True Moua – Episode 026 – A Photographer Podcast Interview
This is a podcast episode you definitely want to hear! Matt and Kia interview True Moua, who is a photographer and educator, based in Wisconsin. She shoots only natural light and has a love for Iceland. You don’t want to miss True’s “all seasons session” and how she does that. You also want to listen in to why she doesn’t do a model program anymore and still does a destination session every year. True talks about how to do Instagram stories. She also talks about how she structured her pricing when she first started out and how to do what she says, not what she did. Listen in to hear how True would and wouldn’t spend $1k – you’ll be surprised! Curious which lens is True’s go to? You might want one too! True says, “Dig deep to find what makes you different and stop following every trend”. Keep hustling.
Online Resources – Google, YouTube, CreativeLive, Sue Bryce, Instagram TV
Transcription was done by Temi.com which means it’s an AI generated transcript. The transcript may contain spelling, grammar and other errors, and is not a substitute for watching the video.
[00:01] This is true and you are listening to from nothing to profit.
[00:04] 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
[00:21] from everyone. We are super excited to have true. And how do you say your last name? So it’s [inaudible]. Okay. True. Moolah here today and uh, I have seen her work online for the last couple of years and she is a phenomenal photographer and I’ve seen that she’s does a lot of education and so we’re super excited to have her here today to share with us about her business. And I’ve only seen you’re shooting in natural light. Um, she’s based in western Wisconsin and specializes in creative fine arts senior portraits. And you have a love for Iceland to, is that correct? I do, yes. Well thank you guys. Thanks so much for having me here. I’m super excited to be here, but yes, I am just, I just shoot natural light. I do have like studio equipment, but it’s just isn’t a demand, at least in my area. Uh, so yeah, everything I do is as natural light.
[01:18] That’s awesome. Yeah. I’m excited to have you on here because you’re one of the, one of the first interviews were Kaia and I both didn’t really know you’d be helped before this podcast. You know, typically I’m like, you know, people that we, I say Chi, we should in a reasons person kind of like, I don’t know that person. I’m like, well I do and it’s perfect, you know? But you’re my first people that like both of us are going to be learning from you right now while you’re doing your interview, which I’m really excited about.
[01:40] Oh good. Well, I hope you learn something. I don’t know. I don’t know how much help I’ll be, but I’m excited to be here.
[01:46] So anything else that you want to share? I mean, so, so I kind of said you’re from Wisconsin. Natural light photographer. Okay. Any other things that you would want to share, your family, anything like that?
[01:57] Well, you know, I, I’m actually before photography, I worked in dental for actually 16 years and was actually not looking for, you know, a new career or anything like that. And our son was approaching his senior year actually. And so I kind of fell into this kind of fell into photography. Really. I just, you know, we purchased this camera and I’m Craig’s lists and like, you know, everybody else, it doesn’t really understand photography. He was saying like, you’re going to buy this amazing camera and it’s just going to take amazing pictures for you. Um, and so, yeah, I mean that’s kind of what we thought. I’m like, well, just buy this camera and we’ll take great pictures and we’ll have, you know, amazing pictures for our scrapbook and, and whatnot. And of course, I quickly found out that that is not true. Um, if you don’t know how to shoot manual camera does not focus, then take great pictures at night during football games, then, you know, in basketball courts and whatnot.
[02:52] So I, um, started googling, you know, how to use this camera and was finding that I needed to learn how to shoot manual. And so I’m kind of from there. It basically, it just kind of took off. I, I took a little class on how to shoot manual and really just was falling in love with the whole process and, and one thing led to the next and all of a sudden, you know, in a year I was shooting clients full time and then launched my business about a year and a half after. So it just kind of all happened really quickly. But yeah, I mean I have, we’ve got three kids, um, obviously our son now, so I’ve been doing this for a start. I picked up my camera in 2012 and kind of started playing around then and I’m shooting clients, um, towards the end of 2012 and 2013 really?
[03:42] And then launched in 2014 so a few years now. And yeah, I mean, I, uh, you know, dabbled a little bit in everything in the beginning. I think like most photographers probably do and found that my passion was really with um, teens and that’s kind of what I focus on. I mainly shoot, majority of my clients are girls. Um, but I do shoot boys as well. I just don’t get a ton of um, you know, bookings with, um, with boys. But yeah, that’s basically, yeah, you’re answering questions that I’ve always had. I was like, okay, so w I think because you kind of came out of the womb being an actual artist and not, I know, I’m sure you can look back and go, oh, that was terrible. I felt like the very person images I saw of yours were, you know, just showed a lot of mastery and a lot of intention.
