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, many 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: Welcome back to the Rework. Today’s guest is Jeff Dachowski professional photographer of America’s incoming president and co-owner of Dachowski Photography along with his wife, [Carol 00:01:55]. I think you’re going to get a lot out of this conversation. We talk about everything from the most common complaints that Jeff hears from photographers, to creating relationships with our clients, starting those relationships outright. To how to quote prices early and often. We have a section where we do some role play as far as quoting prices and talking about wall art with clients. And lastly, leaving you with the motivation to believe in yourself. The thing I love about Jeff and Carol is not only are they stellar human beings, but they run a great business. And they’ve worked so hard to make that happen. And like us, they are all in. 100% of their income to support their family, to put their kids through college, comes from their portrait photography studio. So jump in and enjoy.
Allison Tyler Jones: Okay. We are so fortunate today to have Mr. Jeff Dachowski on the podcast with us, who is a wonderful and amazing portrait photographer from New Hampshire. And also coincidentally is the incoming president of Professional Photographers of America. But more than all of that, he is my friend and my comrade in arms when it comes to sales and all things, I don’t know. We always have to have the meeting of the minds on sales, on occasion. And travel buddy, and many more things besides. So welcome, Jeff, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Jeff Dachowski: Thank you, Allison. And as most of you know, and she probably [inaudible 00:03:29]. I refer to Allison at ATJ in pretty much all things. So if I’m like, “Listen to ATJ.” You’ll know I’m actually talking about my dear friend Allison. Yeah. So the thank you for having me. It’s always great to see you and hear from you and love to hear about what’s going on in your world, and your success in all the students you’re helping. I just think it’s awesome.
Allison Tyler Jones: We have a couple of students in common, which I think is so fun.
Jeff Dachowski: What’s up Cindy?
Allison Tyler Jones: I know, which I love when they quote you to me.
Jeff Dachowski: They do. I know. I know. I had a call with him last Friday.
Allison Tyler Jones: It’s awesome. So good.
Jeff Dachowski: Yeah. It’s really great. And I love what you’re doing in the industry. I mean, I love to see people getting better, doing better for themselves. It’s not really, for me, about getting better to just make money. More times than not. It’s about finding balance in your life so that there’s a happiness and you’re actually… The income is to measure it with the emotional outpouring. That’s all it is for me. It’s just the income makes, there’s an equal sign between income and emotional output. And we see it all the time where we hear people vent about clients, and I’m like, “Well, you’re not charging enough because if you charge 10 times that amount, you wouldn’t be venting. You’d say, ‘Well, I’ve got this real pain on the ass client, but they give me 80 grand. So I’m not going to complain about it. I’m just going to do it.'” And that’s the surefire sign that you’re not charging enough.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. If you hate your clients, that’s a surefire sign that something’s wrong.
Jeff Dachowski: Right.
Allison Tyler Jones: You’re doing something wrong.
Jeff Dachowski: And yeah, of course, there’s anomalies, where people are just outrageous. But there’s also anomalies that people are the nicest person ever.
Allison Tyler Jones: Right. I like those kind of anomalies. Those are my favorite times.
Jeff Dachowski: You ever see a Facebook post that says, can I vent for a minute? Click, click, click. So this client was really nice, and they paid a lot. And I dropped my camera and I tripped over their kid. I burned them with scalding hot water. And they were like, “No problem. We’ll cover it.” So just had to vent. [inaudible 00:05:29] like that. Always are like, “I can’t believe that my client read the thing, they signed the thing. They gave me a pint of blood, and I still have questions. Don’t they understand how awesome I am?”
Allison Tyler Jones: I know. Totally. Oh my gosh, that is so true. But that’s a good jumping off point, I think. Because how, when we’re talking about clients, that’s such a fraught topic on any given Facebook group. Any group of photographers sitting around talking about clients, there are very common complaints. What do you think they are?
Jeff Dachowski: The client didn’t read.
Allison Tyler Jones: Okay. So client didn’t read.
Jeff Dachowski: Client didn’t read. That’s actually, in my opinion, the crux of most things. Which is to me, a fault of our industry. We have seen a lot of photographers, and I’m not knocking anyone, I’m just saying there’s a lot of photographers who really focus on the contract and the importance of the contract. And our studio doesn’t have any contracts because we know whatever they read, whatever we send them, they won’t read. And I then would be functioning on the false assumption that there’s an agreement. So I’m actually throwing up a barrier that I’m going to get pissed about that they didn’t read. Just like no, they weren’t going to read. They signed and then they’re shocked. So we took that responsibility, we put it on us to make sure that there was no issue about understanding, about what things cost or what was to be expected. Because we’re responsible for it, right? It’s on us, the onus is on us as business owners. And when we send that contract out that says all your studio policies, that abdicates all that responsibility to that piece of paper. And that’s really unfair.
Allison Tyler Jones: Well, it’s lazy.
Jeff Dachowski: If you want [crosstalk 00:07:09] I’m okay with it, but don’t complain about it because shocking, no one read it.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. I think it’s two things. I think it’s chicken. I’m not going to say the word that goes with that. I think it’s chicken and I think it’s lazy. Because what it, for the most part, I’m not talking about weddings here. I think weddings do need a contract. But for portraits, when we’re talking to portrait photographers on this podcast. It is not necessary, one. Two, it is lazy in that you think that you can just put a bunch of rules and things in there, think that somebody’s going to and read it and that you’ve abdicated all responsibility and now they’re just going to follow the rules. It’s like, well, do you own Facebook? Do you own any software? Yeah. You’ve read all those rules and agreements? No, you haven’t. You just click, click, click, click, click until you can get to the thing to where you can use it. Nobody’s reading Jack. They don’t care. And it’s actually not really, it’s not necessary in my opinion, because anything that I really, really want them to know, I’m going to say to them verbally, or we’re going to have that conversation in a consultation.
Jeff Dachowski: Agreed. And I think that if there is legitimate concerns, legal concerns if you will, about a variety of things. Model releases or use of… There’s some, but I think that can be addressed in-person in the piece of paper and a physical signature as opposed to clicking a box. Because that invites the conversation to explain, “Well, if you have a concern about me using your image because you’re an NBA player, let’s have this conversation.” Which absolutely changes the dynamic of your relationship with your client. Exactly, the [ULAs 00:08:38] that we all signed to get through, they could literally say we are giving over our house and we wouldn’t even know it. It would be ridiculous, but we…
Jeff Dachowski: And so we don’t put any stock or value into it. So I think that when people send out prices without a, I want to say Doctors Without Borders, but prices without perspective, it doesn’t mean anything. Telling someone that an 8 by 10, is 2.95 without holding a mounted canvas 8 by 10 in their hand doesn’t mean anything, it’s prices without perspective. It doesn’t make any sense.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. That’s true.
Jeff Dachowski: If they just-
Allison Tyler Jones: Well, when you think of another luxury experience or another luxury service, what you would compare that to, that would be like if an interior designer’s going to send… Like my sister, she has the very ironclad contract. It’s very, very detailed. But it does not go out on her CRM software and click, click click. It’s discussed in-person and gone over and explained very, very clearly because what she’s doing is she’s engaging this person for, with what the lead times are now, is like a three-year process in many cases. Sometimes four. In building this house, starting from dirt. And then this is how the money’s going to be handled. This is how all of that’s going to happen. And then we’re going to walk you through the process all along the way. So that’s a case where you absolutely would have to have a contract. For portraits, why do you not have one? And did you ever?
Jeff Dachowski: So we have an informational sheet that they fill out when they arrive. I mean, we already have all that information. But in the bottom of it, what it says ultimately is that… Or their order, when they order, the order can’t be changed. We give you rights to use these images. And we actually, to publish them on social media, if we choose to use them in a photographic competition and send them to a lab. To transfer them electronically, and that you’ll hold us harmless. And some people haven’t signed, they’ve signed some parts are crossed other parts out. For various reasons they don’t want them on social media, no problem. And all that does, it creates us for when we are working with our high school seniors, it makes sure, one, that the spelling of the name is correct. Right. Because I can now guarantee that Allison is A-L-L-I-S-O-N because your mom wrote that down.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. Right.
Jeff Dachowski: Or it’s A-L-Y-S the number nine.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yes. The symbol for [inaudible 00:11:00]. Yeah.
