Recorded: Welcome to The ReWork with Allison Tyler Jones, a podcast dedicated to inspiring portrait photographers to uniquely brand, profitably price, and confidently sell their best work. Allison has been doing just that for the last 15 years, and she’s proven that it’s possible to create unforgettable art and run a portrait business that supports your family and your dreams. All it takes is a little ReWork. Episodes will include interviews with experts from in and outside of the photo industry, mini workshops and behind the scenes secrets that Allison uses in her portrait studio every, single day. She will challenge your thinking and inspire your confidence to create a profitable, sustainable portrait business you love through continually refining and ReWorking your business. Let’s do the ReWork.
Allison Tyler Jones: Hi friends, and welcome back to The ReWork. Today’s guest, Mr. Tim Walden, is one of our most frequently listened to podcast episodes. His podcast episodes that we’ve interviewed him on have been some of the most downloaded and most listened to, and today’s episode is going to be no different. We are talking about where we find inspiration during scary times. We talk about competition, we’re talking about the value of what it is that we do, and how do we bake that into our brain so that we can talk to our clients with confidence, and where do we find confidence when we’re feeling anything but confident? I know that you’re going to get a lot of inspiration out of today’s conversation because there’s nobody better in this world than Mr. Tim Walden. Let’s do it.
Allison Tyler Jones: So I wanted to talk to you today about, I feel like we’ve come out of an uncertain time, and I don’t know that we’ve ever had certain times, but I feel like we just met with how many thousands of photographers altogether, and I feel like there was two mindsets that I was really watching. Some were so excited and so pumped about the future and so just could not learn enough and so excited. And then there were others that were just like, “Well, what about the recession? And what about this?” And very much afraid of what the future holds. And I think what we’ve been through for the last three years has taught us that anything could happen, certainly. So you’ve been in business many, many years because you started as a child, let’s just say that. Not because you’re old, but because you started as a child. So your dad saw adversity through his business. You’ve seen recessions come and go. So I’d love to just talk about, I just want some hope. I want some hope and some light. And where are we going?
Tim Walden: Yeah. Well, that’s good. A lot of my inspiration originally came from my dad, and for those who don’t know, he was handicapped from his armpits down, pronounced that dead in that first year and 17 major surgeries in one year.
Allison Tyler Jones: Was he in an accident or what was the-
Tim Walden: It was so strange. He slipped the disc. It slipped inward instead of outward. They didn’t catch it in time and it severed the nerve from that point down.
Allison Tyler Jones: Oh my goodness.
Tim Walden: And I think… when I start feeling kind of down, I remember why I got into photography and I don’t want to crush anybody’s bubble, but I didn’t get into photography just for photographs or to be a photographer. I got into it because my father was passionate and I thought, “How in the world can you love something that much with so many obstacles?” But he had every obstacle in his way, but yet his passion for what he did, what it meant to other people kind of pushed him through. And that goes way beyond a recession. That goes way beyond a bad economy or the dilution in our industry and it gets down to the absolute core of being passionate and purpose-driven in what you do.
Tim Walden: So I think for me, and it’s not that I don’t get down or that I don’t face that, I just have that kind of as something to go back and lean on. I say, “Okay, do you have it that bad? Are things that bad?” And it keeps me inspired. I think that’s good. So to look to somebody to inspire and encourage us, and I know my father used to say, “When you educate me, you give me tools, but when you inspire me, you give me acceleration.” He would accelerate through inspiration. And so when he taught, and he would tell me, “So when you teach people, teach them, share what you know, but more than anything, inspire them.” Information without inspiration just lays dormant.
Allison Tyler Jones: But that’s Tim Walden in a nutshell. I mean, if you had a group of photographers and said, “What do you love most about Tim Walden,” right after, or maybe equal to that he’s such a nice guy would be just he’s so inspiring. I think that’s signature to how your teaching style and I love that.
