business

When You Do What You Love....

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My wife and I were having a chat the other day and she was telling me about a conversation she had with our optometrist. They were talking about kids and how kids today have it rougher than we did when we were their age etc ( I disagree with that but that is a whole other discussion/blog post for another time) The conversation was centered around school and trying to figure out what the kids want to do with their lives. You know the proverbial question: What do you want to do when you grow up?

My youngest, who is 17, says she knows what she wants to do with her life and that’s great.  I’m very happy about that and happy for her.  Then there is my wife, yes, she is working full time but she still says to me all the time “I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up” and she is 47 years old. My oldest is interested in the arts and English but is still unsure of what she wants to do.  She is 19 and I tell her there is no huge rush, you will figure it out. Don’t jump into school and do something that doesn’t interest you just for the sake of going to school or because all your friends are going to school.

“They” say kids who are going into the workforce today will change their careers anywhere from 10-15 times in their working lives. That to me is insane! Could you imagine our parents doing even half of that?  Back then, they got a job and they stayed there for life.  Even if they hated the job, they stayed because they had to.  They had families to support. Now I know that the times are very different now, people are having families later in life, if at all. There is much more focus put on ones career as opposed to having a family. It is also said that we spend almost 1/3 of our lives at work or working. When you think about that, it’s absolutely staggering and mind boggling.  That is a hell of a lot of time and time is the ONE thing in life we DON’T have control over and can NEVER get back once it’s gone….but I digress.

The conversation then moved towards happiness in life and happiness in our jobs/careers. With keeping all of the aforementioned above in mind, it triggered the real conversation and the true point to all of this:  shouldn’t we ALL be doing something as a career choice/job that makes us happy? Isn’t that the point to life, to be happy? Why would you want to spend that much time at a job you fucking hate doing and going into if you have to spend that amount of years/time of your life doing? It just makes sense to me to be doing something you love to do for a living. Now I know it’s not that simple to just find something you love to do and do that to make money and have a great life. Hell it took me over 25 years to finally figure “it” out and actually do something about it. I know we all get into different situations where we are “stuck” doing something we hate for a living and it’s NOT easy to make the changes necessary to start living the life we had envisioned for ourselves but as “they” say, “if you want something bad enough, you will find a way to make it happen” and I whole heartedly do believe it.

When you think about it, it’s such a simple concept, do what makes YOU happy PERIOD! As we all know it’s not that easy to put it into action but believe me and I am speaking from experience, it CAN BE DONE! Are there sacrifices that have to be made? Are there concessions that have to be made? Hell yes there are, of course there are but again as “they” say nothing worth having comes without a fight.

I guess really the whole point of this blog post/conversation is, in today’s day and age, why aren’t more people doing what makes them happy? Life is fleeting, life is short, we ONLY get one go around in this world and with the amount of time we spend at work or working in our lives, why not spend it doing something that you absolutely love to do and be happy doing it!  Instead of doing something that you hate doing, at a place you hate, getting up EVERY morning and going to do that? How can we as parents instill this value into our children if we aren’t leading by example and doing the same thing?  So get out and DO what you love!

The Big Announcement Part II

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The last week has been a whirlwind of excitement and hard work and I am very excited with the announcement about what’s been going on with Visuphoria Photography.   

So in keeping with the theme and excitement of all the changes as of late I have decided it’s a good idea to celebrate the new look and feel of Visuphoria Photography.

How you may ask.... well I am glad you asked that question!!

We would like to extend a special introductory offer to all the beautiful ladies that love us. We are offering a $149 session fee price for the first 5 ladies that book with us!

This special price includes Hair and MU, a pre-shoot consult via telephone, posing and coaching help from me and an in person photo reveal and an in person image reveal session within 2 weeks of your photo session.