[04:38] Like it looks to me like you kind of, you know what you want, you know what you’re going for, you have really high standards. And so that makes sense. Cause I was like, where have I been? I haven’t seen, you wouldn’t see your work before 2014 and that may be why there, yeah. So how many, like do you shoot a lot of seniors or how, how, how does your business look? You know, in the beginning, um, I think this is probably true with everybody to you. You kind of just do everything and you do as much as you can. And I quickly learned that that was not manageable. So I, every year I feel like I cut back a little bit more. Um, and this year, this past year now I shot 42 seniors and my goal really is 35. Um, and I kind of in the Midwest here, it seems to be true with majority of the Midwest, but at least in my area, I have a really short time to shoot high school seniors really.
[05:34] So, you know, we have deadlines and our kids get to use their senior portraits for the yearbook. And so most of our deadlines our September and October, and so, and most kids don’t want to start having senior portraits done until they’re actually going to be a senior. So most of my bookings are June through September, October. Um, and that’s kind of it. I mean after that it’s, you know, there’s not much of a demand for senior portraits and plus it’s cold here. So, you know, nobody’s really, November is not that pretty, it’s usually pretty, everything’s dead and wet and, um, and then winter of course is beautiful but really hard to shoot in. So I kind of, um, you know, mainly just shoot from June to October. Okay. And then do you, do I’ve, I’ve noticed that you do like multi-season sessions. Is that a lot of what you do or is that just, okay.
[06:26] Um, so that’s something that I kind of started and the really, you know, kind of in the beginning, just trying to find other ways to really create art, um, in a time that obviously like I’m not at a huge demand, you know, for bookings and also was looking for a way to, um, you know, stay active and relevant on my Instagram or social media at the time when I started with just Facebook. Um, I don’t think I got on to Instagram until 2016 or 2016. But, um, so I was finding that, you know, I was trying to be creative and still like, you know, wanting to play with my camera and these off seasons that were not really a demand. And then that just kinda quickly led to people actually wanting to shoot those seasons. And so I thought, well, if I can offer something where my clients could potentially have a shoot every season, you know, that fills my schedule.
[07:22] I’m still making money on those off months. And so I launched this, um, in 2015 was this what I call I’ll season session. Um, and it’s an hour shoot per season. The shoots are shorter, so they are about an hour shoot. Um, and the girls only get two outfits because in the end like they’re going to have plenty to choose from. So, and the kids and the parents love it. They love it because, um, it gives them a chance to be able to like capture their child kind of throughout their senior year because I hear so many times from parents, like it’s amazing how much she’s changed just from her very first session with you to the very last session. So that kind of, you know, started to be a big thing and, uh, and parents were really then marketing, you know, it that way for me. And, uh, so it is, it’s, it’s become a really popular session of mine and I love it because I love shorter sessions.
[08:16] You know, I love just shooting right before sunset, so to be able to like, just go with that, you know, hour and a half before sunset and get everything that I want in that beautiful light, that’s like, that’s like everything I want. So it’s perfect. You know, I was, I think, you know, with my longer sessions, it’s like I can, I can definitely can shoot at anytime of the day. I mean, I’ve trained myself to do that, but I don’t, I don’t love it. Um, so I find a lot of times like I’m just not feeling really inspired and I’m just trying to get through the first hour of the shoot until that beautiful light comes. And then I’m like, okay, now let’s do this. So, so it’s, yeah, it’s been great. I’ve really enjoyed it. That’s awesome. I’m looking at your Instagram because the very first that I pulled up I saw like
[08:56] I saw all these winter shoots and I was like, oh, that’s really interesting. But that makes sense if you’re doing multiple seasons, why you have so many, like all the seasons. And then I was looking, I was just scrolling through and the image that you posted on February 3rd this girl in a yellow dress with, with the hat with us, like Straw hat thing. That hat is amazing.
[09:15] It was like $9 and some websites. So very cheap though.
[09:21] Cool. So everyone should to check out her, her Instagram and go, you know, scroll through it because it’s all amazing hat thing is as wild, right?
[09:29] Nursing. Yeah. You know, it’s, it’s, it’s something, you know, it’s something fun. And just to be able to add like a tiny little piece of her to, to a piece, you know, like a dress or an outfit that they have. I mean, it really can pull things together. So I enjoy all of that. I mean, styling is probably my next favorite thing to do besides, you know, shooting. So that’s great.
[09:50] And so are you shooting, you know, outside of west constant a lot as well or mostly,
[09:54] no, I, so once a year I try to offer a destination shoot for my seniors and the, initially it started out with, um, offering it just to my senior model of team. Um, and I currently do not have a senior medical team anymore and I don’t have any plans of, you know, having one in the future. And there’s many different reasons for that. I mean, I think for me, just because I have such a short time to shoot my, you know, bookings are usually filled by about spring. And so it, my, my girls just weren’t really benefiting from what they could benefit from if they were referring clients. Cause by the time I, I photograph them and they had their images, my schedule was already full. So I, it felt like it was kind of a disadvantage to them. And which is the reason why I’ve taken it, you know, a way.
