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: Hi friends, and welcome back to The ReWork. Today’s guest is my friend Jeff Dachowski, who is a portrait photographer in New Hampshire and he also happens to be the current president of Professional Photographers of America. And I snuck some time with him in between his many trips that he’s making this year. And we talked about success and mainly about believing that success can be possible for you.

Allison Tyler Jones: I know that we’re in crazy times right now. It feels like the world is out of control and sometimes it can feel like success is just not in the cards for you, but it is in the cards for you. And that is why I do this podcast every week. And that is why I have you in my mind and my heart because I want you to know that success is possible for you. And Jeff has spent the last year traveling all over the country and parts of the world talking to photographers and listening to their struggles and listening to their successes. And so we’re putting our heads together and this is a shot of encouragement for you to build you up as we go into the busy portrait season to inspire and motivate you that success is possible for you. Let’s do it.

Allison Tyler Jones: Okay. So Jeff Dachowski also known as El Presidente of Photographers of America, also Hefe, what else? Your greatness.

Jeff Dachowski: Yes.You choose the Eminence. Whatever you want to go with.

Allison Tyler Jones: Your eminence.

Jeff Dachowski: I’m totally flexible. No.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Jeff Dachowski: And Jeff is probably the best one there right there.

Allison Tyler Jones: Okay. I love it. All right. Well I know that this is your presidential year and you are traveling like a crazy person and you’re super busy. So we are going to get down to it.

Jeff Dachowski: Let’s do it.

Allison Tyler Jones: All right, love it. So tell me what the state of the industry is. What’s it looking like out there?

Jeff Dachowski: Well, it’s a funny couple days because you probably know that PPA just launched a pretty substantial change to their photographic evaluation process and that has the photographic world up in arms. And yesterday WPPI announced that they are not having a competition. And so all of my friends who are evaluation and competition minded are just a buzz. Their nerve endings on fire. They’ve made the assumption that PPA is buying WPPI or that we’re going to combine the competitions. I can say clearly and unequivocally that’s neither are the case. It’s just a strange timing issue. We’re not in WPPI’s business and WPPI is not PPA’s business. It’s just weird the way it’s worked out timing wise.

Allison Tyler Jones: So you’re talking about print competition for those who-

Jeff Dachowski: Yeah.

Allison Tyler Jones: … the uninitiated. You’re talking about print competition. Okay.

Jeff Dachowski: Well in my world, the industry is going nuts because all my friends are going nuts. And I mean, not in a bad way. They’re just like, “Oh my god, this is a game changer.” It’s like when they changed copyright law and people are like, oh all the lawyers are probably all like, “Can you believe what happened?”

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah..

Jeff Dachowski: That one thing. That’s where we’re at right now.

Allison Tyler Jones: But yeah, whoever’s doing print competition is a buzz at the moment.

Jeff Dachowski: A buzz. And which I think is good because as you know, I’m a big fan of evaluation and having other people look at your work and how you get better at your work. And-

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jeff Dachowski: … it’s a way to get accolades for you, but most importantly it’s a way for you to say, “See mom, I am good what I do.” And that’s actually in the state of our industry that one of my biggest problems is that people don’t believe in themselves. That’s one of the biggest problems when you wrap it all up. Some people need that validation via evaluation result and some people are born with it. Sorry, that’s a client calling. My wife will grab it, but-

Allison Tyler Jones: Just ignore those clients. We’re talking.

Jeff Dachowski: Who needs clients? I want to talk now.

Allison Tyler Jones: Who needs clients anyway, we want to talk about print competition, which actually that’s a metaphor for some life. Right there is what that is.

Jeff Dachowski: So all in all, I mean that’s what’s going on. The industry I think is doing well. I mean we always are. We’re going to struggle for the rest of time, right? Because-

Allison Tyler Jones: Yes.

Jeff Dachowski: … and we’ve talked about this privately, but we have a low barrier of entry and a lot of people, then you factor in other things like AI art, AI retouching, all these things we’re always going to have some struggle. But I think we talked about last time, it’s really all about the fact that no one can get that art from anywhere but you.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Jeff Dachowski: So in the end, I think that the people who are doing what they want to do and are being authentic to themselves and all that packaged belief in you, the industry will probably be okay for them. And there’s a lot of people out there and I mean that in the sweetest possible way that are looking at photography for the first time as a way of self-expression and maybe they can make a living at it. And that’s going to be hard for them initially.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jeff Dachowski: Because they don’t believe in themselves yet.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah, I think it’s hard. Any business is hard initially just because you’re trying to figure out-

Jeff Dachowski: No kidding.

Allison Tyler Jones: … what it is and how to make money. Okay. So when we talked last, we talked about some of the problems that people run into when they’re trying to talk to clients, but we turned quickly to solutions because that is who you and I are.

Jeff Dachowski: In a conversation, that’s impossible.

Allison Tyler Jones: Problem solvers. You and I are problem solvers and we want positive because we could sit in bemoan. There’s a lot of things going on in this world that could possibly be negative. I’ve heard from many of my students, they’re concerned about like, “Oh my gosh, there’s inflation.” And people are worried about the economy. And all of those things are real things, but I think what you just struck on was really important. And that is that if you in any industry, no matter what it is that you do that if there is a level of self-belief, and that doesn’t mean that you think that you’re the best thing since slice spread, it just means that, “You know what? I can figure this out. It has been done before and it is possible for me and I’m going to figure out how to do it.”

Allison Tyler Jones: And so that’s what I would love to talk about today is maybe either some of your experiences or what you see out there as you travel through the industry. You come into contact with so many photographers at so many different levels of experience and how long they’ve been in business. But we know that this is possible. You’re all in.

Jeff Dachowski: All in.

Allison Tyler Jones: This is how you support your family. This is how we support our family. And I just believe, especially when you’re new or struggling, you need to look and see like, “This actually is possible for me.” And you’re not a unicorn and neither am I. We’re just like normal people.

Jeff Dachowski: True story. Yeah.

Allison Tyler Jones: Well actually we’re not normal, but we’re abnormal not in the good way. Not in the genius way. Just kind of weird normal people. Yeah.

Jeff Dachowski: Yeah. We’re weirdos. I will start off by saying to everyone listening, here’s something really cool is that ATJ and I have no idea what we’re going to talk about right now.

Allison Tyler Jones: That’s not true.

Jeff Dachowski: Well, I have no idea what we’re going to talk about. So this is what I love. If this is a good podcast, it is solely on the strength of how awesome an interviewer ATJ is. If there’s any wisdom at all, it’s because she’s good at pulling it up. Okay?

Allison Tyler Jones: No pressure.

Jeff Dachowski: Just wanted to say that at the beginning.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah, no pressure. Thanks.

Jeff Dachowski: I got to-

Allison Tyler Jones: I’m going to take my focus pill right now. This little capsule is full of focus ginger or something. Okay, go ahead.

Jeff Dachowski: Cool.

Allison Tyler Jones: Keep talking.