Jeff Dachowski: So we, I guess it’s technically would be a contract, except for that there’s no exchange of monetary goods. Contracts usually require an agreement plus an exchange of something. [inaudible 00:11:11] enforceable. But it’s basically just almost like a letter of cooperation. We’re going to do this for you. And we don’t give them any guarantee ahead of time. And we also don’t lock at our prices. We also don’t try to make them understand that this might be a 2000, 6000, 12000 $15,000 experience. Again, that’s on me. So we’ve never done contracts, but for weddings we do of course. Or events work where I’ve done some work for some Hollywood folks that we had a more exclusive NDA type stuff that I was allowed. But that’s all for obvious reasons. So things that come up. But for portrait clients it’s like, why would you sign a contract for a cobbler? [inaudible 00:11:52] a pair of shoes. Well, before I make you these shoes, this is how we price things. This is what my history is. This is what [inaudible 00:11:59].
Allison Tyler Jones: Well. And the contract, if the cobbler was a photographer, and with some of the contracts I’ve seen it would be like, “Please initial here that if you have bunions that make this shoe look like crap when you’re wearing it, that it’s not my fault. Please initial here that if your child barfs on the shoes, I’m not responsible.” It’s this punitive, it’s like they’ve taken every bad experience they’ve ever had with a client and codified it into a contract. “And initial here that you’re not going to yell at me if your boobs look saggy. And you’re not going to yell at me if you’ve worn rugby stripes and your butt looks fat. Or your baby is… Don’t bring a sick kid.” There’s just all the things that happen. But you can… That doesn’t need to be, in my opinion, I think it puts a huge speed bump and it starts the relationship out negatively.
Jeff Dachowski: I totally agree. And I just want to reiterate, one, neither one of us are attorneys and I can’t talk to you about the effectiveness or whether it’s how enforceable any particular contracts are. Is just how I think we both choose to do business. We don’t need to create a legal document for you to sit in front of [inaudible 00:13:01].
Allison Tyler Jones: Exactly.
Jeff Dachowski: That’s all. That’s all it is. It doesn’t mean that there couldn’t be examples or reasons why you wouldn’t use a contract and a whole bunch of reasons. It’s just if you walk in for a headshot, you don’t have to create a legal. Contract doesn’t have to exist for you to sit down.
Allison Tyler Jones: Okay. So under the category also of the client didn’t reach. So that’s one of the biggest complaints that you’re hearing. And you hear a magnitude more of what I hear, because you are president of PPA. So you’re hearing thousands and thousands of photographers all the time. Another, I think, thing that falls under that the client didn’t read is I sent them my price list and they did not read it. And so it was obvious from the price list that if they bought five things, it was going to be X number of dollars or whatever. So do you send price lists?
Jeff Dachowski: I don’t.
Allison Tyler Jones: Okay. Neither do I.
Jeff Dachowski: No. We don’t send price lists. We always quote ranges of prices. So I kind of look at like, if you were to get your Honda fixed, right? And you’re like, “Okay, I’m bringing in my Honda, there’s a noise. It goes [inaudible 00:13:58] when I’m driving. Goes [inaudible 00:14:01], what do you think that is? I don’t know.” Here’s our price list.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.
Jeff Dachowski: How on earth do you know whether it needs a transmission flush or a full engine replacement or you’ve got a CD stuck in the CD player and that there’s a price to every one of these. So I’m supposed to know by sending my Honda mechanic price list, I’m supposed to know by sending that, that they are going to be able to read and discern what all of that means. That’s just nuts. How can they know that they want a 20 by 40 frame gallery wrap? Or they want an 8 by 10. Actually, they’re going to probably think they’re going to buy just 8 by 10s. That’s the most common image size we use in the US.
Allison Tyler Jones: Well, that’s what everybody, [crosstalk 00:14:49].
Jeff Dachowski: Big print in the wall. That’s an 8 by 10, right? No, that’s a 40 by 7.
Allison Tyler Jones: Right.
Jeff Dachowski: Not an 8 by 10? So again, you’re abdicating the whole process onto the client to expect and understand that they would know what any of that means.
Allison Tyler Jones: Right. So that’s your price list without perspective.
Jeff Dachowski: Yeah, precisely. Right. By the way, I coined that of phrase on this podcast. Trademark priceless without perspective.
Allison Tyler Jones: So that does happen here quite often. We came up with things. I love it. But I to… I absolutely agree. I use the comparison of a California Closets or something like that. If you wanted to have custom closets down in your home and you called up whatever company, California Closets or somebody like that and said, “Okay, how much is a closet?” They would say, “Well, is it the primary bedroom? Is it going to have drawers? Is it going to have an island? Is it going to have… Is your husband a big guy? Are you small people?” There’s all these questions that have to happen. They could send us the price list of every single little… The things that hold up the shelves and the drawers pulls, and the little… They could send you that price list. And then labor is this much.
Allison Tyler Jones: But their whole value to the client is conceiving of how great your life could be with an amazing closet, all the pieces that need to be pulled from those price lists and how they’re put together. And then how much labor that’s going to take and then giving you a final cost on that. But they might be able to say, “Well, most of our primary bedroom closets might be in that 10,000 and up range. And then for like a smaller closet that’s not a walk-in, those start at about 5,000.” So then I know, okay, I’ve got seven closets in my house. My kids aren’t getting Jack. They’re going to have what came with the tracked home and then let’s just stick with mine. So immediately that gives me enough to proceed. It also gives me enough to know there’s no way I could possibly spend $10,000 on a closet right now in my life. So I’m going to go to my handyman that lives next door and he’s going to just help me. We’re going to go down a DIY out of Home Depot. But when I move to the house that does have a sexy closet, and it’s going to be amazing. I know who to go to, or if somebody’s talking about that they want sexy closets, I know who to refer.
Jeff Dachowski: Right. And the sexy closet, that also is something I think you’ve just coined, sexy closet.
Allison Tyler Jones: Right. Everything’s [inaudible 00:17:08].
Jeff Dachowski: 2022.
Allison Tyler Jones: Totally. But I think we don’t think we get into this very into the granular. Because we know all the sizes. We know all the substrates, we know all of the different things. And so we can talk about that, but we assume our clients know that, so we’re going to send them, here’s all the sizes. Here’s all the things. But you haven’t looked at their house. You don’t know where these are going to hang. You have to take on that expertise in order to attract the clients that we want.
Jeff Dachowski: Right. And that conversation, the key to getting the client that you want, is that conversation.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yes.
Jeff Dachowski: I could make something up, but I might call California Closets and in my head it’s $2,000 to your illustration, right? And I might be like, well, $2,000, that sets a tone for the rest of the conversation, right? Maybe $2,000 is an outrageous amount of money to me and I would never spend, get anything more than the wire racks at Home Depot, the rubber made wire racks. [inaudible 00:18:05] 66 holes in the wall to get them to be right and there you are. That may be my idea of an organized closet. But the problem with that is that I find that you can easily get rid of the clients who say, “It’s only $2,000.” And there’s as much of a chance of them saying, “Only $2,000.” As there is to say, “It’s $2,000!”
Allison Tyler Jones: Right. And they will never say… You’ll never hear that, “It’s only $2,000.” Because what that sounds like is this person doesn’t know what they’re doing. I’m not going to get the full service. I’m not going to get the guy that’s going to come in and give me the sexy closet. I’m going to get the guy that’s going to… That sounds like somebody that’s going to put 60 holes in my wall.
Jeff Dachowski: Right. And the thing is, the difference is, is that the only $2,000 is said in their head. The it’s $2,000 is said out loud. One drastically affects your net worth and value as a photographer and a human. When you only hear people say it’s $2,000. And that’s a lot of money. Make you think that you’re overcharging. But your other clients who just don’t say anything might be thinking, I was planning on spending 10. But none of that happens when you’re pricing without perspective. None of that can happen because now they’re reading a piece of paper and they’re saying the same things in their head or loud, whatever. But no one knows it. There’s no reference point. There’s no way to converse. There’s no way to explain it. And in reality, what I see a lot of photographers do is they explain it away in all the technical terms.
Jeff Dachowski: Talk about this in print judging. When we judge images, we want an image to go down, generally speaking, we talk about the technical. If we want an image to go up, we talk about emotions. Rarely do we say, “This is an amazing print. Look at that black. It’s really black, don’t you think everyone? Come on. This is an image excellence, right?” But we do this all the time. As soon as someone pushes us back against price at all, which by the way is a totally natural and understandable and actually should be expected in your business model. But when we do, they push back a little bit, we immediately move [inaudible 00:20:05]. Did I mention that? What the hell is Masonite? Is that… Who is Mr. Mason? I don’t understand what Mason [inaudible 00:20:13].
