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 one of my very favorites, Mr. Tim Walden, who is the co-owner with his wife Bev of Walden’s portrait photography in Lexington, Kentucky, not only is he a soft-spoken southern gentleman, he is also one of the most amazing business minds in this industry, and he does his job with such class and such kindness, and both he and Bev have spent so many years teaching.

Allison Tyler Jones: And the notes that I have in my many notebooks of presentations of both Bev and Tim that I’ve attended, I have referred to those notes again and again throughout my business when I’m trying something new or need some confidence, I go to Tim and Bev and so Tim is here with us today to help build our confidence in selling, to overcome our fears of sales, because there’s a lot of that out there. We’re afraid that we’re not the used car salesman or that we don’t want to trick our clients. We don’t want to be inauthentic. And so how do we do that? And there’s nobody better to talk to about this topic than Mr. Tim Walden. So let’s do it.

Allison Tyler Jones: Well, it’s a special treat to have one of my very dear friends and one of the people that I most look up to in this industry, and also personally, Mr. Tim Walden.

Tim Walden: Oh, you’re the best and right back at you. Thank you.

Allison Tyler Jones: So happy that you’re here.

Tim Walden: Me too. Me too.

Allison Tyler Jones: Love it. And your studio, even though we’re on audio, your studio looks amazing behind.

Tim Walden: Oh, I just show you the part I want you to see.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right, exactly. As do we all.

Tim Walden: You’re not saying the other side of the computer where we’re…

Allison Tyler Jones: Right. Where the stack of work is.

Tim Walden: Yeah, that’s right. But, no, we’re proud of it. Thank you for saying that, so.

Allison Tyler Jones: So busy season headed into the holidays. We’re in mid-October when we’re recording this. So how are things at Walden’s? You just finished something special there with some photographers. Tell me about that.

Tim Walden: Yeah, we did a sales intensive. I think so many in our industry have just so many misgivings about sales, and it just puts fear in their heart, and it should. It should be one of the highlights of your experience together should be the fulfillment of your vision. And it should be purpose driven, where you’re helping people fulfill a purpose that they should have as celebrating their family. And we cow it down. And one of the things that I often say about sales is that we sell, oftentimes like mechanics like going in to buy a Jaguar and they say, Oh, you’re here to get a Jaguar. Let me run in the back, grab a mechanic to talk to you. That’s really the way I think a lot of us treat sales is like we start talking about products and square inches and textures. And those things are fine for validation, Allison, but the reality is that’s not what we’re selling. And I think we need to do a better job of understanding the value and the purpose and how it benefits others when we’re in that sales room. I absolutely love it.

Allison Tyler Jones: I do too. But I think sometimes our fears can keep us from enjoying it. And so you just had 27 photographers in your studio. What do you feel like are some of the more common fears that you’re hearing that people are saying.

Tim Walden: Well, I think they misunderstand and they start selling the product and not the result of the product. And that’s always been our tagline is sell the result of your art, not the art. Don’t sell the specifics. Sell what it means. Paint a picture like, I’ll tell the client, when this goes on your wall and you walk in your home at sunset, the lights are low, don’t turn your lights on. Walk in that room and I want the first thing you see are the people you love. That’s the way we light it. That’s the way we create it. And I said, all the qualities are there, but ultimately I want a piece of art that when you walk in, it says to everybody, these are the people that are most important to me, and I want you to be able to stand there and tell the stories of those people.

Tim Walden: And so I think we have to paint those pictures. We have to bring them back to, again, I say the purpose of the art. And I think when we’re in the sales room, Allison, it’s like, what does my art mean to that family? But yet, I think too often we do, as I said a second ago, we start selling the picture, that’s a no-no word around here anyway. But we start selling that and we need to sell what it can mean. And it’s your responsibility as an artist, not the responsibility of your client to begin to communicate the value and the purpose of the art. And so I think other things is photographers are timid in the sales room. I think a lot of times they sell out of their own wallet and you don’t want to do that. It’s like, well, we got this, but if that’s not okay, we can do this.

Tim Walden: Sometimes just being quiet is the best way in a sales room, presenting your art. And for me, I think a sale in the sale is a bit like a performance, I want to unveil the art. And I know I differ from some people in some things. I really don’t, I don’t set, and I know this is terrible to say, but it’s true. I don’t set all of our work to music and things like that. And the reason I don’t is I want it to be a moment when you imagine that you have a piece of art on an easel and you’re pulling that cloth off and you’re experiencing for the first time. I don’t want any distractions with other images. And so we’re very purpose driven. And I’m not saying it’s what they ought to do, but we should all learn from it because it’s like, what are you really in there to do? You have a question?