Jeff Dachowski: Well I’m excited to be here and we just talked about the industry. I look around, I see a lot of folks who are refining their marketing and one of the things I’ve been talk, speaking of this year, traveling as PPA president has been about sales. Because from my old days at the Hallmark Institute of Photography, they used to say nothing happens to the sales made. Right? And so beneficially to me or maybe detrimentally, I’ve always focused on, well I don’t really care that I sell that. Very rarely am I one of these photographers who talks about concept art and trying to create a new idea and I’m all in it to make a living and provide for my family. Now I happen to love what I do.

Allison Tyler Jones: You happen to be really good at it.

Jeff Dachowski: You’re kind. Thank you. But I am all in it in how do I make money, which has caused me a whole bunch of adages to be in my life. We don’t retouch images. Don’t get purchased because there’s no profit in it. And me saying things like, People don’t buy portraits unless someone they love is in them.” Right? That’s a typical Jeff’s statement. No one’s buying my family portraits unless someone they love is in them.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jeff Dachowski: Awards are great, but let’s cut the reality that my stuff isn’t that good. I’m holding people hostage, really. Because I’m like… I’m kidding. But I mean, this is how you get portraits of people you love. You got to buy it from me.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jeff Dachowski: Yeah, that’s the end of that. Now that we’ve accepted that. But I think the industry is not going gangbusters, but gosh, the people out there who are out there talking to people and doing things with people and doing artist projects and are out in the face and they look like they’re working, are working.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jeff Dachowski: People like to do business with people they think are successful. They don’t really want to work with people who bemoan and complain about the industry the whole time. And I mean, I’m here to tell you from ATJ started this recording really quick, so we haven’t talked a bit about this, but I mean there’s a lot of work out there. And if not you then who? And why not you? Why can’t it be you? Why can’t it be your success? Why can’t you develop a style that you want to do and then spread your demographic wide enough that you can do what you want?

Allison Tyler Jones: Right. Well, and especially because I feel like so many portrait photographers are solopreneurs. They are the only photographer that’s working for themselves. And I think when you realize that you can’t shoot your entire town, you can’t even shoot probably your entire neighborhood in a year. So there’s only so many sessions you can do in a year unless you decide that you’re going to go volume and hire a bunch of photographers, but most photographers that we know are not doing that. They’re solo printers. So I was struck by that early in my business and I realized, “Okay, I don’t actually want more clients. I don’t want more sessions per year. I just want each one to be better.” And you can turn that around and be sarcastic what you were just saying before lik, “Oh yeah, we’d just like it to make us more money.” But that doesn’t exist in a vacuum. We can’t just say, “Okay, fine. I’m going to just do one session a year for a million dollars or whatever.” Although wouldn’t that be awesome? But…

Jeff Dachowski: I mean, I’m also all in for that.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. Anybody that is listening to this that has that job, just call me first. And if I can’t find them unavailable, I’ll send you to Jeff.

Jeff Dachowski: Thank you.

Allison Tyler Jones: But that’s not really realistic. But what is realistic is figuring out a way to believe the value of your service and how we can make it more valuable and then charge it appropriately and receive that and then go to that level of service.

Jeff Dachowski: For sure.

Allison Tyler Jones: And I think you and I have both done that. We started shooting everything, weddings, bar mitzvahs, blah blah blah. Everything that anybody would pay us to show up with a camera and then refined and said, “Okay, I can’t… If I’m shooting everything, there’s only so many hours in the day.” So it’s refining it down a little bit. Now not everybody refines in their own way. Not everybody has to go to the high end or whatever, but how did you and Carol do that? Because I know that you and I had a conversation a few years ago about quitting your wedding nonsense.

Jeff Dachowski: Yeah. I mean, so-

Allison Tyler Jones: It take you a while to listen to me.

Jeff Dachowski: Well, if anything else, good ideas take a while to ferment. Right? That’s the sort of thing. And I think it was Tim Walden says, “Hey, some of my best ideas are on the table. They’re not on my walls. They’re on the table. And that’s okay. Sometimes things don’t work out or even want them to work out, they’re just good ideas.” I remember we had a conversation about how exhausting it was to us to photograph weddings. They’re physically exhausting. We didn’t mind the work. We enjoyed the people. We enjoyed making images. I even enjoyed the challenge really of making great or good image sellable images under really tough situations.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jeff Dachowski: There is that sense of pride that happens when a photographer can make… Doesn’t have to look at the venue in advance. They just show up and go, “It’ll work out. It’ll be fine. I’ll make something good to work here.” Or we go, “Cool. Cool. Cool. Cool.” But it was exhausting us.

Jeff Dachowski: And I remember this little conversation I had with you at least five years ago and it took us several years to gain the confidence that I would replace that work with something else. And our conversation, I said, “Great. Where am I going to make up that 80 grand?”

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jeff Dachowski: I mean I think of almost word for word when our conversation or whatever the number was at the time. And you said, “Well that’s a great question, Jeff. You’re going to have to find out where you’re going to make up that 80 grand.” And so ultimately we chose in 2020, actually just right at the beginning of 2020, we were going to shoot weddings. It was in your studio in fact, when we had our meeting in Mesa that we said, “We’re not going to do it.” And of course we booked no more weddings for 2020. And guess what happened, Allison?

Allison Tyler Jones: It was your fault. Now he know. Now-

Jeff Dachowski: It was my fault.

Allison Tyler Jones: … the truth comes out. Oh my gosh.

Jeff Dachowski: The truth. Yep. You…

Allison Tyler Jones: How the New York Times.

Jeff Dachowski: Yep. Oh my God, it was my fault.

Allison Tyler Jones: The quit shooting weddings in the pandemic happened.

Jeff Dachowski: Yeah. That’s my fault.

Allison Tyler Jones: How dare you?

Jeff Dachowski: Sorry. Sorry everybody. No, and so we actually stopped shooting weddings. We had two weddings that year in 2020 that were booked. We’ve magically somehow photographed both our weddings on the dates they were originally booked. I don’t even know if that happened. And then we just said, “Okay, we’ve got no more book and we’re not going to photograph anymore.” It does not mean that we won’t photograph another wedding in our life. There may be a situation that makes marketing sense or some sort of financial sense, but we’re not marketing them. We have no one that we have kept none of that books we haven’t shot one in a couple years. And we’re okay with that.

Allison Tyler Jones: Okay. So this is important because I know that so many of our listeners might be doing volume sports or weddings or events and they’re wanting to swap over two portraits. And I think it’s a big… And I think what this process that you just described is so valuable because how long? Two years? Probably about two years to make that decision. So it does take a while.

Allison Tyler Jones: It’s not something that’s overnight and you do have to noodle through how we’re going to replace that income. But it’s putting your head there and believing that it’s possible that Jeff and Carol Dachowski could never shoot a wedding again and still have a thriving business. And when you first hear something like that, you think, “There’s no way I can’t do that.” And there are a lot of those things. “If I raise my prices, I’ll lose all my clients.” Or “If I quit doing volume sports, everybody will hate me and go away and I’ll never work again.” Whatever. We have all of these irrational fears. And so it’s putting your head there and I think that’s a great example of putting your head there and then moving forward even though you don’t really know how it’s going to work out and having it be successful.

