Archive for February, 2010
Sunday, February 28, 2010
Denver, CO Engagement Shoot | Mark & Christyn
Friday, February 19, 2010
Thanks you for helping, and thank you to God for making it snow in Denver!
Thursday, February 18, 2010
They are about to release their logo and I’m really excited about it!
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
After the great free Biblical Business Principles workshop on Monday, today we began the actual photography workshop. Each day is divided up into two parts – a speaking and interacting session in Mike’s studio in the morning, then an afternoon and evening shooting session.
Mike began the morning by talking about the reason he is doing this, and what his desire is for us: that we would not waste a single day of our lives, but that we could have knowledge and training to effectively grow our businesses so that we can effectively grow our character.
Too many people don’t learn new things because they don’t think they need to. This is the growth-inhibiting pride that we talked about yesterday, and we need to be able to be humble enough to know that we can learn something from anyone. In fact, there are two ways to learn: through the wisdom and instruction of other people, or through your own experience. Since you can only have a limited number of your own experiences, why not try to learn as much as you can from others, which will make your experiences even more valuable?
With this encouragement, we began the day of learning and growing.
The simple principle is this: the more time it takes to post-process your images, the less time you have to spend on every other part of your business. If it takes you 10 hours to edit your images from a wedding, then if you can cut it to 5 hours then you’ve just doubled your efficiency – and pay – for that portion of your work. But you’ve also gotten back 5 more hours you can spend focusing on your clients, meeting with vendors, growing your character, or spending time with your family.
What can help you shoot better the first time? Like most things, there are two elements: education and practice. Mike gave some instruction on how to better setup your camera to give you more control on focusing, about how to nail your exposure every time by knowing some reference points and then adjusting from there, as well as some other practical tips from his own experience.
How important is practice? If you took your child to the hospital to have surgery, and the doctor fumbled around with his instruments, tried one scalpel, then said “oops, let me try a bigger one and see if that works”, cut in different places until he got it right, would you have much confidence in him? Would you want to pay him? Would you think he had ever done that surgery before?
We can approach photography the same way. But we have the benefit of being able to practice on live bodies! Mike encouraged us that if we need to work on shooting and editing, then go talk to 50 people and ask them to do a photoshoot for you. Chances are you may get 10 who actually will agree, and then schedule them all on the same weekend, back-to-back so you can be more efficient. Then process them all, and go evaluate yourself and your photos. Write down what you learned, what was good, what wasn’t so good. And then do it again. Put in the work required to master your craft as a professional.
We then moved on to talk about developing the client relationship. The themes are trust, caring, and servant leadership. The relationship with your client really starts with you – how you treat them, how you appear to them, how you talk with them.
Your goal should be to develop a trust between you and your clients, and trust takes time. Therefore we need to prioritize time with our clients. Find out about your clients’ background, interests and lives so that you can be better equipped to meet their needs.
Also, find ways to “wow” your clients. Do you ever hear your clients say “wow” when they interact with you or talk about you? Wowing requires forethought, initiative and sensitivity to your clients’ needs so that you can give them something unexpected. Mike actually wowed us with some gifts for each of us at the start of the day:
Market your relationship-building to your clients as one of your strengths. Educate them on the importance of having this relationship with their photographer. Help them think through “Who will take better care of you on your wedding day – someone who knows your or someone who doesn’t?”
“Photographers are problem-solvers of light and social situations.” The technical aspects of photography solve light problems, but we must be equipped and prepared to handle the social situations as well. This also requires that we spend time and effort developing our communication and relationship skills. If you need more instruction and resources to help you develop in this area, take advantage of things like Toastmasters International, where you can learn confidence in speaking and giving presentations.
All in all, having a quality, genuine relationship with your clients should be at the heart of what you do. The trust you build with them can then be easily transferred to people who they recommend you to.
When you serve your clients with genuine care, find ways to deliver the unexpected and share your passion with them, you will become known more for your character and how you make your clients feel than for just your images. And when that happens, you can have the kind of meaningful referrals that will allow your business to grow.
Next we discussed some ways to implement both the technical and the relational business practices we had just learned about.
Here are some quick ideas:
- Be first in something in your area or sphere of influence.
- Meet with up-and-coming vendors who are at a similar level of experience and growth as you are. Do joint marketing with them. Find ways to give them something truly valuable to them and serve them. Build that relationship of trust with these vendors.
- Have an assistant film a photoshoot, but have them focus on your interactions with your clients. Go back and watch yourself – painful as that may be – and seek their input on what you could do better.
- Meet the owner / manager of a wedding venue and do a walk-through with them, suggesting things that may enhance the artistic and photographic qualities. Give them some images of the venue they can use to market.
- View yourself as a humble leader, and take ownership of having positive and encouraging influence over other peoples’ lives.
- Specialize in what you do best, and then you’ll eventually be known for what you do best. Find ways to delegate and outsource what you do not do well and be humble enough to let go of those things.
- Don’t get overwhelmed by a perceived lack of progress. Think about how a brick wall is built. The bricklayer doesn’t throw 20 bricks down all at once. He puts down one brick at a time in exactly the right place. Then he builds on top of it. Track your progress and keep moving forward.
We had two focused presentations by members of Mike’s team today as well. Sophie, Mike’s studio manager, walked us through the Lightroom workflow they use, and Jake, who does the graphic design for Mike, talked about the importance of logos and branding. Both Sophie and Jake provided some great ideas and resources for us.
By this time we had all had lunch:
and were basking in the perfect February afternoon sunlight that was pouring through the windows in Mike’s studio. It was time to go to the beach!
