Allison Tyler Jones: Hi, friends. This episode of The ReWork is part of a series featuring several of the students from our Art of Selling Art course that we launched for the first time in the summer of 2021. These students are sharing the big and not so big changes that they’ve made in their business over the last few months. Changes that have scared them but made a big difference to their confidence, their session sales averages, the products that they’re selling, how they speak to their clients and they also share the successes they’ve had while doing it scared. I can’t wait for you to hear their stories because I know you’re going to find them just as inspiring as I did.
Recorded: Welcome to The ReWork with Allison Tyler Jones, a podcast dedicated to inspiring portrait photographers to uniquely brand, profitably price, and confidently sell their best work.
Allison has been doing just that for the last 15 years, and she’s proven that it’s possible to create unforgettable art and run a portrait business that supports your family and your dreams. All it takes is a little rework. Episodes will include interviews with experts from in and outside of the photo industry, mini workshops, and behind-the-scenes secrets that Allison uses in her portrait studio every single day. She will challenge your thinking and inspire your confidence to create a profitable, sustainable portrait business you love through continually refining and reworking your business. Let’s do The ReWork.
Allison Tyler Jones: Diane Dultmeier of Dultmeier Photography in Stuart, Florida has a degree in photo journalism. She has photographed commercial work, she has photographed for newspapers. She has photographed all kinds of things, and she’s spent the last 20 years being a portrait photographer today. She’s going to share with us some of the changes that she’s made in her business over the last six months that have allowed her to have a 30% higher income, to work with fewer clients, and to have a more balanced life. She will inspire you to continue learning and educating yourself, to reach out to others and not be isolated in this business that can so often be isolating. She shares her favorite book, and she also shares some of the things that she’s still working on and struggling with in her business. I think you’re going to find it very inspiring and very helpful.
Welcome to The ReWork, Diane. I’m so happy to have you here today.
Diane Dultmeier: I’m glad to be here.
Allison Tyler Jones: Awesome. Tell our listeners a little bit about yourself, your history with portrait photography, et cetera.
Diane Dultmeier: Okay. So I’m Diane Dultmeier from Dultmeier photography. I’m in Stuart, Florida. I focus mostly on family portraits, but I also photograph high school seniors, kids, couples, extended families and everything is outdoors on location.
Allison Tyler Jones: Okay, love it.
Diane Dultmeier: I have a degree in photo journalism from the University of Kansas, and I’ve done all kinds of photography through the years as I tried to figure out where I fit best. I’ve done newspaper photography, commercial, aerials, weddings, architectural, products, all kinds of stuff.
Allison Tyler Jones: Wow.
Diane Dultmeier: And a little over 20 years ago, I discovered portrait photography for personal use. Like for homes, for people, for their family. And that changed everything for me because up until that point, the kind of photo I’ve been doing was more to solve a problem. Because when you’re a commercial photographer, you’re just basically trying to solve whatever problem the ad agency has as far as photography. So it wasn’t really fulfilling for me. And then the newspaper stuff was really not a good fit for me because there’s so much negativity there was [crosstalk].
Allison Tyler Jones: You’re taking pictures of problems.
Diane Dultmeier: I was taking pictures of problems. And if I was taking pictures of a non-problem and a problem happened, I had to leave the really cool thing-
Allison Tyler Jones: The non-problem.
Diane Dultmeier: … to go cover the negative thing. So anyway, portrait photography is a great fit for me and I love photographing people and capturing who they are and making them look good in a natural way.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. I love that. So that was 20 years ago that you started that, and you have had success all along the way.
Diane Dultmeier: I mean, it’s been up and down.
Allison Tyler Jones: You have had a thriving business.
Diane Dultmeier: I’ve had a thriving business, but of course when the recession happened in 2008, that was unexpected for someone who actually never planned to start a business in the first place. So-
Allison Tyler Jones: Sure. Yeah.
Diane Dultmeier: … there’s been ups and downs, and through the years I’ve had employees, not had employees and things like that and it’s evolved. And at the moment it’s just me and I outsource a few things.
Allison Tyler Jones: Okay. So did you leave the industry at one point in this 20-year journey or did you just kind of scale back a little bit and then came back in?
Diane Dultmeier: I did not ever leave portrait photography. I did have a point about six to eight years ago when my mom had Alzheimer’s and I kind of stepped back just because that’s what I needed to do at that point. And by step back, I just mean I stopped marketing, stopped doing anything except taking pictures of what happened to come to me because my family still needed the money, but I wasn’t pushing like I had been.