Allison Tyler Jones: I do. I have questions. I have questions and I have thoughts. Okay. So one thing, and I just want to know if you agree or if you have comment on it, but I think one of the biggest fears that photographers have about selling their own work is the price part of it. Just actually at some point, no matter how fluffy you talk, and no matter how unveiling or how amazing we make this experience, there is going to have to be an exchange of cash for goods at some point. And so that I think is scary. Many don’t want to talk about that. They hate that part, don’t really like to quote things ahead of time or whatever. So do you think that’s true? Have you had that same fear? Have you overcome that?

Tim Walden: Yeah. Well, there’s always no, no. I mean, we still can get a little butterflies when at a certain point, but we want to address the price issue way ahead of time. And I think ultimately, success in a sales room, in my estimation, we always say we’re having the right two butts in the seat. I mean that’s right. You as the salesperson or whoever’s there representing you, and then the right client on the other end, a lot of your sales are happening without anything ever happening in that specific room. It’s in your style, your marketing, your reputation in the marketplace. And I think it’s in education of your client, what they can expect to pay, ranges, we’re qualifying people like that. And even at that, there’s times where we’re like, Oh gosh, I’m spending more than I thought and I never corner anyone. I think, well first off, I’m going to say this boldly and I would love everybody to get this point.

Tim Walden: I think we’re worth what we charge for, or our art is worth the money. It’s not cheap, but it’s an amazing value. And I know I don’t want that to sound arrogant, but I want it to sound confident because I think we have to get to the point where we’re providing something for people that others can’t. And that goes to… a lot of that goes to style. There is no other you, you are uniquely you and you know your brand is so well, I mean you can look at it, it’s your art. And when they define that and they come to you for that, then that carries value. They’re driven not by price and location, but they’re driven by the art and what that art can do how much they love it.

Allison Tyler Jones: But they want a Walden portrait, so…

Tim Walden: Yeah, they want a Walden portrait.

Allison Tyler Jones: At this point when they’re calling you, they’re not calling to because they’re shopping around. They’re just calling to see if they can afford a Walden portrait.

Tim Walden: Yeah. And I think you do have to give them some information. And I think none of us are immune to this, but I think there’s a season of growth. In the beginning when I was learning, it was like, Oh my gosh, do they know how much this is going to cost? And now I don’t think as much about that because number one, they’re pre-qualified, through a number of ways. Don’t think of pre-qualification as just price quoting ahead of time, but it’s also the neighbor that recommended them. It’s the reputation that you’ve stayed the course over this time. It’s a lot of different things. It’s a design appointment where you discuss these type of things. And so there is a prequalification. But even with that, I’ll have somebody sit there and they’ll go, Oh my goodness, that’s a lot of money. And my answer to them is, It is a lot of money.

Allison Tyler Jones: It is.

Tim Walden: But you know what? I can promise you this. And this is a line I will say over and over again, I’ll promise you a couple of things. First, I’ll promise you, the day you pick it up, it’ll be worth every penny you’re paying for it. But I’ll also promise you that that’s the day it holds its least value, is the day you pick it up. It’s one of the few things in life I will guarantee you will grow in value.

Tim Walden: ‘Cause every year, every five years, every 10 years after that, those become irreplaceable. And those are pieces of art that grow in value. So you’re right, it is a lot of money. And when we’re in a sales room too, Allison, again, I don’t corner anybody, we’re very big on taking somebody to the, we start every sale at the end. And everyone want to start at the beginning. I start at the end. That’s why I don’t do a lot of slides shows, please don’t be offended by that part of it. And it sounds weird when I say that because we’re supposed to be the emotional king. Everything about emotional, but I want to…

Allison Tyler Jones: So what does that mean? When you start at the end, what does that look like?

Tim Walden: It means that from all that we’ve learned and all that we’ve gathered of images of their home, things that we’ve talked about, how we’ve talked about their work, their art, where it’s going to hang, all of those type of things. And I’m preaching the choir with you. I mean, you’re the master at this part, I know, but I’m producing for them an artist suggestion that takes them to a completed order. I think this is the most amazing time for us to do sales. And I’m a huge fan as you know of ProSelect. And I think the one thing that has been missing from sales for so long and projection didn’t solve it is context. I can show you a sofa size portrait over your sofa in the frame. I want put it in, that’s a big deal. And I think we’re at a point now where you almost take it for granted because it’s so accessible.

