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Kathryn Burns | Photo Native Student Review

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Q: How have you grown as an artist since attending Photo Native?

I've grown in so many ways as an artist, especially after hearing from Joy Prouty and Ginny Au. Both teachers had very out-of-the-box approaches to their work, and Ginny's particularly spoke to me, deep down in my heart. Over the last year I've been striving to find clients who really care about their photos being honest and reflective of who they are. Not only does this make a more personal result for them, but I'm fulfilled in a much deeper way knowing that I'm giving them photos that matter, that they will truly cherish. It's not enough for me anymore to create just "a pretty photo."
 

Q: What business skills have you implemented since attending Photo Native?

I've definitely opened up more to the idea of outsourcing. It's something I still struggle with since I like to have control in my business, but I find that the more I outsource the more I have my personal life back.
 

Q: You mentioned you LOVED the community and friends you made here, can you expand on that? 
I knew so many photographers by their social media handles and from FB groups, but I really loved getting to meet these women in person. It helped me realize how wonderfully genuine some of these women are, and where we were only "acquaintances" online we are now genuine friends because we had this opportunity to connect!

Q:What is your #1 takeaway from Photo Native?

You have to KEEP GOING. If you don't push yourself both in business and in your art, you will stagnate, your passion and drive will die out. Being like everybody else isn't going to do it for you, either. To be successful AND fulfilled, you have to make your own way.

Loved getting to know our feature student? Join us for Photo Native 2018 and follow us on instagram for more inspiration.

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Sarah Arnoff | Photo Native Student Reviews

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Q: How have you grown as an artist since attending Photo Native?

The Photo Native sessions really inspired me to focus my photography skills to just a few areas. I think when photographers decide to start a business, they feel like they have to shoot anything and everything in order to be successful, but after narrowing my subject scope, I've felt more creative and more inspired to pursue artistic and personal projects. I'm shooting what I want to shoot, not just because I have to.

Q: What business skills have you implemented since attending Photo Native?
I've become much closer getting my business brain together after listening to the bad-A speakers. Running a business is like a machine and once it gets going, the maintenance gets easier and easier. I'm not quite to the point where I'd call my business successful, but I'm confident it's coming, and Photo Native had a huge part in that.

Q: You mentioned you LOVED the community and friends you made here, can you expand on that?

A lot of times in the wedding industry, it feels like photographers are all fake friends. We wish each other the best and admire each other's work, but there is this underlying spark of jealousy when someone else gets published or has booked their entire season by January 5. But the Photo Native community didn't feel like that. There was always genuine support coming from the speakers and a sense of camaraderie from the attendees. I have friends from all over the country now after attending the shoot and dinner. I also loved that the conference brought together people of all different skill levels. I've been shooting for a long time but am a newbie to the business world. It was nice to meet people who were in the same boat as well as brand-new shooters and business savvy old-hands. 

I've attended a lot of photo conferences and workshops, and Photo Native definitely had the best balance between creative and business sessions, and I loved that the speakers had different styles. I felt that having that diversity fed a solid knowledge base and contributed to a rich learning environment.

Q: What is your #1 takeaway from Photo Native? 

There is always a niche or a market for you. Worrying about other photographers' work and how to keep up with them is a waste of energy. Surround yourself with a tight-knit group of support and craft your vision and your business to suit your needs, not anybody else's.

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Megan Hess | Photo Native Student Review

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Q: How have you grown as an artist since attending Photo Native?

The way that I view myself as an artist and business owner has grown immensely. My worth and purpose is more than what it used to be. It was like I was thirsty and didn't realize how thirsty I was until I attended PN2017. During those few days, I drank...and drank... and drank. I was so drunk with power and self worth! I left feeling like I could conquer anything. I had my most successful year following Photo Native. I give most of the credit to the ah-mazing classes/instructors but, I'll also give myself a bunch of credit too. I wrote down everything and then went home and DID something about it. I implemented the changes I learned about!

Q: What business skills have you implemented since attending Photo Native?

My financial world has flipped upside-down (for the good!) I actually kept track of all my spending, earnings and taxes this year! I'm so much more organized and feel empowered with the knowledge I learned in the financial area. Also, I really took to heart something that Ben Sasso said. He mentioned to only show what I want to shoot. I immediately went through my instagram and website photos. I took down everything that didn't excite me. Now I'm shooting more couples and families that fit the style I love most. I think this is mainly because I only show what I want to shoot most!

