap, how do I figure this out? And so you just call a bunch of friends and call her resources. And I think luckily enough, and I attribute my business, I commend to, you know, it was really good at networking at the time and reaching out to other photographers and presenting myself in a way that I’m not a threat. I’m not out there to hurt their business, if anything, I’m out to try to help and influence their business if I can and you know, in return can you help me out with how to do some portraits or how to work with seniors. So it just kind of evolved from there. And I did it.
Everardo: [08:13] I’m not quite full time because I was still juggling the corporate jobs, still juggling the event work in the corporate work. And then doing senior portraits was probably about 25, maybe 30 percent of the business. Um, and then I just eventually got to busy after a couple years and really had to scale down and follow the corporate photography track. Um, and now with photo fusion studio, what happened there was we were a, I needed a studio at some point because the senior portraits I wanted to work in the studio and control the environment and learn about lighting and stuff like that. So I just became a member of a Co op studio and at first it was just renting it hourly as I needed it. And then as I got busier it turned into, you know, I’m renting a hours a week and then it turned into, well we have monthly memberships available.
Everardo: [08:59] Why don’t you just join the studio from monthly? Um, did that for a couple of years. And then there was an opportunity where the studio owner actually had expressed interest and said, you know what, you’re, you’re always in the studio and you’re always helping the other photographers that are here with things. Do you want to split the business? Do you want to be more involved? She was a little bit more introverted. I’m a little bit more extroverted and so we partnered together and we co own the studio for about five years. And then just this year, recently she said, you know what, I’m, I’m Kinda done with the studio, I don’t need it anymore for the work that she does is mostly stock photography. And she was losing out or kind of widdling down some of the client work that she was doing. And so photo fusion had been running as this co op to help other photographers help them grow their businesses.
Everardo: [09:43] We would mentor some photographers with their business, give them coaching, give them. And so it wasn’t just as a place to photograph out of it was actually, you know, revolved around the business because if their business thrived they will also stay a part of the studio too. So that’s, that’s the ulterior motive to it. But in the end, Phoenix is the fifth largest city in the U. s there’s enough work to go around. We’re not really stepping on each other’s toes. So with my partner leaving, so with my partner leaving and that makes sense. Um, I just really had to make that quick decision of, okay, am I going to keep the studio or you know, just let it die. And I wasn’t quite ready for it to die even though I was doing probably 80 to 90 percent of my work outside of the studio, I was still using it as like an office space or to work out over there, um, host client meetings or to meet with people.
Everardo: [10:31] And so it was still nice to have a professional standpoint from it. Plus also I worked from home with my corporate job, but I didn’t have to entertain clients. Like I always went outside. I always took my clients out to restaurants or other activities. So I, I liked it. The idea that my home was my home and that way when I was done with work I could just leave it be. So that’s when I made the decision this summer to remodel the studio and remodel it specifically for high school seniors and were. So we’re kind of. Where is it located in Phoenix, like a east west side of town where you guys were about as central as we can get just a little bit north of the Phoenix airport. We’re a little bit east of downtown. The exact area or neighborhood is kind of called the biltmore and we kind of on the border of another neighborhood called Arcadia, which I know you’re familiar with because you’re from the area, but um, I guess for others to kind of get the reference from his, uh, and that was the other reason why I liked the studio two is we’re about as central as we can get.
Everardo: [11:30] So, you know, I’d have clients coming out from Peoria, which is the northwest side of town, and I’d have clients coming in from anthem which is really far north and, you know, then I’d have clients coming out of Tempe, Mesa, Gilbert Chandler, which is on the East valley. Uh, so it’s, it’s really nice having a nice centralized location. Yeah, that’s, that’s awesome. I didn’t realize that you had remodeled the studio to come see it. Um, when I come down there in the spring for sure. So tell me, just kind of tell me a story of what you think is working right now in your business or what you think is working right now in the industry because that’s kind of the goal of this podcast always is to share these ideas with our audience. Well, as I talked to and I network with other photographers and I really am thankful of my corporate job because I knew at some point that photography was going to take over.
Everardo: [12:20] And so in the process of kind of dwindling down the corporate job, um, and really in the end I didn’t quit. I was laid off so it was actually a good thing. Um, I wasn’t sad about losing the job. Sometimes you got to be pushed out the door to make that right decision, you know? Yeah, exactly. I mean, because you could sit there building the parachute all day long, but you’re really going to take time to do it. And so when you get that push out the door, you’re like, okay, well we gotta make this work. And as I’ve talked to photographers and big towns and small towns, the more that we actually work together and partner together, the better everyone’s going to be an a. and I know that’s the whole premise of and white organizations and kind of these moments of like rising tide have started, is because people are starting to realize that that as they work together, everyone gets better.
Everardo: [13:05] And you know, at the end of the day, Matt, if you’re another commercial photographer here in Phoenix and you take one of my clients than you deserved it. And so did I, because I wasn’t taking care of my clients. You know, if I’m not providing good service, if I’m not providing a good product, then I don’t deserve to keep the clients I have. And, and that hurts. And that stinks sometimes. And you know, now that I have to pay 100 percent of the rent of the studio and other things like, uh, you know, puts a lot of stress on me. But at the end of the day, like what I’ve learned is when we are community and we work together, you, yourself as an individual. Actually thrive more, I’m at a, I’m a big part of this networking organization called Bni and one of their main, or they’re, they’re pretty much main top driven philosophy is givers gain and if you give to others the reciprocity and everything does come back to you at some point and you know, and it’s tough because like I said, sometimes you, sometimes I turn over a job to another, another photographer or refer another photographer that might be better and attack the exact same moment that I need to make my car payment...