Tim Walden: But the reality is that is a big deal in a sales room because you might hear somebody say something like, Wow, I love that. That’s what I want, let’s see the price. Maybe they’ll say, would it be as good in a smaller size? My answer is absolutely. It’ll be every bit as good in any size.

Tim Walden: What changes with size is visual impact and the role it plays in your home. You may have to move, it may go to a secondary role. It’s not going to have quite the impact, but I’ll promise you the quality will be stunning. I never say, well, you’re going to regret this or you shouldn’t do that. I mean, it’s not that kind of thing. It’s like a presentation of here’s the potential of your art based on your family, your story and the things, the elements that I have. This is dreaming big. And then you do the hardest thing you ever did. You just shut up. Just shut up and listen. Here it is. You don’t say, but if, or I can show you others. I don’t do that. So I’m presenting an entire purchase and then I’m letting them, I’m just kind of bobbing and weaving based on the conversation as we go.

Allison Tyler Jones: Okay. The bob and weave, we have to talk about that because I call it surfing, but bob and weave is also good because sometimes you get hit or you’re trying not to.

Tim Walden: That’s right.

Allison Tyler Jones: But I do feel like that so often if you’re teaching sales or somebody’s wanting to learn about sales, they feel like, okay, what’s the exact wording that I need to say? And there are some good things that you can pull out of your back pocket that work on a lot of different types of situations. But really I think the goal of mastery in sales is getting to a point to where you’re settled in your, I call it your heart or your chest. You’re settled. And so as I’m watching you and listening to you talk, you’re settled. You’re not up on your toes like, uh-uh, okay, well if you don’t really like that size, then yeah, I mean we can make it smaller, but you know, you have this gravitas or this settled feeling of, you know what I know how much work goes into every one of these pieces. I know the thought, I know the care. And that’s something that photographers are clear on, right? And that’s why we…

Tim Walden: Absolutely.

Allison Tyler Jones: That’s why we sell the spark plugs. That’s why we get the mechanic, because that’s what we know. We know that we’ve taken 55 lighting courses. We know that are a diamond, platinum, triple fabulous winner, whatever. We know all of that stuff. But the client really, like you say, they only care about how is this going to impact them. And I feel like that’s the easiest thing to talk about. And that’s the part where I have the most confidence. I know that, Tim, if I photograph you and Bev and your girls, I know that I’m going to create something that when you walk into your house every day, you’re going to be so glad that you had them. No matter how they drive you crazy, you’re going to be so glad that you married Bev. I just know because I know what I can do for you. And so that I’m confident in, and I don’t feel like I have to razzle dazzle or use sales tricks because I’m confident in that.

Tim Walden: Absolutely. And you’re so well defined too that when they come, you’re forming their expectation before they come and then you’re fulfilling it. That to me, when I define a successful brand, and there’s a million ways to do it, but if I want to strip it down to a sentence, and I think you’ve heard me say this, is great, brands form people’s expectations and then fulfill them. I mean, that to me is the definition of a great brand because everybody comes see you with an expectation. The question is who formed it? If you’re not forming that expectation, then fulfilling it. You can do a wonderful job and disappoint a client because you didn’t fulfill their expectation. And I think a lot of this goes to that confidence you were talking about in the sales room, they have selected us because they know our art. And so what we need to do is our art.

Tim Walden: We don’t need to do something else. I don’t want to do something else. And I think with our price point and the total clarity of who we are, people that don’t want what we do, they don’t come here or we refer them elsewhere. So it’s not really an issue. So I know they’re sitting in that room wanting what we produce as well. And the other thing you mentioned not only their happiness, their kids to walk in and see themselves on their wall that tells, I belong here, this is where I belong. And I think it gives such a sense of value to their lives. And this is part of our message. Right now, we’re pushing real hard for tweens and preteens, all because I think those we call at the age of significance. Those are the ages where hard things are being said and experienced. I believe photography can provide a therapy for those ages.

Allison Tyler Jones: Absolutely.