Allison Tyler Jones: So with that, being inspired, that reminds me of a quote that I use a lot in, I have this in probably every slide deck right next to your quote. I have a lot of Tim Walden quotes, but one that I really like is by Steve Chandler, and he said that, “Outside forces seem exaggerated when our want to is weak. It’s not the how to, it’s the want to.” So that’s exactly what you’re saying. It’s not the, “How do I,” because if you want to, you’re going to figure that out. You’re going to watch 7,000 YouTube videos, even if you have no money, you’re going to find every free resource and you’re going to go out and practice and practice and practice, and you’re going to use halogen garage lights and almost set your house on fire with putting sheets over them for a diffuser, ask me how I know, all of that. You’re going to figure it out because you want to do it.
Tim Walden: Yeah. And I think sometimes, and I don’t encourage that we do this, but sometimes if they’re in that situation and not having money, that can actually be the place they need to be to make those hard decisions, to step up, buck up, those type of things. And I think all that’s so true. I love that. I love that quote, Allison. I think that’s fantastic. And I think the other thing is talk about getting away from ourselves, is this is why I think for me and Beverly, we look at our work as like, “What does it do for the people we serve?” Not what does it do for me, because I become a reciprocal to my purpose. So when I have a purpose, and that purpose is to serve families with something, number one, that they may not be able to get, and to serve them with something that will stand the test of time, serve them with something that tells their story, that goes beyond recording their face, something that’s going to be passed down from generation to generation. And then I begin to drive my marketing, my conversation and my want to, as you say, based on purpose, the why, all of those things, then you do have a tendency to not only be able to push through these things, but to face them head on. And I think that’s important.
Tim Walden: I think if I were to say what are photographers’ greatest enemies today? Is it the masses? Is it digital photography? Is it the economy? No, it’s the person. It’s the photographer. We’re are our own greatest enemy. And when I teach, I’ll say, “Here’s the problem, is you go out to message what you do and then you understand what you do, so you think everyone else does, too, and you give them these little nods to the 50,000 different things you offer. And then we’re shocked that they’re confused.” And even worse, Allison, even worse than that, we get aggravated because they don’t understand. You need to walk to a mirror, look in the mirror and say, “It’s my fault.”
Allison Tyler Jones: Absolutely.
Tim Walden: And accept that responsibility, as hard as it is, and say, “What do I do to clarify my message? What do I do to carve down the things that I do? How does my work serve other people? What does it do for their families? What does it mean to their life experiences?” And then when you do that, you’re on the right track to pushing through, because the masses aren’t going to do that. They’re not going to do it. They’re going to complain. They’re going to say, “Well, I wish she wasn’t so dumb. I put it in the ad this, or I wish he wasn’t so… would pay attention.” And there are always-
Allison Tyler Jones:
“I emailed him a price list.”
Tim Walden: Exactly. Yeah, that’s right.
Allison Tyler Jones: How did they not sit down for an hour and break that down and know exactly how much this was going to cost over dinner?
Tim Walden: Exactly. Yeah. We got to step up to the plate with responsibility and that’ll help us to make good decisions.
Allison Tyler Jones: I love that. Well, and that kind of goes back to the idea of competition. The fear of, “Okay, there’s so many photographers out there and there’s just too much competition.” That’s another exaggerated fear that can seem very, very large when maybe we’ve had a slow month, year, whatever. I feel like that want to, I just think when I go back to that early time when I was learning photography and you’re so in love with it, you’re so in love with all the gear and in love with… you get your first really well-lit portrait or whatever, and that feeling, how you are so propelled and that once we reach a level of mastery in that craft, I mean, we’re never done because you can always be better, of course. But do we have that same passion for the business side as far as what you’re saying, serving our clients and really recognizing what it is that we’re bringing to their life, that we’re not just creating a better image than they could on their own. We’re actually, well fill in the blank. What are you doing? What’s the value that you as Tim Walden are bringing?
Tim Walden: Yeah, well, I think we have to look at what we do and kind of see photography, and I’m not sure if I’m addressing this, but this just kind of comes to mind as we’re talking. We need to see photography as the vehicle to celebrate people’s stories, their families and things like that, not to see it as the end result. So when I teach people about technical excellence, and you’ve heard this before, Allison, but I tell people why do we want to focus on technical excellence? And I’ll tell you what it is. It’s to make the message rise to the top and the photography to become invisible, right?