We met two couples and Mike walked us all through some different types of shoots – portrait, lifestyle and an engagement-type shoot. Mike talked through posing and lighting approaches in several different situations. More importantly, he modeled the type of leadership and interaction that we had talked about all day.
Check out some of the images from the afternoon below. The images of the couples are Mike’s.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Hi. I am Matt Hollingsworth and I and guest-blogging for Mike this week to bring you some of the highlights of his San Luis Obispo photography workshop. I’ll be sharing my perspective on each day, some of the things that really impacted and challenged me, and some photos of the day.
Today Mike put on a free one-day seminar as a precursor to the photography workshop that starts tomorrow. The topic – Running your business on Biblical principles.
Did you know that the Bible has more to say about money than about any other single topic? God doesn’t necessarily place a greater importance on money than on other truths, but our attitudes about money and the way we use it indicate our deeper spiritual condition. Since business involves the exchange of money, it stands to reason that God places a significant value to the way business works.
Indeed, today we really saw that a business run by Christians should not just be better than other businesses, it should be totally different. If Jesus is really at the center of our own individual lives, or if we aspire for Him to be, then our lives should reflect changes as we grow and allow Him to refine our character. And then, as business owners, as our individual lives change to become more Christ-like, our businesses should also become more Christlike.
What, then, is a Christ-like business, and why would we try to have such a business?
The answer to the second question actually answers the first question.
A big revelation for me today, something that completely resets my approach to “work” – especially as a new business owner – is this big-idea truth that Mike shared:
Business is a tool that God uses to refine our own character and to glorify Him in ways that our personal lives may not allow us to do.
As I let that sink in, it changes how I see what I do. Business for the Christian isn’t just making better products, isn’t just sending invoices and receiving payments more efficiently, isn’t just becoming the market leader, isn’t even just giving people something great that they will treasure for a lifetime. Business is about God’s deeper work in us and the people around us.
This means that God is ultimately more concerned about our character than our profit. Of course profit is important and necessary in a business. Without profit, there is no business and you just have a nice hobby that doesn’t provide for your needs. But at times God calls us to sacrifice in the area of profit for the sake of doing what is right so that He can shape our character to be more like Him. Profit and the money the business produces will be a by-product, or “symptom” as Mike put it, of a business run on Godly principles.
This means that as a business owner, I have a not just the opportunity, but the responsibility to lead and develop the character of the people that work with and for me. Wow. Have you ever thought of your position as an employer as including the responsibility to help employees personally develop, and not just do their job? Jesus set the example for us as a leader by pouring His life into the lives of those around Him.
This means that as the leader of our businesses, we take ownership of communicating the style, the values, the principles by which we conduct business to everyone on our team. We ensure that everyone is on the same page and we take the initiative and time to train each person. We provide both correction and praise to people who work with us, just as God does to us – all in a backdrop of patient love.
And this means that we deal with and understand people not in terms of their status – “boss” vs. “worker”, or “$400k revenue business” vs. “$40k revenue business”, or “been shooting weddings for 7 years” vs. “I’ve shot 2 weddings”, or “my camera costs $x” vs. “your camera costs $y”, or “client who makes $500k a year” vs. “client who makes $35k a year”. All these things simply promote pride and arrogance, which are only obstacles to our growth. All people are equal in God’s eyes, and when we relate to our staff, our vendors, our peers and our clients we must honor them as individuals rather than as categories.
Pretty challenging, isn’t it? But if business is a tool that God uses to develop our character and to glorify Him, it will be different than just going to work.
Mike also talked about six symptoms of business bondage – signs that your business may not be in line with God’s ultimate purpose for it. These aren’t death sentences, though. Just like pain in our bodies, they are signals that we need to change in some area in order to experience God’s best for us.
1. Superiority, which is really just pride and arrogance. Do you compare yourself to others and either think you’re less of a person when you don’t measure up, or more important and valuable when you come out ahead of someone else? The answer to this is humility and esteeming others higher than ourselves.
2. Selfishness, which we can understand as greed. In place of greed, we need to give.
3. Overwork, which is an indicator of financial bondage.
4. Excessive use of credit means that we’re not completely trusting God to provide for us with what He has already given us.
5. Disorganization, which has at its root laziness.
6. Trying to get rich quick – this indicates our love of money above our love for God.
Finally, we talked today about some practical strategies to implement these ideals and qualities in our lives and businesses, and to address some of the root problems that the symptoms of business bondage bring to our attention.
Here are the highlights:
- Pray – praying is a muscle. If you don’t pray when you don’t have to, then you won’t be able to when you need to. Pray specifically for wisdom and direction each day.
- Make mentoring a priority in your life. Find a person or people who agree to spend time with you regularly and give you part of their lives – their experience, wisdom and knowledge. Be open to their guidance and to learning from them, putting aside your own pride.
- Know your vision for your life and your priorities and write them down. Make your life vision the lens through which you make your everyday decisions.
- Have people around you that hold you accountable. Ensure there are one or more people who have the ability to stand up to you when you need to be corrected or instructed. Don’t surround yourself with “yes men” and be humble enough to accept the correction.
- Ensure you have time each day for prayer and connection with God in your own personal life.
- Spend quality time with your family. Compartmentalize work so it does not take over your life.
- Debt is bondage, so avoid it wherever possible.
Today I am renewed in my approach to work. I not only have a better understanding of God’s true plan for business, but a vision of how amazing and fulfilling a business could be when surrendered to God. Business can bring growth to my character; strength to my family; blessing to people who work with me who may not have otherwise been blessed. It can give me the chance to learn through sacrifice and giving.
It may or not bring a lot of money, but it can be something that brings me closer to God.
Here are some more images from the day. I’m looking forward to tomorrow!