Tim Walden: All of those things. And I think, so these are the things that we talk about. And I think that’s where you’re getting more into the purpose of your art. I don’t say, look at my lighting. Isn’t it good? It’s like, we should be way past that. Matter of fact, if I could be as bold, I would say that at a certain point, people have a right to expect excellence. That’s not what you’re selling. I mean, I’m not going to go to a four or five star chef and be shocked that they know how to cook. That shouldn’t shock. It’s the flavor. It’s their arrangement and execution that I’m paying for. But to say, Oh, they burnt this so they forgot to add that. Well, that’s a level, we got to get past that. But it’s not what we’re selling. It’s important, but it should not be, to me, I don’t mention it. I don’t even put words on my, because I don’t want to…

Allison Tyler Jones: Right. And I think fulfilling the expectation is like, okay, it’s not worthy. So you have to fulfill but then also exceed.

Tim Walden: Yeah. Exactly. Absolutely. And I don’t know if this is rabbit tracking or not Allison, but it came to mind, and I want to say it while it’s there.

Allison Tyler Jones: Do it.

Tim Walden: But I think too, a lot of sales success, it has nothing to do with the selection appointment. I want a sale to be as much a plug and play as possible. So we’re defining our art and how it’s used ahead of time. We create an establishing portrait that is your family. You keep that on the wall to the day you die, let the kids fight over it. That’s their problem. But we create abbreviations. You’ve heard us talk about that. Abbreviations are where we capture each of the children that embellishes your grouping. Those were important because they added depth and roundness to your story. They tell your story in a greater way. They provide gift for your children down the road.

Tim Walden: And so when we create the abbreviations, those are going to be the wall pieces that support the establishing image. So I go on and on this, but my point is you can actually, if you think this through the way you should, you can make the selection appointment truly a plug and play, then you shoot for that product and you plug that product. You can’t just make it up. Can’t be blowing air, blowing hot smoke or whatever. But these are the things I believe it’s like my abbreviations. We actually gave our oldest daughter her portrait along with the letter we wrote to her.

Allison Tyler Jones: I love that.

Tim Walden: ‘Cause it was time that it shouldn’t be on our wall, it should be on hers.

Allison Tyler Jones: Should be on hers.

Tim Walden: And so I think we need to think of the selection appointment from our marketing, from our style definition, from our design appointments, our phone chats, all the way through the session. You’re doing all of those things. And then your selection appointment is the fulfillment, the climax, the plug and play if you will of a lot of those things too.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right. And I think that when you start, when you’re newer, or if you’ve been shoving sales off because you don’t want to think about it and you see it as a necessary evil, it feels like going into a sales appointment is like you’re starting to push that boulder uphill then when really the sales appointment should be the boulder rolling down the hill. Up until that point, you posted on social media. For us, it’s installations, we’ve posted finished artwork on walls.

Tim Walden: Yes.

Allison Tyler Jones: Then what you’re saying is you’ve got forming the expectation is not just what you do but how you do it. So that’s your style. People are not coming to me wanting to be out in the desert. They’re coming to me knowing that they’re going to be in the studio and that it’s going to be crazy and fun and whatever. And so then that consultation or your design appointment, and then you’re just walking them through that process and then all of that is consistent.

It all feels good. It all feels brand consistent. So for you, I would imagine I haven’t been photographed by you, but I would love to do that someday.

Tim Walden: I would too.

Allison Tyler Jones: I can imagine what that would feel like. Just because having been around you, which is just taken care of and classy and a southern gentleman, but also so much the love and feeling that emotion and all of that. Ours is a little bit like crazier and a little more sarcastic and fun and there’s music and it’s crazy. So I think the reason why I’m highlighting this is that I want our listeners to think as they’re listening to this, that somewhere in there is your own experience, your own secret sauce, so to speak. There’s only one Tim Walden, there’s only one Allison Tyler Jones. There’s only one you.

Allison Tyler Jones: So what is it that’s making you special? What is it that you love to see in people and families and portraits? And then you’re walking your client through that so that when it comes time to view the images, you’re not starting to just, okay, let’s start moving this boulder up here, let’s show them a hundred images and let’s pick through. And so you’re showing them, here is what we think you should do period. And then they’re just saying, great, I love that. Or can we make it a little smaller, bigger, Can we put it in a different place? Can we switch this out for that and then it’s done.