Q: You mentioned you LOVED the community and friends you made here, can you expand on that?

I signed up to room in a hotel with 3 other women. I had never met them before but I shared a bed and ate breakfast with my new fast-friends. Our passion for what we do immediately bonded us. We had similar experiences and could laugh and cry about it all. Making friends within classes was so easy. It was like kids on the playground and we all wanted to play the same game of tag and no one was left out. I still closely follow on Instagram most of the friends I made. Some of them may be my competition but, that doesn't matter. I want them to succeed and I root for them! I loved meeting the faces behind the camera!

Q: What is your #1 takeaway from Photo Native?

Ooooh, that is such a hard question! I filled a notebook during Photo Native so, choosing ONE takeaway is torture! I'd say my #1 takeaway was shoot what I love. Don't just take pictures because someone is paying you to. Finding what I loved most was such an adventure. I realized that I was just working to work. After making big changes to my brand & what I photograph, I love every single second that I'm out shooting. Photo Native was an inspiration and brought fresh cold water to my drought! 

Loved getting to know our feature student? Join us for Photo Native 2018 and follow us on instagram for more inspiration.

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Posy Quarterman | Photo Native Photoshoot

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Sponsored by: Artifact Uprising

My goal for this class was to show the attendees all that I put into a family session leading up to the actual event, in order to create a comfortable relaxed environment for the children and parents’ personalities to shine. We met in the living room of our model family’s home, and talked about my workflow practices, philosophies, and approach with clients. I worked with the model family to prepare them for their shoot  just as I would any family who hired me - sending them my new client documents (a session prep guide and questionnaire), and consulting with them about outfits and details of the session prior to our arrival. I wanted for their session to be as “normal” as one could be with that many photographer’s pointing their cameras at them.

The majority of the session took place in their home, but I couldn’t resist getting them out into all that Utah snow! It also gave us an excuse for an apparel change, which I find is a great way to diversify your images when shooting in a confined space for a stretch.

The family could not have been a more gracious or easy-going; I’m incredibly grateful to Sam (Kelly) for finding me such a great family to work with. I’m sure you can tell by the photos, but you would never have known there were 10 photographers at their session. Their impeccable style, floor-to-ceiling windows, and the light coming in reflecting off the snow didn’t hurt either.

Love these images? Join us for Photo Native 2018 and follow us on instagram for more inspiration.

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Abi Quinsenberry | Photo Native Featured Instructor

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Q: When you think of yourself as a photographer, do you feel like you’re more business-minded or more art/creativity-minded? Or are you a mix?

 I'm in the mix for sure but I lean way more creative. Currently working really hard to understand the marketing and SEO aspect more.

Q: What do you think is one of the biggest challenges photographers are faced with right now? 

Comparison and trying to follow the trends. 

Q: What’s been one of the biggest hurdles you’ve had to overcome in your business in order for it to continue to thrive and be successful? 

I had to figure out who I was, what kind of work I wanted to be creating and how to translate more of me into into my work. 

Q: How do you maintain your own, unique voice in your work in a world where you’re constantly bombarded with other artists’ images?

Well, you'll have to come to my class and find out. ;) 

Q: If you could go back in time and tell your photographer newbie self one thing, what would that be? 

Fuck the rules. 

Q: What is one of your best tips for running a successful business? 

Be a nice person and genuinely care about people. 

Q: How do you deal with burnout? What do you do to boost your creativity when you’re in a slump? 

I escape to the sea. There's nothing like screaming into the ocean to make the chaos become clear.  

Q: What’s the best part about being a photographer and doing the work that you do? 

The stories I get to tell and the lives I get to become a part of. Truly, I love every piece of wedding photography. Well, minus the emails. 

Q: When do you feel the most creative?

After one two many red bulls. 

Q: Have you ever felt that running the business side of things mentally overwhelms you? How did you overcome that?

Always. I read a long time ago that Steve Job's wore the same outfit everyday because picking out a outfit takes creativity and we only get so much in a day. So I simplified a lot of my life. I removed the clutter, threw out what I didn't need, I started to meal plan and I basically always wear black on black on black. It's helped me be able to focus on the things I need to do so much better. Also, I outsource when I get overwhelmed.  There's no point in me spending a week making a PDF when I can hire someone to do it better and faster for me. And with that free week I can book a session that pays for that PDF and gets me more free time to pursue what I love or spend time with my family. 