Allison Tyler Jones: It’s stripped. It’s a stripped canvas.
Jeff Dachowski: It’s a stripped canvas. Well, in reality, as you’ve heard me say the paper’s free. That stuff that you spend at the lab, your lab bill, I know it can be a lot of money, but it’s free. It doesn’t even factor into the value of the portrait.
Allison Tyler Jones: Right. That’s not where the value is. The value is in the talent that created image that is on that canvas.
Jeff Dachowski: So stop trying to sell it at the point of pre-booking that you use, I don’t know, all wood frames. Your client doesn’t even understand what that means.
Allison Tyler Jones: Well, it’s like [Tim Walden 00:20:44] puts it. He says, “It’s like, everybody’s talking about… Photographers are talking about spark plugs and engines rather than the feeling of being in a Ferrari.”
Jeff Dachowski: Yeah. Well [crosstalk 00:20:56] sound of the BMW makes, right?
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.
Jeff Dachowski: The sound is almost patentable. BMW’s engines make that sound on purpose and they’re all supposed to sound the same. The bigger ones sound differently, but they want that sound. And it doesn’t sound like a Mercedes at all. It just doesn’t. It has that [inaudible 00:21:13]. And in fact, every BMW commercial, you listen to, you watch their engines is in the background.
Allison Tyler Jones: Oh really?
Jeff Dachowski: If you listen, if you are watching a BMW, the ultimate driving machine, I think that might be their current tagline. But you hear the engine reving in the background. They’re selling something different.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. That’s real cool. Yeah. That’s cool. No.
Jeff Dachowski: Sorry. Lot’s unpack.
Allison Tyler Jones: No, it is. I know. I think because you and I get excited when we go into lots of different cars [crosstalk 00:21:41]. I want to take somebody. I want to take our listeners on a little bit of a… I want them to have the experience of our conversation, but I want to take them a little bit on a journey. So when we’re sending out that price list without the perspective, and there’s a problem. Okay. So how I see this as a problem is that with a minimizer client or somebody that’s going to give you a hard time, that’s going to be incredibly price sensitive, that’s going to want to boss you around. That contract or that price list becomes the point of this is what we’re going to have the fight over. This is the, okay, well, I see that you’re 40 by 60 is X, but I really am only going to buy an 8 by 10 or whatever.
Allison Tyler Jones: They’re looking for ways to just minimize the whole thing. And again, there’s no perspective, there’s no context. So you’ve started off already in the weeds of almost the details of a contract rather than the idea of we’re going to make this beautiful thing for your home. And you are going to have this amazing experience. And that whenever you look at those images, you’re going to remember how great it was to be together as a family, how much you love each other, all of those things. And then you’re going to have that for generations. So we’re losing that and getting down into the, this is what we are going to do. This is what we’re not going to do. This is what you’re not going to do. And then this is how much you’re going to pay. And you better read every damn bit of this or I’m going to hate your guts. So how do you get away from that? How do you, if we’re not going to send price list, and if we’re not going to send a contract, then how do we start that relationship? What do we do? We already know what we think we shouldn’t be doing or we don’t want to do, what should we be doing?
Jeff Dachowski: Well, what we do, which is arguably should or shouldn’t, everyone has their own different needs or… We only do photography, so it matters to us. My wife and I, we’re both master photographers, but we only do photography. I mentor sometimes, but I don’t have another job. She doesn’t another job.
Allison Tyler Jones: So your primary income, 100% of your income comes from the sale of portrait photography.
Jeff Dachowski: Exactly. Right.
Allison Tyler Jones: Same thing.
Jeff Dachowski: Yeah. It’s exactly that. I just mentioned that because there is a bit of a diff… Some people don’t need that sort of thing.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. And same with us. Ivan and I are all in. Yeah, for sure.
Jeff Dachowski: You’re all in. Same thing. So the thing about what we do is if you were to call and say, “I want to book a session.” I’m obviously going to start immediately trying to create a relationship, something. I’m going to invite you to the studio or I’ll also say I’m happy to come to your home. Either one, because I’m somewhat geographical. People aren’t calling me from South Carolina saying come to my home. Although that service would be available. But it’s easy to come to their home within an hour drive, I don’t mind. I think it’s always worthwhile to, if a potential client invites me to their home, we’ll go. Gosh, that’s the best thing ever. We’ll take our own photos of their walls. We’ll talk about all the different placements. Look at the way the light falls in the house, all that stuff.
Jeff Dachowski: We’ll actually tell them we’re doing all that. So they know that that’s a service. But so let’s say you call and you and I want a family portrait. I’m going to try to create some report, try to find some commonality, learn about you so I can then actually contrast what’s not common. It’s nice to create commonality. Like, oh yeah, I understand my son, my daughter, went to that school. But there’s also like, oh, you did… Your son did a trip to Madrid. What was that like? I want to… I’m trying to create commonality and also expanding on what’s not common. So that… Between us to create rapport. And find out why… The big question for me is always, why are you doing this? Why now? Sometimes it’s heartbreaking. Well, my father is really sick. Or sometimes it’s like, sometimes I need to tell them a why, or give them a good [inaudible 00:25:11] which is like, well, your son is a senior this year. It’s a great time to mark that family portrait. It just rapport, right? And so-
Allison Tyler Jones: But I think I’m going to stop you there because I think that is… I don’t want you to gloss over that because I think that is huge. Sometimes we have to tell them why, because most of the time when they’re calling, they just know they need an update.
Jeff Dachowski: Or they want it but they don’t know why.
Allison Tyler Jones: They want it, they don’t really know why. And so some, for us, but more mature family, it’s usually the oldest kid’s launching, and this is our last family picture. That’s a really common why. Or an older parent or something like that. But most of the time they don’t. And so that’s part of our expertise because there is always a reason and that’s not a sales technique. That is true. There’s always a reason.
Jeff Dachowski: Yeah, you’re right. And I didn’t mean to gloss over it because I assumed everyone knows that. But in reality, it’s kind of like, as I say that, not everyone does have… You should have 10 or 12 whys ready to go. In your head. And you’ve heard me say this and it sounds callous. And I don’t say it much to, I mean, I’ve said it a bunch, but there’s two times to make a family portrait. Now and when it’s too late. So let’s choose now. Now you can’t really say that to a client who’s telling you about their dying dad, right?
Allison Tyler Jones: Right.
Jeff Dachowski: But you can say that to a client who says, “I’ve been putting it off. I want to lose 10 pounds.” I’m a big proponent of family portraits. I joke all the time that there’s two times a make family portrait, now and when it’s too late. And it makes them think. Now all of a sudden I’ve planted a seed for a potential why. Though it’s a terrible why. I don’t want that to happen. I don’t want them to be too late. But it actually makes them think a little bit about the fact that they need to leave a legacy.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. The time is passing.
Jeff Dachowski: And that create a legacy conversation. Legacy is one of the best whys out there.
Allison Tyler Jones: I love that. Well, and I think what two other points of what you’re saying and I totally agree with this is that you’re creating that… In establishing that relationship, you’re looking for the common. So maybe you’re both parents, maybe you both have girls, maybe… There’s always going to be some way that you can intersect and have something in common. And then you’re looking for the thing that is unique about that family, because that’s something that’s going to lead you toward concept or whatever. And then those two things together, that’s where you can interpret that into a why for them. So yes, I have seven kids too. Yes, I realized that when our oldest went to college, we thought life would never be the same again, what’s unique about your family is X, which would be so cool with the concept of let’s do Y. And then they can immediately see that.
Allison Tyler Jones: Now, the thing that’s interesting to about that is where are they going to… That is such a different experience than, okay. I’ll meet you at the park on the fourth. And I’m going to go ahead and send you my contract and my price list. With no context, with no [crosstalk 00:27:58] conversation. This is not nine hours. This is even if you don’t go to their house, even if you don’t make them [crosstalk 00:28:05] consultation. This is literally a conversation, human-to-human, establishing a relationship. And that is where high-end services are sold in this way.
Jeff Dachowski: Yeah. I think high-end, and actually I think that even mid-range to these days. I know that we book a lot of things online these days. A lot of things. You get your hair done, but you already have a relationship. You would never book someone to touch your hair online.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.