Tim Walden: Right. No, and that’s the ideal way. And I think people feel, I think we misread what a selection appointment is and we feel like it’s talking somebody into something. I love what, I think it was one of the old Ziegler quotes that said, All sales are basically a transfer of feelings. And I think there’s so much truth to that. And I think the thing that goes into a successful sale are the big and the obvious things that you teach and we teach and people learn, but they’re also the little things you don’t talk about. Doing a design on Monday. I said, now bring plenty of snapshots of your kids. I want to see them. I want to hear about it. I haven’t seen them in years. I mean, I’ve sat down, I’ve sat across the table from moms and dads. I’ve seen them tear up happy tears. Just all kinds of things and…

Allison Tyler Jones: And unhappy tears, and unhappy tears.

Tim Walden: Yeah. Both happen.

Allison Tyler Jones: ‘Cause some of the times they’re like, this kid’s killing me and I don’t know what’s going to happen with him. We’re acting a psychiatrist and all kinds of psychologists.

Tim Walden: Oh, I love that. I love it. Yes. I didn’t have that with schooling. I still get to have the practice.

Allison Tyler Jones: I know, totally.

Tim Walden: But I get people, we’re getting to know our customers now at a whole another level, the friendship level. I have them text me things, they send me photos of the kids singing at church or on a picnic, and they don’t have to spend money to do that. We’re building relationships at the highest level because honestly, Allison and I think loyalty as we knew it in the past is gone. And I think what has risen to the top is buzz. When you create a buzz in your business and you create an excitement, then you get that level of loyalty because there’s too many voices in people’s ears nowadays. So I think you have to enter another realm. And I think in the sales room, it is about a relationship. It’s not a buyer and a seller. It should never be a transaction. It is a relationship.

Tim Walden: And you’re sitting there, you’re laughing with them, you’re crying with them, and you’re telling stories. Some of them are stories that may happen, some are stories that have happened. And the most powerful ones are the stories they told you. So you say, Allison, you remember the story you told me about your daughter? Yeah. I see that story in this portrait. That’s what I love about this portrait. I don’t say, Allison, how do you like your expression? I mean, I’m from the south. My mom would smack me if I said, man, I look good. You don’t say stuff like that. But if somebody said, you remember what you told me about your daughter? What makes your heart beat a little faster, right? When you see that, that’s what I see in this image. And now you’re selling the result of that art. Not look at this, this texture is linen. Or this one’s kind of bumpy. Which one do you like? Oh God, just make a decision. And also that…

Allison Tyler Jones: Right? That’s your job to tell them what it should be based on…

Tim Walden: Exactly.

Allison Tyler Jones: …who they are, what the work looks like and what room it’s going in. The other thing I think of too, when you say, I’ve heard you say that before, and I always think it’s just an interesting concept to me, when you say loyalty is dead, it’s more about the buzz. I think the thing that creates the buzz is that relationship.

Tim Walden: It is.

Allison Tyler Jones: And also, I feel like taking responsibility is the number one thing that people just don’t, Well, I shouldn’t say people these days. That makes you sound like an old person but…

Tim Walden: And you’re not that.

Allison Tyler Jones: Well, it’s getting there. But I think sometimes we shy away from responsibility like, Oh, I don’t want to deal with printed work because that’s a pain in the butt. Or I don’t want to deal with installing because I don’t want to put holes in their walls. What if they sue me if I do it wrong or I don’t want to, But really assuming responsibility. There’s one of my favorite quotes is by the guy that kind of invented the New York Times bestseller list. His name’s Michael Korda. And he said that the degree of our success is determined by the degree that we take on responsibility.

Tim Walden: That’s good.

Allison Tyler Jones: And so the more that I can make it easier for my client, even down to deciding for them like, look, I think this needs to be a white frame. I think it needs to have no glass on it. And I think it needs to go right here. And I think it needs to be this size. And then it’s their money and their house. They can say no and change, but…

Tim Walden: Exactly.

Allison Tyler Jones: I find the more bossy I am in that way, the better it is because there are too many decisions now. There’s too much information. There are too many voices to have somebody be able to come to you and say, even think about clothes shopping or something. If somebody came in and said, Okay, Allison, you got a kind of big bum. You’re smaller on top. These are the dresses that are the best for you, and these colors with your eyes and your hair color, anything on this rack would be perfect for your high school reunion. I would be thrilled out of my mind. And I wouldn’t care if they were more expensive.

Tim Walden: Absolutely. I think…

Allison Tyler Jones: Because I don’t want to have to wade through.