Q: What is your favorite part about teaching and connecting with students?

When they come alive. 

Q: If you are a parent, what’s one tip you have for juggling a super crazy photographer’s work schedule with parenthood?

Well, come to my panel and I'll tell you. ;)

Loved getting to know our feature Instructor? Join us for Photo Native 2018 and follow us on instagram for more inspiration.

 

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Graham + Ashley Scobey | Photo Native Featured Instructors

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Q: When you think of yourself as a photographer, do you feel like you’re more business-minded or more art/creativity-minded? Or are you a mix?

We are definitely a mix. Graham is more art/creative minded and Ashley is more business-minded. It's been such an awesome gift to us both because when our priorities feel skewed or the business slants a little too artsy (or starts to feel a bit too business-y) we can sense it and course correct.

Q: What do you think is one of the biggest challenges photographers are faced with right now?We are inundated with input.

Everywhere we look there are dozens of people telling us what to do, when to do it, and how. It makes it incredibly difficult to find our own unique voice amidst all of the very loud noise.

Q: What’s been one of the biggest hurdles you’ve had to overcome in your business in order for it to continue to thrive and be successful?

Comparison and self doubt. And here's the thing - those are both products of pride. So we've found that, for us, the quickest way to silence comparison and self doubt it to cheer other people on. We always want to be the people who hear others, not shout to be noticed. We want to be the dumbest people in the room - because that allows us to grow. The World is full of people who are scared to fail, and so they fight to be seen as important and successful. Over time (and a lot of practice) we've learned that pride is a horrible horrible monster to feed, and our relationships and self-worth are a lot healthier when we just let it take a back seat.

Q: How do you maintain your own, unique voice in your work in a world where you’re constantly bombarded with other artists’ images?

We think it's really important for our creativity to turn down the noise. We don't spend a lot of time "following" other peoples' work, and we find that it puts our minds and hearts in a more creative place. That way, when we go out and create, it is with fresh eyes.

Q: If you could go back in time and tell your photographer newbie self one thing, what would that be?

"You're doing just fine." At every stage in our business there have been worries that we were doing this right or that right. There's no manual for running a photography business, and creative businesses are very personal things, so we run into self doubt at almost every turn. As it turns out, that's a really important part of the process - walking through self doubt and learning how to trust your instinct is how you grow. And you're doing just fine.

Q: What is one of your best tips for running a successful business?

Be a good person. Love others and put them first. The trickle down effect of this is phenomenal. People get excited to work with you, your clients feel well cared for, peers know they can come to you for advice and encouragement, and you can feel good knowing that - at the end of the day - you maintained integrity.

Q: What’s the best part about being a photographer and doing the work that you do?

So many things!! Honestly! We get to travel, spend time with incredibly happy people, and have a lot of flexibility in our schedules. If we had to pick one thing, we love that being a photographer gives us the flexibility to spend a lot of time adventuring as a family.

Q: How do you keep yourself an artist- but not a starving artist?

Systems. Super consistent, scalable, un-sexy systems. We systematize every single non-creative thing that we do. Importing images? It happens the same way every time. Delivery? Lead management? Client experience? It's all a part of a system. This helps us do the "grunt work" as quickly and effectively as possible. When the business stuff is a refined process, things don't slip through the cracks more and your business becomes a life-raft that supports your creativity.

Q: How did you find your style? (editing, mood, lighting, etc)?

It's changed SO many times and it will probably continue to. We started our business when selective color was still a thing (shhhhh!), so part of style comes from what's relevant and serves our clients well while the other part is refining our voice. We are definitely more dark and moody in our shooting style, and the way that we edit enhances that.

Q: What is your favorite part about teaching and connecting with students?

Watching the lightbulbs go off for people who are ready to step out from under the weight of running heavy, clunky, unsustainable businesses. It's amazing to watch creatives connect the dots and see the road to freedom.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

With kiddos getting ready to go to college :-/ Whoa! We hope that we will still be shooting Weddings and teaching - mentoring a new generation of photographers to help them avoid some of the same mistakes we've made. It would be easy to say that things might be very similar to how they are now, but life always has a way of surprising us.

Q: If you are a parent, what’s one tip you have for juggling a super crazy photographer’s work schedule with parenthood?