Jeff Dachowski: You might book them after you know that you like [Carrie 00:28:35].
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. Well, or you might book the first conversation. You might go into a… That’s how we do. We just put a link on our website where they can say, book a consultation. And they can get on our calendar. That allows them, because it’s 10:00 at night and they’re moms, that’s the only time they’re on their phone and they don’t have a kid hanging off their body. So of course they’re going to be able to quickly do that and schedule a time to talk to us. But then that conversation is either over the phone, Zoom or in-person.
Jeff Dachowski: Right. Well, exactly. It’s going to be personal. We’re not touching them like a hair stylist would, but we’re touching them in an emotional level. Not in a positive way, but in a non-creepy way. I just realized that sounded really creepy. I don’t mean that.
Allison Tyler Jones: In the metaphorical sense. Yes. Touching their heart.
Jeff Dachowski: But they’re letting us in. They’re really letting us close to them to see this inner circle of their family. And so the voice inflection, the [inaudible 00:29:33], all the things that we do, to speak is such a big part of creating rapport. So you just said this and I want to just break that down for a little bit. It’s going to be authentic. So for instance, you can’t be like, “Oh, you’re a mom. Okay, cool. Yeah. I’m a dad. Okay. Yeah. You had babies. Yeah. I had babies. I didn’t have babies.” I’m like [inaudible 00:29:53]. It’s that you can’t try to fake it. If there’s no commonality, there’s no commonality. That’s okay. But it’s you’re first trying to create that rapport that there’s something that we share.
Jeff Dachowski: And then the idea of finding out the unique, it feels nice to the client. Someone cares enough to dive a little bit deeper than how’s the weather. Understanding the uniqueness of their family or that you heard what they say. I don’t mean just read repeating back, but like, “Oh, oh, so your son’s coming back from Madrid, is he studying there?” Or “No, no. He’s doing a… He’s in the army and there he’s attaché there.” “That’s awesome. I knew an attaché to Italy. Is he planning on moving around after he’s done his tour of Madrid?” “Yeah. Well, he met a girl there and he is going to…” That’s the sort of thing. That’s a real story, but I can’t make that up. If I don’t have anything else to say about that he’s an attaché in Madrid I don’t have to go any further, but if I do have something, it makes people feel really heard. And that’s so different than, “I’ll shoot you a session. I’ll meet you Saturday. Sign this contract.”
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. Or “Let’s talk about what background we’re going to use and what clothes you’re going to wear.” I know they do want to talk about that. That’s really the only thing they want to talk about is the clothes. But it doesn’t really matter about the clothes, in my opinion, if you don’t know who they are as people. I don’t think you can get… I can’t, I cannot get the expressions that I get and the emotion and the personality and those images without really talking to them and knowing who they are as people a little bit. At least a little bit. And all of my… Any of my employees that are trained to take that first phone call, they’re taking notes on those kinds of things. We want to know. And now it’s a brave new world, right? We’re getting a lot of, obviously, blended families. We have a lot of LGBTQ. We have a lot of kids that are transgender and the parents are trying to navigate that sort of situation. And so there are some really sensitive hard things that families are dealing with and trying to navigate in positive ways, which in the past might have been navigated in not so positive ways. And we can actually help them do that.
Jeff Dachowski: Exactly. And it’s actually a phrase we use. So let’s say for instance, someone said to me, my son is on the spectrum. So you need to know that. And I would say, “Okay, thanks for letting me know, how can we help make that experience great for them?” Which is not the same thing as, well, what does that mean? Is it diving into trying to find all these things? No, tell me. I understand. I know a little bit about the spectrum, how can we help? What do I need to know to make that a better experience for him? And that’s the sort of thing they’re not used to hearing. Because they’re used to saying, “Well, tell me what… If it’s a school district they’re saying, “Well, tell us what the learning plan is.” It’s all nuts and bolts. I’m saying, “Tell me, does the room need to be dark? Are we looking for [inaudible 00:32:46] quietly. These are things like I lived a little little bit I know about that. What do I need to do to make him comfortable?
Allison Tyler Jones: Well, and-
Jeff Dachowski: Because he’s comfortable, mom is going to be crying.
Allison Tyler Jones: Totally. Yeah. Everybody’s not going to be burning it. Yeah.
Jeff Dachowski: It is amazing.
Allison Tyler Jones: Totally. And that brings me to the other point too. That is when we think about what we’re selling, like you’re saying, “The paper’s free. We shouldn’t be talking about the nuts and bolts and stuff because people don’t care.” But where we can quote unquote, I’m using air quote, “sell ourselves.” And I just, this is occurring to me as you’re saying this, is for that very example. As you know, I have two autistic children on the far spectrum. We’re not even like… Yeah, they’re great anyway. But very involved. Okay. So when somebody says something like that to me, maybe they might not say my child’s on the spectrum, but they might say, “Listen, I got this four year old and we ain’t never had family pictures where he has not been completely losing his mind.” And so that’s where I can say, “Listen, I totally understand. If my subspecialty is naughty, I have seven kids.”
Jeff Dachowski: [inaudible 00:33:49] naughty.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. And so my… And my other tagline is, “I have seven kids. Two of whom were autistic, five, supposedly normal. And there’s nothing your kids could dish out that I haven’t beat a kid for. I can handle it. Like this is not going to be a problem.” And so immediately they’re kind of like, oh, okay. So she gets family. She gets kids that are complicated. So this is going to be okay. They don’t totally know it until we actually do the session and they see me shrink in that kid. But that’s one of the selling points for me, for our studio is that we are all moms. We all have a lot of kids. And a lot of us have like… Stacy’s got, well, I think three ADHD kids. So does Jessica. We all have stuff. So we understand when kids are going to be naughty. And that’s a huge selling point that has nothing to do with photography. Has nothing to do with camera, nothing to do with what it’s [inaudible 00:34:40].
Jeff Dachowski: It’s all about that, [Harry Beckwith 00:34:42] thing about selling the experience, right? Because that’s the experience. And I joke with moms when they get to the studio at 4:00 or 9:00 on a Saturday morning. I’m like, “Okay, which one of you has cried already?” And mom always raises her hand. She’s like, “Damn it, get ready.” You know that it’s all on her, right? We tend to put a lot of emotional currency into making this as easy as we can from home.
Allison Tyler Jones: For sure.
Jeff Dachowski: I know that it could be a dad. Fair enough. But usually my contact is mom.
Allison Tyler Jones: No. Well, yes.
Jeff Dachowski: [inaudible 00:35:16].
Allison Tyler Jones:
But for me it’s the dad, because I want to make it easier for the mom. And the dad is usually one being a total heard about the whole thing. And so if I can jolly him along then it really lowers her blood pressure. So I’ll say to the dad, “So have you just been counting how many sleeps it is till today?”
Jeff Dachowski: Almost ticking.
Allison Tyler Jones: And he’s just rolling his eyes. I’m like, “So you spent $50,000 on clothes and listened to her be a complete maniac for the last 30 days trying to figure this out.” And he’s like, “Seriously.” I’m like, “Okay, we’re going to get you in and out. It’s going to be great.” And so just even acknowledging him, you can see him lower the temperature a little bit and then you can see the mom relax. So if you can get the naughtiest kid and the dad roped in, then the mom is going to be like, “Ooh.”
Jeff Dachowski: Yeah. Yeah. Because he’s not giving her looks across the room anymore.
Allison Tyler Jones: Right. Yeah. And if he does, I literally have gotten in the middle of that. I’m like, “What are you looking at her? Put that eyebrow down and go sit over there.”
Jeff Dachowski: My eyes are right here.
Allison Tyler Jones: Go get on your phone and make some more money because you’re going to need it and stay over there. So for sure.
Jeff Dachowski: Thank you. I’m sorry to interrupt, but thank you for saying that. Go get on your phone to make some more money. This is one of the problems and I don’t mean to like hijack your [inaudible 00:36:30].
Allison Tyler Jones: No, do it.
Jeff Dachowski: Another thing I hear all the time is that people photographers are afraid to talk about money. It’s the first time they’ve ever even thought about this or heard about this, they’re going to have to talk about money to their clients, right? We joke about it all the time just like you do. Because you know why? It has to happen. It’s not about maybe they’ll use our studio or client bathroom, maybe not, right. Who knows? But their going to have to spend money. So can we stop pussyfooting around about it and just acknowledge that this costs money, whether it’s 2000 or 1000 or whatever your price point is at your students studio. I’m not saying it has to be 50,000, I’m saying… But the price is nothing to be ashamed of.
