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From Passion to Business with Phillip Van Nostrand
Episode 1822nd April 2022 • Radical Resilience • Blair Kaplan Venables
00:00:00 00:23:25

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Phillip Van Nostrand turned his passion into a successful career. Being an entrepreneur requires grit and resilience and this is his story.

Trigger Warning: The Resilience Project provides an open space for people to share their personal experiences. Some content in this podcast may include topics that you may find difficult. The listener’s discretion is advised.

About the Guest:

Phillip Van Nostrand is a photographer and life changing coach based out of New York City. He is an expert in capturing bright, cinematic lifestyle imagery in weddings, events, and commercial projects. He travels abroad once a year and has photographed 40+ countries. 

Published in the New York Times, Dwell Magazine, Fortune.com, Brides, Vogue, Style Me Pretty, Fast Company, Huffington Post, Forbes.com, Parade Magazine, The Knot NY, and was a Master Class speaker at WPPI in 2016, 2017, and 2019. Clients include Airbnb, Jose Cuervo, Ok Cupid, Louboutin, The New School, Venmo, Condé Nast, and more.


@phillipvn

@phillipvnweddings

@phillipvnphoto

https://phillipvn.com/

http://www.changewithphil.com/

http://www.phillipvnphoto.com/


About the Host: 

Blair Kaplan Venables is an expert in social media marketing and the president of Blair Kaplan Communications, a British Columbia-based PR agency. She brings fifteen years of experience to her clients which include global wellness, entertainment, and lifestyle brands. As a pioneer in the industry, she has helped her customers grow their followers into the tens of thousands in just one month, win integrative marketing awards, launch their businesses, and more. Yahoo! listed Blair as a top ten social media expert to watch in 2021. She has spoken on national stages and her expertise has been featured in media outlets including Forbes, CBC Radio, Entrepreneur and Thrive Global. Blair is also the #1 bestselling author of Pulsing Through My Veins: Raw and Real Stories from an Entrepreneur and co-host of the Dissecting Success podcast. When she’s not working on the board for her local chamber of commerce, you can find Blair growing the “The Resilience Project,” an online community where users share their stories of overcoming life’s most difficult moments.


Learn more about Blair: https://www.blairkaplan.ca/

Submit your story: https://www.iamresilient.info 



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Transcripts

Blair Kaplan Venables:

trigger warning, the Resilience Project provides an open space for people to share their personal experiences. Some content in this podcast may include topics that you may find difficult, the listeners discretion is advised.

Blair Kaplan Venables:

Hello friends, welcome to radical resilience, a weekly show where I Blair Kaplan Venables have inspirational conversations with people who have survived life's most challenging times. We all have the ability to be resilient and bounce forward from a difficult experience. And these conversations prove just that, get ready to dive into these life changing moments, while strengthening your resilience muscle and getting raw and real.

Blair Kaplan Venables:

Welcome back to another episode of radical resilience. I'm coming to you live from Mexico, because I could not wait to interview this next person. I met him on my first night at a business conference retreat. I don't know what else to call it. So I'm gonna go with that. And he is just so phenomenal, fascinating and interesting. And I thought he would be a delightful person for you, my listeners to meet his name is Phillip Van Nostrand. They say that right? Amazing. Yes, I just call him Phil. He's a photographer and a life changing coach based out of New York City. He's an expert in capturing bright cinematic lifestyle imagery in weddings, events and commercial projects. He may have also caught a couple of pictures of me wearing a sequins jacket, you may or may ever see those photos. He travels abroad once a year and is photographed over 40 countries. And I'm so excited today to chat with you, Phil. Hi, Phil. Hi. Where are you coming in from?

Phillip Van Nostrand:

I'm here in Brooklyn, New York City. I was also in Mexico last week with Blair. We couldn't find a time to interview in person. So we did it online.