Shared calendars are a life-saver in our family. Be super clear on what your non-negotiables are, and make those a priority over your business (i.e. put them on your calendar and treat them like a meeting - guard that time and honor it). For us, family dinners and dates nights are non-negotiables. Those things come before business, and they feed our souls. Also, give yourself a lot of grace and understand that your kids aren't a distraction from work, they are some of the most important work you'll ever do.

Loved getting to know our feature Instructor? Join us for Photo Native 2018 and follow us on instagram for more inspiration.

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Brooke Schultz | Photo Native Featured Instructor

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Q: When you think of yourself as a photographer, do you feel like you’re more business-minded or more art/creativity-minded?

Or are you a mix? Mix is the magic word, baby. the coolest thing is that business can be an art in and of itself--there's improv, trying things you have no idea will work, creating something completely unique and true to you--blurring those lines and constantly creating in both worlds is supremely fun to me.

Q: What’s been one of the biggest hurdles you’ve had to overcome in your business in order for it to continue to thrive and be successful?

Welp, I've had a baby or moved every year of my business except one. The only thing I can say is that I've always had a much deeper meaning driving all of it for me; I believe the gifts I give to my clients of being truly seen, having their silent most important work witnessed is literally priceless, and so that motivated me to do whatever I had to do to breathe life into my business. That doesn't mean I sacrificed being present for my family, although of course there are seasons of give and take. Photography and art and doing this for people also makes me come alive, so it was all very entertained and never from a strictly business standpoint that I wanted to do this work.

Q: How do you maintain your own, unique voice in your work in a world where you’re constantly bombarded with other artists’ images?

I bombard myself with the right images. :)
I spend a lot of time drawing inspiration from other sources and paying attention to what I like in any and every context. One of the most important things any artist can develop is a genuine, playful curiosity about why she likes what she likes.

Q: If you could go back in time and tell your photographer newbie self one thing, what would that be?

Pay attention to what is inside you way more than what is happening outside of you. Developing a voice and a style can only come from following the breadcrumbs of what you like. If that lines up with what other people want, you've got a business. If not, don't dull yourself or try to fit into a mold; you've simply got a really compelling, fun hobby.

Q: What is one of your best tips for running a successful business?

Be consistent. You market when you're not busy and then do zilch when work picks up--and then the internet thinks you're dead and you ain't got no work, boo. Slow and steady zeroing in on just a few things.

Q: How do you deal with burnout? What do you do to boost your creativity when you’re in a slump?

Get off social media except to post, only check email once/day, say no to projects and shoots that don't light me up, and give myself lots of creative input--reading, poetry, etc. I believe if all photographers adhered to these, burnout would drastically decrease, even if you can't lighten your shooting load or put together a personal shoot.

Q: How do you keep yourself an artist- but not a starving artist?

I'm constantly looking for the overlap between art that feeds my soul AND my wallet. I truly believe you can have both. Some elements of my business lean more to one side or the other, but I genuinely enjoy every part, and that's what I want for every photographer.

Q: How did you find your style? (editing, mood, lighting, etc)?

Style is always evolving and is just a compilation of the things you like, so it's not hard to find. At various times it's easier or harder to truly know what you like, which is why it's so important as an artist to pay attention to what you're drawn to in every context, especially contexts outside of photography. What do you notice every day? What could you look at for hours? What topics are infinitely interesting to you? The keys to a unique style are all inside you, and the fun of jigsawing the puzzle of what all of that is--that's the special sauce I'm after.

Q: What is your favorite part about teaching and connecting with students?

There's this inexplicable synergy of discovery that washes over a room when we all show up fully. Open hearts ready to give and receive, we all leave full and changed every time without fail. There's something about the vulnerability of making art and diving into that process together that creates a bond outside the power to describe it in terms of the five senses. And clearly I take this experience very very seriously so no smiling allowed ever. :)

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Creating, creating, creating. That's all I know. But then again I believe everything is creation so maybe that's a trick answer wink.

Q: If you are a parent, what’s one tip you have for juggling a super crazy photographer’s work schedule with parenthood?