Allison Tyler Jones: Well, the thing that I love about that is that you’re just describing every photographer I know, which is you can expand, you can contract. That’s the beauty I think of this industry and this business is that it can be very personal. You can have it dovetail in with your personal life. So if you have a parent or child that’s ill and you need to do a little bit less, you can throttle that a little bit. And that’s one of the great things about portrait photography in my opinion, is that you have more control over your life.
Diane Dultmeier: It’s true, if you allow yourself to have that control.
Allison Tyler Jones: Always-
Diane Dultmeier: As you know.
Allison Tyler Jones: … As… Yeah, for sure. If you’re not a complete hamster on acid that needs to be constantly uplevelling.
Diane Dultmeier: As I ofcourse have been at some point.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yep. We’ve all done it. Love it. Okay. So you had said that at one point you started to feel like maybe the model that you were created was outdated and that you felt like, “I’m going to have to start selling digital files.”
Diane Dultmeier: Well, about a little over two years ago, I really did. I think I’m just slow. And I kind of just hadn’t really realized that things had changed and because I very much value the finished product and that’s what I’ve always done.
Allison Tyler Jones: Sure.
Diane Dultmeier: I did a shoot and burn wedding one time, way back when that was like an early thing. And it just felt so wrong to just give them the files, not help them with anything, not to sign the album, not anything, and just sort of send them off on their way and I just never did it again. And I’ve never done it with portraits.
Allison Tyler Jones: I think what you’re saying is so good because you’re not saying, “It felt bad because I didn’t get enough money for it.” You’re saying, “I felt truly that it was not serving the client to the best of my ability.”
Diane Dultmeier: Yeah. They paid me well. I mean, it was less work, it was more money, less cost of sales, all of that stuff, but it just didn’t feel right.
Allison Tyler Jones: Okay. So now what’s happened? What’s happened in the meantime.
Diane Dultmeier: So I’ve gotten some education and I have slowly started to realize that I have so much expertise that I wasn’t even aware that I had, because it’s just part of what I’ve been doing all these years. And I didn’t really realize that there were people out there… I don’t think suffering is the right word, but people out there that, like you say, “Had no idea this was even still a thing,” that you can find photographer who’s not going to charge you the $250, hand you the thing, and then you need to figure it out. That people need to be educated. You’ve really helped me because the other thing that’s helped me a lot is when you say that, “No one needs what we do.”
Allison Tyler Jones: It’s true.
Diane Dultmeier: I love that so much because-
Allison Tyler Jones: Takes the pressure off.
Diane Dultmeier: … I am one of those kids, I’m a fourth child. I was born in 1964. And so, there are no baby pictures of me, literally.
Allison Tyler Jones: Ooh.
Diane Dultmeier: My first picture I’m like two or something. But now that I have kids and all that, I get it. I understand what happened. But when I was growing up, I’m like, “Where’s my baby pictures?” Nobody these days is going to have that happen to them.
Allison Tyler Jones: No, no, that’s so true because they’ve got a million pictures on their phone and they’ve put them up on Instagram and they’ve got their Chatbooks. And so documenting is not going to be a problem for this gen.
Diane Dultmeier: So that’s not the issue. The issue is that potentially they’re going to lose all their pictures somehow through some sort of digital problem or that their kids won’t be able to find them later, all those kinds of things, but really they have all those pictures. So I think I sort of felt bad inside if I was charging too much because people couldn’t get the pictures. But now that I have clarity that, “Well, they have way too many pictures of their kids and their family now.” Maybe not of the family, a lot of people don’t stop and take that family picture even when they’re out and about on their own or whatever but-
Allison Tyler Jones: So true. [crosstalk] the moms are absent.
Diane Dultmeier: So that really helped me to really realize like, “This is a luxury service. They don’t have to hire me if they don’t like what I’m offering, but if they want what I’m offering, then I need to make sure that I’m charging what I need to charge in order to have a good income for my family.”
Allison Tyler Jones: Right, exactly. A good sustainable business that supports your goals and your dreams, the things that you want to do. I love that. So-
Diane Dultmeier: And I do all locations, so my schedule’s different than yours, where I need to be out when the light’s right. So I am moving all the pieces around and accommodating people. And again, that needs to be something that’s respected and appreciated.
Allison Tyler Jones: … Yeah, and factored in. And so many of our listeners are going to be location portrait photographers. And so I think we need to underline that, that when you are a location portrait photographer, you are at the mercy of the weather, you are at the mercy of the sun. And so, in the summertime, depending on where you live, you’re shooting well past dinner time or right into that time. In the winter, maybe a little bit earlier, so that’s nicer, but you’re also having to call on account of weather and reschedule. There’s a lot that goes into that. And so when you say it needs to be respected and needs to be valued, I would also add to that compensated, it will never be respected, valued, or compensated if it’s not respected or valued by the photographer first.
Diane Dultmeier: Right, [crosstalk].