Blair Kaplan Venables:

Which is, which is fine. I mean, I've actually you know what, this podcast never interviewed someone in person. So maybe we need to strategically like plan to talk in the future. But, you know, it was really fascinating. So I went to this event, this gathering of these fascinating minds, people from all over the world. We met in Cabo for a week. You know, learning, networking, entertaining, and like Canada just unlocked their doors from the COVID, you know, bubble. And so I almost forgot how to interact with other business owners. I've been really this routine. And my first night at dinner, Phil is sitting at our table, and we got into having such a beautiful conversation. And I learned about how talented of a photographer he was. And I got just really excited because well, first of all, I love photography. And I think it's such a beautiful creative art form. And so when I meet someone who can turn it into a business, I'm you know, I think it's very admirable. But then learning has been published in all sorts of publications like folk or, you know, New York Times. And he's worked with huge clients like Lobaton and Airbnb. It just really got me thinking about his journey as an entrepreneur. And, you know, let's talk about that film, like, do you. Okay, I want to let's see if you have this memory. Okay. Do you remember the very first time you picked up a camera and took a photo? Like, can you do you remember that experience?

Phillip Van Nostrand:

Yeah, it was like you actually, it's really funny. Because at this retreat that we were at this past week, playa was running around with all these disposable cameras. I'm really excited to see how those turned out. When I was 21 years old, I moved from Southern California to Northern California to be like, I don't know, I just lived up there I was I was a lift operator, I became a youth pastor for a year I helped started like a youth group at this church. And I brought him with me with me one disposable camera and I used it for the entire year, like I did 24 photos total, I guess two a month or whatever. And by the end of the year, I had like one roll of film. And that was I think that's my first first memory of like, really, that was 90, it had to be like the year 2000 or 2001. And, and that was like the first encounter with the camera. But then my first digital camera was when I turned 21 And I actually got to study abroad on Semester at Sea. So I was on a ship with like 640 other students and we circumnavigated the globe. And we went all the way around the world. And I had a little three three megapixel point and two camera like Sony Cybershot and I use that and that was like my humble beginnings.

Blair Kaplan Venables:

So well. First of all, you went to school on a ship and traveled around. Well, you're just so fascinated. Yes. So

Phillip Van Nostrand:

that was how I fell in love with photography.

Blair Kaplan Venables:

Are some of the things you took photos of the like you like that really this like changed that perception for you

Phillip Van Nostrand:

that globally all enlightening. yeah because on that trip around the world we were going to Cuba I saw Fidel Castro in person because he like talked to our all of our students. There was so many Americans like learning about Cuba that he like, gave audience basically. After that, we went to Brazil, South Africa, Tanzania, India, Japan, Korea, back to Japan, and then to like Seward, Alaska, and then Victoria BC, it was really random. But I remember being in the streets of India and like taking these like, portrait. I mean, it was not a great camera back then. But I was doing my best to get like, blurred backgrounds and like poor like street shots of people I was sort of obsessed with like street photography, then. Because that's what I was doing. I was just wandering the streets of these cities. And yeah, so I remember I did a homestay with a family in India. And so I got to sleep in someone's home, they cooked me dinner, and I would take pictures of these people, I don't know, just like, that kind of stuff was brilliant. And then I got super hooked. But then I also realized very quickly, like how limited my camera was, because there was a professional photographer taking pictures for the ship. And his slideshows were phenomenal, you know, they looked like they are from National Geographic. And I was like, oh, I want to do that even better. Like he made it look like magic. I just kind of captured what was there. And so then I the hobby became like an obsession.

Blair Kaplan Venables:

So you're on the ship, you are discovering this, like art form, you're capturing these moments in time. But then like, I guess, a nonlinear mentor, this professional photographers there, and you get to see what the possibilities are. Did you go to school for photography, like, Well, how did you like become the amazing talent that you are like, from that? I mean, obviously, there's a lot that's probably happened from like you taking photos in the streets of India to like where you are today. But like how path as an entrepreneur unfold?

Phillip Van Nostrand:

Yeah, I was. I was a philosophy major in college. And then I was working with youth a lot. So for most of my 20s, I was the teacher, a substitute, a tutor, a mentor, a youth leader, a camp counselor, all of those things, a yard duty, like a playground supervisor for like elementary school, it was just me and all these old ladies. But I was teaching, I was getting my teaching credential, the same year that I photographed my very first wedding. So six years after I did Semester at Sea, when I was studied on the ship, I actually finally photographed my very first professional wedding for $500. And so in between, then I was like taking pictures of flowers, and like my model friends or whatever, and like, the ocean and whatever, just like travel travels and kind of getting more and more into it until I was posted on Facebook all the time. And so it wasn't really with the desire to make money out of it. But I just loved the art of photography. And it was like feeding my soul. And then a friend asked a friend of a friend asked me if I could shoot their friend's wedding. And I was like, I could I've never done it before, but I'd be happy to. And I brought on a more seasoned photographer to help me shoot. And I did it and it was great. And I earn $500 which was more money than I'd ever made in my life at that point in one day. And then now 13 years later, I'm that's about my hourly rate. So now I charged $500 per hour. And it's amazing. So

Blair Kaplan Venables:

what you're saying is that I should block that picture of me in sequence and put it on the wall because that is high valued. Photography.