Tim Walden: I think at the highest possible level of business, there’s an expectation for that. And I think even if it’s not a known expectation, I think it’s something that is received at that level because they’re like, I’m choosing the best. What should I do? And I think to go anywhere else. And we do it all under that horrible guise of good customer service. That’s not good customer service. It’s like, what finish do you want? What size do you want?

Allison Tyler Jones: They don’t know. They don’t know anything about it.

Tim Walden: You’ve heard me say this, but I always go back to Ken Whitmire who made the statement, one of the classes he used to teach a sales seminar. And he’d say, when you ask someone to be an expert at something they’re not an expert in or at, instead of telling you they’re not qualified, they fall back on their life’s experiences in making decisions. So if you say, Mrs. Smith, what size portrait do you want? Mrs. Smith says in her mind, 1990, really big 10 by 13. I’ll have a 10 by 13 of that. ‘Cause you just asked her to be an expert. Don’t go complaining that she made a bad decision. You made the bad decision with the question.

Allison Tyler Jones: Exactly. Right.

Tim Walden: So I think, like you say, I’ve never had anybody get up in a sale. I’ve never had anybody say, I feel like I’m pressured or I feel like, it’s quite the opposite. I say, here’s my vision. Here’s what I would do, this, here’s what I do this. I take them to the end of the sale. And then I just paint that picture. I tell the stories and I wait and everybody go, Wow, you know that’s ridiculous. They’re just, Yeah, I love that. And then if there’s a size change or a price change or a frame change, we make it, and nobody’s ever cornered, but start at the end of the sale. Don’t start at the beginning. You should be doing all the sales process leading up to it. And then it becomes a presentation of potential and possibilities.

Allison Tyler Jones: I love that. I had a pediatric, ear, nose, and throat doctor, woman, and her husband was a pediatrician. And you can tell that she is highly educated and she has to make really critical decisions about children’s lives, right? So when she came in and we did this process, she could not let that go. This was just this week. She could not let it go, that she didn’t have to decide everything. And so I watched her. It was very interesting. This is to your point about just shutting your mouth. I kept wanting to go in and fix it for her. And well, we could do it this way. Well we could do it this way, we could do it this way. And I just kept thinking, No, she’s obviously having a crisis. She needs to work through this. ‘Cause we’d picked it out. And her husband said what he liked.

Allison Tyler Jones: We knew what we wanted, but she just could not say, yes, that’s it. Just finalize it, well what about this? She kept wanting to go back again and again. And finally she sat there and it was so interesting to watch her tuck herself through. She’s like, Okay, I have had you who photographed these images. Tell me what is best. I know what my husband likes. I know that I like these. So if I give you the money today, what if I sleep on it? And then a couple days later I want to change something. And I said, If you’re going to change it, let’s change it right now. We’re not going to change it later. And if you’re even conflicted a little bit, I’m going to take it off your invoice. She stopped. I just was quiet. No, I know these are, you know what? I am just going to trust you. And I said, well, I appreciate that because if I brought my grandchild to you and needed her ear, nose, or throat fixed, I would trust you.

Tim Walden: That’s great. I love that. And she understood that because that’s she does every day.

Allison Tyler Jones: She’s like, yeah, I don’t want to change my mind. I don’t want to think about it again. Because she had also said earlier, well can we think about this? Do we come back? Do we decide now? And I said, she’s like, you’re right. I’m not going to think about it later. I’m too busy and this is what I want. But it was, she’s like, well, our generation is used to having so many images. And she held up her phone here. And I said, Absolutely. And I said, That’s why we’re doing this process is because how many of those are on your wall? None.

Tim Walden: Yes. And how many of them are worthy of the wall?

Allison Tyler Jones: Exactly.

Tim Walden: That’s what you do.

Allison Tyler Jones: How many pictures do you have on there of your newborn? A million. Because they’re IBF kids. So going back to your earlier bob and weave comment, it’s being willing to let all of the comments, all of the objections if you will, or everything come to you. But when you’re settled and when you know what you know and the value of it, then it doesn’t rock you. You just know that they’re just talking their way through it. They want it or else they wouldn’t still be in the room.

Tim Walden: Absolutely.

Allison Tyler Jones: And it’s just letting them talk themselves into it.

Tim Walden: Absolutely.

Allison Tyler Jones: You have a lot to say about that.