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah, so we’re the ones that have to do it. And so if you’re mad at your client because you’re like, “Do they not just get this? I’ve had to reschedule them three times because it’s been raining and it’s the time and it’s hot and whatever.” Well, no, they don’t respect it because you haven’t respected it. You haven’t built that into your process or whatever.
Diane Dultmeier: Yes. And I think I have gotten a lot more confidence since being in the class just because of the whole, “No one needs what we do.” And just even I remember the first phone call I had when the other thing, other words that I like that you have taught us are something like, “Not everyone needs this level of service. There are lots of photographers around who can do what you’re looking for, but if you ever want someone who will guide you from start to finish and make sure you end up with beautiful finished portraits, I’m here.”
Allison Tyler Jones: Right.
Diane Dultmeier: And the first time I said that to somebody and I had already educated her in the first phone call and kind of said what I do. And she told me… It was a senior portrait she was looking for, and she’d already had one of her first child who graduated from high school and didn’t do very much with that. And so I could tell that she wasn’t looking for what I offer. So it was a good opportunity to practice saying some of these words that are kind of scary to get out of my mouth.
Allison Tyler Jones: It’s so true.
Diane Dultmeier: When I told her that she’s like, “Oh, wow, that sounds really…” I don’t know the exact words but, “That really is awesome and interesting.” And I could tell it wasn’t a fit for now, but it could have planted a seed for a future family portrait or something like that.
Allison Tyler Jones: And that’s so valuable because when we’re making changes in our business, and what you’re speaking about is that The Art of Selling Art course that you are a founding member of and have come through that course with us, which I love is that when we’re making change, it’s really scary. When we’re doing something in a new way, even if it’s even if the stakes aren’t super high, just the fact that we’re doing something different feels kind of scary. And so having those words and being able to say it in a way that is easy to say, go with that a little bit.
Diane Dultmeier: So one thing I love about the group is how supportive everyone is. And I have been in different groups on Facebook, let’s say. Photography groups, and sometimes there’s a lot of shame and a lot of meanness. And what I’ve found in this group is the photographers treat each other with respect, always willing to help or support. I can feel safe, posting a question that might make me look like I don’t know what I’m doing because I don’t in that particular area or whatever, and not feel like they’re going to think I’m an idiot because it’s kind of like, we’re all in this together. And it’s been really wonderful having other photographers around the country, even in a couple of other countries who like, we’re all kind of in the same boat and helping each other and bouncing ideas around. And when you’re a entrepreneur, sometimes you feel lonely.
Allison Tyler Jones: Especially in this business because you can be solopreneur for a while and you might have one or two helpers but you’re might not be able to strategize business with them or you might not be able to confide in them that like, “I’m really scared about this year, hopefully I’m going to be able to make my rent or whatever.”
Diane Dultmeier: Right. And I think, I don’t know, when I started in photography all those years ago, there was so much competition between photographers and so much ego. Probably, maybe, I don’t know if I should say this, but a lot of it had to do with the fact that it was mostly men and I the second job I had out of college, I was the first female they’d had on staff for photographers.
Allison Tyler Jones: Wow, so cool.
Diane Dultmeier: I mean, things have changed so much now it’s like almost the opposite.
Allison Tyler Jones: Right. Well, especially in the portrait world, for sure. Yeah. No, I think that’s true. And I think that’s one thing I’m so proud of this industry and so proud of the women that have come into the industry is that it really is very much more of a help each other and there is competition really. I mean, really we’re not competing with what we think we’re competing with. We’re not competing with other photographers, we’re competing with travel. We’re competing with kids being out of town at college, we’re competing with their schedule, we’re not competing with other photographers.
Diane Dultmeier: I think that’s true. It just depends. If you find the client, you’re not.
Allison Tyler Jones: Exactly. Well, because I can’t get what you do specifically. Diane Dultmeier, I can’t get that from anybody else.
Diane Dultmeier: Right. And it took me a long time to figure that out. I mean, sometimes people would tell me, “Oh, I was at my friend’s house and I saw this portrait on the wall and I knew it was yours because I just knew from the way the people were posed and just everything about it.” And I was like, “Wow, that’s pretty cool. I didn’t know that was a thing.” Sometimes [crosstalk].
Allison Tyler Jones: Oh yeah. To me, that’s when you know the brand is working, the message is getting out there. When people recognize that it is yours, that’s huge milestone.
Diane Dultmeier: Yeah. It feels good.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. That’s great. So what are some of the things that you’ve learned in the changes that you’ve made over the last six to eight months that we’ve been working together? What are some of the changes that you’ve made in your business and specifically how have the impacted the success of your business?