Phillip Van Nostrand:

Yeah. 1,000% Yes. No, it's not. I took that on my phone, too.

Blair Kaplan Venables:

You know what, like, what's really cool is, you know, your story about just the passion like I have a huge passion for photography, like I've layers on expensive cameras, and I have lenses. I mean, I end up just like using my phone because it's convenient. And but as a little kid, like I think back to when I love, like learn the love of photography. And as a little kid I spend a lot of time with Meg Baba and my zeta my grandparents. And my zeta was part of the Manitoba, which is the province I'm from Manitoba cup camera club, and he used to cut his own black and white film. And we would load a camera, take photos around the house in the yard, and then we'd go to his dark room and develop the film, amazing photos and like so this entire experience is really what like, captured me into this thing that was beyond taking photos and became this art form for me, and really loving the entire process like nowadays do I like have my own dark room? No, like, you know, I went and bought that disposable camera that you saw. And it's the same fun one that I use like way back when it's summer camp in the 90. Like now I'm like I don't even know where to develop it but I'm excited to see how those come out because you know that that itself is its own art form and like, you know, taking disposable camera photos can can't see what photo you took and whatnot. But yeah, like photography has such a special place in my heart because, you know, it'd be capturing a special moment in time. There's a specific experience associated with it. And now you're getting hired by people like to capture the some of the most important pivotal moments in these people's lives. And it's your job as an artist, and a photographer to capture that, and then deliver them this moment in time. And I think that's really beautiful.

Phillip Van Nostrand:

Yeah, thank you. Yeah, yeah, I agree.

Blair Kaplan Venables:

So 13 years, that's a long time, like, my business is almost 14, like the technology must have changed so much. Like, I mean, like the tools that there is now for photography, like, is it making your job easier or more complicated?

Phillip Van Nostrand:

Now, definitely easier and better. Like my, my current cameras, beautiful as like a touchscreen. On the back, it has Wi Fi on the camera. So like, I'll do jobs in New York. And then on the subway ride home, I will be like selecting photos on my camera, turning on the Wi Fi on my camera, sending it to my phone, via Wi Fi, and then editing on my phone and then texting the client. Like before I get home, hey, here's 2020 shots for you to enjoy or whatever, you know, and I get to have that I get to do like the instant gratification thing, which is I don't know how many people are capitalizing on that. But it's beautiful and photography to see to be somewhere then see the magical picture like while you're still there is great. And so yeah, I love I love everything now is like easier, cheaper, faster, computers quick, Everything's beautiful. It's easy to send photos, and I don't know, it's nice.

Blair Kaplan Venables:

I love that. So when you started off, you know what advice like, what do you wish you knew as a photographer 13 years ago in business that you know now.

Phillip Van Nostrand:

Hmm. I mean, it's almost like the same message now even as like, your you're worth more than you think. You know, I think like it, I had a mentor named Tim Halberg. Who, every time we'd meet, he'd be like somebody's charging for weddings these days. And I'd be like, I'm, like 1500. He's like, double, or whatever. He'd be like, yeah, raise your prices. And the next time we meet in like six months, or whatever, I'd be like, he'd be like, What do you charge? I'm, like, 2300, he's like, got charged more. He just was constant didn't matter what came out of my mouth, he would just be like, You got to charge you're not charging enough. And I think that there's like, I wish I don't even I don't know what I if I would have changed it differently. But I don't I think it was really, really hard for me, who was like very frugal minded and kind of cheap minded. To understand that I was worth like, way more than I was charging almost always throughout my career. And only now am I able to like push, you know, be like, Okay, I want to say 1000 Because it's easy. So I'm gonna say 2000 Just because that's scary, you know, like, I play that game where I like, say the scary number because that's, that's what I need to do. I don't know, does that make sense?