Allison Tyler Jones: Right.
Jeff Dachowski: No [inaudible 00:37:15]. You walk into the supermarket into the Piggly Wiggly there and you go, how much is a gallon on milk? And the guy stocking doesn’t go, well, it’s 2:89. But you don’t understand. There’s trucking [inaudible 00:37:27].
Allison Tyler Jones: This cows.
Jeff Dachowski: This cow is a really great cow.
Allison Tyler Jones: We had to talk to the cow. We had to pet her flanks [crosstalk 00:37:33].
Jeff Dachowski: It says it’s 1%, but we got an extra 1.25% of fat out this milk. This is really excellent milk. It’s best use. Such a nice cow. They just go with 289 and then they go, “Well, do I get a discount if I buy four?” No.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.
Jeff Dachowski: And you get discounts at the grocery store. I know they’re commodities, right. But that even worse of an argument when you argue for [inaudible 00:37:58], you get to keep them, right?
Allison Tyler Jones: Yep.
Jeff Dachowski: And so that’s an even worse argument. Well, grocery store can give us a discount because they’re… It’s the same thing they’re just making… No, literally the only people who want to buy your art are them. Okay. So why on earth with the word discount ever, ever cross your mind? Sorry. I’m ranting.
Allison Tyler Jones: Okay.
Jeff Dachowski: I went off topic and I ranted.
Allison Tyler Jones: I know. No, this is good. We’re going to… We’re number two. We’re in… I think this is point number two. So point number one is complaining that clients don’t read in the communication. Two, is you got to get that relationship going. And this is three, which I think is you have to talk money early and often.
Jeff Dachowski: Yeah.
Allison Tyler Jones: And that’s something that you and I both believe and we do, but we do it in our own ways. Similar though, because kind of jokey, but we have a different way that we do it. 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.
Allison Tyler Jones: 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 horn. 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 to 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.
Allison Tyler Jones: 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 quote unquote “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.
Allison Tyler Jones: So if you are willing to invest 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 what does that look like for you when if you’re talking money early enough and when would you say is the first time that you bring it up and how are you bringing it up?
Jeff Dachowski: So let’s say you and I are doing a portrait. That’s why we’re doing a phone consultation. I bring it up as a joke.
Allison Tyler Jones: Okay.
Jeff Dachowski: Probably [inaudible 00:41:57] bring it up. I run through a… I used to have a checklist to make sure I talked about everything. Now that because I’m so conversational with people and I’ve gotten good at that, I don’t even need a checklist anymore. Because I know I want to talk about their home, where it’s hanging in their home, location for their scene, the colors that fit in their home. [inaudible 00:42:17] dress as in clothing. And then I say, “Okay, yeah, let’s talk about what’s most important. Let’s talk about money.” And they laugh. I’m like, “I know, I know, I know everyone thinks they’re going to spend a hundred grand. No, it’s not a hundred grand it’s like 60.” I joke about it.
Jeff Dachowski: No, no, really. I said, most families you probably are going to want a couple wall portraits for your home. And some gift prints to give and maybe an album, that sort of thing. Just as an [FY 00:42:40], you can expect to… Most families will spend anywhere from 5,000 to 25,000 or 50,000. Just spends. Your family, this is an extended family. I don’t put out numbers because I just don’t care if that’s a shocking number to them. We hit those sales all the time. So why do I want to force a round peg into my little triangle? That little [inaudible 00:43:02]. The red side, blue side. Why would I want to take an inquiry that’s a round thing and squeeze it into the start. It’s not fair to them. It’s really painful. That’s really like, it’s awful for them. They have to then say I can’t afford it, which is a terrible thing to do to a human being. I would mention if they’re price sensitive, they’re going to bring it up. If they’re not price sensitive, I’m going to bring it up.
Allison Tyler Jones: Okay. So agreed. Can you say that one more time? Because I think that’s a [inaudible 00:43:30].
Jeff Dachowski: If they’re pretty sensitive they will bring it up. If they’re not price sensitive, I will bring it up.
Allison Tyler Jones: Okay. I’m now writing a note. Because that is absolutely true. Okay. I love this so much. So one of the most common requests I get in DMS that comment on the podcast is people want role play. And sometimes I don’t really have people that will do that with me. Will you do it?
Jeff Dachowski: I’ll do it. Of course.
Allison Tyler Jones: Okay.
Jeff Dachowski: You want me to be photographer or me be the client.
Allison Tyler Jones: Let’s do both.
Jeff Dachowski: Okay.
Allison Tyler Jones: So what I want to do is let’s do you, or you and I’ll be me.
Jeff Dachowski: Okay. Hold on. Let me get into character, just a second.
Allison Tyler Jones: Okay. Hold on just a second.
Jeff Dachowski: I need a minute.
Allison Tyler Jones: I’ll be the client, you be the photographer and then let’s switch. So let’s talk about how do you talk about money? So we’re on first phone call, we’ve already established relationship. Because I don’t want to minimize that, I want to make sure that that is underlying. We’re establishing the relationship, but we’re not going to bore people with that. We’re going to just go straight to nuts and bolts because that’s really what they want. So you know that I’ve got seven kids. I love my husband to distraction. Two of my kids are cuckoo, the rest of them are borderline.
Jeff Dachowski: Cuckoo.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. And it’s going to be a lot of personality up in here. And I want… My house is big. I have high ceilings. And I’ve got to have something over my sofa. It needs to be big. So my sofa is like, I have a huge sectional. So I’m thinking I just want something big for that. But I love all of the like mom and the boys and dad and the girls and all the breakouts. Like I want to do that. Okay. So go.
Jeff Dachowski: All right. So [Alpha 00:45:02] I’m super excited. I know we talked about clothing. No, let me just run through. So to wrap things up in our head, we’re going to do a session outdoors. And again, I’m making all this up.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yes. Yeah.
Jeff Dachowski: So we’re going to do session outdoors. You live on a lake, I think it’s going to be great. We’re going to… It’s going to be… We’re all set for the morning, the kids, they’ll be what they are and we’re going to have a great time. We’re going to laugh. We’ll laugh, we’ll cry, it’ll be much better than cats.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yes. Love it.
Jeff Dachowski: Yeah. That’s a joke that only 50-year-olds know, but that’s who my clients are. So let’s talk a little bit about how we’re going to use the images. So I know that you said that this lake house has really tall pieces here. Okay. And you’ve got a long horizontal sofa.
Allison Tyler Jones: Sofa.
Jeff Dachowski: I’m thinking in my head, I think, because you sent me a picture of the room. I think that a piece that has a lot of impact. When you turn from the kitchen, first, I love that. If we use this wall, you’re going to enjoy it on all your transitions through the house. From the left part of the bedrooms, across the living room. From the kitchen, when you’re preparing meals and drinking wine and having fun with your family, you’re also going to be able to see that portrait there. I love. That’s my dream. Because it has impact from four directions, in the living room plus in the kitchen. And then the transitional time between rooms. I love that.
Allison Tyler Jones: I love it.
Jeff Dachowski: I think it needs to be a longer narrower print. And when I say narrower, I don’t mean super narrow. I just mean we’re photographing on a lake and so I think that the elongation of the shoreline is something I would like to replicate on the elongation of your sofa. It’s a five position, five pillow sofa, which tells me it’s going to be wide. And I want it to break. I want it to be at least three pillows wide. You’ve got five section sectional. I want it to be, to break that first and fifth pillow.
Allison Tyler Jones: Okay.
Jeff Dachowski: So in my head I’m thinking that’s probably going to be somewhere around 80 inches long.
Allison Tyler Jones:
Jeff Dachowski: And probably 50 inches tall. And so to give you an idea, just so you’ll know, just for your own head. Prints like that, depending on the surface that you choose, that fits your home and your style start around 12 and go up. A little bit depending, and then of course there’s some framing and honestly when we get together.
Allison Tyler Jones: So That’s 12,000.
Jeff Dachowski: Yeah. When we get together I’m going to show you the variation, but the variation between a couple, from whether it’s metal to canvas, I don’t even want to talk to you about that on the phone because you need to feel it and touch it. But it’s not a big swing in cost, but it changes a little bit.