Diane Dultmeier: So one change that I’m kind of in the process of making, and I’ve done it with a few clients is to ask them to send me pictures of their walls before the consultation, but sometimes they don’t do it. But definitely before session and I tell them that’s going to help us plan better and have a much better idea of what I need to be shooting for and all that kind of stuff. And then I’ll even send them a mock up, like a PDF through the email of portraits on the wall that aren’t their portraits, but that are the same color tones, similar location to where they’re going and things like that, based on what we talked about in the consultation. And people love it. And really, like I had one specific client, she called me for Christmas cards. And then I started talking to her about what I do and I do Christmas cards, but can only do those if they’ve done a wall portrait.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. They’re an add-on.
Diane Dultmeier: Yeah, an add-on. And so when I was talking to her about what I offer, she decided to come for the consultation and we talked for a long time. She’s a very sweet, but what I like to call a turtle thinker. So she’s one of those people that needs to process things for a while and really get used to an idea. And so we did that and then she sent me her wall photo after the consultation, then I sent her a few mock-ups out of pro select, showing a portrait on the wall we had on, in like three different sizes. And then she sent me an email saying… Well, actually first I think she sent me an email saying she thought they’d go with a 20 by 24 canvas rep. So then I send her the mock-ups. And based on that, it’s clear that, that’s too small.
Allison Tyler Jones: Sure. And you don’t have to say that. You don’t have to say, “I think that’s too small.” And with them thinking that you’re trying to just jack them up. You just let the image do the talking and see, it looks like a postage stamp on this huge wall.
Diane Dultmeier: So they switched from that to a 24 framed 24 by 30, which it still could have been bigger, but I felt like at least they moved up from the 20 by 24. But she was just so thrilled, so happy. She’s told me how great it was to have somebody guide her through the clothing and what wall it’s going to go on and choosing the frame and just the whole thing that she’d never had before. And she’s not much younger than me. And she just so, so, happy. So for me, that was like an eyeopener. And then these things happen and then I’m like, “Why didn’t they think of this sooner? What is wrong with me?”
Allison Tyler Jones: Well, there’s nothing wrong with you-
Diane Dultmeier: I know.
Allison Tyler Jones: … but we do that, and that actually can slow you down.
Diane Dultmeier: Yeah. I mean, I’m not beating myself up, but it’s just kind of funny when you go, “I’ve had these tools at my disposal all along and I didn’t do anything with it.”
Allison Tyler Jones: For sure. And, and I think when you look at all of this any of the things, the concepts that we work together on, or any of that, there’s nothing that’s like, “Holy crap, that is magical. I have never heard this before. This is completely out of left field.” It’s just the combination of things that make common sense and how humans like to work. But we’ve been convinced all these years that it’s like, “You got to compete with other people. You got to dominate, you got to kill the other photographer in the street and then you got to take their client and then you got to beat them up in the sales room. And when they have objections, you got to overcome the objections,” or not. You could just be friends with everybody. We could bring people into our business, be completely transparent about what it is that we are doing and then let them decide whether they want to do it or not. But that seems so counterintuitive to how we’ve been indoctrinated.
Diane Dultmeier: Yes. And it’s still a struggle for me in some areas to not feel the fear.
Allison Tyler Jones: What’s that fear. In what area?
Diane Dultmeier: Say the prices. To just say them with no baggage or fear or anything, just say them, put them out there and just kind of let the people decide. I’m getting better at it.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. But I love that you are sharing that it’s not like, “Okay, I took this class and now everything was just easy overnight.” It’s like, no, it’s like having a trainer or whatever. You still have to train the new muscles. You still have to figure out new ways of speaking. And really, I feel like for me, the changes that I’ve made in my business always start between my own ears. It’s like, “Okay, I have to change the way that I’m thinking about this.” They’re not standing over me with a knife so that when I quote them a price, they’re just going to stab me in the throat. That’s not going to happen. They’re not going to take one of my kids. It’s fine, you could just say those numbers or write them down or whatever and people realize, rational thinking, good clients know that you’re charging for a service.
They’re not expecting you to give it to them for free or give them a discount. Really great clients, they value what it is that you do, but they can’t value it for you. We have to value it first. And we have to build that confidence even when we don’t feel it. And so how do you do that? So when you haven’t felt confident, what is the thing that allowed you to just say it anyway even though you were scared?
Diane Dultmeier: Knowing how much it costs me to do all these things is one big thing. It cost me in time. You gave us those worksheets that are super helpful for pricing products and the time it takes, the actual cost of the products and I have a location that I pay rent on and just kind of looking at all these things and, and being like, “Well, wait a minute, I’ve been doing this a long time. I shouldn’t be barely making it.” And just in the back of my mind knowing, “I have to charge this or I am not a viable business.”
