Some Thoughts On Business

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under News

When I first got into photography, I was still in college, desperately trying to figure out what to do with my life.  I wanted some sense of control over whatever it was I was going to do, but that was all I knew.  When I first picked up a camera, it was for no other reason than to take pictures of my friends jumping off swings, and long boarding down the steep 16th fairway at night.  It was something I enjoyed, but I never imagined that it could actually translate into a career.  Thanks to the kind words of a drug store photo lab manager named Kolene Potter, I decided to become a professional photographer.  All I knew is that she said I could be good at it, and that some people make a living taking pictures.  That was all I needed to know, and I never looked back.  The world of photography was completely unknown to me, and from my perspective, there were no limits.  That was what made it so exciting.  The opportunity to explore and experiment.  The thrill of the chase, and trying to figure out just how to make money doing something I enjoyed.

This took place just as digital cameras were coming into existence, and also when I was still finishing up college, so I didn’t have the financial pressures that exist on me today.  Looking back, it was the best possible scenario for me to begin a career in photography.  But not only was the timing right, there were several people who came into my life and gave me amazing advice.  They shared their time and knowledge with me, helped me with my portfolio, and maybe most importantly, taught me how to bid on jobs.  Every one of those lessons and moments has stuck with me, and I will carry that knowledge with me forever.  I never would have had the opportunities I have today if it were not for those generous people.

In 2013, I taught my first workshop.  It was called the Un-Workshop.  We were trying to break the mold and do something a little different.  The first day was filled with marketing and business lessons, numbers, stories, and goals.  It was everything I could think of that has been helpful to me in my career as a freelance artist.  The second day was all about lighting and production, and if I had to guess, I would say a majority of the people who attended were lured by the lighting.  It just sounds way sexier than learning about business.

I have continued to teach the Un-Workshop over the last couple of years, in Dubai and the Bahamas.  It has been a good workshop, but after collecting feedback from over 60 people who have attended, I have come to realize something.  People always comment that they have fun with the shooting and lighting.  But what they really spend time talking about is the business and marketing content.  To hear things like, I keep the workbook on my desk at all times and always refer back to it, and I just landed my biggest client, and I just won a bid on the biggest job of my career, and Business is better than ever...  That feels really good.  There are so many places to learn about lighting these days.  And lighting is really important for a photographer, don’t get me wrong.  But if I can offer information that can change the direction and stability of an artists career, that is what gets me really excited.

I was with a group of professional photographers recently, and I was really struck by the number of times I heard them say things like, “I’m not business-minded”, “I’m a starving artist,” “I just want to create, I don’t want to deal with self promotion…”  I get all that.  Those feelings are totally valid, but it doesn’t have to be like that.  I know artists are not often considered savvy business-people.  It might be a right brain, left brain sort of thing.  But I also happen to know many amazing business people who are also wonderful artists.  I think what seems to be more the case is that artists are never taught about how to run a business.  How to pitch an idea to a potential client.  How to understand the needs of a client or potential client, and what to actually charge for all of the many different services artists provide.  Over time the artist’s creative drive is locked down in trying to understand the nitty gritty, and the excitement begins to fade.

This is why I love teaching, and why my team and I have created a new workshop called “Survival Guide”.  I believe I have a responsibility to pass on what has been given to me over the years, as well as lessons I have learned from my own journey.  I also believe that with a solid plan, and some basic guidance, any artist can learn to thrive and create work they are passionate about.  It doesn’t have to be a big struggle between creating and business.

Find out much more and sign up at our new Survival Guide page.  See you soon.
Oh, and this awesome illustration for our poster was created by Derek Sullivan.  Thanks Derek!


Workshop In The Bahamas

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Events, News

What!?  That’s right.  We are taking this show on the road to the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas this May 28th through Sunday June 1st.
Can you say lazy river y’all!  I think we are definitely going to be ending each day on the lazy river.  Heck, we may even do a shoot on the lazy river just because we can. It’s going to be amazing. We will be in paradise, taking pictures, relaxing, hanging out with some awesome people and of course learning a ton.

What really makes this so exciting is the unique location. I can’t wait to shoot on location and do some things I have not been able to do at previous workshops. We are definitely going to take advantage of our surroundings.  Take a look…

Above is a video from my workshop in Seattle last February.

Lighting The Keatley Way is going to be a blast.  I am going to do a couple of shoots so you can see how it all comes together.  We will be covering natural and studio lighting.  You will also get a chance to create your own pictures and experience the different lighting modifiers.  I will be sharing everything I have learned throughout the years to help you walk away empowered, excited and confident about moving forward to create work that will match up with your vision. Lighting and production is not as scary as it seems.  Sometimes we just need a little help and nudge in the right direction.

Marketing With The Big Boys is a really important class.  I can’t stress that enough. You can be the best photographer in the world, but without a solid understanding of building your brand and marketing it in the right way, you will never make it.  Marketing is king in business, and admit it or not, if you are a professional photographer, you are a business.  Artists hate to hear that, but it’s true. I majored in Business and have been at this for 13 years.  I am going to share with you everything I know and have learned over my career.  There are no secrets.  Just solid advice and a passion to see others succeed.  I will be covering so many things in this course.  Even things like real world estimates and invoices.  What to charge, self promotion, leverage, building a brand, social media and so much more.  My goal is for you to walk away from this workshop feeling excited about business!  I know, I know, but dream big right.

Find Your Style is a half day class for photographers who are starting out, or asking questions like, ‘How did you get to where you are?’  ’How did you develop your style?’  ’How do I find my style?’  Finding your style is more about understanding yourself than anything else.  It all starts with you and what makes you uniquely you.  I will be talking about my journey, and how you can begin or continue in your own successful journey as a photographer, shooting what you love and getting paid in the process.  We may even throw in a fun little shoot too, just to keep things interesting.

Signing up and reserving your spot only requires a 20% deposit, so no need to pay it all at once.  Come alone, bring a friend, bring your partner, bring your whole family!  That’s what I’m doing.  F-Stoppers is putting on quite a show.  There will be an awesome meet and greet, as well as talks on Friday by all 10 photographers who are teaching at the event.  Friday is going to be free, so you can get some great input from many different points of view.  The folks at F-Stoppers have also hooked us up with great rates on rooms starting at $160 a night.  Not to mention flights are pretty dang low right now, depending on where you are traveling from.  Sign up soon.  Spots are limited for each workshop.  Also worth noting, the room discounts will be disappearing 1 month before the event.  Let me know if you have any questions.  I hope to see you in the Bahamas!!!  Let’s do this.  Here is a link to sign up.


The Keatley Un-Workshop

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Events, News, Workshops

WHAT!!!?  That’s right.  This is happening.  It is with great pride and excitement we invite you to the first ever Keatley Un-Workshop, taking place in beautiful Seattle, WA.   We know there are a million different workshops out there that you can go to, but true to the Keatley style we have pushed ourselves to create a photographic learning experience un-like anything you’ve ever imagined.  We decided to go all out in every aspect of the Un-Workshop, including set building, tons of gear, gourmet food, an exciting venue, and this amazing limited edition artwork we commissioned Invisible Creature to create for this event.  And that’s just the beginning.  You can find out much more about this on our new Workshop page, but sign up soon because space is limited.  We can’t wait to see you in February!