[10:40] But I still do, you know, find like creative shoots and now I’ll pick models from like my actual clients. Um, cause it’s great. Like they already chose me. I know they love my work and I know they’re going to, you know, market for me. So what about model to, to choose on your own paying clients, but the kids really love it and they look forward to like where I’m going to go the next year or so. I’ve, I’ve gotten just a ton of dms in the last probably few weeks. Just like I wonder are you going to release, you know, your, your next destination. Like we’re ready to sign up. Um, and so, yeah, I try to, I try to offer one destination a year and then I do a lot of, um, workshops, um, during my off season as well. Um, and I love, I mean, I love to teach. I love to help people grow.
[11:23] And so to be able to do those in areas where it’s not like we were negative 35, you guys, like a month ago, it was so literally that gets cold, literally like that’s not even including with a windshield. I believe it was negative 69 or something. Yeah, insane. And it’s like frostbite and a minute, right? Luckily I was stuck in California at the time, but to be able to, you know, be, you know, and just to be able to shoot in a different area to it, we’re just really helps, um, re inspire me. So I try to, um, I try to, you know, set a workshops up in areas, not Wisconsin and that allows me to travel and explore new backdrops and whatnot. And, um, and then, you know, I been fortunate to, you know, have opportunities to speak on different platforms as well that usually they pick beautiful sunny places as well. So that allows me to add some, some of that to my portfolio.
[12:20] That’s awesome. Okay. So the first question we have is, um, like what’s working now? So like, you know, our podcasts is always just trying to give photographers, you know, like maybe just like a little piece of information of something that they could explore. So what do you think’s working now or tell a story of what’s working now in your business that you’d want to share with our audience?
[12:39] It’s working, um, as in like booking clients or,
[12:43] yes, sure. Yeah. Anything. Yeah. Like, or what you think? Yeah, I mean it could be about booking clients or something that you’re doing right now, you know, as simple as, you know, not doing a model program or you just think like, yeah, this is actually helping me succeed or helping me stay sane or whatever.
[12:57] Okay. Well, you know, I recently spoke at a conference put on by clicking moms, but a big topic while I was there with some of the attendees was Instagram story and how, you know, they were not posting because they were trying to kind of get like that. Perfect. I mean I was sitting at a table with six other ladies that had attended the workshop or the conference and um, you know, they were trying to post on Instagram, but they’re editing the image and they’re trying to get it perfect and they’re trying to think of the perfect caption. And I had to just stop them because Instagram story, I think if you’re not using it, you need to cause all of our kids, that’s probably, at least in my area, I don’t know about you guys, but in my area, the number one platform for my kids is Instagram.
[13:44] That’s the one that everybody says they’re on. So you know, parents are still on Facebook. Kids are definitely still on snapchat. But the reach on snapchat is basically, I mean, virtually nothing. So if you’re not using Instagram stories, like you need to use Instagram stories. But what the kids want to see, and this is so every now and then I pull kids that I’ve, I’m photograph and I do just kind of a little focus group. So we just go grab coffee or lunch or whatever. We just kind of talk about things. And one thing they told me is like they love Instagram stories. They’re on it all the time. I mean they’re, you know, they’re posting all the time. They’re watching other stories all the time, but they want to see like real things. They want to see like who you are. So Instagram stories is, you know, I mean it’s there for you to market it to tell your potential clients like who, who you are and what you have to offer, but they want to see real things.
[14:35] Kids are not, you know, they know a lot more than we think. They know and they can, they definitely, you know, sent, they know when something is fake and when something is almost like two curated, like your Instagram, you can definitely it. I think, you know, Instagram is there to, to be pretty and, and probably should be curated to a certain point. But your story is, is it’s like reality TV, right? I mean we’re all caught up in reality TV because it’s, well most of it is real and for some reason, even though it’s silly, like we just are drawn to it and then we just get almost addicted to it and we want to just keep watching because we want to know what’s going to happen next. And Instagram stories is kind of the same way. So I, you know, it just had to stop them and tell them like this, they’re not looking for you to post perfect pictures on Instagram stories.
[15:26] I mean, they’re going to click out of there because they know it’s not real. You know? And when your picture is already perfectly edited and you know, you’re in this amazing light and everything, like they know it’s not real. They want to see who you really are. It’s their way of connecting with you and being able to feel like, you know, they, like, they know who you are. And I think that that for sure, like has been working for me. I mean my kids when they show up, they know exactly. Not exactly, but they already have an idea of who I am. Um, and because Instagram stories, like I use it so big for every, I mean all the behind the scenes, like the reality of it all having a, you know, I show the girls coming in the way, they are kind of the whole process to behind the scene, straight out of camera and just like just real like in the moment and to be able to like post right away, you know, cause the curls are like I post straight out of camera before, before the kids even like get in their car.