Allison Tyler Jones: Right. And so doing that when you made those changes, you sent me an email and you said that your sales last year were 30% higher than any of the last eight years.
Diane Dultmeier: Yes.
Allison Tyler Jones: Okay. Well, congratulations on that, by the way, that’s amazing.
Diane Dultmeier: Thank you.
Allison Tyler Jones: And your averages are higher and that you are working with fewer clients, which makes your life more balanced. And I think what people miss is that middle part when they hear, “Okay, my averages are higher, great, I love that. And my life is more balanced. Oh, I love that. I like higher averages and I like my life to be more balanced.” But that middle part, I think sometimes we miss that part and that is fewer clients. And that’s hard. That’s hard. Can we talk about clients for a sec? Do you have any idea who your very best clients are and how are you deciding who’s best anyway, more importantly, what are you doing to get inside their heads and figure out what they really need? I don’t think you need me to tell you how important quality clients are to the health of your business and your sanity, but actually I think you do because so many photographers I talk to are still struggling to attract and more importantly, to hang onto really great clients.
The problem isn’t that the great clients aren’t out there, the problem is that they don’t understand what it is that you can do for them and how great that service can be and how it can completely change their life. It’s time to double down on what makes you unique and clearly toot your horns so everyone, including prospective new amazing clients, know exactly what you do and how you do it. I want to get you up to speed on the exact strategies that I’m using right now in my portrait studio to identify, communicate with, and take amazing care of our best clients, all without spending a fortune on ads or marketing, and I’ve put it all together in a masterclass called Cultivating a Quality Clientele, a behind the scenes secret to creating a profitable business, built around your unique style and your best clients without working around the clock or having to market like a crazy person.
In this training, I am going to walk you through the major mind shift that all successful portrait photographers must make to clarify their unique style, how to innovate by ignoring the competition and focusing on what you do best, simplifying to sell more, a clear way to talk about your work that will educate your clients instead of, “selling them.” The most simple and effective marketing strategy that we’ve found that costs no money and will have your clients buzzing about you to their friends. And the single most effective way to increase your profits in your business and why you must know this before you change anything else. I’m offering this masterclass multiple days and times. So if you are willing to just 60 minutes to dig deep and look closely at your own business in a new way, I promise to reward your commitment with only my most effective strategies that have made huge differences in my own portrait studio.
Strategies that will have your clients loving you more than ever, and bragging about you to their friends. Sound good? Go to, dotherework.com/masterclass. That’s dotherework.com/masterclass and register for the time that works best for your schedule. Can’t wait to see you there. So tell me about that. Was it scary when you had for fewer clients and what did fewer clients look like? Like was the phone ringing last or people just less people were booking or like what was that process and how did you get your mind around it and be okay with that?
Diane Dultmeier: Well, so a little background info. I have all my numbers from the whole time I’ve been in business in my accounting software.
Allison Tyler Jones: Oh, I’m so proud of you.
Diane Dultmeier: And in November of I think it was 2006, I did 45 sessions and I’m like, “How heck did I do that?
Allison Tyler Jones: Oh, my gosh.
Diane Dultmeier: And-
Allison Tyler Jones: In that month?
Diane Dultmeier: … In that month.
Allison Tyler Jones: Just you?
Diane Dultmeier: Just me, I did have a couple of salespeople that worked for me, which in retrospect was a mistake. Me selling my work is always going to be better. And I think back to those days, and so in this whole last year as far as full portrait clients, I had 32.
Allison Tyler Jones: Okay.
Diane Dultmeier: And it did feel a little scary like, “Okay, I should be busier, I should be busier.” Because I used to refer to the fall as, “Hell season.”
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah, right?
Diane Dultmeier: I mean literally like it was just this thing you had to do to make your numbers kind of thing and you just had to push through and I think it felt a little scary, but when the phone wasn’t ringing say around October-ish, but yet you had given us that calling program and I did it and I booked a few clients that way and I was like, “Okay, here’s another thing I never thought of through the years.” Keeping in touch with the good clients from the past and like keeping them on track with their portrait sessions and they can say, “No,” of course they can say, “No.” And I think one of my fears through the years has always been, I never want to be perceived as pushy. I never want to be perceived as tricky. That’s just not my personality. And there’s some sales techniques you learn about that I think are tricky and aren’t transparent, like you said. And so that I can be transparent upfront and honest and still have great sales, that’s been awesome. I actually have better sales. So, that’s been interesting.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. So do you think that you’ll want to do more now that you’ve had 32 clients last year or do you think, does that work life balance feel good to you? Or do you feel like, “Oh, I think I’m going to try to do a little bit more this next year. You feel good about where you’re at?
Diane Dultmeier: I mean, if I was at maybe 40 and the averages stayed where they are, that would be great.