Tim Walden: And this is where I think a lot of people go wrong. You know how important lighting, posing, beautiful capture is important to me, but it’s not the end all because to me, that’s how I carry the message to the clients, how I express their passion, their beauty and their story. And I always tell people, and forgive me if this is redundant, but it’s like watching a TV show. Maybe you’re watching public access and you’re thinking, “Man, this is a great message.” Somebody’s sharing a message, but the camera goes out of focus or it bounces or somebody walks out of the thing. What do you do? You change a channel, you turn it off. The message might have been extremely valuable, but the technical inadequacies kept us from really being willing to accept that message to listen.
Tim Walden: I think the same thing is true of photography. That’s why style and purpose and the why is so important, is because we want to make sure that that’s what we carry. But the technical excellence makes the photography invisible. Whatever type of artist you are, you want to excel at it so that the purpose, the message, all that kind of rises to the top and we’re not distracted by mediocrity. That’s the reason we want to be technically excellent. But a lot of people go, “Well, if my lighting got a little better, if this got a little better, I’d get people through the door.” No, no. There has to be more to it than that.
Allison Tyler Jones: Okay, I have a thought.
Tim Walden: Did I offend half your audience?
Allison Tyler Jones: No, I love it. No, this is good. We’re going inside baseball, here. I love it. So this reminds me of a conversation that I had with a psychologist that I worked with the year after my divorce. and he saved me. He helped me to marry somebody like Ivan instead of remarrying the first guy. Anyway, but he said, “My wife, I came home from work, she said, ‘Honey, you did not put the trash cans out and now it’s going to be a whole other week before they come for the black trash cans,'” and she was kind of getting after him. And he said, “Honey, do you understand that all day long I talk to women whose husbands cheat on them, who are doing drugs, who are drinking, who are all of these horrible things.” And he’s like, “I have a job. I don’t cheat on you. I come home at the end of the day to you and you’re giving me a hard time about the trash cans.” And she said, “Those are entry level skills.” And I was dying.
Allison Tyler Jones: So competency in photography, that’s an entry level… it does disappear. It just goes away. And then the same, I think, with our service. So if you return a call or you deliver the work in the timeframe that you said you were going to and they get what they expect, this goes back to your managing expectations and then exceeding them. If we just meet their expectations, that’s just entry level skills. We’re not getting any brownie points for that. Nobody is getting any… nobody cares. It’s like, “Yeah, you said you were going to do it, you did it and I paid you. Great.”
Tim Walden: Yes.
Allison Tyler Jones: But it’s how do we exceed that? So you’re saying letting the message rise to the top in the work, but then also letting the message rise to the top in the service. How will you deliver that service, the experience that they have while that service is being delivered, putting that just over the top and then you’re in a class by yourself, you have no competition.
Tim Walden: Absolutely. Absolutely. Absolutely. All those things come together to form a very dynamic brand and successful brand. And I think that’s exactly right. And I think caring about the people we work with is part of that service too. It’s building relationships at the highest level. That sounds like old school, but sometimes when things are old school like relationship marketing, well, sometimes when things are old school, there’s a reason for it. It sticks around because it’s true. And then I think executing it at the highest possible level is what’s important.
Tim Walden: So for me, that’s one of the ways that we cross those barriers. Exceeding, like you kind of talked about, forming and fulfilling expectations and then exceeding those is important. And I think, too, connecting with people on a personal level. That’s important to today’s market. And that’s a great way, too, when you’re looking at where our conversation started, is there’s so many people out there and all these things that seem to be challenging all businesses and especially businesses like photographers that can challenge us, how do we rise to the top and we do it on a personal one-on-one level, connecting with people at the level you’re talking about?
Tim Walden: And then I think, too, from a stop vantage point is honing it down and then having something meaningful in your work, defining style that’s meaningful. I always think when I look at what we do, what does this mean to the people we’re working with, and what would it mean if they didn’t have it? What would they lose? I think the enemy of high-end photography, to be honest with you, is not money, and it’s not the masses, it’s procrastination, and it’s a lack of understanding of the value as time goes by. It’s hard to see today what this work will mean to you tomorrow and what it will mean down the road. And that’s where we need to concentrate in today’s market, create gaps between the masses and what we do, make it purpose-driven, and then learn how to message and care for people at the highest level and don’t drop those expectations, surpass them.