Allison Tyler Jones: Okay. So does that include the frame?
Jeff Dachowski: It might. It depends really on the application. But that’s 12.
Allison Tyler Jones: So starts at 12.
Jeff Dachowski: Yeah. But that’s photographed and installed.
Allison Tyler Jones: Okay.
Jeff Dachowski: So Carol and I’ll actually come in, install it at the lake house for you.
Allison Tyler Jones: Love it. You can spend the night. It’ll be great.
Jeff Dachowski: Oh my God. Can I bring wine, you are a wine drinker, right?
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah, no.
Jeff Dachowski: Because I shoot for this…
Allison Tyler Jones: You can bring Diet Coke.
Jeff Dachowski: I’ll bring a Diet Coke from this special place in Italy that makes the best Diet Coke.
Allison Tyler Jones: That’s awesome. Okay. So if I do that big one and then, but what about the smaller ones?
Jeff Dachowski: Exactly. Yeah.Well, thank you for bringing it up. Sorry. I get a little scattered. I get excited when I talk about impact pieces in the house. So sorry, I digress. So we have a couple other accommodations we talked about. You, I and Ivan, and then all the boys, all the girls. And then we’re probably going to photograph them individually. Because you said that was really important that you mark their own characters now. And so you’ve got a couple walls. You’ve got three different wall spaces that we could look at. I’d like to walk them with you when we come for the session. But we’re going to photograph all these pieces. I think I personally love squares.
Allison Tyler Jones: Okay.
Jeff Dachowski: So the one wall on the left that you showed me, I haven’t measured it, but you did the Zoom walk through here with me. I think could fit four 16 inch squares would be really a nice grouping. One of the things I love about full squares and groupings is that it can live in this foyer that you showed me four, 16. There might be 20, don’t hold me to 16 cause I haven’t measured. But it might be 16, it might be 20. But the really cool thing is that when you make these four squares like this, they can be their own square individually together. They also may fit really well between that living room and the bedroom. They can elongate. They can go four in a row like you would see in a gallery. Or depending on you get that open staircase that brings you up to the loft. They also, when you do four squares, you can follow the diagonal of the staircase. And again, same type of thing that 16 inch prints start at 1200 and go up depending on the surface. I’m not trying to get you hung up on the price. I won’t know which surface you like until you pick it really. Because there’s a couple different choices.
Allison Tyler Jones: Okay. So do you ever do just like you can photograph it. Because I have these really cute frames that I have on tables and around like in my bookcases and stuff like that. Can I just buy that?
Jeff Dachowski: Of course you can. So I break in what we’re doing for our session to one of three things, right? One of three uses. You’ve got your impact pieces, which is above the couch and there might be a second impact place depending on how you feel about it. And then you’ve got your accent type pieces that just reminds you. There might be… Maybe there’s a little more personality in those pieces, the foyer or up the stairs or on the walls walking to the bedrooms. And then of course there’s gift prints, which I call them gift prints, but there’s smaller prints that you may… There are gifts to you, but they might become gifts to your kids later. Where hey might be on the wall. They might be on a bookshelf. They’re 8 by 10s or 5 by 7s.
Jeff Dachowski: Of course you can make those. But usually people just add those in at the end. And again, they’re meant to be gifted whether to yourself or to your kids one day or friends or family. And then a lot of times people will also choose an album. And so that’s an other great way to keep that legacy the entire session, because right now if you’re talking impact piece or gift prints or secondary pieces, they’re all collectively apart. But an album brings that whole legacy of this session together in one space. And so they’re really, they serve three different things. And to be honest, not everyone loves difference. And not everyone loves albums.
Allison Tyler Jones: Right.
Jeff Dachowski: But as you know, you saw what we did for [Mandy’s 00:51:13] family. We’re known for doing wall art. And that’s why you called. And so we pretty much everyone does wall art. Everyone does something. It may not be, you have an unusual situation, honestly, where you’ve got 80 inch of length. That’s pretty long. But your house really needs it. But everyone does wall art.
Allison Tyler Jones: Okay. So in that instance, if they’re super price sensitive and you’ve just blown me out of the water, then with my clients, they’re going to say, “Okay, well, you know what, I’m going to talk to my husband. Then I’ll call you back.” And then we’ll never hear from them again.
Jeff Dachowski: And that’s okay.
Allison Tyler Jones: Right, exactly. Or they might call back and say, “Can we maybe just get the digital files or something like that. But generally we don’t even get that. I don’t get. Just because I think we’re so branded and it’s so obvious what we do. Okay. So there’s a few things I… Well there’s… I like that, I thought that was great. But I think the things that were really interesting when you were talking about the sight lines and where they’re seeing that image from different parts of the room, different parts of the home. And because as you were saying that, I could picture myself up in my lake house, which I would love to have actually. And I could see that big image from all those places and how you would feel about that when you were in that vacation home. I think that’s really awesome. And then you just wove in those prices and it didn’t… Nothing felt scary. But the number one thing takeaway from this that I want our listeners and this is even if you have to go back and relisten to that part.
Allison Tyler Jones: When he started to quote prices, he didn’t sound like, “Well for, it’s going to be an 80 inch print. Which is very large and it’s going to require a truck and three guys.” There was none of that. And even I can see you on Zoom because we’re doing a Zoom call. You’re sitting back in your chair, your body is very loose. It’s just like, yeah, this is just what it is. It’s like the milk is 2.89. There’s no moral judgment. We’re not freaking out about this. This is just what it’s. And when you are like that, that’s how your client receives it and feels it in their body.
Jeff Dachowski: Exactly. And that’s why I say practice this, right? Because you and I have talked, forgive me, I assume that everyone on this who’s listening has been listening to all our calls over the last 10 years. But because we could talk for hours about these things that make us more comfortable. But in reality, I encourage people to create a script and practice it. So the first time you say something, you choke it out like it’s 12,000. And then the next, you say it a couple more times and it doesn’t matter anymore. It is what it is. The takeaway I’d love for everyone listening to hear is that whether they value the person listening. Allison, in this case, whether she thinks my print is worth 12,000 or not, has zero reflection on what my true value as an artist. It’s nothing. Okay. Because that would be like saying that Maserati cares what the Kia buyer thinks. They don’t. And it doesn’t mean, and they’re both vehicles.
Allison Tyler Jones: It doesn’t mean they think that they’re idiots and they should be wiped from the face of the earth. It’s just they’re in a different business.
Jeff Dachowski: And Maserati isn’t going online complaining about that a Kia driver came to them. Which we as photographers do all the time. We send out all this crazy branding. We put digital files everywhere. And then our shop that people ask about digital files. I typically try to only show images and frames. I’m not saying my seniors were a different story, but my family is I love to show in frames. But they’re shocked. And we’ve talked about this before. When you walk into Prada, New York City, the people behind the counter don’t have a Facebook group complaining about the people [inaudible 00:54:44].
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah, no, exactly. That’s why I said Prada isn’t worried about Old Navys two-for-one t-shirt now.
Jeff Dachowski: Yeah. Not at all. And it doesn’t mean that because there’s a place for it. And I’m not making judgment on if you’re the Old Navy of photographers, there’s money made. In fact, the people I know who have planes are volume people. You got to really get right down to it. But we’re talking about, you and I are people who want to create work-like balances. Want to make enough money so we can do the life we want to live and not photograph a thousand kids a day. So it’s just about…
Allison Tyler Jones: We want a sustainable smaller microbusiness.
Jeff Dachowski: We don’t want 81 staff members, but honestly, I’m not kidding. The people, the photographers I know who own their own plane are volume people.
Allison Tyler Jones: [inaudible 00:55:26] digress.
Jeff Dachowski: Yeah. But there’s nothing wrong with being the Old Navy of photographers.
Allison Tyler Jones: Right. But the-
Jeff Dachowski: I just want to be really clear about that. It’s okay.
Allison Tyler Jones: Totally, but the problem that I see, and I’ve said this in multiple episodes of this podcast. And I don’t know if you agree with this, but I see, and this is particularly women, giving the most beautiful imagery. Gorgeous packaging, amazing service, sling themselves on the altar of beautiful portraiture for Old Navy prices.
Jeff Dachowski: Mm-hmm (affirmative). And no, that [inaudible 00:55:55].
Allison Tyler Jones: That’s the problem.