Allison Tyler Jones: Okay. So if you’re listening to this and you somehow got on Facebook and are multitasking, I really want you to come back and rewind 30 seconds. And I want you to listen to what Diane just said is that she’s looking at, “How many sessions do I really need at what average? And that is a good living for me. And that gives me work life balance. That gives me freedom to do what I want to do.” So this is an entrepreneur, you’re an entrepreneur you’ve been in business for 20 years. You’ve done a lot of different kinds of things. And you’re now at a point in your life where you’re saying where you literally have complete control over your income and you can throttle it. So you could decide, “You know what, no, actually I’m going to go full bore. I’m going to go on do some marketing campaigns and I’m going to get a bunch more leads in here and I want to do 80 sessions this year.”
Or you might think, “That doesn’t feel great. I don’t really want to do that.” Just like you said, “I did 32 last year, I want to do 40 this year at X average and that feels great to me.” That is the beauty to me of this business. That’s why we quit corporate, or we started our own businesses so that we could control and have the life that we want to have. And I love that you have made all of this work for you because you’ve had a going concern. You’ve had a business for many, many years. And so I think when you get to this point, you realize that it’s the nuances, it’s the little tiny things. It’s not necessarily the big, huge changes. The little things can make all the big difference. And we know that in lighting, right?
When you first start lighting, you’re just throwing a bunch of light on your subject and then you realize after a while, “If I just turn that soft box an eighth of an inch, makes all the difference in the world or turn that subject’s head a little bit, it’s crazy the difference that it makes.” And I think it’s the same in business. So if you had a magical genie that you could rub that lamp and say, “This is what I really still need help with,” or, “This is something that’s really bugging me in my business,” what would that thing be?
Diane Dultmeier: Well, I would love to be able to know without a doubt that the client is interested in wall art and pretty much what they want to get before shooting the pictures.
Allison Tyler Jones: Okay. Do you feel like you’re not having that happen now?
Diane Dultmeier: I feel like sometimes people order way more than I anticipated and sometimes they order less and I mean, I’ve been very happily surprised a number of times this year, like crazy surprised. I had a $20,000 order from a session I did on December 31st.
Allison Tyler Jones: Congratulations. That’s amazing.
Diane Dultmeier: Yeah, it is amazing. And they love me, they were so grateful. They were-
Allison Tyler Jones: What’s not to love?
Diane Dultmeier: … It was wonderful. I mean, it was just like such a great thing, but I had no idea it was going to be like that. They thought they were going to get one for grandma and maybe a few for their house. And so that’s a great thing. They can do that all day long if they want to.
Allison Tyler Jones: Of course.
Diane Dultmeier: But I still can’t definitely pinpoint when I meet with clients exactly what they’re going to want, which I don’t know that you can for sure, for sure.
Allison Tyler Jones: Well, what you’re describing is when we’re doing the consultation with our clients where anybody that’s listened to even one episode of this podcast knows that I’m a big believer in consultations and nailing down what it is that we’re shooting for before we actually do the session to the point of if they’re saying, “Look, I really just only want a portrait of my family and I’m not going to buy anything els,” then that’s what we’re photographing. So what you’re saying is that sometimes they are going, of course, we know that they’re going to sometimes buy more things. And of course, if something magical is happening in front of my camera if the parents get up and then the kids are doing something cute or whatever, I’m going to capture that.
But I am not going to spend an hour doing every breakout of mom with the boys and dad with the girls and each kid individually and every concept that I can possibly think of for this family in the hopes that they will buy it. So we’re defining that scope of work before we do that. So do you feel like that you’re doing that or do you feel like you’re not quite doing that?
Diane Dultmeier: I don’t feel like I’m doing that. I mean, on some level, like the one I told you about where I sent the mock-up with the wall and they decided on the bigger one with the frame and all that, we knew they were going to do that, but then I was there and I’m like, “It just feels wrong not to at least…” Well, because they wanted me to photograph one of their kids, because he’s a senior but she didn’t think she wanted pictures of the other two kids. And I just said, “It just feels wrong to me to photograph him, but not photograph the other two and is it okay with you if I just do a couple of them? And I really would like to.” And she’s like, “Sure, that’d be good.”
And she kind of looked at her husband because I could tell he’s really the one who didn’t want to spend more money. And anyway, so I did do that and I photographed her and her husband together, which had asked me to do and the kids with the dog, which she had asked me to do for specific spots. So then in the end, grandma comes in and orders the ones of the three kids
Allison Tyler Jones: Love it. So I don’t want there to be like these hard and fast rules like-
Diane Dultmeier: I know.