Allison Tyler Jones: I love that. Well, and the meaning to me, that’s such a big part of my consultation, a big part of what I talk with my clients about, too. Because going in and looking at… because I’ve done gallery work for my sister’s clients, where we go back and curate their family gallery and we’ll look, maybe get a bunch of pictures from other photographers, maybe they’ve just moved here and they’re wanting to do a big gallery wall. So we’ll go back and look at these other images from years gone by. And I’m always amazed at how it’s like it’s not Lifetouch Portraits, not to say anything bad about Lifetouch portraits, but it’s not the school photographer. But the meaning behind it is exactly the same. This family went to a photographer every year in a different-colored polo shirt and the kid was a little bit older and he is face forward, camera aware, cheese ball. But it’s beautifully lit.
Tim Walden: Yeah, right.
Allison Tyler Jones: But there’s no other thought behind it, other capturing a picture, a nicely lit portrait of that kid. And so having been through that, I think I’m always thinking, “Okay, why are we doing this now?” You come every year, that’s not a good enough reason. Why are we doing it now? What do you love about your kid right now or what do you hate about him right now? What’s driving you crazy? What do you wish you could still see in him? And so you and I both know you’ll sit with somebody and you’ll photograph a kid that’s gotten a little bit older and I’ll say, “Here’s one… the reason I love this is because you can see the baby still. Or here’s the one where you see a little kid, but you can see what they’re going to look like when they’re 16.” I think a big part of what we do and the value of what we do is we show our clients to themselves.
Tim Walden: Yeah, it’s good. I like that.
Allison Tyler Jones: We let them see through an artist’s eye what is so special and so unique about their family, even at times when they are wondering why they ever had kids in the first place.
Tim Walden: I think that’s wonderful. And it’s our job to do that. It’s our job I think to message that to people, as well. I think we have to begin in our attracting clients to message the purpose of what we do. And I tell clients, “I don’t want you just to pause and reflect. I want you to stop and rethink as you look at a piece of work. I want you to stop and rethink what’s important in your life and understand that that’s going to not only carry that message in your home as the years go by, but it’s going to have advantages today.”
Tim Walden: And you’ve talked about this, where children walk in, they see themselves on the walls and it’s like, “This is where I belong. These are the people that love me, good days, bad days, whatever.” And so when we market, when we talk to people, those are the things we talk to them about. I don’t show them my awards. I don’t show them like, okay, look how much better my lighting is than their lighting. It just is all wrong. Again, I always say it’s going to buy a Mercedes and they send the mechanic out to show you the Mercedes. It’s like, “What are you doing? I want to show you the spark plugs. I want to show you the air filter.” Nobody wants to see that. That’s not what-
Allison Tyler Jones: An engineer might want to see it, but that’s the only one.
Tim Walden: Yeah, there’s the exception. That’s true.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yes.
Tim Walden: But I think we have to get that way when we sell, and I think going back to the early conversation too, Allison, of being a little bit nervous in today’s environment, maybe fear kind of grips you a little bit, I think if we start thinking about what we do in that light, in those lights that we just talked about and we begin to market and we set our course and we inspire ourself by what we’re doing and what it will mean to those families, then we can find ways to be successful. Because it’s not about photography, it’s about the result. We market the result of what we do, we sell the result of what we do. That becomes everything to our clients. And nobody else does that. They’re all doing the same things. I think I went to high school one time early on and it was like all… this one kid got this mohawk and then all the other kids got a mohawk, because they all wanted to be different. And then the guy with the clean cut haircut, he became the unusual one.
Allison Tyler Jones: It’s the Sneetches. It’s Dr. Seuss. It’s the Dr. Seuss Sneetches, the stars on the belly.
Tim Walden: Right, and that’s what happens in photography. Everybody’s out. I just want to get what’s natural and I’m just going to… they all do. I want to be careful what I say because there’s great photography everywhere, but they’re all doing the same thing. And when doing that, then they begin to… you can rise to the top in this environment and you can do it by creating gaps going places the masses can’t, doing it with excellence, but doing it also purpose-driven.