Blair Kaplan Venables:

Yeah. And that's actually really important advice. Because I give advice. You know, like, in my non global Resilience Project world, you know, I'm a social media expert and mentor, I work with lots of entrepreneurs, I do group coaching and private coaching. And that is one of the things that I like to empower my clients to do is, you know, I think it's really hard to put $1 value on our time and skills, and none of us, not a lot of us don't value, like know the value or how to put value behind that. And, you know, when I started off, I was charging something like $500 For what now I might be charging $5,000 for and that, you know, a lot of people step into the space of entrepreneurship and they don't think they're worth that but they are and it's you know, to hear you say that, like charge more you are worth that no matter what you're doing. You know, if you're listening to this and you're entrepreneur, maybe it's your full time job, maybe it's your side hustle like your time is valuable, your knowledge is valuable. People are hiring you for a reason, right? They're hiring you for reason, no matter what industry you're in, there's a reason that someone's money with you. And like you know someone really wants to work with you they'll make it work and you will make it work for them and maybe you know if they can't afford your rate maybe there's other opportunities for them in the future and waste around that but you know, the one thing you're never going to get more of his time. Your time is so precious. Right?

Phillip Van Nostrand:

Yes. Blair

Blair Kaplan Venables:

I don't know I just love that because it's it's you know, it's uncomfortable. I know I don't know about you but like being Canadian, like now I'm running into because like the dollar like the US dollar and Canadian dollar obviously different and my rates for me like certain things are in US dollars and then Canadians come to me and they want to negotiate and I vowed when it comes to books and accounting and all that like I have software and I think I just need to bring someone on to help me with like accounts receivable and all that stuff. But yeah, I mean being an entrepreneur is quite the ride like what do you

Phillip Van Nostrand:

sir? Resilience story for you? Probably yes, sure. It I mean, I think you're right. It is a wild ride. I want to say like that for the first five years of doing photography and Money? Well, there's two things. One, I would say for those people who are like starting out entrepreneurs, I actually have a it's Phil's rule. It's the five year rule. And it's basically this. Like, if you're impatient for success, or you want to do like, what you think is like the glamorous side of any kind of job and be an entrepreneur, like you have to last at least five years. Nothing very glamorous will happen in the first if you're lucky, maybe. But most people, like even musicians who are famous celebrity musicians have all like had their five years of just like putting stuff on YouTube, or like trying it on TV or whatever. And for me, like my first five years, were in Santa Barbara, California being like a local photographer, shooting local weddings, and like, I would shoot prom groups for prom, and then like senior photos and families and babies, and like I was just sort of done nothing wrong with any of that actually, like it was really beautiful work. But I, I really wanted to move to New York, because I had started to visit New York like shortly after, like when I was 28 years old, and I shot my first wedding right around that time as well. And when when I was in New York, I saw how amazing it was here and how, like how much potential there was I was on the subway sitting next to someone and he was like sketching in a sketchbook and it looked like it was something about fashion. I just knew it like it was like Milan $5,000. France. So you know, it was like all these things. And I was like, What do you I asked this guy, I would never do it now. Actually, I was like a naive little like California boy. What are you doing is I with a man, he's like, I own a magazine. Like I run a fashion magazine. I was like, oh my god, like, this is what New York is like, I sit next to someone who owns a fashion magazine. And so I this is the resilience story, I think for people is like, when you have a big dream. At first I used to say like someday I'm going to move to New York. This is when I was 2029 or 30. I started writing like writing new year's resolutions. And it was like in the next five years, I'm going to move to New York. And then by 31, I was like, nothing's gonna change in the next five years to make me ready to move to New York. No one's gonna give me a certificate. No one's gonna say like, okay, hey, you did it. Like you just shot your 100th wedding. Now you can go to meet like, I realized that I just needed to buy my one way ticket for $180 and make it happen, regardless of whether I felt ready or whatever my plans were. And that's exactly what I did. I bought the ticket for $180.06 months out. And then I figured the rest out after that. And I truly moved there with like two suitcases and, and, and I bought a, like a used mattress off of Craigslist. And it's so ridiculous. But like, I just moved to New York eight years ago. And now I live in my frickin own apartment in Brooklyn with a backyard and like, I'm getting job. And that's all I want to say for now.