Jeff Dachowski: Carol, you might have heard her say this at any one of our times we’ve been together that Carol’s coined the phrase in my life. I’m sure someone else coined this phrase. So I’m not trying to attribute this to her, I just mean in my life, Carol said, “You were the author of your own business. And so if you’re going to write your ending or your beginning or your middle or any of that sort of thing, who’s going to write it for you? It might as well be you. You need to make a decision.”

Jeff Dachowski: And so for me, for being totally honest, I was guessing, I was thinking I didn’t really want to stop shooting weddings because I liked the income I was making from it. And I liked the personal connections that I was getting from other referrals and all the things that go with that. But in reality, the “We” part of our story was that it was exhausting on both of us and we could replace the income with something else that was a lot less physical effort and a lot less lower effort as far as just cost of goods. I mean, for me, if I have photograph a family portrait on a Saturday, I made more than I did shooting a wedding in which I was gone for, it’s at least 40 hours of work.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right. And that’s 40 hours away from your daughters and it’s every week. It’s the weekends giving up being there for your kids,

Jeff Dachowski: That took a long time for us to, exactly what you said when people say, “Well I don’t want to raise my prices.” Or “I’m afraid.” Sadly enough, I think our industry, our collective community has the monopoly on fear. I mean, we are afraid of everything. And I mean this in a positive reinforcing way.

Allison Tyler Jones: It’s because we’re artists. We’re fragile little flowers and we’re very sensitive.

Jeff Dachowski: Yeah. We’re very sensitive. But we would do this for free honestly-

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jeff Dachowski: … if there was… In fact, many do and many photographers do it for free collectively. In fact, many photographers pay their clients to be their clients. If you’re actually shooting a mini session and you’re delivering 24 images for $50, you’re actually taking money out of your own pocket to pay your clients to be. So they are doing worse than free their paying. But in reality, I guess what I’m getting at is that you have to make that plan and then believe you can do it. I joke about this all the time and forgive me, I think we’ve talked about this, maybe not on a podcast, but when we created our parts explosion is what I call it, the looking at the year in of sales. And Carol would say to me, “All right, we need to put this number down, $10,000 in a portrait sale.”

Jeff Dachowski: And I would say, “That’s crazy. I’ll never do a 10,000 portrait sale.” And she’s like, “You can do it.” And I’m like, “I don’t think I can.” I just didn’t think it was possible. And by writing it down and then making it part of what I had to achieve that year, it was nearly magical. And then in a few weeks of time, I had sold three $10,000 portrait sales when three weeks earlier I was at it can’t happen.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jeff Dachowski: So I tricked myself or Carol tricked me or whoever.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jeff Dachowski: I trick myself making a goal. That’s why I say, “Write your goals down. Tell them to someone to make them accountable.”

Allison Tyler Jones: Right. Well, for those of us who don’t have a Carol because-

Jeff Dachowski: You have an Ivan. I have a Carol.

Allison Tyler Jones: I do have an Ivan. That’s true. But how did you replace that $80,000?

Jeff Dachowski: Well, I think we initially took a dip, but one thing we did was we just… First thing we did, the fastest way to replace income is to raise your prices. It sounds so crazy. When people talk to me about that their cost of goods sold for instance are wrong, they’ll say, “Oh, it’s at 50%.” And their immediate responses to find a lab to do it for nickel cheaper and that’s going to make it 49.5%.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Jeff Dachowski: That’s a pretty slow way looking for a new lab to shave a nickel or 25 cents off an eight by 10. The much quicker way is to just add $10 to your eight by 10. That’s the…

Allison Tyler Jones: That goes straight to the bottom line. Yeah.

Jeff Dachowski: That goes straight to the actual percentage where the other one is just taking it off a tiny little percentage. So we looked at our session fees and we said, we’ve got to make this money up somehow. So we raised our print prices and we raised our session fees and we got barrels of complaints about our sales, about our price increase.

Allison Tyler Jones: Did you?

Jeff Dachowski: I’m totally kidding.

Allison Tyler Jones: Oh. I’m like, “That’s so weird.” Okay, so nobody even noticed?

Jeff Dachowski: I talk about fear. I’m so obsessed with when I raised my prices or used to be that I was going to have people on Facebook and there were and fire. People outside-

Allison Tyler Jones: …in front of the studio.

Jeff Dachowski: You raised your prices four and a half percent and now you’re taking money out of my market. No one ever says this. They may say things like, “It’s more than I expect.” But no one ever says, “I paid X and now it’s $5 more than X. This is ridiculous.”

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah, no.

Jeff Dachowski: And so we raised our prices and guess what? That made a big dent towards it. And we didn’t have to work any harder and we had every weekend off. Imagine that. In fact, you talk about inflation if you’re not raising and I’m not saying everyone has to raise our prices. I’m just saying.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yes. Yes, you are saying that because that’s what I’m saying.

Jeff Dachowski: Okay. Then Allison-

Allison Tyler Jones: Yes.

Jeff Dachowski: … as the PPA president, I don’t know that I’m going to say that exactly.

Allison Tyler Jones: Okay. Well but as Jeff Dachowski my friend, we’re saying that not as PPA president.

Jeff Dachowski: All raising around you by 10 or more percent. You have to meet that or you’re losing money.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Jeff Dachowski: You’re actually going backwards.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jeff Dachowski: You have eggs used to be $3 and 20 cents at my grocery store I noticed for almost $5 a dozen now, it’s…

Allison Tyler Jones: Oh my gosh. Damn.

Jeff Dachowski: That’s a big change. Now-

Allison Tyler Jones: All right.

Jeff Dachowski: … that print prices should reflect the cost of eggs. Of course that has no bearing on it. Right?

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Jeff Dachowski: But everyone’s expenses have gone up in the last couple years and every single person understands it. So if all the years of which you have should have no fear about raising your prices, it’s 2022. Because everyone understands that everything’s gotten more expensive before they used to be able to compare. Well gas isn’t that high or my insurance, but everything is more money now.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jeff Dachowski: So if you’re 10% is the minimum because that’s what inflation’s at or forgive me a 9% or whatever, but it’s close enough, you deserve a raise and you’re good enough to do it. I’m not talking to you Allison. I’m talking to your people listening.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jeff Dachowski: The only place you can get your art is at your studio. You’re not a commodity.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Jeff Dachowski: I believe in you.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah, I do too.

Jeff Dachowski: And so to answer your initial question, I’m sorry to interrupt.

Allison Tyler Jones: No, you’re fine.