Allison Tyler Jones: Do you sometimes feel like it’s difficult to get on the same page with your client? You email them a price list, you email them a contract, you send them information and it seems like nobody’s reading anything anymore. Well, I found that even doing an in-person consultation with my clients, that there are sometimes things still falling through the cracks. So I’ve developed what I call my consultation game plan booklet. It allows me to get on the same page with my clients so that nothing is left a chance. After 13 years of revising our internal ATJ consultation form, which by the way is available for free at dotheReWork.com, I realized that I needed something more for my consultations. I wanted my clients to leave the consultation with more than just a pretty brochure, more than just a price list that had no context. What I needed was a single, printed piece that would leave nothing to chance and achieve the following goals.
Allison Tyler Jones: I wanted to educate my clients about the price ranges of my products. I wanted to help my clients understand what I would and wouldn’t be shooting for them during their portrait session and also ensure that they felt confident about selecting clothing for their session. So this consultation game plan booklet is kind of like part brochure, part getting ready guide, part running out the door, last minute checklist and part consultation form that the client gets to take home with them and most importantly, share with their family, in-laws and their spouse or partner. It’s all in one, a single booklet that the client takes with them at the end of their consultation.
Allison Tyler Jones: So I’ve been using this booklet in my business for the last five years and we’ve revised it many times, and this is the first time that we are offering it to our ReWork community to use in their own portrait studios. And so this booklet is available online in layered PSD files so that you can lay your own images, logo, everything branded into this booklet to use in your studio. It also gives you access to our online mini course, which includes a video lesson with me on how I use the game plan booklet in my consultations and an actual video recording of me with an actual client in an actual client consultation using the game plan booklet and how it’s used during that time. So go to dotheReWork.com/game plan and get this mini course and this consultation game plan booklet to use in your studio. It will change your consultations forever.
Allison Tyler Jones: Well, and I think one thing that has really stood me in good stead, too, is when I look at, say, something new has come, some big splash on social media or something in the photography world and you’re like, “Wow, that is so cool.” Or somebody that I really respect has tried something new and you’re like, “Oh, I am dead over that. That is so good. How do I do it?” And I’ve seen you do this, too. There’s a filter that has to go through that you think, “Okay, if I were to do something like that or take part of that, how could I filter that through my brand, my style, my point of view, really?” That’s what it is. It’s your point of view. How do you see that and how would that work? And sometimes it wouldn’t. So just go try it and do it for yourself, but don’t put it out there. Or maybe you try it and you find a way that it does work with yours, but you’re always going to put your spin on it.
Tim Walden: Yeah. And a lot of times something in that work. So it could be just some small something that again, you can be inspired by that and you can plug it in. I think that’s one of the harder parts of photography. I think photographers being creatives… I mean, I look at work that so many artists do, you and others. And I’m like, “Man, I want to do that. That’s so much fun,” but it’s not smart and it’s not me. So I can have the same core values and I can have the same purpose of connecting with people at the next level, but I can’t beat you. There’s already one of you so there shouldn’t be another. We find and we learn and we’re pieces of each person, but we bring to the table, I think, the pieces that are truly us and our way of expressing and serving others through our photography. And you got to be true to that. It’s hard to do. It is hard to do, but it has to be intentional. It has to be intentional.
Allison Tyler Jones: It made me think of something that Lindsay Bets said in this pre-conference class that we did. She was talking about heartbeats and fingerprints. And I thought that’s such a good way to put it, is that every fingerprint is different. If you just pull back and look, you could say maybe there’s some similarities. They look, “Oh, it’s a fingerprint,” but when you really get down to the detail, it’s unique. Everyone is unique. And so how do we not become more of the same? And I don’t know, did you ever read that book Different by a Youngme Moon? Did you guys ever read that?
Tim Walden: Listen. I’ve listened to most of it. I haven’t gotten through it. On my walks in the morning, that’s on my Audible list.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. I just love it so much because she talks about how the more we compete, the more we become the same. And then another thought was you don’t want to just become a quote unquote better version of someone else. You want to become the best version of yourself. And really, I think it seems like this conversation has now gone off-topic, but actually bringing it back around, that is the answer to me, to uncertain times is the more you are uniquely yourself, that calls your people to you. And you probably have this. Do you have a sub-specialty? I feel like I really appeal to moms of boys. And usually there’s, it’s usually two boys, maybe three boys who are really, let’s just say active. Another way to say that might be complete nightmares. So I appeal to moms of boys that they’re just like, “I can’t take this kid just anywhere, but she seems to understand my people.” So even though I’m doing families at all different things, there is this little vein of these two naughty boys. Do you have anything like that, that you feel like kind of the common?