You owe it to yourself and to everyone in your life to be well-adjusted and empowered, not burnt out and overdrawn and stressed to the max. You can't serve clients or your family at your highest capacity if you are in "survival mode." There are so many possibilities for revenue streams that don't involve trading dollars for hours and that sit in the sweet spot of  things you love and things people want to pay you for. If you have a hard time believing that's possible for YOU, that's your first order of business: curiosity about why you're an exception, about why you won't allow yourself to accept that success. If that sounds hippie-dippy, welcome aboard. Our minds are the key to our whole lives and we spend far too much time trying to boss ourselves into things that don't serve us, when we could be creating businesses and lives that fuel our hearts and relationships along with our piggy banks. I'm not saying your business should check every box for you and that photography is going to keep you warm at night, but I AM saying, let's lower the flag of martyrdom and retire suffering as a badge of honor.

Loved getting to know our feature Instructor? Join us for Photo Native 2018 and follow us on instagram for more inspiration.

 

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Jean Smith | Photo Native Featured Instructor

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Q: When you think of yourself as a photographer, do you feel like you’re more business-minded or more art/creativity-minded? Or are you a mix?

In the beginning, I was 98% creative, and 2% business. Of course, I wanted to actually succeed and be a profitable business, so I've had to painfully learn the business side of things. I wish I were more business minded, but I'm around 50% creative, 50% business now.

Q: What do you think is one of the biggest challenges photographers are faced with right now?

The social media "perfect life." Everything looks amazing on Instagram. He is always traveling. Her clothes are so cute. He has the coolest new equipment. She photographs destination weddings. Her hair is beautiful. Blah blah blahhhhh. Pretty images are pretty, but just remember that EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. behind those pretty images has trials, hardships, ugly hair days, and a whole plethura of other stuff you'll never know about.

Q: If you could go back in time and tell your photographer newbie self one thing, what would that be?

 A photographer friend once told me that if she could go back and do it again, she would still do photography as a business, but pursue a business or marketing degree rather than a fine art degree. I understand that all might not agree with this, but I agree 110%. I am already right brained, so the creativity and photography came easier for me. But the business. Ohhhhh the business. I imagine most photographers are like me who can easily grasp the photography side of things, but the business side is a STRUGGLE. I would guess that owning a  successful and profitable photography business is 30% photography and 70% business. Don't believe me? Look at all of the over-the-top-incredible-amazing photographers out there earning next to nothing. Why? Because they don't know how to run a business. Get a business degree. Or take classes. Learn how to market and be an entrepreneur.

Q: How do you deal with burnout? What do you do to boost your creativity when you’re in a slump?

As an entrepreneur, wife, and mother, I'll admit I struggle to implement "me" time. However, when I am feeling burned out in photography, I do personal work and it ABSOLUTELY helps me to feel new, fresh, and passionate about photography again. I try to do at least one personal photography project or shoot a month. As a side note, I know some people who ONLY show their personal work on their websites, and I think that is one of the greatest ways to attract the exact client you are looking for so you can continue to create the art you want to create.

Q: What’s the best part about being a photographer and doing the work that you do?

The fact that I get to photograph people's happiest times in their lives and get paid for it. WHAT???

Q: How do you keep yourself an artist- but not a starving artist?P

ricing has so much to do with this. If a photographer is charging pennies for their shooting and editing time as well as the digital images and/or products, they are allowing themselves as well as their clients to see them as a budget photographer. A budget photographer has a camera and clicks a button. I haven't met a photographer in the world who wants to be a button pusher. We all want to be artists creating beautiful imagery. As an artist, it is vital to charge prices that reflect confidence in his/her art work. I feel I can say this openly as I had to learn the hard way and dig myself out of a terrible pricing structure at the start of my business. It may take a few months or even a few years to get to where you want to be, but charging what your worth is absolutely necessary for your success as an artist as well as a human who needs to make a decent living.

If money was no question, what project would you pursue?Photographing travel + charities. Yes please over and over.

Q: How did you find your style? (editing, mood, lighting, etc)

All new photographers have to go on a journey to discover their style. It doesn't happen overnight and it could take years. In fact, although most photographers settle into a niche or specific style at some point, they often evolve in and out of that style over time. I guess that's called being an artist. Although I’ve had many “light bulb moments” throughout my journey, one specific way I found my style was to gather images that really spoke to me. I studied them and picked out the elements that I loved. I quickly found out that wide angles, dramatic light, and movement were my top inspirations. I tried to continually practice and incorporate those elements into my work.

Q: What is your favorite part about teaching and connecting with students?