Jeff Dachowski: How do you go from photographing sports on Saturdays to photographing more families? Well, it is a bit of a hard thing to do, right? Weddings are a bit of a different monster because if they’re more expensive then you’re training, you’re actively engaging with people who have, generally speaking, more higher dollar number to spend. Maybe you introduce yourself to them an offer that your family portrait services to all your sports clients. Maybe you’re making a ton of money on a Saturday and maybe it’s two different brands. Maybe you’re actually having a sports photography brand that you do in the fall or whatever on Saturdays. And you use the information gathered from them to create a family portrait brand.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jeff Dachowski: And when people say, “I don’t understand. I thought I was going to get a package of eight prints for $12.” You can say, “Oh no, no. Of course it’s a different situation.”

Allison Tyler Jones: It’s like the difference between portrait work and commercial work.

Jeff Dachowski: Yeah. When I photograph your son with a soccer ball in his hands and I have 11 seconds with him, the package just started 79$. But when I drive to the ocean for you and we’re photographing your family portrait and we’re hanging it and installing it in your home, it’s a very different investment.

Allison Tyler Jones: Son with a soccer ball. Sorry, that just took me out.

Jeff Dachowski: It’s okay to…

Allison Tyler Jones: For 11 seconds.Yeah.

Jeff Dachowski: Well it’s so fast. And if clients self-identify as not your clients, believe them.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right. It’s fine.

Jeff Dachowski: It’s totally okay.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jeff Dachowski: Sorry I went on a long diatribe.

Allison Tyler Jones: No, that’s what this is at. Is there any other kind of podcast for me? No, there’s nothing. Okay. So going back to believing, because there are people that don’t have a Carol and don’t have an Ivan in their life. And in fact not only do they not have, maybe their spouse isn’t super supportive, maybe the spouse is like, “Hey, it’s been three years. Are you going to ever make any money?” Or maybe they’re starting new and their family’s like, “Why did you get a college degree if you’re just going to go be a photographer?” So maybe it’s not super supportive. And so then how can you self-generate that belief?

Jeff Dachowski: Well, first I would say, and you’ve heard me say this is never take advice from someone who isn’t where you want to be. And that means photographers, if they’re not, they don’t at least appear to have the business you want, then be careful about looking too closely at their advice. But more importantly-

Allison Tyler Jones: Don’t ask for it.

Jeff Dachowski: … family and friends are terrible people to look to for advice about your business.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Jeff Dachowski: For lots of reasons. One, many family members change your diaper and they don’t necessarily have that idea that you’re worth what you’re charging.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jeff Dachowski: And so if you only get advice from them, that’s not going to go very far. And most of my family have jobs and so every week their paycheck shows up and their health insurance are covered and their dental and I are all covered. They don’t have to do the effort to go drum up the actual business. They just have enough perspective that’s helpful and that helps you believe in you. And so if they’re not your… As with non clients, people who say, “Well, I only work with photographers who give the files for $25.” And so I think…

Allison Tyler Jones: That’s great, there’s a thousand of them. Go find one.

Jeff Dachowski: And I think you’re crazy expensive. Okay. That doesn’t mean I need to lower my price to $25. It means you’re not my client and I shouldn’t take advice from you. I guarantee your product does not check in with people who don’t buy their product about who think they’re too expensive, they don’t care.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right. Right.

Jeff Dachowski: They just don’t care. And that’s half the battle is first identifying who you want to listen to within to help your business. I’m not saying you should listen to me because you don’t know much about my business. I mean, I know you do Allison, but other people listening don’t know. But we’ve been in business almost 20 years, we make money every year. And so find someone who you can listen to. Allison’s a great example. Who makes money every year and can tell you that one, this is how I did it. And actually, what I love about ATJ, and it sounds like it’s a commercial, but she can tell you how she failed that stuff. This is one of the things I look for in people I look up to. Have you ever failed at anything? And if so, how did you handle it?

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jeff Dachowski: That’s two.

Allison Tyler Jones: All the time.

Jeff Dachowski: We failed things all the time. Right? And we have to have the courage to step back up. And it’s called the diversity quotient that you’re probably familiar with that, right? There’s a diversity quotient, there’s emotional, an IQ emotional quotient.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jeff Dachowski: There’s one more I’m missing, but there’s a diversity point. How do people rebound?

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jeff Dachowski: And there’s four different quotients, the IQ, EQ, DQ there’s one more. Anyways, I find that stuff…

Allison Tyler Jones: Is it DQ, Dairy Queen? That is my method of rebound.

Jeff Dachowski: Every time…

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jeff Dachowski: Peanut buster parfait. That’s what.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yes. Yes.

Jeff Dachowski: Peanut buster parfait. I’m sorry. Again, But the thing is, I just don’t take advice from people who aren’t where I want to be. That’s the first thing.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right. Okay. So I’m going to stop you there because-

Jeff Dachowski: Yeah.

Allison Tyler Jones: … so number one then, to believe that it’s possible when you’re down or you can’t really see your way out of the weeds, is to look around and see if somebody’s doing something that you want to do and start sniffing around that and see like, “Okay, is that really real? Are they just talking? Is it really happening?” And then investigate in that. And I think this is true of any industry. It’s not just photographers. If you’re an orthodontist, no matter what you’re doing, who is doing what you want to do in the way that you want to do it? And that really, I think that’s the beauty of PPA and imaging for me is that I’ve spent years sitting in those darkened auditoriums and listening to my heroes talk about their businesses and failures and how they overcame them. And I realize, “Okay, I think I can do that. I see how that’s possible.”

Jeff Dachowski: Yeah, that’s what I love about that event where the platform at 70 minutes or 90 minutes or whatever is really tricky as you know, right? We both have done this together and it’s difficult because it’s like, “I want to give you enough information to go do something with it, but it’s not a half day class.”

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Jeff Dachowski: Which means it’s just not. So you have to come up with nuggets, right?

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Jeff Dachowski: And so I think that those sort of that’s what that is for me, is trying to create those nuggets of information. And it’s really, we’re gaining confidence. I mean, that’s what it is. We’re gaining confidence when we hear people say, “I tried this and it didn’t work. And then I tried this and it worked really well.” And when I look at imaging and anything like that, whether it’s your state convention or the big national one, someone, even if it’s a shooter who doesn’t do what I do, there’s information there. There’s information and inspiration to come out and do stuff. Even when I go to concerts now, I look at the lighting-

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jeff Dachowski: … I’ll look at those and I go, “Oh, that’s beautiful. I’d love to illustrate that.” And when I go to see I become a better photographer. I know it sounds the weirdest thing.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. No, no, no. Our movies, I mean, yeah, I think you can find inspiration. So I was walking on my treadmill the other day and I was listening to one of my favorite books, which is that Atomic Habits. Have you read that?

Jeff Dachowski: I haven’t, but I have it. I haven’t read it yet though.