Tim Walden: Maybe the opposite way. I have a tendency to attract a lot of the dads with the young, quiet, reserved children with relationship portrait storytelling, finding the intimacy in the midst of their relationship and kind of the depth to it. So yeah, I would say definitely with children, definitely black and white, and definitely we found a niche for dads with children. And that has been amazing. And I think part of the reason we do that, and this goes back to my opinion is not what’s important. It’s what the client sees and their opinion, because I remember early on when our black and white was just taking off, it was really where we were finding our heart and our connection.
Tim Walden: I asked a dad, I said, “Why will you never get into color portraits?” And he said, “Oh, well, they’re kind of fluffy.” And I thought to myself, first, I’m offended. “Fluffy? It’s not fluffy.” I wanted to defend myself, but my opinion wasn’t important. That’s what he saw. But he said, “I love the black and white.” He said, “It’s just clean. It’s simple. It gives a message.” And we actually to this day, even, do more fathers with children than mothers with children because they feel like… and they see it now in the other homes in Lexington.
Tim Walden: And for us, again I hate to stereotype, but women love it when their husbands become part of the portrait, when they cross that barrier of being like, “I don’t want to do this,” and there’s that intimacy of loving their children and seeing that. And black and white simplicity, the contrast, the way we do it has found kind of that place. So yeah, we build on that. I mean, I share that story also becomes kind of self-propelling, because when I tell a woman, “Your husband’s going to love these and this is why,” then she becomes part of the evangelist to him. This is like for men and children, this is perfect. So yeah, it kind of self-propels and I think that’s been a big niche for us.
Allison Tyler Jones: Well, and I think that’s a way to, when the world feels scary, quit looking outward, quit looking at what everybody else is doing. Turn the news off and go shoot something or look back. I mean, we all save things, whether it’s on a Pinterest board or tearing something out of a magazine. There are those little things that have always drawn us in and that we’ve loved forever, and that we keep saying, “Someday I’m going to do that.” And we all have it. We have those, but yet sometimes we let our clients say, “Oh, I want this or I need this,” and that pulls us away from our center of what we really want to do, and that makes us less competitive because clients usually want what they’ve already seen somebody else do. And so staying true to who we are, and I think that’s so core to who you are.
Allison Tyler Jones: That’s so clear, that quiet intimacy, that’s part of the DNA of your work. And so I think looking within, that’s another way to stop worrying. Because I can control within, I can control what I shoot. I can control my development as an artist. I can control what I look at and what I choose to expose myself to and what I try and experiment with. And so that makes me feel good. “Okay, I can do this and I can progress,” rather than feeling out of control, that there are too many forces against me.
Tim Walden: Right, and it’s intentional. I mean, you’re making those decisions and you’re doing those things. And I think the battlefield for a lot of photographers and what you’re talking about is in our minds. The mind is the battlefield, and I think sometimes getting rid of the things that are creating that confusion and then setting your course with quality decisions, even if they’re the wrong decisions, they’ll lead you to the right ones.
Allison Tyler Jones: Oh yeah.
Tim Walden: Because that’s better than no decision. It’s sitting around fretting. As my mom would say, “Don’t fret.” So it’s another Southern word for worry. But yeah, you’re right. Making those decisions, being intentional. And then I think set a course, don’t worry about being the right one, just worry about it being there, and then hone it, correct it as you go. But at least you’re moving forward. You’re not sitting still and you’re doing things intentionally. I rarely have made a decision in my career that ends up being exactly the same several years later. But you can see the core of it.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yes.
Tim Walden: You can see the purpose of it.
Allison Tyler Jones: The principle.
Tim Walden: But it refines. If you looked at the first relationship portraits, you would say, “Those aren’t relationship portraits.” But I didn’t know. That didn’t exist. I just had something inside of me and I wanted it out, and I wanted to express it, say. You know the story. It was back at a very difficult financial time. We were barely hanging on. And so I’m just like, “I want to do something I’m passionate about.” And so if you looked at it that first year and then looked at it three years later when our business turned around, you’d say, “Wow, I see the core of where you went, but it matured and it took on identity.” And it’s still today. I mean, here we are decades later, and it’s still something I’m passionate about.