Allison Tyler Jones: … “Oh, you should not have done that. What I would say in that instance if they’re saying, “Look, I just want to do this one kid for seniors,” then I might just go ahead and just only do that. But the interesting thing, I think that’s important here is that you said, “It just feels wrong to me not to shoot those other kids.” That is your expertise. This is your business, this is who you are as a mother, as an advisor to them. And you’re in their home and you’re in this instance, you’ve listened to what it is that they want. You know dad’s kind of trying to throttle her and you can see that maybe that’s what she actually really wants.
So you made the call and that’s awesome. And then they bought it. Great. Ad then, you know what, I’ve had times when I’ve pinned them down and said, “Okay, what else are we doing?” They’re like, “I have to have individuals of my kids. I have to have them.” And I will even try to talk them out of it. My expertise is like, “Look, what I found as a mom of a bunch of kids is I’ve realized the things that I’m like most don’t… Not that I don’t love them, but I feel like the things that matter the most to me are the images that I have of my kids together. Kind of relating to each other, that documentary, like camera aware, here’s the kid individual. Those are the ones that I could have left.” Maybe like their two year old picture or whatever.
So sometimes I’ll even try to talk them out of it and I’ll have moms that will say, “No, I absolutely have to have it.” So I say, “Okay, then where’s that going to go?” And we’ll make a plan for it. I will shoot it, and they don’t buy it because they see that I’m right. That really it’s the relationship. But that’s a function of how I shoot, how I see their family, how I see siblings, the fact that I have a million kids, that it would cost me 9 million to have individual photos of all seven of them every single year. So that’s all part of my backstory. You have your own backstory of why it doesn’t feel fair because you are a fourth child.
Diane Dultmeier: Yes, I am a fourth child.
Allison Tyler Jones: Hello?
Diane Dultmeier: Hello.
Allison Tyler Jones: You are the fourth child that never was fair and didn’t have pictures of herself till she was too two. And I’m an oldest child that’s like, “Oh, well, Hey, I’ve got everything.”
Diane Dultmeier: Yeah [crosstalk].
Allison Tyler Jones: “Isn’t it all about me?”
Diane Dultmeier: So well, and that is one thing now that you’re saying that about you and you’re just the way that you operate with other photographers is you’re not trying to make us all into little Allison’s [crosstalk]. We are not little clones who are going to run around and do everything just the way you do and be exactly like you. And you’d say that over and over, this is your business you need to figure out what’s going to work for you, that kind of thing. And I’ve been involved in other mentoring things where it wasn’t like that. And there was some shame if you were not following everything exactly the way. So I like that sense of freedom.
Allison Tyler Jones: Well, thank you for that. I don’t think the world can even handle one of me, so having more would not be a good thing, but I found that my true success I think when you look at a lot of education or whatever, if I really look at the successes that I’ve had, the more I become who I already am, the more I lean into, what are my strength and kind of compensate for my weaknesses, that is, it gets better and better. And so how can you possibly tell somebody else they have to be you or do it your way or whatever. There are certain principles, absolutely that are true. There’s like photo church, which is like, you do need to have good work, you do need to have a process, you need to have a good business. There’s foundational principles for sure.
But there are so many ways, creative ways, just as creative as lighting and photography, there are so many creative ways to make the business your own and have it serve your life. And I think you are a perfect example of that. And I love all the things that you’ve shared. Do you have any advice for other photographers who might be struggling with whether it’s the same type of things that you’re struggling with or something else? What is your advice for somebody that’s struggling, maybe newer or maybe they’ve been 20 years and they still haven’t been able to make the business work the way that they would like?
Diane Dultmeier: I would say, I guess addressing maybe people who’ve been in business a long time like me, to reach out to other photographers, mentors and continue learning and educating yourself and don’t isolate. I think isolating for me, it was a big change for me to have other photographers to connect with. And I think just kind of connecting, even out in your community, connecting with other business owners in your own community, those kinds of things make a big difference in the level of support and like the crazy thoughts that we all have as entrepreneurs and just wondering, “Is this going to work?”
Allison Tyler Jones: Sure. Well, after you’ve been in for a while and you have it, it’s working to a point, maybe it might not be working as much as you would like it to, but I think it’s very tempting to be like, “Look, I’ve been in this 20 years, I can’t go on some Facebook group or some class and act like I don’t know what I’m doing.” Even to just admit that, which is also women are just way better at that. Sorry to all the guys, we’re not anti. I have five boys and I married a man and I love men, but there’s just some definite differences. And so I think that’s an important thing to call out is that just admitting that, “We don’t know everything,” you can always learn and you never will do better until better and you won’t ever know better if you don’t admit to yourself that, “I don’t know everything.”
Diane Dultmeier: Right, it’s true.
