You Gotta Keep Learnin’, Yo.

Disclaimer: I was not asked to endorse the Survival Guide. These are my personal opinions and experience during the St. Louis workshop.

Business can be overwhelming. You’re constantly waiting on the next job, but you should also be consistent in making contacts. And that’s what I learned and more during John Keatley’s Survival Guide workshop in St. Louis.

After a whirlwind of traveling and shooting this summer, it was finally time to dedicate a weekend to learn more about the photography business. I was so pumped about meeting John that I happily walked twenty-two (yes, 22) blocks to and from the train for three days. I gained so much insight about myself and my career in those three days and it’s difficult to contain my excitement. So, here goes…

Photo Jul 11, 6 11 21 PM (1)Friday night was meet and greet. I have to admit that I was kind of apprehensive because I thought I would be the only woman there. I quickly settled in after I met Sarah, one of the many workshop attendees. We got to learn a bit about John’s career and how he got his start. I would tell you the story, but it’s best if you heard from him. We also had a chance to have our portfolios critiqued by John, which is what I was really excited about. It’s important to have someone who’s immersed in the industry to say what kind of images most art directors would like to see.

Photo Jul 11, 11 56 54 AM

On Saturday, we got straight to the business of photography. We learned about how the industry is shifting in terms of pricing and creativity. The most compelling part of the day was how to bid on projects. Though I’ve provided for bids on past projects, learning how to educate my client about my process and style allows me to have a more competitive edge from other photographers. We also learned about the importance of not only being a creative, but how to build and sustain a thriving business. I think there are far too many photographers who have amazing skills, but fail in business. So, it was refreshing to know that the some of the pitfalls we are having as photographers were once struggles John had to deal with.

Photo Jul 11, 7 28 49 PM
Fielder, me and Jason during our group presentation on how to bid on large scale projects.

During our last day, we took notes about marketing ideas. What I took from this lesson is CONSISTENCY IS KEY. When you’re in constant contact with a prospective client, they’re bound to notice you, and potentially hire you. So, the only person holding you back is yourself.

Photo Jul 12, 1 49 09 PM
The girls in the Keatley crew! Thanks Nichelle (far left, John’s wife) for all of your help!
Photo Jul 12, 1 51 30 PM
Me and Jason McCoy
Photo Jul 12, 7 36 21 PM
Rob and I met on Twitter before attending the workshop. Good times!

We didn’t spend the entire time talking about important stuff. We also critiqued each other’s portfolio, made new friends, and ate ice cream every. single. day. The ice cream treats were the highlight since we earned it after each day’s session. Plus, you cannot deny the glory of ice cream and you know it.

Photo Jul 12, 3 35 30 PM
Ice cream is important.

All in all, I didn’t realize how important the Survival Guide workshop would be to my self esteem and confidence. I took so much from the trip – new friends, a newfound confidence, and the urge to make this photography thing work. I encourage all photographers to consider attending this workshop when it’s close to your area.



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