[16:21] So they know like these images are real and they’re telling their friends about it and so when they’re coming to their shoot, like their friends are waiting to watch them on my story. Yeah. You know, so it’s, yeah, I mean that, I think it’s just been great. It’s been great for me. Every, every time. I, you know, poets like they engagement on my stories is a lot more than the engagement I should get on my feet. Yeah. For sure. And I, you know, it’s funny because that is so true. Like our girls this summer didn’t, they cared more about what we were putting on their story and you know, they were, they were watching and they were, they were watching their own story during the session. Yeah. We stay looking at love clothes, they’re paying attention. So I get nervous and I know that you need to do it, but I, I do not want to put my face on my story.
[17:10] Like, Oh, I’m going to have to do my hair and my makeup and getting good light. And Yeah. Uh, I feel embarrassed about like, you know, what am I going to put out there? But I know, I mean, I just was looking at yours and I’ve seen it before. You put like who you are and what you’re eating and all that kind of thing. Do you have a, what would you like, what would be a strategy that you would suggest? You know, I mean I think, I know of course I say like be real but also be intentional, you know, think about what you’re posting and why you’re posting it. I mean, I show food because that is definitely part of me. Like all my kids know it and I just love food. So I am always posting food and it’s funny cause my will come and they say like, oh we just love watching your story cause we love other food you’re eating and, but definitely being intentional about what you’re posting as well.
[17:58] Like you know, kids even though they want to see like who you are and what you have to offer. Like they really could care less if you just bought 10 Louis Vuitton bags, you know, so be impressed with that. Well, they might be, they might be, but you know, like I will post like let’s say, uh, I posted an image of a suitcase full of my makeup that it was packing for, um, for, I don’t even remember what church it was now for a trip. Um, and I posted it not really just to show that I have a suitcase full of makeup, but it’s to show that I do make up for my clients and that it is, uh, you know, it’s something that we offer. So again, like even though it was just like in the moment, not really put together a beautiful or anything like that, my, the whole purpose of it was to educate my clients.
[18:46] So yeah, definitely being more intentional about what you’re shooting. Um, and I don’t love being in the car in front of the camera either. Um, ky like, it sound like it’s something that, you know, I’m always like, okay, just take a really far back shot. Do you know, do video back here, but just get a corner of me and my, and my hand and my camera and I’m trying to be better about that as well because it’s, I know that, uh, and I know it’s important for our potential clients are in our audience to see kind of who we are. But um, it’s not an easy thing to do. Yeah, yeah, for sure. Hey, on that note, let’s just take a quick break and we’ll be right back.
[19:24] Everyone tell me if this sounds familiar. You look at your calendar and notice you need clients now. So you do a little marketing and get some phone calls. You get busy helping those new clients. They scheduled sessions, they place orders and life is good, but once they’re done, your calendar is empty again. The reason is you didn’t have time to market while you were busy. Sometimes your business feels like a rollercoaster. And let me tell you something. It is, and believe me, you’re not alone. Photographers everywhere have the same problem, but I have some great news. Max Business. Allison Ragsdale, photography after years of trial and error has cracked the code. It works so well. He’s created a new class all about it. It’s called get clients. Now a dead simple approach to getting photography clients. Everyone at from nothing to profit is excited to share this info with you because this system helped Matt and Allison book hundreds of clients this year at their studio and the best part about this system is that it’s simple to set up and it works while you’re sleeping. No hard selling or creepy marketing. All you have to do is help your clients answer their most pressing questions. Clients love the system and say it is the number one reason they book with Matt and Allison. If you’re interested in learning more about this system, go to photo podcast.com forward slash simple Matt has created a short free video that introduces the system. If you like what you hear, podcasts or listeners get an exclusive discount on the full class, so make sure you go to photo podcast.ceo forward slash symbol and sign up for the free
[20:48] video. It will help you book more clients now and create the business you’ve always wanted. So the next question we have is, what is one thing that you are most fired up about in our industry today besides Instagram stories? Oh my goodness. Okay. So you know what I was looking through everything and trying to think about what I most fired up about. And I honestly cannot think of anything. Is that all right? Positive or negative? Yeah. And so here’s another way I think about it. Like when you think of the industry, what is something that you like hold true about it? Or what do you think it’s going or something like that or maybe changes that are happening. You know, I definitely think there is a change. It’s happening. And I, I, and I’ve been hearing from a lot of photographers who are kind of in a little panic about it all.
[21:34] You know, we’ve, um, your wishes, we’re just in a different world now. Like I know when I started there were, um, video was and stuff like that online that could help me learn. But now it’s so easy to access. There’s just, there’s education everywhere. And so virtually anybody can pick up a camera and learn to shoot whether they’re going to be amazing or not. As you know, going gonna depend on the individual themselves. But a lot of kids are, you know, picking up cameras and they’re amazing little photographers and uh, but you know, they don’t have the business aspect of it and did, they might not be in it for law, you know, and there are so many amazing photographers who are producing amazing content, but they’re not, they don’t have an actual business because they can’t, they can’t book paying clients. And so when photographers are, you know, coming to me and are in a panic about kind of the shift they’re noticing and that they’re not booking as many clients.