Allison Tyler Jones: You could never have gotten there if you hadn’t begun, if you hadn’t started somewhere. Yeah.
Tim Walden: Exactly right. I think that’s one of the problems in today’s environment is we don’t start, because we’re, “Oh, what if somebody doesn’t like it? Well, what if it doesn’t work out?” Well, what if it does and what if it changes into something amazing.
Allison Tyler Jones: Well, and sometimes I think we put it out there too soon. We expose the baby before… put a blanket on that thing. Get it to viability. We’re so wanting to show behind the scenes or what we’re working on and the social media, and that feels like a constant demand that maybe there’s some things that you need to keep quiet and keep close to your heart until it feels a little… I think a safe place to roll that out is to clients, one-off to your very best clients and share them something cool that you want to try with them.
Tim Walden: Absolutely. Yeah. Because you have a fan there and they’ve already bought you, so they’re going to buy this excitement and direction that you’re going to do. I think you’re exactly right. It’s a process. It’s intentional, and I think it’s doable in today’s market. I don’t care what’s going on.
Allison Tyler Jones: I agree.
Tim Walden: Yeah.
Allison Tyler Jones: Well, and another thought that, just to wrap this up, I was just thinking everything that’s happened in the last three years has kind of happened to all of us at the same time. And that’s a unique event in the history of the world, because sometimes there have been hard times in America, but not hard in other places or vice versa. This has been a global pandemic, a global situation. We’ve all been through it and the supply chains and the labor and all of those things that are still actually ongoing, if we look at it rather than from our own perspective of how this is impacting me, if we look at it and see that our clients, no matter how much money they have, have been through all of that too, and they cannot get the service, no matter how much money they have, they cannot get the service they need. They can’t get what they want because everybody’s giving them the, “Well, the supply and the labor,” and they’re getting excuses on every level.
Allison Tyler Jones: And so I think, how can we be the non-excuse makers? How can we be that solution for them, not only in delivering the service that we normally do. So for us, what that looked like was getting out ahead and booking everybody early so that we didn’t have any orders fall through the cracks during the busy season. So we had everybody really booked into August, September last year, and our clients were like, “This is the best thing ever. We’re never doing it late again. Why did we ever stress ourselves out?” So that became part of the solution.
Allison Tyler Jones: But then also, that level of confidence. When you’re creating something new, you’re not operating from a place of fear and knee-jerk mini sessions or discounting or doing things that feel really desperate and scary. Instead, you’re coming from a place of, “I’m doing this cool, new thing. I’m so excited about it.” That is so much more compelling and more fun as a client because you look at that and go, “Wow, things are happening over at Walden’s. I want to be a part of that. I got to get my kids in there and have him photograph me or whatever.” Bring your nice dad and your little sweet boy, and I’m going to be over here with the crazy boys.
Tim Walden: Yeah. And I think a lot of that for you, I know I love this about you, Allison, is the confidence. I think a lot of times, too, just approaching something with confidence. And you talked about the fear of not knowing. I think people go to people who are confident. Not arrogant, nobody wants somebody arrogant, but confident. And I think if we provide solutions and we provide them confidently, people will buy. And that’s leadership 101, is who’s going to step up to the plate, not who’s got all the right answers.
Allison Tyler Jones: Right.
Tim Walden: Because sometimes, great batters strike out. So it still happens, but I want somebody confident at the plate. And I think if we lead through confidence in times like that, you might actually go home and close the door and say, “Oh my God, I believe in this, but I’m still a little bit nervous.”
Allison Tyler Jones: Still scared, yeah.
Tim Walden: But you step out, you become the one that makes a plan that offers a solution, and you can kind of bob and weave as you go, right? Because I think you can begin to refine it. But I know I coach a young lady has become a good friend in New York, and through COVID, she changed her entire approach with people because she’s a compassionate person. She’s very kind, very compassionate. And instead of trying to market her business, she began to say, “How can I help you? How I start? What can I do for you?” She began to keep up with her customers. And then when we came out of this, we kind of used that change that nobody wanted the reason it happened, but it’s like she found this sweet spot in this difficult time because she’s like, “I’m not going to promote right now. I’m going to check. I’m going to serve. I’m going to help.” And she began to check on her customers, “How are you? Is there anything I can do for you?”