Allison Tyler Jones: Oh my gosh, it’s so good. I just listen. Their audio is really good on it. But one of the things that he talks about is that when preparation becomes procrastination, you need to change something. And I see that a lot where I would put myself in this category of education junkies. I’m definitely an education junkie. I love to read. I love to go to classes. I just love to… My sister calls me an omnivore of information. I love to just go out there and collect, but I find that sometimes that in and of itself can be a delaying tactic. Like, “Oh, I just need to listen to another podcast or another YouTube whatever tutorial.” And then you end up not doing it. So his point was, is that he actually used a photography comparison because you can see he was a photographer, but he was talking about a college class and how they had an assignment to make the best image possible.

Allison Tyler Jones: And so the half the class he said, “Just go shoot a ton of stuff.” So they just went and shot all the time. And then the others were sitting around and going, “Okay, what’s my concept here? What’s my motivation?” And they were so hamstrung by making this perfect image. Well, who made the best images were the ones that were out there just shoot, shoot, shoot. Like shoot, fail, shoot, fail. Little bit of a success and then capitalize on that. And so we know that from the photographic world, we know that with our craft that all we’re doing is problem solving. I don’t care if you have an MFA and photography, you’re just problem solving. And just like you were talking about at that wedding, you’re out there just trying to figure out what you’re even doing and trying to look competent in a suit and not sweating to death. Right?

Allison Tyler Jones: But you’re just doing it. And you can’t philosophize that. You can’t say, “Oh, well when I’m a parent, I’m going to do it this way.” No, it’s like every day you’re with that kid just trying to figure it out. But that’s how you become masterful in your craft. But also that’s how you start to believe in yourself and have the confidence. You can have Carol telling you, You’re great. I can have Ivan telling me I’m great, but if I don’t actually go out and do something and actually put it to the test and fail and maybe succeed, I’m never going to actually create that.

Allison Tyler Jones: So his point was, if you want to master something, we know this with photography, but also with believing in ourself. And business is the key is to start with repetition, not perfection. And so I loved that. That was like I was walking on the treadmill and I’m like, “Oh, this is so good.” So it’s just again in, you’re just showing up, right?

Jeff Dachowski: Right.

Allison Tyler Jones: You’re showing up everyday.

Jeff Dachowski: That reminds me of that the thing that some of you have heard me say, which is an amateur practices till they get it right. And a professional practices till they can’t get it wrong.

Allison Tyler Jones: Okay. So say that again.

Jeff Dachowski: An amateur practices till they get it right.

Allison Tyler Jones: Okay.

Jeff Dachowski: A professional practices till they can’t get it wrong.

Allison Tyler Jones: Okay.

Jeff Dachowski: And it’s so ingrained, the repetition, the 10,000 hours thing, the whole outliers book is all about repetition and doing things. You’re familiar with that book, right?

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. Yeah. Love it.

Jeff Dachowski: And one book, I just finished reading or almost done reading, it’s a very short book, you gave it to me. It’s called The War of Art.

Allison Tyler Jones: Oh yeah. I love Steven Pressfield.

Jeff Dachowski: …book about procrastinate. It’s really about-

Allison Tyler Jones: Resistance.

Jeff Dachowski: … resistance and procrastination. Fantastic book. But I think you’re exactly right. You’ve got to just get out and do things. You’ve got to get out and meet people and that increases your confidence. And I can’t tell you how many people I meet who are just not confident to say their prices out loud or not. They’re so afraid and it’s done from rejection. The fear of rejection.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jeff Dachowski: I think-

Allison Tyler Jones: And not even really the experience of rejection. The fear that they will experience rejection. And guess what? You will. You will. You’re going to have somebody that’s going to go, “Whoa.” But that doesn’t mean anything about you. That doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with you. It just means that they’re having a minute. They’re taking a minute. And haven’t you, haven’t we all experienced that going in and looking at something that we really want, that we value and we have the price quoted to us and we’re like, “Whoa.” Now that doesn’t mean we hate them, we want them to die and we think they suck and how dare they? Because if you feel that way, you never pursue anything. You just go, “Oh, okay, well that’s nice for you. I’m leaving now.” Right? Because you have no interest. But it’s the ones that stay and kind of complain with you a little bit, those are the ones that actually want what you have.

Jeff Dachowski: Yeah. The reason they’re bucking you is exactly because they want what you have. And I haven’t come to terms yet with that. To achieve that means an outlay of cash that I wasn’t thinking of spending.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Jeff Dachowski: I mean, I just had this epiphany really about myself recently that I get in my personal life, that I get frustrated when the plan changes. Okay? Like in my life, we’re making this up, we’re going to go to Boston, we’re going to stop at this pizza place to get a slice and then we’re going to have a drink at this place or whatever. And if someone says, I don’t want to get the pizza place now, I’m like, “Wait a minute, what just happened? That was my whole plan.” Well, the problem was-

Allison Tyler Jones: Maybe you’re on the spectrum. That’s like my…

Jeff Dachowski: The plan might have been just in my head the whole time.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. Your expectations are not being met.

Jeff Dachowski: Probably good with change, but I have to approach it differently. And so that’s exactly what’s happening though. Someone’s saying, “I want a family portrait, the big one over the mantle.” And you tell it’s $9,000 and they go, “Oh my God, that’s ridiculously expensive.” And you have to give them a minute, right? We talk about this…

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jeff Dachowski: And sometimes they say, “Okay, now I understand why.” The first time they’ve heard a price, of course they’re shock, but they are not saying you aren’t worth it. They’re saying, “My expectations were lower than your prices.”

Allison Tyler Jones: Absolutely.

Jeff Dachowski: That’s totally okay at first.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right. And how many times have we had that? So in our life, let’s speak photographer, right? So we’re at the Apple store, we know that we need a new machine and we’re thinking it’s going to be about four grand. And then you get down there and you see that new cube and then there’s the whole LED monitor and blah blah, blah. And before you know it, you’re like in 12. And so you’re going to be mean to the little sweet apple girl and she made the prizes and you’re mad because you really want it and you’re mad at yourself because you thought you should have guessed better.

Allison Tyler Jones: You thought you should have prepared better. You wish you had more money, but you’re going to go away and then you’re going to think, “All right, so Allison, this is going to be so much faster than what you have. It is going to look so sexy on your desktop that when your clients come in, they’re going to think you’re a great photographer just by looking at that little sexy thing. It’s going to make your life great because it’s bigger. You can have multiple pallets open.”

Allison Tyler Jones: So you start selling all those things to yourself because you know that if that little girl at the Apple store was like, “Well, I mean I guess you’re just not her client.” Or runs away like, “Okay. Okay. Nevermind. I’ll figure out how to steal it and sell it to you off the back of the truck or whatever.”

Allison Tyler Jones: And she goes to jail. No. It’s just part of human nature of realizing something that was more than you thought, but they still want it. So if they’re still sitting in front of you and discussing it with you and going back and forth, it’s not that they necessarily… Of course they would love it if you said, “Okay, just kidding, it’s $5.” But really that’s not the point. The point is they’re trying to figure out how can I get this beautiful thing that you do and be able to make it work for me? And maybe we don’t do a 40 by 60 over the fireplace, maybe a 40 inch will work, but maybe it’ll look totally stupid. So we just need to put it in another place. And that’s how we can help them figure that out.