[22:31] Like the only thing I can say is that you just have to continue doing who you are. You have to find what makes you original and what makes you special and then you have to deliver with, you know, every single client every time. Like I don’t think I’ll ever come to a point where I feel like, oh, I’m good enough. Like, I don’t need to try anymore. I mean, every day I’m continuingly, you know, finding ways to market, um, you know, finding the next big thing. What’s the new platform the kids ride. I mean, you just have to keep up with it every day, every day. So, um, I think, you know, I think that’s definitely something that I’ve noticed is, is the big shift. But for me, because I do offer, I feel like I offer something different, something that, that nobody else can offer, at least in my area because nobody can, I mean, nobody can be you, only you can be you.
[23:21] Um, and that’s just who I am. I mean, from, you know, as a person, as a photographer, everything. So I feel like that is definitely what’s worked for me and it’s cut my schedule, you know, busy. Yeah, no, that, that’s all perfect. That makes complete sense for sure. Yeah, and I think a true, what you’re saying is people, it’s what’s funny is as being in this business for 25 years, every, there’s, there’s a new round of competition that comes up, you know, every few years. And people get really worried about it. And what you’ve done with your business is a perfect example of how to deal with it at any point is creating something that is so you and so different that no one else is offering that same thing. You’re kind of have done, uh, created a blue ocean for yourself. So, um, that’s uh, that’s really good.
[24:09] Um, so before you became a photographer, uh, you were, you kind of told the story earlier. Was there anything that was holding you back from being a full time photographer? You know, um, when I, you know, started shooting and was really booking clients and I honestly was working two full time jobs, um, and I took me to really almost have a complete breakdown because I was getting two hours of sleep, you know, between my, my one full time job in my photography full time now was a hobby and turn it into a quick, a full time job. But you know, knowing that you have this guaranteed paycheck every two weeks that is going to pay the mortgage is going to buy the groceries. Like, that’s something that’s really hard to let go of. Um, and photography, I mean, or any kind of small business that you’re going to start on your own.
[25:00] I mean, you’re definitely going to take that risk. Like, am I going to book the same amount of clients the next year or next month? Am I, you know, going to be able to pay my bills. Like that was something really scary to think about when, you know, when I was like, do I let go of this job that I’ve been doing for 16 years that I love and definitely makes the money that I need to make and get and take this huge leap of faith and see if it’s gonna work or not. And, um, so, you know, and I’ll be honest, like I definitely had to cut back on some things in our, in our life and in order to take that big jump just in case, just in case it didn’t work out. I mean, I didn’t know. Yes, my, you know, my schedule was booked for the following year.
[25:45] I was making really good money and it, it made sense. I mean, I was probably making 10 times the amount of money I was making in dental. And, and I tell this story every time because when I started photography, because I started it with just my kids and I didn’t know what I was doing and I was not educated in photography and photography itself was not important in my culture. I didn’t grow up, you know, having professional pictures done. I didn’t know a whole lot about it. Um, and so when, you know, I started having people reach out to me and was like, can I book you for a session? I didn’t know what to charge. I had no idea. And I don’t recommend this to anybody who’s starting a business, but I, um, I just googled, you know, other studios in town and I was like, okay, they’re charging $150 a session.
[26:34] That’s what I’m going to charge. I’m going to talk to $150 a session. And then, you know, and then my client was like, okay, well we want to buy this and this and that. And I’m like, I have no idea. Uh, so I googled it and okay, well they charge $100 for near by 10, I’m going to charge $100 for an eight by 10. And that’s how I started my business, which is a really, really crazy. However, it probably worked to my benefit because if I didn’t do that, I probably would have done, what I feel I hear a lot of other photographers do is I’m going to be a shoot and burn and I’m going to charge $100 and you’re going to get your shoot and all your digitals. And it was easier for me to really raise my prices pretty quickly because I’d never actually started out low, which I didn’t know at the time.
[27:21] I had no idea. Um, you know, he was the, you know, more. I did it obviously, and I started to educate myself that I realized like, Oh, I’m actually doing a really good for just starting out. But I’m sorry, I have no idea where I was going with that. Stone did so good. So you were saying that what’s holding you back as you were afraid of making, of, of, uh, not having enough money? Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. So, yeah. Yeah. So yeah, I mean I was definitely, I mean I was making a lot more money than I was making, um, you know, working my full time dental job. And so financially it may sense, and then I really had to just sit down and think about what was like, make me want to get up every day. And what I realized was the one thing that was making me not want to get up was to go to my eight to five dental job.