Tim Walden: Now. I think that confidence is so important. And I do think we have a tendency to underestimate what we do and what it can mean to people. And then I know when I create a portrait, there’s decades of study and there’s decisions that are being made on substrates and frames and presentations. And I have no apologies for any of them. And I don’t want to nickel and dime people, Well I can add this, I can add that. I’m not going to do that. It’s like, this is what we do and this is what it costs. And when you’re, like I say, when you have the right two butts in the seat or bums as you say, then I think that process becomes one of the highlights of the experience.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yes.

Tim Walden: I love the selection appointment. I look so forward to it. I wouldn’t have said that a couple decades ago ’cause I had other people in here doing it for me and now I’ve kind of come to love this, but there’s some, and it’s like, wow, this is really a relationship building time.

Allison Tyler Jones: What I learned too, just to that point is that now that Stacy, that works for us, that is our retoucher, but she’s also a photographer and she’s been shooting some of these family sessions. So that client that I just spoke to you about, she actually photographed that session. So to me, my favorite part is I love the consultation, the brainstorm, and then I love the shoot too. I still love shooting. But the part that I would never give up, I think is that viewing appointment. Because I call it, that’s the crack. When people say, well, can’t we just do this online, or I just look at a gallery, I’m like, I need to see you see this. I need you to see how beautiful you are. I need you to see how much your husband loves you. I need you to see how amazing your kids are. That’s my payoff as much as the money.

Tim Walden: Absolutely. Yeah. And you don’t even know what you lose with that disconnect of having a wrong person in, or even worse, putting them online or something like that. I can’t imagine that. I remember when the term IPS came out, I had to go ask somebody, what does that mean? I had no clue. It’s like…

Allison Tyler Jones: Do we do it any other way? Yeah.

Tim Walden: What is IPS? I had to first know what it stood for. And then they said in person and sales. And I said, well, what else is there? And then when I learned, I said, Well, why would you do that? Why would you give that? I mean, that’s part of that experience. That’s part of the magic, that moment. That’s where we build a stronger relationship at the highest level. And I know that my clients are happy with what we’re doing because at every step of the way, we’re involved in making sure that art fulfills our desire, their desire. And it is everything they came to expect plus. And so we handling all the way through. And I don’t want any weak links in that. I want it to be directed and experienced all the way through. And so I think that’s important. And you learn things.

Tim Walden: I tell people’s stories. We had a lady the other day, I’ve never heard this in all of my life. And she said, I want the larger, we did a family, then we did the kids. And we did her with each kid and him with each kid. And then we did individuals. And she said, I want the painting. She wanted Bev to do a book of such painting of my husband, the largest portrait of my husband. And she said to me, Allison, she said, because I want my boys to know what a man can be. I was like…

Allison Tyler Jones: I know.

Tim Walden: I want them to look at him because he came from poverty. He came from a really hard place. Now he’s got three practices here in town. He’s very successful. A lot of boards. I want him to look at us and say that’s what a man should be. And so now when I have individual portraits, I tell that story, even though it may not be them, it’s something they didn’t think about. They’re like, oh my goodness, it does message that. So I think, and I’m so glad I was in that selection appointment because it still gives me chills thinking about that. And those two young men that we photographed, 11 and 14, kind of coming up in a tough world, they look at that dad’s painting and they say, this is what I should be. This is my guiding light in my family. And that’s just fantastic. So those are the experiences I’ll never forget. And I’ll remind and tell others when I’m in that selection appointment because that’s what we do. That’s the result of the art, not the other things that we think they are.

Allison Tyler Jones: And so what you’re doing is you’re learning from your clients things that they wanted that you never knew. And in telling those stories, you are communicating to other clients an idea for something that they may have never considered.

Allison Tyler Jones: We just had recently, a client was booking her annual session and I said, you know, don’t your parents live here? And she’s like, Yeah, they do. And she’s just recently gone through a divorce. So she was kind of feeling sad about the dad’s not going to be in the picture and how are we going to do this? And I said, why don’t you bring your mom and dad with you? And she’s like, I never thought of that. That would be such a great idea. Well, not only did she bring mom and dad, she swung by the nursing home and got her grandma.

Tim Walden: Nice.

Allison Tyler Jones: So we did four generations, beautiful women, like beautiful women. She said that all the men in the nursing home are hitting on her grandma. She’s 90 and so cute and full of it. Let me just tell you full of it. But we know this, we know all the things that can happen, but our clients don’t. And so we have all this expertise that we can bring to bear for them and make something so amazing and special for them.