Jeff Dachowski: Right. I agree. And when I said I don’t mind if they’re old Navy, it’s because old Navy has systems, they have systems in place that the owner of old Navy isn’t out there on Saturday morning at eight o’clock all day selling Old Navy.
Allison Tyler Jones: Making those t-shirts.
Jeff Dachowski: Right. Exactly. So there’s systems in place that make it affordable or if we were to translate that to photography, there’s maybe staff and there’s a massive volume in the staff, blah, blah, blah. That all works. In our cases, we, I know Ivan doesn’t photograph, but sometimes Carol photographs. We are the artist. We create the art. And so therefore we have to be in a model that’s sustainable because our art is special. The only place you can buy images from me is me. It’s like, you cannot get your photographs printed, my photographs printed in anywhere else.
Allison Tyler Jones: Exactly.
Jeff Dachowski: We don’t sell files. Maybe [inaudible 00:56:45] but we don’t sell files. Are they available? No.
Allison Tyler Jones: Right.
Jeff Dachowski: That’s it.
Allison Tyler Jones: Right. Well, and it’s interesting because recently we photographed a family and a big multigen and it was awesome. They were so great. But these guys are super funny. And then the brothers, a couple of them know my brother. So my brother owns an offroad vehicle company. He builds custom sand rails and manufacturers parts for these offroad vehicles and ships them all over the world. And so anyway, this client, these sons, these guys are… The hair was blown back by what my pricing was on this whole situation. And so because they knew my brother, they’re on the phone with him. And they were like, “I go to the family, our family gets together every other Sunday night.” And so I’m at the family party and my brother, Doug says to me, he is like, “well, and I’ve been on the phone about you this week.”
Allison Tyler Jones: And I’m like, “Oh, really. Well do tell.” And he is like, “Yeah, those XYZ brothers called and they’re like, ‘Man, your sister, holy crap. Her prices.'” And he’s like, “Yeah, well what do you mean?” And well, “She’s just got to be making bank over there, what she’s charging.” And he’s like, “Well, yeah.” But he’s like, “Think about what you and I do. I make a part. I design that part. I make that part. And then I make a thousand of them and I sell them to a thousand different people.” She has to deal with your kids. She’s got to make them happy. Make you look good. It’s like great, you have a great time. Didn’t you have a great time. Oh yeah. I know we had totally a great time. Don’t the pictures look amazing. Yeah. we’ve never looked better. Looks great. She can only sell those to you. So she’s going to go through all that work to photograph all of you, make you look great, make it awesome. Print it. And she’s only ever selling that to you one time ever.
Jeff Dachowski: Ever.
Allison Tyler Jones: Ever. And so he says… So I’m about to cry because I love my brother.
Jeff Dachowski: So you’re like, “Oh my God, you see.”
Allison Tyler Jones: You get it. You understand? And so, but I’m like, I don’t think I’ve ever even been able to put it that way. And so then of course the brother, the client, my client is like, “Well, yeah. No, no I don’t want to say that it wasn’t worth it. Yeah, it was totally awesome, but dang.” But I loved that he could see that and put that in perspective. And I thought, you know what? I don’t think even photographers realize that concept. I think that we’re so in America reading books like the The E Myth, which is great by the way. But reading business books that are actually geared to bigger companies that scale, that have volume, and they’re not thinking about how a solopreneur or maybe one or two photographers could run a luxury service business.
Allison Tyler Jones: It’s a very different model. And where we get screwed up is when we mix those two. When we’re giving luxury service for pennies or we’re charging way too much for not enough service. That could go the other way too. But I think being aware of that and going back to the beginning of where we started this conversation is that it’s taking that responsibility and guiding the whole thing. So we’re not upset that the clients didn’t read anything because we’re not expecting them to read anything. We’re going to bring up the policies. We’re going to bring up what we do and what we don’t do and paint the picture for them. We are going to quote the prices early and often. And most importantly, we’re going to create that relationship with them
Jeff Dachowski: Agreed 100%. The interesting thing as you were saying this, and you’ve probably heard me say this. So I’ll just repeat it here. Is that people only buy my portraits because someone they love is in them. I said that earlier, but it’s true. Literally you can only sell these images because someone your client loves is in it. We’re not talking about, these aren’t newsworthy images or landscape images. I’m not talking about that genre. You’re asking someone to create art around you and all the idiosyncrasies of your family life and the history, and being able to speak naughty as a language and all the things that go with that. And you have to charge appropriately. And I’m not here to tell you what to charge. I just, gosh, I get so hung up on photographers telling me that their lab charges 50 cents for 5 by 7. Therefore if they sell it for two bucks, they’re good. Because PPA said it needs to be 25%. And I’m like, “No, it’s not 25% of your print costs. It’s 25% of as a maximum of all your costs.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. Labor and supporting the business.
Jeff Dachowski: The box cost three bucks, the print costs 50 cents.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. We need to have a-
Jeff Dachowski: [inaudible 01:01:10].
Allison Tyler Jones: We need to have a whole, yeah. We could do a whole thing on that. So as you’re heading into your presidential year with PPA, what is encouragement or state of the industry? Do you have any sweeping pronouncements or anything that you’d like to say to our listeners about either encouragement or how are you seeing the industry? How has PPA seen the industry as far as the health and future?
Jeff Dachowski: I can’t speak for PPA. Because I’m a volunteer so I can’t. But I can tell you that over the last couple years, PPA has done a lot of… They’ve hired [Nielsen 01:01:40] to give us the information. I know you and I have talked to the lengths about this. But there’s actually so much information there to unpack. We could have a five-hour podcast and we wouldn’t be able to unpack it all.
Allison Tyler Jones: We haven’t had that conversation yet and I want to have it.
Jeff Dachowski: Oh we haven’t.
Allison Tyler Jones: No, we need to.
Jeff Dachowski: It’s really quite amazing is that this was 2020 prior to the pandemic. So understand that some data is out the window because life is out the window as we know. Or it was. But surprisingly enough, that what PPA found through Nielsen was that people are actually left a lot of money on the table. That’s one of the big things. They are expecting to buy prints. They’re expecting that digitals are available in general. But they actually say and their data says, I’m paraphrasing. Forgive me. But they would’ve bought more had the photographer offered more. That is [crosstalk 01:02:29].
Allison Tyler Jones: Absolutely so true.
Jeff Dachowski: You get punched in the face. I’m like, oh my God. I was working with a client yesterday, a mentor client. And I always kept referring to a price increase. I’m like, “That’s how you’re going to pay for your staff.” You want more time in your life. It’s more important that you have more time off. Well, this price increase and this add-on package is going to pay for her. That’s how you… Because that’s the only currency you’re worried about right this minute. The dollars don’t make any sense, but I’m like, “You’re going to do this because you need to pay for her.” She was worried about paying for her staff member. I’m like, that’s her whole concern right this minute. I could say, well, that’s going to add $300 to your sale. That’s a currency that she doesn’t understand right now.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.
Jeff Dachowski: She wants someone to come do some work for her and she’s worried about being able to pay for it. And so I’m not hammering. So my encouragement actually is that one of the things that 2020 gave us was people are understanding the value of family a little bit more. They spent more time at home and they saw the craziness of their family and their kids. And they’ve done a million and two meetings and sometimes in their underwear and sometimes suit up top and [inaudible 01:03:35] underwear below. And that’s all good. But they’ve spent time in their home. And they’ve… Actually one of the most encouraging stats I’ve seen is how much they’ve spent on their home.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yep.
Jeff Dachowski: Which is why, I mean, [Carrie 01:03:46] is doing so great. We’ve talked about how Carrie’s attitude in 2020 changed my life, but that’s another podcast. I think I’ve told Carrie about that. But the thing is, people spent money on their home and that’s why your portraits needs to live. I say this slow. Your portraits need to live in the decor and furniture budget of your home. Not in the portrait budget. Because no one has any portrait budget.
Allison Tyler Jones: Nope.
Jeff Dachowski: But if they say, buy an end table, it’s 900 bucks and a couch it’s $3,000 and all these certain things.
Allison Tyler Jones: Or 10.
Jeff Dachowski: Or 10 or whatever, the rug is $2,000. Why on earth wouldn’t a print of your family be more? Why wouldn’t that piece of art that was only created… Well, if it was a rug that someone in Persia wove just for you. Sorry, I said a Persian rug, I know Persia’s not a place. I’m not ignorant. I’m just saying that if someone makes you a Persian rug handmade for you.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. It’s $250,000 really.