[28:09] Like all I wanted to do and all I thought about was getting done with my jobs. I could go to my next photo shoot and I could, you know, create something. So, yeah, I mean I, I had to just really make that dish, you know, make that choice and, and I’m glad that I did, but that, that definitely held me back, you know, not knowing if I would book. And every year it’s the same. I mean every January, you know, I think I still have that same fear, like, am I going to book up this year? And, but that’s good. I think it’s important that, that we don’t ever think we’re, you know, two great because you just never know. So you gotta keep, you gotta keep, you know, the drive going. You gotta keep hustling every single year. Yeah. You had a great Google, whatever you were googling, that’s fantastic. You could have, you could’ve been led very wrong if you oh my gosh. Yes. That’s so good. Uh, so Matt, you want to ask the next question?
[29:04] Yeah. So I get the next two questions, which are two of my favorite questions. So if I gave you $1,000 right now and you had to buy something in the photo industry,
[29:14] what would you buy? Oh my gosh. So, um, something that I have been wind to buy. So if you actually really gave me $1,000, I would probably run out and buy a drone. And I know that seems so crazy cause it’s like nothing that I do. I don’t do videos at all, but there’s something really intriguing about that. You know, what a drone can capture that I just would love to one day when I find the time, um, work that somehow into my work and, and do videos. I love videos. I think there’s so much more that you can capture. And I mean you can tell a story with, with photographs as well, but videos just take it to a whole nother level. And drones, I just think our income, I mean what they can do is incredible. What they can capture is incredible. So that’s definitely what I would go out and buy.
[30:01] Yeah, that, that’s a really cool answer. Okay. So the second part of this question is if I gave you the thousand dollars right now, what would you not buy in the photo industry? So some of this is like kind of advice for our audience as well, but what would you not find $1,000?
[30:13] Well I would definitely not buy another lens cause I’m really guilty for having way too many. I think, uh, I think we all do that too. I think we think, you know, that we need every single lens there is to offer because of everything that it can do. But really, I mean I probably shoot with like two lens and which lenses? Oh. So my go to lens is my role. Right. I’ve kind of changed it over the last few months, but my go to lens is my 50. I’m in an actually is like the cheap 50, like Canon 1.4. Yeah. I’ve shot with the, I do have all eyeglasses, but, um, that’s my one that isn’t and it’s the one that I love and I don’t know what it is about it. Um, but I, I just loved the angles and whatnot I can get with the 50.
[31:01] Um, and then my other go to lens is my one 35 is a 2.0 yes. I Love, love that Lens. I started my business with a 70 to 200 f four, so it was like not the greatest thing in the world, but, um, I got it because I was, you know, had googled how to shoot, you know, sports photography. Cause that was kind of what I had got my camera to do with my son. So that’s what I started with. And then upgraded from there obviously to the 2.8 and it just is a really heavy lens. And um, then when I came across the one 35, you know, it just create, it’s just as this beautiful soft, dreamy, um, compression that you get with it. So kind of similar to the 70 to 200, um, but a lot lighter in a fraction of the price. So yeah,
[31:48] I don’t want to look at your images. I can definitely tell you were shooting, you know, like a longer lens, which didn’t quite know what it was and which was wrong. Cause I didn’t know, I thought maybe you were sigma just came out with, I’m looking it up right now, but it’s a, it’s an art lens and it’s like 50 to 101.8 or something like that. So yeah, a bit longer. But yeah,
[32:20] just advice you’ve received. Oh, best advice I would say that I’ve received is that you define your own success. And I think that’s so important because I think, you know, when you were first starting out, you’re looking to everybody that’s, you know, in the photo world and you’re comparing and you’re feeling like you’re just, you know, not good enough, but you have to define your own success. Like if I, if you are happy with, you know, 10 clients a month making $10,000, you know, a year or whatever, like that’s, that’s your success. Um, somebody else might be, you know, maybe they want to shoot 300 clients a year, which is insane, but you know, if that’s what they want, don’t feel like just because somebody is shooting a hundred times more than you, that they are more successful because that’s not true at all. And I, you know, I have people that are like, oh, I just want to be like you. I, I want my schedule to fill up every spring and just be booked for the year. And I’m like, but I only shoot 34 seniors. I mean, it’s, it’s different than somebody who’s, you know, trying to book a hundred seniors. So, yeah, I mean that’s probably the best advice I’ve ever gotten. And with everything I do, I just have to remember that, you know, I get to determine that. So
[33:32] that’s awesome. Okay. So I found it. It’s a 50 to 101.0 I have to look at it. I think whatever tell stories you tell yourself in your head. Like they just become self fulfilling. Right? And so if you can tell yourself like, I’m successful doing exactly what I’m doing right now, I think you’ll lean into it more and actually find more success as well as just like not spend all this energy staying up late at night or sitting at your desk worried that other things are getting in the way. Like you said, like if someone else was shooting 300 sessions a year like that, they’re more successful.