My favorite part about teaching is creating a better and smarter community of photographers. I WISH I had someone to talk to, to learn from, to grow with when I was beginning in photography. When I started in photography 12 years ago, everything felt secretive. Photographers rarely talked about how they photographed, created their style, or built their business. The industry has come so far in wanting to create better photographers. Better and more educated photographers = photographers who value their work = charging higher prices = better for all photographers in the industry!

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

My baby will have just graduated high school, so a lot of travel somehow combined with photography would be a dream.

Q: If you are a parent, what’s one tip you have for juggling a super crazy photographer’s work schedule with parenthood?

OUTSOURCING! My kids are all in school full time now, so I have that chunk of time during the day to work. But I worked for years with babies and toddlers and know how difficult that can be. My life saving outsourcing is/was bi-weekly house cleaning, in-home nanny 2x/week, album design, editing, packaging and shipping. Yes, it costs money to do those things, but I simply raised my pricing by that much per session or wedding to cover the costs. Outsourcing allowed me 1) my sanity 2) time for my family 3) to get rid of things I didn't enjoy doing  4) more time to shoot and market which means more money!

Loved getting to know our feature Instructor? Join us for Photo Native 2018 and follow us on instagram for more inspiration.

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Justin Hackworth | Photo Native Featured Instructor

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Q: How do you maintain your own, unique voice in your work in a world where you’re constantly bombarded with other artists’ images?

I love collecting photographers' monographs and am building a solid library of photography books from some of my favorite photographers like Lee Friedlander, Garry Winnogrand, Ryan McGinley, Elliott Erwitt, Richard Avedon, Alec Soth, Larry Fink and on and on. And whenever I'm in another city I look at what's showing at whatever museum is in town. There's something powerful about seeing the work in person. To maintain my own voice, it's important for me to fill my head with images that resonate with the kind of photographer I want to be.

Q:If you could go back in time and tell your photographer newbie self one thing, what would that be?

Oh my gosh, there's a million things I would love to tell that naive, early version of me. Maybe this would be the biggest eye-opener. If you are going to do photography as a business, it's important to know that you will only be spending about 10% of your time taking pictures, and the rest of your time will be spent running the business--delivering what you promise, marketing your business, billing, editing, returning emails, continued education, drumming up the next job, bla bla bla. If you can agree to that, then proceed, tiger.

Q: What is one of your best tips for running a successful business?

Instead of asking "How can I make more money" ask, "How can I increase my service to my clients?" If you ask yourself that every morning, chances are you'll come up with a lot of crappy answers. But you'll also come up with a solid gold nugget from time to time, and then if you act on that idea, you'll have a great business, and the money will follow.

Q: How do you deal with burnout? What do you do to boost your creativity when you’re in a slump?

Traveling, taking pictures in a new town just for fun, has always been valuable and invigorating. When I return home and get back to work, I do so with fresh eyes. It doesn't matter what place I visit, either. I like the quote by Robert Adams, "No place is boring, if you've had a good night's sleep and have a pocket full of unexposed film."

Q: What’s the best part about being a photographer and doing the work that you do?

Being a photographer give you access to situations, people, and places that you might not see otherwise. I've been to amazing locations and met remarkable people on account of this job. Thanks, photography!

Q: How do you keep yourself an artist- but not a starving artist?

The load makes the donkey go. I don't really have a choice. This is my job, so I've got to make it work because I have high standards in my life, such as, buying food and paying the electric bill on time. Plus, I hate the idea of a starving artist. What a stupid idea. Lots of artists make money. Why not be one of those?

Q: If money was no question, what project would you pursue?

I would love to go to every Utah town that has a population of 100 people or less, and make a portrait of every person in the town.

Q: Who are creative entrepreneurs that you look up to?

Kevin Auernig, from Sodalicious. Allison Faulkner, from the Allison Show. Susan Peterson, from Freshly Picked. I've watched all three of them from the very beginning of their businesses and their drive, inventiveness, sheer will is downright impressive. They have incredible businesses, but I've seen how hard they work to get there. They aren't smarter than everyone else. They just work harder and don't shy away from failure as a teacher. I could go on and on about all they ways they kick ass but I'll just say, those three really impress me.

Q: Have you ever felt that running the business side of things mentally overwhelms you? How did you overcome that?