Jeff Dachowski: I agree. And I guarantee you that the Apple employees do not have a Facebook group to complain that 10 people came in today and nine of them said, “It’s too expensive.” As photographers, we rant and rave. We post examples about, “This girl wrote to me and can you believe it? She wanted the finals for $50. Isn’t that insane?” And we get all hung up on an inquiry that doesn’t make any sense to us. But in reality, the Apple people aren’t doing this. And neither is Prada. And neither is the folks at Louis Vuitton. They’re not sitting around complaining about it. They…

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Jeff Dachowski: … that they can’t possibly be everything to everyone and we can’t either. And we can be everything to someone. And this is what I really would love to impart, is that you can be the person who creates the image for a family at a really special time. You can be someone who maybe cares more to get the expressions from their challenging child or maybe someone who serves someone better. Maybe they’re better at service or installation or you can do this because those are all things that… there’s a cost of the time. But in the grand scheme of things, you have the ability to step out and be different. You just do and you’re good enough. And your photography like I said, people aren’t buying your work because they’re only buying it because someone they love is in it. So let’s cut that crap out on about you’re not good enough,

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Jeff Dachowski: You’re good enough.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jeff Dachowski: The only person you need to convince that is you.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right. Okay, so yes. Here we go.

Jeff Dachowski: Yeah.

Allison Tyler Jones: So the belief, believing you can do it, whether it’s making up $80,000 that you are trying to figure out how to switch genres or whatever, I am a big believer in mitigating the downside. So before I throw myself off of a cliff, which I’ve done many, many times, I like to think that maybe there could be a cotton ball at the bottom, at least that I could, if I’m going to hit, it’s not going to be completely down. So mitigating that downside. And obviously we’ve heard that concept before. Making sure, say if you’re going to go into new retail space, making sure you have maybe six months of rent in the bank or you’re mitigating your downside. We know about that from a financial standpoint, but I want to talk about mitigating the downside from a mental emotional standpoint. And I would say number one of that is don’t marinate in yours or other people’s fear.

Allison Tyler Jones: And that is the Facebook groups where they’re doing that, where they’re posting, “Can you believe it?” It’s like you are giving oxygen to somebody that has no idea, that just was like, “Hey, well you did this. The last girl shot me in my family for three hours, for 50 bucks. Can you do that?” It’s not like saying, “You suck. I will pour it over every image on your website. I looked at the IPC and your scores weren’t that great. So I think you’re only worth $5.” I mean, that’s not what’s happening. They’re just asking a question. And all you have to do is just say “We specializes in finished product from our client’s homes and it starts at this. We would love to see you.” Period. End of story. Do not need to go to Facebook and start marinating in fear.

Jeff Dachowski: Right. Because all it does is to put you in a bad way really fast. Put you in a negative energy space and that actually can start impacting other things along the way your personal life and it starts making this up like your sister-in-law’s comment that you’re too…

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jeff Dachowski: Now starts to resonating that that has legs. That’s probably true. That’s one client told me I was too expensive this week and she might be right. Maybe I’m too expensive. Maybe the answer is to lower my prices.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Jeff Dachowski: And I’m going to tell you there’s not one example that lowering your prices is the correct answer. I can’t think of a single question and here, try it. Ask me a question about anything about lowering my prices and okay, just ask me a question. We’re going to flip the role play. Ask me any question you want about anything.

Allison Tyler Jones: Okay, so how much is it 40 by 60?

Jeff Dachowski: The answer’s not to lower your prices. It’s never the right answer to lower your prices. You could have asked me, who the fastest North American land animal was, and I would say it’s not…

Allison Tyler Jones: Lower your prices.

Jeff Dachowski: It’s never the right answer, ever.

Allison Tyler Jones: That is not there. Well, but it’s interesting to me because you do see that fear and that seems to be the knee jerk. Well, okay, if that was off the table, so we can tell people all we want. We can sit here and say, “Don’t lower your prices.” But if you’re in a situation where you have a conversation with somebody like that or your sister-in-law’s stuff is resonating in your head or you’ve spent time in the Facebook swamp marinating in the naysayers, maybe you’re not feeling super believable about yourself. So how do you keep that from permeating your brain? How do you stay positive?

Jeff Dachowski: I’m going to tell you that I’m not happy to admit this, but I am willing to admit that it does affect me. I was thinking this morning about a client who called to give prices and she didn’t book. Okay? She was someone I went to high school with. That should be someone that I book. There should be a connection there.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Jeff Dachowski: And it still bugs me a little bit, but I book most people. But I don’t know. I mean, she might have been a very low budget kind. I don’t know if she didn’t book us.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Jeff Dachowski: Still bugs me because of course we want to be loved and we want to be honored by photographing these situations. But again, I don’t know what her real budget was. I don’t know what her version was. If I don’t have the answers, here’s the sickness that runs in my head. If I don’t know the answers, I just make something up.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right. No, totally.

Jeff Dachowski: Is I make something up and it’s always the absolute worst possible idea.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jeff Dachowski: It’s never base and reason is they didn’t book me because I didn’t lose seven pounds and I look heavy. Right? But I mean it’s always stuff like that. Or they noticed that I ordered fast food once. We make up anything we can that’s all inward and we got to cut that out because you don’t know why people do or don’t book you.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Jeff Dachowski: But I’m telling you, you don’t know. I’m not saying you don’t think maybe someone might tell you something, but we’re not Apple or Ford. We don’t have the money to find out why people don’t book us. We don’t have the income to know anything really about our clients.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jeff Dachowski: So all we can do is just say, “I provide a good piece of work.” I’m sorry, I know I’m going scattered here for a minute. Even to the point of that client who called, it bugs me. But that irritating spec of doubt that comes from absolutely nowhere that I need to just say, “Oh no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. I’ve got 48 other seniors who love their work a lot more.” Or I’ve got two or one. And I look back at historically, I realize that some people don’t have a big historical record. You and I have been in business for a long time. So right around June I get worried. “Okay, it’s not very busy. What’s going on? Has the market turned on me?”

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. Never going to work again. I’m going to be living in a van down by the river.

Jeff Dachowski: …that I’ve gained six pounds and had to move belt.

Allison Tyler Jones: It all comes back to weight.

Jeff Dachowski: It all comes back to what I’ve been eating. Right? So here’s the thing is damn all of a sudden July and time to remember, okay, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Mathematically speaking, I’m never busy this time of year.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Jeff Dachowski: Is it because I raise my prices? And this is the thing I see all the time. I raise my prices. Okay, all right. So no one’s booking me because I raise my prices and then I ask someone I’m working with, I say, “How do they know you raise your prices?” Well, they don’t know, but it’s a reason being.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jeff Dachowski: So in your head you raise your prices and no one knows.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. Nevermind that it’s February and you’re in Nome, Alaska. That couldn’t have anything to do with it.

