I love to hear about other photographers and today's photographer also does mentoring and workshops!
This week's interview was with Andrea Halsey of Andrea Halsey Photography.
What made you want to be a photographer?
Like many of us, I think there was a multitude of events in my life that sort of merged to bring me to photography. As a kid my parents both owned a business and I remember playing with their blank receipt books and writing fake invoices. I also remember drawing little scenes on post-it notes and coming up with the idea to sell them for 10 cents a piece. It felt good to create something, and organize something that felt like it was yours. And it especially felt good to share your creations and bring joy to others.
Of course, my family all made me *think* those post-it drawings were the best thing they've ever received. Since then I had always been drawn to art and computers. I've done a lot of programming and graphic design in my life and I let those artistic talents and urges to create something beautiful fall into more of a hobby. After I had my children I started dabbling in digital photography just for sweet snapshots of my babies. At the time, my only exposure to custom photography was the ole' portrait studio and I thought I had come up with the brilliant idea of taking candid and artful portraits of children. About a year later I found out that I was not alone at all, and many talented and entrepreneurial women have taken up the exact same idea and were wonderful success stories. I fell in love with the photography community and have built some great friendships along the way.
I love to find photographers that offer workshops and mentorships to help other photographers. I noticed that you offer a variety of services for budding photographers.
Can you tell us about them?
I am really passionate about sharing what we know. I understand that there are so many resources out there from books to courses to personal mentorships. But I also know what it feels like to have a wonderful idea but be completely daunted by running a business while fine-tuning your skill and branding. Last year I developed a personal one-on-one mentoring for those who have just started their journey in photography. The response has been a wonderful experience and to better reach out to photographers all over the world, I also developed online consultations where we can email and/or Skype back and forth. I have found most photographers use this to get a better grasp on their pricing and collections, or ask questions related to the products I offer. However, the number one thing I kept getting asked was how I did my post processing and where can they get a hold of my actions.
Well, I will be honest. I don't feel comfortable throwing up my actions for sale and advertising them as though 'your images will now look like mine' because they won't. I have a very simple but powerful workflow I follow that I do before I ever click the 'play' button for an action. So I came up with the idea to teach others how I prep my images and get that spot-on color first, then they also get the set of my actions included. I've had an incredible response from photographers who are wowed at how simple it can be to edit an image and get those gorgeous skin tones and I'm more than happy to give them my one-on-one attention. My latest project is an online workshop course with lots of goodies that is especially geared towards photographers who've been in business or portfolio building for about a year and are ready to step up to a professionally run business. There will be lots of resources and an online community once we go live, and I'm very excited about this new venture!
In a growing and very competitive industry, what made you decide to help other photographers?
I wouldn't think of our industry as competitive. There are competitive photographers, but our industry is a community. I believe strongly in the idea that we support one another and share share share. There is a false idea floating around that someone owns an idea, a prop, an action, or a location. Its silly! The more we share the stronger we are as a community and the stronger our businesses will be. Sometimes it takes a few years in the biz to see it clearly but those who catch on faster, grow faster. For someone like me, who loves to share and loves to teach and help others, I find my mentoring as an outlet of ideas. It gives me the time away from busy life and business to share what I know on a personal level.
What's in your camera bag?
I have a few bags actually! I have a Canon 5D original and 5D Mark II and I nearly exclusively work with my 50mm 1.2 and my 85mm 1.2 though I also own a 24-70 that might be collecting some dust. I have owned lots of other lenses in the past but departed with them, including the 70-200mm and other non-L primes. On a shoot you will also see me wondering around with a diffuser. I love them and use it on every outdoor shoot. I dare the sun to shine some noon-time sunshine on me! Wow, say that 5 times fast!
What lens do you absolutely adore?
The 50mm is my other baby but the 85mm is that sweet puppy you get out and play with sometimes.
I noticed that you have a design section also, where you sell a variety of products for photographers. Can you tell us what you offer?
The Designer Concept started out as a venue for me to share the designs coming straight out of my studio. I have used those graphic design talents of the past to create some really pretty pieces that are also a pretty smart way to do business. My favorite thing to do is create something that has a dual purpose, and you will definitely see me knocking some birds out with stones on my design site. The biggest hit has been my Finding the Art in Life booklet which doubles as a wonderful consultation guide for clients but also is the perfect marketing tool to leave in local businesses. The next favorite is my Boutique Product Catalog, which is a super fun and cute way to create little catalogs of the products you offer. Once you're ready to move out of only selling prints or digital files it is a show-stopping way to promote your items. The second bird for this template is that you can create the catalogs for just about $1/piece AND you can update them over time. Pretty sweet, huh?
Any networking/marketing advice?
I believe there are different steps you should take depending on where you are in your business but we can start in then beginning. Like many of you, I started out in my mommies group but for many custom photographers you can find that it may not sustain your business. With so many new photographers popping up every day, you will find that the market is saturated in a mommies group and everyone begins the race to the bottom. When I first started in my mommies group, even with the several photographers there, there was not one of us that charged under $100 for a session fee which came with no products or digital files. Now, I see some charging $35 with all the digital files. If you find yourself battling it out in this environment, get out fast! There is no way you can grow a business here. My best advice is to run your business like a real business and find out what local boutiques, spas, and designers are doing. Network with them and market like they do when you see them doing something right.
Do you have any advice for photographers just starting out?
The thing for me right now is to remind new photographers that you are selling a product, not a service. The service is free and a part of the experience, but the product is what the clients will take home with them. Learn how to perfect your products and become an expert on not only taking pictures, but creating lifelong heirloom pieces. Once you have perfected that, start working on the client experience, because that is the second thing they take home, their memories.
Andrea is offering a 20% discount code until April 16th!
(Discount code is: pro101 )
Andrea will be donating a prize for our contest set to go live this week!
Check back, it's a good one!