Oh my gosh, yes. Being a business owner is a 24/7 endeavor. I don't know how to overcome it, honestly. But one workaround for me is to make sure I'm having fun at work. I want to align myself with people I love to be around. I want to shoot jobs that scratch a creative itch of resonate with the kind of person I want to be or the kind of artist I want to be. Here's an example of having fun at work. A few years ago, I'd see all the kids on Halloween walking around downtown near my studio and I thought, someone ought to be photographing all these adorable costumes. And then I thought, well why isn't that person me? So for the last three years, we've invited our friends and clients to bring their kids to the studio in their Halloween costumes a few days before Halloween and I would, for FREE, photograph the kids, then send the parents all the digital files some time before Halloween, so they could brag on Facebook and Instagram how adorable and delightful their Little Red Riding Hood or Thor looked that day. I don't make any money on that and I have no idea if it will result in a booked job. But I love it. It's so much fun. I makes my job fun, which means I feel less overwhelmed about everything else.

How did you find your style? (editing, mood, lighting, etc)

I have looked at a lot of photography/photographers and have tried a lot of different things. Over time, a style started to emerge.

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John Keatly | Photo Native Featured Instructor

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Q: What do you think is one of the biggest challenges photographers are faced with right now?

 A lack of focus and patience. We want everything right now, and there are so many things in life screaming for our attention. I think it is important to understand what your goals are, and learn to cut out things that don't help you get there. I think a lot of photographers have goals based on what they think they are supposed to be doing, but they don't actually know what they want to be doing. 

Q: What’s been one of the biggest hurdles you’ve had to overcome in your business in order for it to continue to thrive and be successful? 

To be me, and stay true to myself. It is so easy to chase trends, money, clients, opinions, praise, followers, etc. but staying true to myself, and trusting in my process is one of the most important things I can do in my business.
That is not to say you don't have to learn to adapt and take risk. That is something I do all the time, but it has to be done with sound information, and a strong understanding of yourself.

Q: How do you maintain your own, unique voice in your work in a world where you’re constantly bombarded with other artists’ images?

The work of other artists is only a distraction if you don't know who you are.You have to take the time to find yourself, and really know who you are. Reading, therapy, conversations, and learning new ideas are some of the ways you can begin this journey, but it is going to take time, no matter how you go about it. This is essential to your success and happiness as an artist, and as a individual. Once you begin to understand who you are, it becomes easier to make choices based on your understanding of self.

Q: If you could go back in time and tell your photographer newbie self one thing, what would that be?

Start therapy now!

Q: What is one of your best tips for running a successful business? 

Remove emotion, make decisions based on accurate information and data, and work with solid professionals in areas you are not good at. Accounting or design for example...

Q: How do you deal with burnout?

What do you do to boost your creativity when you’re in a slump? Exercise, eat well, have fun, break out of your routine, and relax. Experiencing something new is one of the best ways to find inspiration because your mind is open and receptive. When you are locked into a routine, it's easy to shut down because you assume there is nothing new to learn or observe.

Q: What’s the best part about being a photographer and doing the work that you do? 

For me, the best thing is it allows me to create which I feel compelled to do. I am very grateful to be in a position where I am my own boss, and I am able to take risks, and live with the success and consequences of those decisions. That invigorates me, and is a big part of what keeps me going. The idea that anything can happen on any given day, and I have a part to play in that.

Q: How do you keep yourself an artist- but not a starving artist?

You have to be driven desire, and determined through failure, but even still, there are no guarantees. This is a highly competitive and difficult industry. 
I believe being true to yourself, and creating from that place is essential. You can only be successful if you unique, and you can only be unique if you are you.
Finally, it takes time. Making a living and not being a "starving artist" does not happen over night. It can take 5, 10, 15 years, and even then, you never really "make it" whatever that means. Building anything takes time, and I don't think we take about that enough.

Q: If money was no question, what project would you pursue?

I have pages and pages of ideas I would love to create. Some are videos, some are single images, and some are series of images and videos. Most of them involve fairly heavy production in the form of casting, talent, set builds, costume creation and location scouting. If money were no option, I would hire a producer and kick of 2 or 3 projects at a time. 

Q: What is your favorite part about teaching and connecting with students?

Teaching gives me an opportunity to share what I have learned, and what has been passed down to me by others. The people I meet through teaching are so inspiring to me, and the energy and feeling that comes from sharing and collaborating with others is pretty special. I wouldn't be where I am today if it were not for the kindness and teaching of others, so I feel it is important to pass that on.

Loved getting to know our feature Instructor? Join us for Photo Native 2018 and follow us on instagram for more inspiration.

 

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