Jeff Dachowski: All of that. That’s the thing that it just takes… You have to step back and say on a rational mind, “How can this possibly affect my sales? No one knows about it yet.”

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jeff Dachowski: If you’re going to make changes in your price list, today is the day to do it. Right now, today. And you don’t have to change the whole thing, you know that. It’s a crazy thing they make these things called printers. Right? And if you make a change for two or three things and that’s what you have the courage to change today because you have a product or a product line that’s poorly represented in your mortgage statement, if you know what I mean.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jeff Dachowski: It doesn’t help you. And you raise those prices and four weeks later you make a decision to change another couple prices, you can. And I don’t care if you change your prices every week, no one’s going to know. And if you need that courage to make a little change and have someone not respond-

Allison Tyler Jones: Baby step. Right.

Jeff Dachowski: … another change three weeks later and not respond, then do it. You don’t have to flip the whole chart and triple your prices tomorrow. You could do things piece by piece is that you’re moving forward and you deserve it.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yep. Okay. So I love that. I think that’s so good. What I find that’s helpful for me in my creative brain that gets too sensitive and makes up stories about things is that I like to play tricks on myself to help me be more successful. So for example, on this price thing, well let’s use this as an example because that’s what we’re talking about. But is when I have the students that are saying, “Okay, I raise my prices.” And now I’m not busy and so I feel like I need to go back down. Or somebody said, “Wow, that seemed expensive.” And I just feel like I have to go back down. I just can’t do it. And it’s really just because they’re scared. So I have felt that same exact way I’ve had that same feeling. But what I did is I said, “Okay, that could be true.”

Allison Tyler Jones: What I’m afraid of is possible, but let me just write that on a post-it note and set it over here because I can still grab that fear and get it back. But let’s just say it’s not possible. Somebody is holding again to my head and I cannot lower my prices. That is not on the table. What else could be going on? How else could I solve this problem? I’m not getting calls or whatever. And that I feel like makes me more creative because it takes that big huge fear off the table. And then I look and see actually the things that I were afraid of weren’t actually true. So whatever your big fear is, I can never stop shooting weddings or I can never stop doing volume or I can never make X change. Whatever it is, the change you want to make in your business, if you had to do it, if you just made a false scenario and said, “I have to do this, could I?”

Jeff Dachowski: Right. I play this game in my head called is it more likely? It’s important game for Milton Bradley available photographers age 18 to 65. Is it more likely?

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Jeff Dachowski: But then you could imagine the cards would say like, “People aren’t calling.” And the thing would be like, “Is it likely that the price changes I made this afternoon at 1:45 all at fault?”

Allison Tyler Jones: Somehow secretly leaked out of my computer and went to all of my clients. Yeah.

Jeff Dachowski: Into my past self, which then spread the word or is it more likely that all of my clients are calling behind my back, all of my other clients somehow they know that. And then said collectively, “Guys, we can’t go here anymore.”

Allison Tyler Jones: My boycotting, Jeff.

Jeff Dachowski: His eight by tens went up by $4.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Jeff Dachowski: Is it more likely that that’s what happened? Or is it more likely that it’s rained the last four weeks and people, their spirits are down and they’re not thinking about booking? Is it more likely that they’re on college tours, which is why they’re not calling for their senior.

Allison Tyler Jones: School just got back in the first two weeks of school getting back in. Moms are busy. Yeah.

Jeff Dachowski: Is it more likely that that’s what’s happening? And yeah, it actually is more likely that that’s what’s happening. And so it’s a little game I play in my head. Is it more likely? By the way, that game will be available by Christmas. Right.

Allison Tyler Jones: Okay. I’m going to be the first one to order it. Well, and that’s like the medical profession, right? If you hear hoof beats, it’s more likely horses than zebras, but we want to make it zebras.

Jeff Dachowski: Right. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. I mean we as a culture of photography group, like I said, we secretly want it to be the worst case scenario, right? We just do. And it’s not likely that it is. And I’m telling you right off the bat, for someone who’s been in business for 20 years, I’m susceptible to this too. And it takes up to dig down sometimes and go, “Okay, is it more likely that whatever and ever more likely that your fear is right?” It’s always more likely that there’s something else at play.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right. And I think we also as creatives, we tend to be just the teeniest, but self-involved maybe. And so because of that, everything’s personal. Right? And so it’s what I tell my kids when I was raising my kids, especially 14 to 16 year olds, they’re so self-conscious. And I don’t know how many times I’ve had the conversation with my kids, “It’s not about you. It’s not you. Whatever’s happening out there really is never, almost never about you. Nobody cares about you. I mean, I care, I love you.”

Allison Tyler Jones: But when a friend is being bratty or mean girl or mean boy, whatever and the the ski could say this with clients too. Somebody that’s saying, “I just can’t really book right now.” Or they just follow up the earth like they just quit responding to your texts. Well, it’s more likely that their kid got their phone and went through their texts so that they don’t even know that they have notifications anymore because their kid ruined their phone than that they hate you and that they don’t want to book with you. And they actually appreciate it when you follow up with them-

Jeff Dachowski: Thank you for saying that.

Allison Tyler Jones: … multiple times.

Jeff Dachowski: That’s exactly, exactly right. It’s not more likely that they hate you. There’s about 8 million more likely reasons that they’re not following up with you-

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Jeff Dachowski: … and you following up with them. Okay. How many times have you called up someone who was a good lead and they fell off and you just circled back around and you just kept on them and what was a lead in 2016 became an actual session in 2019? Sometimes it’s that far.

Allison Tyler Jones: All the time.

Jeff Dachowski: But I’ve learned and I’m hoping that your listeners can learn from my mistakes is to say, “Okay, they told me they wanted a portrait. They told me they wanted me to do it.” I owe it to them to not talk to them daily. But I have call it a nine people that I reach out to periodically.And if they say things like, “We’re not interested in portraits anymore.” They just come off the list, it’s no problem. But if they say, “This is not a good time, my son’s at West Point.”

Allison Tyler Jones: Call me next year.

Jeff Dachowski: …million blanks, then I will just say to them, “Great, you don’t mind if I reach out again next year?” “Oh, of course. Maybe we’ll be in a better position next year.”

Allison Tyler Jones: Yup.

Jeff Dachowski: But if I let my head wrap around my own lack of self-confidence, they didn’t book me because I’m a dummy and that’s not the case at all.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. And you either think, you either go to self-flagellation because I’m not good enough. Or you make up a story about what a jerk they are that they’re wasting your time that they told you they wanted it and now they’re not responding to you and you’re having to follow up. And so what fear can do is fear actually can make us scary. It can actually make the story that we’re making up in our head become true. So for example, if you come off to somebody like let’s just say that we’ve been texting back and forth with your example of your client, “Oh, he’s at West Point. We can’t do it this year or whatever. Call me next year or whatever.” And then you send them, you spin in this whole idea of they’re just jerking me around. And then you send them a text that says, “I have been trying to get with you for three years and so you clearly don’t value my services and so I am taking you off my list.” It’s like, “Okay.”