Blair Kaplan Venables:

The suspense is killing us. Well, you know what, in the shownotes, I'll put all of your social links so people can actually see what you're up to with whatever you choose to share. But that's really important, like set a goal and achieve it. And that's applicable to absolutely anything, whether it's entrepreneurship or not, you know, and you are responsible for your own life, like you can set a goal and you can manifest but you have to start taking small actions to get towards that. I mean, like bravo to you, for one getting on an airplane. And like showing up with a one way ticket is like, I've done that a few times where I'm like, I don't know where I'm like, that was even just last week, I was like, I'm just gonna go I have no idea what I'm getting myself into. And I just do it. But to like what you just started the story with like sitting on a train or the subway and like asking a guy what he was doing. He's like, I own a fashion magazine. Like that's scary to a lot of people talking to strangers talking to people, you Oh, you know, those are the questions you need to ask and how are you going to expand your network? And how are you gonna expand your experience if you don't take these risks, like getting on a plane or talking to that person on the train? And I love that you shared that because it's applicable to absolutely everything.

Phillip Van Nostrand:

Yeah, I agree. 100%

Blair Kaplan Venables:

So like, what do you what do you like what do you up to these days? Like I know we kind of chatted a bit you know, you have your photography business like you know you you have a book club and I'm really excited to dive into that I got your good but like yeah, what are you up to your what are your goals now?

Phillip Van Nostrand:

Amen, they came, they changed and change and change. You know, when I moved to New York a years ago, I actually I like made this big post on Facebook and I was like, I'm moving to New York. I'm not coming back to that shoot the cover of Rolling Stone or Vogue. That was like the goal I was gonna shoot fashion or be in magazines and stuff and I realized now like How naive that was, but also that not impossible dream but but like not who I was. It was just like a like a fantasy of what I want to you know, wanted and since I've been in New York, I've had like, super credit Blood portunities did get published in the New York Times within like two months of moving here. But, but nowhere near Vogue or Rolling Stone, and I think that's okay. And I think this is like, I don't know if this is a resilience message or wet, but it's more like dreams are allowed to change. And I think my dreams now are being published in magazines, yes, but something closer to what I'm actually doing with my life, which is a lot of travel. So I have a big dream to get published. And I want to be flying on an airplane, pull the magazine out of the back of the seat in front of me, and then see my photo on the cover of hemisphere's magazine on the United or like Delta's travel magazine or whatever, you know what I mean? Like, I want to walk through the airport, I've done this before, walk through the airport found like see a magazine and the rack there and then pull it out and have my picture be in there. And so our picture I've taken so those are some of the big dream stuff. And I've accomplished some of that, but I haven't done the photo in the back of the in the back of the seat. Yeah.

Blair Kaplan Venables:

Ooh. So that's, that's really cool. So, you know, maybe in a couple months or even years when that happens, we can pull out this episode and be like, hey, remember when we recorded this April 8, episode, I think that's really awesome. You know what I think? And it's possible because you've been doing that you've been setting goals and achieving them and it's possible like almost anything is possible. And I love that and that's a really important message because you got to start small sometimes you got to start with a small goal and achieve it and then layer on top of it. And that's what you've been doing like you wanted to be in the New York Times in two months of being in New York you're there and now you want to be on an airplane and pull out a mat you know the magazine in the back of the seat I don't even know they still had magazines in the back of the seat. But they do Yeah, I love it I love it I love magazines My My dream is to be have my expertise featured and Fast Company so I can relate and then met wondering

Phillip Van Nostrand:

oh yeah, I think I know the President of Fast Company I have a very much like a one or two degrees separation from there so we can make that happen.

Blair Kaplan Venables:

See this listening out there? Like you just need to ask if you have ideas and goals write them down share them with the people in your world. No, I think I know I'm on this world to be of service I'm turning my pain into purpose with the global Resilience Project with radical resilience was showing up to things like baby bathwater or masterminds or events, showing up on you know, podcasts or writing articles. I'm here to, you know, give people a space to share their stories, but also give people the tools they need to help move the needle forward to be more resilient and to achieve goals. And, Phil, I thank you so much for being in my life for being my new friend and for coming on random lands with me. I look forward to watching your journey unfold.

Phillip Van Nostrand:

Yay. Thank you so much.

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