Tim Walden: She kind of built this DNA, and now, coming out of this, she has connected with people at a level she never had before. And I think there are things there that can seem rough and those are difficult, and those things can serve us well. And I think sometimes, even if we don’t know, stepping up to the plate, making a plan, doing it confidently, staying on brand and doing it confidently, that’ll serve you in itself. I mean, I like to be around confident people. I really don’t enjoy being around people. “Well, I don’t know. I’m afraid this won’t work. I’m afraid.” It may not, but if it doesn’t, it’ll lead you to something that does. So I think confidence is part of what you’re talking about and I see in you and instilling in others.
Allison Tyler Jones: Well, thank you for that. I am just as conflicted and just as naval gazing as the next person and just as scared of all the things that are out there, but I think one thing I’ve realized is that in a way, sometimes we feel like when we are self-deprecating, like, “Oh, well, I don’t know,” we feel like somehow that equates with humility, but really in a way that is putting our fear onto somebody else. Whereas when we can come forward with the things that we do know, because certainly you don’t know everything, certainly I don’t know everything, but you know a lot of things and I know a lot of things. And so we can come forward with, “This is what I do know. I know as an older mom that that baby’s going to get bigger, that that little chub is going to disappear, and you are going to be so sad that you didn’t capture it. And I know that they’re going to stop lisping and those teeth are going to grow in. I know that that’s going to go away and you’re going to be sad that you didn’t capture it. So with confidence, I can say you need to come in,” and I don’t feel conflicted about that at all.
Tim Walden: No. You know where that goes. It goes back to what I believe the enemy is for most photographers, is procrastination.
Allison Tyler Jones: Procrastination. Yep.
Tim Walden: I talked about it. And I think the result of procrastination is regret. And so that’s what it equals. And so part of our message is to message the fact that we know what that regret can look like. We’ve seen it, we’ve heard it, and your work is going to be meaningful when you get it, but it’s going to be more meaningful as time goes by and you won’t have those regrets. And we all have stories, but it’s like, “Well, I don’t want to say that because,” maybe somebody will think something wrong about you. No, you need to tell people this and if you do it in the right spirit, you do it in the right way, all you’re do is telling them the truth. And that becomes part of that message. And that’s where the confidence, I think, comes in, is saying, “This is what this will mean for you today, and this is what it mean for you tomorrow.”
Allison Tyler Jones: And having the confidence in that it’s not about me, it’s about them. And that this person that you’re mentoring, that building those relationships, to me, that is a rock solid foundation that will weather any storm. Any storm.
Tim Walden: Yes. Yes.
Allison Tyler Jones: Because they may not, let’s just say that we have wholesale economic meltdown. Okay, maybe they’re not going to come as often or buy as much. They’re still going to come because they have that relationship with you and they know that you’re going to make it amazing and that you’re the gold standard.
Tim Walden: Absolutely.
Allison Tyler Jones: I think that’s such a sure, rock solid foundation that can’t be underestimated. And you are the gold standard of that for me. You have taught me, you and Bev have taught me for many years, and I learned that lesson well. So thank you for that.
Tim Walden: No, your family does. We love you. You know that.
Allison Tyler Jones: You’re the best. Anything you want to leave just going into 2023? Encouragement you want to leave our industry, our listeners?
Tim Walden: Oh, gosh. We’ve shared so much in what we’ve talked about here today, but I would just say don’t underestimate, don’t undervalue what you do. And as you said, let’s not belittle ourself, but let’s look at what our art can mean to others and then go out and begin to share that message. And I think 2023 is going to be an amazing year. I’m very hopeful what I’m seeing, and I’m very hopeful it’s going to be amazing. Yeah. But we got to do it.
Allison Tyler Jones: Right. You’re the best. I appreciate you so much more than you know.
Tim Walden: Right back at you.
Recorded: You can find more great resources from Allison at dotheReWork.com and on Instagram @do.the.ReWork.