Jeff Dachowski: …someone else. They’ll just find someone else.

Allison Tyler Jones: I’m going to go find a non crazy photographer who obviously isn’t self-involved that they think everything is about them.

Jeff Dachowski: Right. Well, and as we could pick up scenarios all the time, but this is the thing that happens all the time, whether it’s West Point or someone gets sick or someone has COVID or a family member has cancer, or fill in the blank, right?

Allison Tyler Jones: Life is busy hard.

Jeff Dachowski: That family life is messy, as my pastor always would say, right? If things always seem like it should be easy for you as a parent, well can’t you make your kids just get dressed up into the portrait? But in reality it’s not that easy. I mean, can you make your kids do anything? No. So why do you think that you can make their…?

Allison Tyler Jones: I think just coming back around, just bringing this back around from where we started again on a long meandering road, but I feel like when we feel fear, we need to make change. We know we need to, and we feel fear. We can mitigate the downside by saying, “Okay, if I took that fear and put it off over here to the side, then could there be another way to interpret this to solve this that makes us more creative?”

Allison Tyler Jones: And then also to think, “Well, how could I? Rather than this won’t work, It’s not going to work for me, it didn’t work for so and so and look for the negative and pull ourselves and others down. But how could it? If I was going to do it, how would I do it the ATJ way? How would you do it the Jeff way?” And that’s what I think is beautiful, is I think the friends that we have in this industry, the people that we know that are working at a really high level are people that have been through all these same things, have had all these same fears, and just keep moving forward believing that, “You know what? I can figure this out because other people have.”

Jeff Dachowski: Right. Well, and they ask themselves, not directly, but in their actions, they say, “Why not me?”

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Jeff Dachowski: “Why can ATJ be successful? But why can’t I? Why not me?” I mean-

Allison Tyler Jones: Exactly.

Jeff Dachowski: … I know we’re going to wrap this up because you’re going to go, but you and I may have had this conversation, so forgive me if we haven’t, but I love your style of photography. Okay? And there was a time a couple years ago that I really looked at offering that as a product line, not so much environmental, but this look okay. And I started thinking, “Well, how would I make that work for me?” Exactly what you’re saying. Right? And in it, I followed through the point by saying, “I need to cut a hole in the stairs because I want to get low and I need a much larger space that I actually own.” I own my own building, but I don’t have the physical room to make the portraits I would want to make in that contemporary style. Right?

Jeff Dachowski: So I didn’t say I could never duplicate what AJT does. Obviously, I wouldn’t. It would sort of a spin like of mine. But I said, “Okay, so if I wanted to do that, but what I need to do?” And so I actually thought, we just decided we didn’t want to buy another building, so we didn’t have that product line.

Jeff Dachowski: And I would encourage any of your listeners to do the same thing. I really want to make fill in the blank beach portraits. Well, if you’re making beach portraits and you’re in North Dakota studio, that’s going to be a struggle because you’re going to be flying to one of the beaches all over your career. That’s going to be very difficult. But maybe you like to look at beach portraits. So you need to find a reservoir with tall grasses and make that work and figure out ways to do what you want do or I want to sell only large wall portraits. Well, the answer that most people say in the industry is, “Well, find people with money.” Well, that’s only a tiny bit of the equation is how do I find people who love their family?

Allison Tyler Jones: Right. And have houses that can accommodate that.

Jeff Dachowski: Exactly. So there’s ways you can deconstruct this and figure out what do you want to do. Maybe it’s you want have a volume empire, fantastic. How do I do that? And in the end, there’s nothing preventing you from doing that.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right.

Jeff Dachowski: You can do this.

Allison Tyler Jones: And I’ve quoted this a million times as for Steve Chandler quote about that so often it’s not the how to, it’s the want to. The how to is out there. It’s just do we really want to? And I find that a lot of times that when we spin in fear and nay saying is because we actually really don’t want to. And so we want to just make an excuse about why? Oh, it’s the economy. Oh it’s this, Oh, it’s that. But really at the bottom of it is we just really don’t want to do it.

Allison Tyler Jones: And so maybe just even admitting that and going, “Okay, I don’t want to do it. So what do I want to do and how can I do it?” Because there’s so many examples of really great ways to do business. People that are out there, people that you and I have never heard of that are out there supporting their families with portrait photography, that have never been on a stage at PPA that are just out there doing it. And so it is possible. It’s possible for us. It’s possible for all of our listeners and I would love for you to send us off with a word of encouragement from the Professional Photographers of America President.

Jeff Dachowski: Oh, I see. Here we go. Well, obviously a lot of our conversation is about that I believe in you, right? And I don’t actually know who’s listening besides Cindy, so I don’t actually know who else is out there. So the thing is that, I’ll say going back to the idea of if not you, then who? And if the answer is anyone else, then why not you? Why can’t it be you? Why can’t you decide? Why can’t you become the author of your own business and decide what you want to write about? What’s your story going to be about? Is it going to be about volume? Cool. Absolutely cool.

Jeff Dachowski: Is it going to be about high end children’s portraiture, painted portraiture? Cool. You can make it work, but it may mean that you’ve got to move. You might not be able to make that work in not North Dakota, right?

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jeff Dachowski: You might need to move to a town that loves large painted portraits like somewhere in the south, right? And that’s cool, but you got to be willing to do it or change your mind about what you want to do and find a way to make a living at it. There’s plenty of work out there. I’m telling you, there’s plenty of work out there.

Allison Tyler Jones: North Dakota or anywhere. Absolutely. You just put your head there and look for it.

Jeff Dachowski: Yeah. Bloomer, you’re planted, right?

Allison Tyler Jones: Yep. I love it. I appreciate you so much more than you know friend.

Jeff Dachowski: Thank you. I’m happy to be here. And I hope… And I want to say, I think it’s wonderful that anyone here listening who doesn’t want to just listen to ATJ talk for about an hour all the time.

Allison Tyler Jones: No.

Jeff Dachowski: All the time.

Allison Tyler Jones: Nope. You’re the best. And Carol, my love.

Jeff Dachowski: And surely will you give Ivan a big hug for me.

Allison Tyler Jones: Okay, we’ll see you soon.

Jeff Dachowski: See you.

Allison Tyler Jones: I hope you know how much I appreciate your time and your attention. And if you feel that something you learn today could benefit another fellow portrait photographer, please share this episode with them. We want to help as many portrait photographers as possible to build sustainable, enjoyable, profitable businesses that can help sustain their families and their dreams. And that’s what it’s all about. So please share if something was valuable and you feel like that it could help somebody else. And if you get a minute, please give us a review at iTunes or wherever you listen to your podcast. It makes a huge difference in other photographers being able to find us and get the information that can help them build better businesses. You’re awesome and I appreciate you. Have a great day.

Recorded: You can find more great resources from Allison and on Instagram at do.the.rework.


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