[34:08] Yes. You know, I mean, we all know like social media for sure. There’s just, there’s so much perfection on there and I think, you know, it’s so easy to kind of get caught up in it all and really start to doubt yourself, you know? But you just can’t, you just can’t because you don’t know what somebody else’s life is like on the other side of that cell phone or computer or, or whatnot. So they may be showing you the perfect them, but you have no idea what’s happening in their life. And you know, and I’ve seen it firsthand so it’s just we can’t, we can’t compare ourselves and we can’t try to live up to somebody else that we admire. Um, I think you can,
[34:49] the other, the other thing I think you’ve got to do is just be self aware of like how you view success for yourself as well. So one of my best friends, Ross and I talk, we have like a standing phone call every week and we talk about, and one of the things that actually makes us feel more successful and we’re trying to get away from this is like the amount of volume we do, right? So we would just, we would really struggle if we were just waiting for one phone call a week, you know, to book a $10,000 client. Like we’d really struggle with that. It may be a better business model, but like six days would just be like mental exercise and just pure weariness. And so sometimes I think you got to find, you know, what makes you happy and stuff, but then also say, okay, well I actually need to do this much work to be happy to feel or, or I don’t, you know what I mean?
[35:39] Yeah. I mean, I have a girlfriend who loves to shoot. She just loves it. She can shoot all day long, everyday of the week. And, but that works for her, you know, and I think, you know, I can’t look at her, her business and think, oh, I must suck because I’m only shooting, you know, a four clients a week or three clients a week. You just can’t because she loves it. I don’t, I mean, I love photographs, you know, I love shooting, but if I had to do it every single day, all day long, I, I wouldn’t do it. I just went through it. I would lose my creativity. And you know, my approach and on photography is just, uh, at least it’s different. And, you know, for me, and I would, I would lose my creativity so fast if I had to shoot that much, you know?
[36:21] Yeah, exactly. But on the, on the, on the flip end, like Ross and I, if we don’t shoot enough, you know, like then the self doubt creeps in. So it’s really interesting. So I think it’s about self awareness for sure. And like you said, just stop looking at what everybody else is doing. Okay. So what is one personal habit you think contributes to your success? Oh,
[36:39] I am a very and very detail oriented for sure. And, um, and you know, I, I’m a people pleaser, so I think those two things for sure have really, um, made my success and my business successful. Um, you know, I don’t promise what you can’t deliver. I mean, that’s something I tell my mentors and mentorships all the time is, you know, be, be sure that you know something that you promise your clients you can, you can deliver and giving, treating every client like they are your number one client every time. It doesn’t matter if they have been a pain in your bad or you know, if they, you know, they’re not going to be your top paying client. Um, you have to treat every client like they are your top client. And just giving that, you know, being um, a really detailed oriented, making sure that my clients are, you know, really well educated. Um, and then just following through and giving, delivering a great experience for them and obviously great portraits for sure. I mean I think those qualities have, are some of the reasons why my business has been as successful as it has been the last six years.
[37:53] So one of the other things I think, tell me if this is true, I’m just picking this up. I mean, like I said, we don’t, we didn’t know much before this, but I think you’re also self, you’re, you’re very self aware, but you’re all, what’s the word I’m looking for? Like, like you also know what you want. Is that fair to say? Like when you’re, when you’re talking about yourself, like there’s no shame. You’re just like, I am this person. Yeah. There’s no shame in it. And this is what I do.
[38:16] Right. Yeah. And you know, and I’ve been like that since I was a child. My parents probably didn’t love it that no, I just read the oldest. I am, I am the oldest. Um, but you know, I think for me, yeah, I do. I mean, I feel like I know, I know what I want. I know what I want to go after and I just, you can’t let anybody else change your mind on that. I mean, you’re the only person responsible for your happiness is yourself. So whether that’s, you know, business or in personal life or whatever. And um, that’s just who I, who I am as a person and then who I am as a photographer. So, yeah. That’s great. So we want to know, I wouldn’t, we’re all done. We want to know more about your internet resources and things, but do you have any suggestions for people of a resource where they can go and, uh, enhance their photography?
[39:08] Oh, well, there’s so many out there. I mean, obviously my goto was always Google, but you know, Youtube has obviously a huge one. I think we all know about youtube. Um, and then there are other, you know, platforms like creative life. I think everybody knows about that too. I’m sue Bryce. Um, you know, she has a great platform and, and I was not a member of her, her education platform. Um, but she has recently just invited me to go in and speak. So I am actually heading out there in a few weeks to present to her students. And so I’ve, I’ve been given access to it and it’s great. It’s a great, it’s a great platform. I mean the stuff that she has on there is wonderful and she, she has things that are, um, are great for beginners and for photographers who, you know, maybe our really successful, um, and just want to, you know, try different things.