Jeff Dachowski: Would you expect it to cost more as opposed to the one that the [inaudible 01:04:46] Persian rug over at [inaudible 01:04:47].
Allison Tyler Jones: An antique Persian rug depending on size is usually 100 to 250, for sure. Easily.
Jeff Dachowski: That’s the thing I’m telling you is that there’s people out there who want your service. And there are people. There’s a lot of people. The people who are working on their homes. People who are working on the quality of their life. And portraits, if you believe that that adds to quality of life and you can sell that in your heart and in your actions, in your community, people come to you, there’s a market for it. And people want prints.
Allison Tyler Jones: They do. And our business has just exploded over the last year and a half. And we’ve always geared all of our efforts. Who we speak to on social media, everything that we do is geared toward people that love their family and love their home and love to spend money on their home. And so those are the two core qualities of our ideal client. And those people have only just loved their home more and want to make it better and love their family more. But the thing that I think is so encouraging that I hope is encouraging for those that are listening is that you and Carol, your entire… You’ve put those girls through college, your driving your cars and roof over your head and all of those things with portraits. And the same with us. And that it is possible. It’s not a fluke. It’s not an aberration that there are people that you’ve never heard of that are doing really, really well and creating lives that they love from a portrait photography business. And that’s something that anybody listening to this podcast can do as well.
Jeff Dachowski: I’m so excited to see you. I’ll leave you with that every one of those people believed they can do it.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.
Jeff Dachowski: That’s one of the missing links. Is that you’ve heard me say, don’t take advice from someone who isn’t where you want to be. That means your friends or family. So when your friends tell you “No one will ever pay that.” What they’re saying is I will never pay that. They only speak for themselves. So you need to believe you’re worth it. And I believe you’re worth it. I don’t even know who’s listening, but I believe you’re worth it. Because the only place I can buy your portraits, from you.
Allison Tyler Jones: It’s from you, sure.
Jeff Dachowski: The only place. You’re not a commodity.
Allison Tyler Jones: And if you find yourself that you’re in some of those Facebook groups and it’s pulling you down a rabbit hole, maybe you need to get out of there. And also rather than every time something new comes up, the first thought is that would never work in my area. I could never. My clients would never. Is to interrupt that maybe for 2022 this could be your goal, is how can I? How could I? If it was going to be me, how could I do it? Because it is possible. And there’s nothing more valuable. I just think there’s so much meaning and value in what we do. And I think it’s such a great business to be in and a great way to spend your life.
Jeff Dachowski: I love it. I’m going to… I’ll close them. I feel like the music playing in.
Allison Tyler Jones: Right. Totally.
Jeff Dachowski: I’ll close with just a quick [inaudible 01:07:35] about Allison and I. We were standing, I’ll never forget this. I’ve had a lot of phone conversations on… We only talk on Friday nights. I swear there’s something about it. It’s a true story. We only talk on Friday nights, right?
Allison Tyler Jones: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jeff Dachowski: And sometimes it’s two or three hours on [inaudible 01:07:51]. Like, okay, well you’re still getting ready for dinner, I’m ready for bed. Because it’s a three-hour time difference. But I remember standing, she and I were on a trip with one of our groups. And was on Mediterranean in Italy. And I got choked up and I turned Allison and I said, “I’m not supposed to be here. The house I was raised in, the trajectory of my life, the business acumen that I was born with. I’m not supposed to be here. This isn’t what I’m supposed to be.”
Jeff Dachowski: And Allison turned to me and she said none of us were. None of us standing in that circle, we all had similar things. None of us were born into a successful studio where we had a deep history where someone had paved the way. Every one of us overcame colossal amounts of fear and self-doubt to get to the point where we could pay ourselves to be photographers. And I want to encourage all of you that that’s you. That can be you. It’s not impossible. You just have to get out of your own way of fear. And allow yourself to say, “I’m good at what I do. I do good things for people.”
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.
Jeff Dachowski: “I should be compensated for that time.”
Allison Tyler Jones: It’s valuable.
Jeff Dachowski: It’s valuable. It means everything.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.
Jeff Dachowski: I once had an attorney and I’m sorry, I [inaudible 01:09:04]. He said, “Oh, I’ve got that camera.” And I said, “oh, I’ve got a legal pattern home.” And he said, “That’s a great point. I’ll stop talking now.” I’m like, “Yeah, get over there by the… Get over there [crosstalk 01:09:15] family portrait.” People think it’s this and we know it’s not. We know it’s not technical. It’s all about relationships and love and being [crosstalk 01:09:26].
Allison Tyler Jones: Totally. And before we start crying.
Jeff Dachowski: Yeah. Stop it. I’m not crying, you’re crying.
Allison Tyler Jones: We have to end it on a snarky note. Okay. So with your attorney thing, I had a physician and call me one time. And he’s like, “Okay, so I need you to come shoot our family in the desert on Christmas Eve.” Obviously this is a man, because no woman would ever ask another woman to do that. Yeah. That was so stupid. Anyways. So I need you to come and photograph our family in the desert on Christmas Eve. I’m like you have… Obviously and looked at my website and I’m going to need to get the digital files. And I said, “Well, we specialize in wall art.” I’m telling him the whole thing. And anyway, come to find out he’s an oncologist. And so he’s really banging me on the digital files thing.
Allison Tyler Jones: Why are you not getting that? And I’m like, “okay, well let me just break this down for you. Why don’t I just come to you, and you just give me the bag of chemo and then I’ll just go home and do it myself. And then I’ll just call you. And then you just charge me for the bag of chemo.” And he started to laugh and he’s like, “Actually, it’s probably not a bad idea.” I’m like, “Oh, okay.” Anyway, but he’s like, “All right, fine. I get your point.” But sometimes you do have to just break it down.
Jeff Dachowski: [Snurp 01:10:25]. I love it. That’s another language. You’re-
Allison Tyler Jones: My love language is snurping.
Jeff Dachowski: My love language is bacon, but you’re fluent in snurp, sarcasm and English.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yes. Well, yes. And not everybody can and speak that way. And that’s not their brand either. Your brand is you’re this big Teddy bear. You’re so cute. And Carol is like, I mean, you’re married to like the soul of-
Jeff Dachowski: The sweetest girl.
Allison Tyler Jones: On the earth. Carol and Ivan really should have gotten married because then he would’ve had a really happy life. But you and I would’ve been the dog in the cat, [inaudible 01:10:57] and would’ve killed each other. So you need the yin and the yang. So I get that. But you got to go with your brand and what’s true to you and just not be afraid to just speak into the world this is who I am. This is what I do. This is how we do it. And this is what it’s worth. And just let the chips fall where they may.
Jeff Dachowski: Yep. I agree.
Allison Tyler Jones: Only then does the magic start to happen. So I’m so glad that you guys are doing well and that the girls are doing well. And I appreciate you being here today. Can you tell our listeners where they can find you?
Jeff Dachowski: So if you want to see our work, you can see it at dachowskiphotography.com. You can follow me at a Instagram, Dachowski_photography. You can email me if you’ve got questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be at a bunch of PPA affiliates this year. So if you see that I’m there, please stop in and say that Allison said hello, or that I heard you talking on the ATJ podcast and I’ll know you’re one of the 60,000 people on [inaudible 01:11:51].
Allison Tyler Jones: The 60 people.
Jeff Dachowski: Hey, you know what? Allison, you don’t have to change 60,000 lives. So if you change 60 families lives with your information, that’s legacy.
Allison Tyler Jones: Totally.
Jeff Dachowski: That’s legacy.
Allison Tyler Jones: I agree. Okay. Dachowski is D-A-C-H-O-W-S-K-I. Just in case you didn’t understand that New Hampshire accent.
Jeff Dachowski: Yeah. It’s a funny Canadian New Hampshire accent.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. I don’t know what your accent is. Yeah. Anyway.
Jeff Dachowski: Yeah.
Allison Tyler Jones: But I love it. And I love you and I appreciate you being here.
Jeff Dachowski: Love you too.
Allison Tyler Jones: Thank you.
Jeff Dachowski: Thanks for having me.
Allison Tyler Jones: You bet you. 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 and 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 yo next time on the Rework.
Recorded: You can find more great resources from Allison at dotherework.com and on Instagram Do.the.rework.