Allison Tyler Jones: And that’s why I love books and classes. And I learn as much from my students as they do for me. I’m sure.
Diane Dultmeier: Well, and I read the book Essentialism that you recommended. I listened to it, I read it. I’ve read it again.
Allison Tyler Jones: Oh, good.
Diane Dultmeier: Made a huge difference for me. And then also the class, The Art of Selling Art. It’s like a permanent thing that I own since I paid for it. And I listen to it over and over because there’s so many different things that maybe the first time through, I just was like, “What is she talking about?” Maybe not quite like that, but like-
Allison Tyler Jones: No, it’s okay.
Diane Dultmeier: “Why does this matter so much? Why is this important?” And really getting it into my brain and really understanding the foundation of my brand and moving forward from there. So just being able to listen to the classes again is priceless.
Allison Tyler Jones: Oh, that’s so good. Well, and I think what you’re saying is listening to something again and again, whether it’s a really great book that resonated with you or I always go back to everything’s just church. It’s like, “Say your prayers, read your scriptures.” And the scriptures don’t change, but we change. And we see things differently at different times in our life. So when we’ve had more experience, we’ve had hard times, not to go on a religious bent, but let’s just say with the business, when you’re first starting out, you don’t even know the questions to ask. It’s like, before you have your first baby, everything’s theoretical, right? Like, “I’m going to be the greatest parent ever?” I mean, I could give the best parenting advice when I was like 19/20.
I had it all figured out and I’ve read all the what to expect when you’re expecting. And so we have all this theoretical knowledge, then you come up against, “Okay, I did have that baby. And it’s hard. And here are all these things that have happened.” That changes us and then we start asking different questions, sometimes better questions, and then we can be helped in different ways. And so I think to your point, I felt like The Art of Selling Art is not a one and done kind of thing, like you just go through it one time.
I’m glad that it’s been helpful for you to re-listen because those are the same principles I come up against that when I need to make change in my business, I’m just looking at it every year, “These are the things that I’m looking at. These are the metrics, these are the things that I need to consider and then looking at my life and how do I want to make the business different?”And then those are the foundational principles that have allowed me to move forward. So I’m so glad that it has been helpful for you.
Diane Dultmeier: Very helpful and super organized.
Allison Tyler Jones: You are so nice. If you could see the back end of us hoping. I mean, yeah, if you could see my desk right now, you would be like, “Why am I ever listening to her?” But we try and I have a great team. And that’s another thing too.
Diane Dultmeier: For sure.
Allison Tyler Jones: Well, Diane, you are a star student. One of the things that I really want to compliment you on is that you are such a helper. When somebody is having a hard time, you are that, like the wind beneath so many people’s wings in that Facebook group. And so when somebody that’s newer, that’s struggling having a hard time, you don’t just go in and put in two sentences, you and put in like a master’s thesis on marketing or whatever. And the group just would not be the same without you. I appreciate you so much. You give a lot and we really appreciate you.
Diane Dultmeier: Well, thank you. And when I’m doing that, I also learn as you know. I’m like, “Well, what is the answer to that question?”
Allison Tyler Jones: Yes.
Diane Dultmeier: Because you don’t know what you know sometimes.
Allison Tyler Jones: It’s so true. And starting this class, I thought I’ve all been wanting to do it for 10 to 12 years, but finally actually launching it and putting everything together really made me evaluate like, “Well, why are we doing it this way?” And it made me change a few things. And so I think helping others, you learn… What’s that education thing? “Learn one, practice one, and then teach one.” So you you learn it first and then you actually do it and then you teach somebody else how to do it. And I think that’s a metaphor for human beings and success and happiness is that if we can learn it, we apply it in our own life and then we help somebody else do it. Man, that’s where it’s out.
Diane Dultmeier: It does make a difference.
Allison Tyler Jones: I love it. Thank you so much for being here today. I so appreciate you.
Diane Dultmeier: Oh, you’re welcome. Thanks for having me.
Allison Tyler Jones: You bet. Thanks. Do you know someone who would really benefit from this episode of The ReWork? Maybe a fellow photographer who’s in the trenches with you at always looking to level up their biz or perhaps you have a friend who is struggling to make their business work. I would be so grateful if you would share this episode with them. All you have to do is head to the platform where you are listening, click the share icon and text it or email it to the person that you think could need it most. Thank you so much for doing that. And while you’re there, if you have a chance and can give us a review, it would mean the world. We are a micro, tiny podcast, and we’re trying to get the word out to as many portrait photographers as possible to help them build better businesses and better lives for their family. And if you would help us do that, it would mean the world. Thank you so much, and we’ll see you next time on The ReWork.
Recorded: You can find more great resources from Allison at dotherework.com and on Instagram @do.the.rework.