[40:00] So that’s great. Um, but another one that I feel like is just kind of creeping, you know, and people don’t really know about it or maybe people will know about it but aren’t really using it, is Instagram TV. Um, I am noticing a lot of photographers, um, really taking advantage of that and, and maybe they don’t even know it yet, but it’s free education. Um, and there’s a lot you can pick up on, um, Instagram TV that can help benefit you. So if you’re not checking those out, you, you definitely should. I don’t have a channel yet myself, but it’s basically like your insta story, but it’s longer. And then they basically just kind of clip it to, I don’t know if you guys use it, but kind of clip it together, a couple of videos for it and I just took them down because I was like, I don’t know if they’re really doing me any good or not.
[40:47] So, so that’s interesting to hear that you’re liking it. That’s good. Yeah. You know, I think, you know, it’s like anything else, right? I mean, remember when Instagram kind of became, I mean, Instagram has been around for a long time, but when it started, um, you know, was really being introduced to the photography industry and we’re all like, I don’t know about Instagram. And then now it’s like the number one, you know, social media platform to behind. So I think it’s just like anything else, you know, I mean I think it’s going to take time, but I, I think there’s definitely some great potential there. Is there a book that you recommend to our audience to read or one that really influenced your life or business? Okay. So that’s something you guys don’t know about me is I hate reading. I know about, we need to change this to say, are you a reader?
[41:33] So anybody that knows me knows that I hate reading and I, I actually really enjoy just quietness. And so I don’t listen to audio books. I don’t listen to the radio, I don’t turn on the TV, nothing. I literally sit in silence, which is, I know crazy. But that’s just me and I’ve never been a reader. So I unfortunately don’t have a book that I can recommend. But you like to learn by looking, by watching videos, googling things, that kind of thing is how. Yeah. Yeah. I mean for me, I mean that’s Kinda how I taught myself. Even editing, like I would literally just Google, like how to sharpen image or how to sharpen eyes or you know, how to print with lab. I mean, I literally googled my way through the first year, you know, so, uh, that’s just, that’s kind of how I learned and I’m a hands on person.
[42:24] Like I’ve always been a hands on learner. Um, so, you know, trying to read something would, it just doesn’t sink in for me. So being able to watch something on youtube is a whole different thing for me. It’s like hands on but not hands on, you know. Um, so yeah, I definitely need visual. I’m a visual learner. Yeah. God, that’s great. Uh, so what we would want to know is where people can find you online or if anything that you’re doing that you want people to know about and then a parting piece of guidance. Um, so you can find me. I’m mainly on Instagram. It’s true. More photography and I was formerly true creative portraits and I just rebranded. So, um, that’s why it’s now back to true more photography and my website is true more.com. The next big thing I think I already kind of talked about, um, is, um, heading out to Las Vegas or not Las Vegas, I’m sorry, heading out to l l and M and doing an education thing with sue Bryce.
[43:24] So that’s really exciting for me. Um, and um, and then you guys, you have your own podcast. Yeah. So we, I have a podcast with three other photographers, Holly true, Jolene Dombrowski and Brittany clues. Um, it’s called certified madness. You can find us on Spotify or iTunes and then you can find us on our website too. It’s deconstructed or I think it’s get deconstructed now, but yeah, and that’s just, you know, just kind of a, almost like a recorded reality TV kind of thing. But, and then I, you know, offer mentorships and stuff like that as well. And you can find all of that on my website, but yeah, anything you can tell them. Oh, sure. I mean, if I had any advice at all for any of you guys, I think I’ve kind of repeated this over and over in this podcast, but really it’s just digging deep and finding like who you are and what makes you different from everybody else and stop following every trend that shows up on Instagram because I noticed that in the industry world, especially in senior photography, or maybe it’s just you know, group that I’m filing or the people that I’m filing, but I see that, you know, a trend comes about and all of a sudden everybody’s jumping on it and implementing it into their business.
[44:40] But that isn’t what makes you different. And so I think you need to, you just need to find who you are as a creator and why it is that you do what you do and why you love it. And then just continue to do that. And don’t ever feel like that isn’t good enough. I mean, if I started changing, um, you know, who I was, I, I just don’t feel like I’d be the same photographer and you’d be harder. I mean, I’ve, I’ve tried that before. I think we all have when we’re, you know, trying to learn is you try different, you know, different things and you’ll quickly find that it’s a lot harder to do something that isn’t truly you. So, yeah, just being, being true to who you are and just keep, you know, keep hustling. All right. Thank you so much, true for being on our podcast today and we hope you have a great trip out to la and we’re looking forward to seeing all of your upcoming travels and photo shoots. Thank you guys. Right. Thanks guys. We’ll see you next week.
[45:33] Thank you for listening to from nothing to profit a photographer’s podcast with Matt and Kaia. Be sure to subscribe for more business strategy and ideas to help you create the profitable and successful business you’ve always wanted. See you on the next episode of from nothing to profit.