15
May

Reflecting on Why We Do the Survival Guide

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under News

Hello, blogosphere!  I want to introduce myself to you all.  My name is Nichelle, and I am the newest member of the Keatley team.  I’ve been working at Keatley for the last 8 years in a very limited capacity managing the finances, but about 9 months ago I stepped up my role at Keatley to now include post-production, office management, and workshops.  I have been having a blast getting the chance to be a part of the day to day workings of Keatley, getting to participate in the crazy antics and photoshoots that John and Taylor experience daily.  Oh, and one other pertinent piece of information: I’m John’s wife. :)

Being that workshops is a big part of my job, I wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on the first two Survival Guide weekends that have come and gone, and how we have come to where we are.  John, as some of you may know, is a man with many ideas.  Small ideas, big ideas, crazy ideas, fabulous ideas.  But there are a lot of them!  When we first were married, I would ride the roller coaster of emotions, as his mind produced idea after idea.  Until I realized, these are ideas, not necessarily every one of them is going to come to fruition.  I now try to be a supportive listener, and really only heed attention to those ideas that keep resurfacing.  It’s made for a much saner life for me, yet allows him to keep dreaming.  But I am also realizing through the Survival Guide, that sometimes what can start out as a small idea, can grow and flourish when seen through the eyes of other people.  Ideas don’t have to be dreamed by just one person.

Several years back, John et al came up with the idea of a 2-day workshop that focused on marketing the first day, and lighting the second.  It was in response to numerous people wanting to know “How do you do what you do?”  But even from the beginning of that workshop, John realized that doing what he does was more than just taking pictures.  It was and is about creating and understanding business.  That workshop (fondly referred to as the “Un-Workshop”) was successful, and John taught it around the world, in Seattle, Dubai, and the Bahamas.  Despite the great response from that workshop, though, John struggled with generating an excitement for teaching it.  Throughout many conversations, it just became obvious that teaching about lighting and technique was not where his heart was.  He creates images from a place of emotion and feeling, and that is not easily transferred into shutter speed and lighting technique.  The lighting class to him felt dry and boring, something he would be uninterested in attending.  And so the Un-Workshop just settled on the back shelf as his commercial photography business started booming.

About a year and a half after the first Un-Workshop, John received an email from an attendee, describing how the information he learned during the Day One / Marketing class had transformed his career.  He had managed to enter into full-time photography, was working with some large clients, and was feeling confident in how to market his current successes into getting his next job.   One month later, he got a second email with a similar tale.

John and I were driving around one day shortly after receiving those emails, and the idea began to occur to both of us.  No one was writing to say how their careers were dramatically changed by the information they had learned in his lighting class.  But careers were being changed by the information he was most passionate about, something he liked teaching and talking about: business and marketing.  That seemed significant, and something not to just dismiss without a second thought.  We needed to rethink this workshop, and teach to John’s passion for business.  And that’s really how the Survival Guide began.

We’ve now completed our first two weekends here in Seattle, and the support and response from those who have attended has been heart-warming and completely eye-opening.  I’ve heard attendees say there is no other workshop teaching what we are teaching in such a realistic and honest way.  Yet John’s take on this is that a person will never be truly successful if their business is built on secrets, because someone else will figure them out or create something better.  The information discussed at the Survival Guide is raw, pertinent, real, applicable, and very honest.  We have taken the information that we use on a daily basis to bid on jobs, the questions to ask when speaking with a client, our understanding of what it takes to find a space for yourself in the art world, how to build authentic relationships when marketing, and wrapped it up into an intensive 2.5 day course.  Our intent is to build the artistic community a solid foundation, so that we are all being pursued for jobs based on artistic ability and not undercutting one another based solely on the bids.

And so what started as a small idea a few years ago, is now building steam and support.  We are excited.  So very excited for the way this workshop is starting to impact lives and careers.  30 to count so far.  And in July, we are heading to St. Louis.  July 10-12 to be exact, being hosted by the gracious RGG EDU.  We are stoked to meet the city of St. Louis, to see the Gateway Arch, taste the local cuisine, and experience the hospitality of the MidWest.  We hope you will join us, or let us know if you would like to be kept abreast of future locations and dates.

“The workshop met my expectations because I needed help with every step that we covered. John explained everything in depth and took time to answer our questions. I loved all the personal assignments as well as the group assignment, where we had to put in a bid and explain our numbers. The workbook and handouts are awesome! I have confidence that when I am presented with a potential job, I won’t be undercutting the market, or myself, and I won’t look like an amateur. I already know that I will be referencing these materials for years to come.” – Joshua Huston

“John’s workshop answered a lot of my questions -and questions I didn’t know I had, about the business side of commercial photography. He runs you through a job from start to finish. He starts with how to market yourself to the work you want, bidding for the job, running all the way to how to thank your client at the end of a great shoot. He shows you how to be the best photographer and business manager you can be. This isn’t to mention all of the real world insights he slips in.   The information is worth it all by itself, but the relationships you’ll build and the fun you have will simply put the whole experience over the top!” – Cori Keady

“Exceeded (my expectations)!  The most overwhelming side of being a creative is how to be realistic, professional, and run a business.  Hearing and seeing the tools required to be successful is a huge weight off my shoulders.  Can’t wait to put these tools into session.  I would say that it took away the unknown aspects of running a creative business that often paralyzed my growth.  It has made me excited again to be an artist, and one that could make money and be happy.” – Lonnie Webb

A huge thank you to BlackRapid for hosting us in March and April.  Looking forward to future Survival Guide collabs in Seattle!

Photo by Jackie Donnelly

Photo By Jackie Donnelly

Photo by Jackie Donnelly

Photo by Becky Mohrlang

Photo by Anna Rajdl

Photo by Jackie Donnelly

13
Feb

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!

17
Mar

Breaking down the new Keatley promo

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under BTS

Hot off the press!  We are so pumped about these beautiful new book promos.  The materials are so nice and the printing turned out perfect.  It’s always so fun to see my images in print since it’s not an every day occurance.  Big high 5 to Taylor for his design of this piece.  Well done man.  We will be sending out a limited number of these in the near future.  Thanks for taking a peek.

*UPDATE* A limited number of these (25) are now available in the Keatley Shop for purchase. Enjoy!

30
Jan

Nice to meet you!

Posted by Izzy / Filed under News, Random

Hi Everybody! Just a quick post to introduce myself and express how excited I am to be joining the Keatley Photo team! I’ve recently taken the role of Marketing Director, and couldn’t be more ecstatic about both the role, and the amazing people (and animals) I am working with. I mean, who doesn’t want an adorable 2 year old with self-styled hair and a fist full of Cheerios waltzing past your desk from time to time to keep things light? Or a precocious Pomeranian greeting you in the morning? This all on top of the amazing artistic environment of working with John. We have some fantastic projects planned for this new year, and even in week 4, things are off to an amazing start of exciting endeavors. We are diving in head first, and I cannot wait for you to see the results as they unfold! So, hello Keatley fans, it is nice to meet you, and know this is not the last you will be hearing from me. Oh, and even though I often introduce myself as Elizabeth, many of my friends call me Izzy, so feel free to do the same. Happy New Year!! –Izzy

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