Tim Walden: And back to your word responsibility, I think we have to take responsibility for that. You shouldn’t be a reaction to everything in this selection appointment. You’re painting the pictures, you’re telling the stories, you’re doing those things. And I think that’s where they connect with your art at an entirely different level. And so yeah, I love it. I absolutely love it. And I wouldn’t do it any other way.

Allison Tyler Jones: Well, I remember, I think, I don’t know, it was either a presentation you gave a long time ago. It might have been one of your CDs that I bought a hundred years ago. I think maybe either you or Bev said, what I’m really looking for is the client that will come in and just let me shoot them and then let me pick everything and bring it and hang it on their wall. Do you remember that?

Tim Walden: Oh yeah.

Allison Tyler Jones: Okay. I have her. I have this client.

Tim Walden: Oh, I love it. Send it back over here.

Allison Tyler Jones: I know. So this is what, she’s super busy. She owns her own business and she literally, when Caitlin was trying to set up her view and order appointment, she texted and said, Allison knows what I need. She knows what I want. Just have her pick it. I can’t come in and deal with it. And I know that I’m going to love whatever she picks.

Tim Walden: I love it. As it should be.

Allison Tyler Jones: Exactly.

Tim Walden: Yeah. So far ours are saying, why do I come in? I just always do what you say. But they still come in. I can leave it to you. Or they don’t even show up. I love that.

Allison Tyler Jones: No. Because again, but I feel so sad that I want her to see them, but now if she’s not coming in, I need to make, when we bring it and install it, I need to make that a really special experience. So I just love it. I think that someday I’m going to have you photograph me and Ivan. I can’t wait because I want a picture of Ivan that I want you to do a picture of Ivan, because I think he is that I think all of his boys, that’s the kind of man that I love, would be great to have a portrait of him.

Tim Walden: So you’re going to remember that story, right?

Allison Tyler Jones: I know.

Tim Walden: Because you’re experiencing it in your own family.

Allison Tyler Jones: I know, he would hate a picture by himself though, but…

Tim Walden: It’s okay. It’s not for him.

Allison Tyler Jones: Exactly. Exactly. I love it.

Tim Walden: That’s for you and the kids. And so yeah, I think this is fantastic.

Allison Tyler Jones: Well, I love it. So is there anything partying, what are you up to lately? I know you’ve got podcasts with friends going on right now. You’ve got all kinds of new things happening, so tell about that. Tell the listeners what’s new in your world.

Tim Walden: Well, we are doing a podcast called the F-Stops Here. You mentioned that. I’m enjoying that. We’re still teaching a lot. And at, we’re doing a lot of coaching and a lot of classes. So yeah, check it out at and then the F-Stops Here is the podcasts we’re doing and that’s going well. So I’m running my mouth all the time, I guess.

Allison Tyler Jones: I know. But when you’re talking in those silky southern tones and you’re giving such good advice, you just need to keep that mouth running. Is there anything that you want to leave our listeners with before you head out for the day?

Tim Walden: Gosh, I don’t know, on the sales team, I would say step up and be bold. Understand how amazing an artist you are. Don’t look at what you don’t know. Look at what you’re doing. Start to perfect what you don’t know, get better. But to those clients, you’re producing something. That portrait you do for them is the most important portrait you’ll ever do as far as they’re concerned. And I think you need to go in with that kind of confidence in that sales room. So yeah, I think the advice we’ve given today I think is good advice. And I think it’ll help everybody. You’re doing great work to helping everybody. So keep it up.

Allison Tyler Jones: We’re trying. We’re trying, we’ve got great listeners and great students for sure. And we have a lot of them in common.

Tim Walden: Yeah. Well I know we do. And that’s good…

Allison Tyler Jones: This is fun.

Tim Walden: …as it should be, so.

Allison Tyler Jones: I know, exactly. Well, thank you so much. I know you’re busy and I so appreciate your time and I hope you guys have a great rest of your season and I know I’ll talk to you before then. But thanks for joining us here today. I really appreciate it.

Tim Walden: It’s my pleasure.

Allison Tyler Jones: I hope you know how much I appreciate your time and your attention. And if you feel that something you learned 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. 

Allison Tyler Jones: 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 at and on Instagram @do.the.rework.


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