If you would like to book now, please click here

The Big Announcement Part I

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Owning a business is a lot of hard work and nobody ever said it would be easy. It’s a roller coaster ride of many ups and downs. I truly do believe if you are willing to put in the hard work, the long hours and do things right, you will definitely reap the benefits of being a full time entrepreneur.

I know in my business of photography there is an amazing community of photographers which most of them are more than willing to share “trade secrets” so to speak lending a helping hand when asked with no hesitation. One of the many wonderful and amazingly talented people I have had the pleasure of knowing and receiving help from is Crystal Mitchell from Provocateur by Crystal Mitchell. She is an incredible human being, entrepreneur, and photographer.

This has been a long time coming and has taken a lot of work in a very short period of time to actually bring it to fruition. I have to say though, seeing the hard work put in literally materialize as results you can physically see, is beyond satisfying for me. I am so proud of what I have accomplished in this short time with my business.

So I am sure you are all curious as to what this BIG announcement I have been speaking of is..... well It isn’t just one thing, there are multiple things I have been working on that have culminated in this BIG announcement.

So I would like to formally welcome you to the new Visuphoria Website! A sleek clean feel for our everyday women to feel comfortable viewing. We have also enlisted some top Album manufacturers, and lower session fees! This makes it affordable for everyone to come in and have their own session with the team of Visuphoria.

The Networking Effect

There is no doubt that networking is a hugely advantageous tool to any and all business owners. Now there are many groups, clubs networks out there to choose from but which one is the right one for you? How do you go about deciding which one is the right fit for your business?

Networking definitely forces you out of your comfort zone but It can generate referrals and increased business as well as creating connections.  These sessions give you the opportunity to rub shoulders with highly influential people in the business world.  These are opportunities that you might not normally have. It is also a great way to get advice from like- minded entrepreneurs/business people and make new friends in the process.

It’s tough not to drown in the sea of options but you have to keep your head above water. Talk to friends, friends of friends, do your due diligence and research and find the right one(s) for you.  I know I am currently struggling with this exact dilemma right now and am trying to figure out a couple of more avenues to explore in order to expand my network.

I currently belong to the Toronto Board of Trade and this is a great organization. Business owners from all walks of life are members it’s a great place to meet people BUT you have to put in the time, do the work and that I think is part of the reason people have a tough time with this type of thing. These connections don’t get built overnight, you have to nurture them they take time and let’s face it you’re not going to connect on an organic level with everyone that you meet at networking events. Sometimes, you just need to walk away as there will be nothing mutually beneficial so move on, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Relationships are the catalyst for success. People tend to do business with people they like and trust. Be a resource for others and help them succeed.  Just because there might be nothing beneficial for YOU doesn’t mean you can’t help someone out in the process if you have the capability to do so. Remember, this networking thing ISN’T all about YOU! It’s a two way street.

 

Image courtesy of accelerateplaces.com

Yervant and Anie - The Photography Symposium 2016

“All good things must come to an end” and no better way to sum up the second day of Yervant and Anie’s Photography Symposium. This event rolled through Toronto as one of its many stops on June 15th, 16th and 17th.  I attended the event for 2 days and there was a master class on the third day which I opted out of.

It was an incredible experience and one I won’t soon forget. If you do get the chance to attend this event in your city, I strongly advise you do check it out, you won't be disappointed. Yervant and Anie put together an unbelievable program packed with a wealth of information, knowledge and not to mention an incredible line up of 6 industry professionals all experts in their particular area of photography. It took place at The Berkley Field House, a truly beautiful venue. It was geared at a smaller more intimate group of about 60-100 attendees which I feel was the perfect amount.

The two days were jam packed with information and personal stories and at times, astonishingly emotional and honest moments.  Yervant speaking about wedding photography and making us laugh hysterically.  Joe Buissink sharing his incredibly moving story of his childhood and why he is so passionate about wedding photography.  Sue Bryce sharing her brilliance on posing your subjects.  Michele Neal Celentano and her insistence on existing in your photographs because of her beautifully moving story.

There were a couple of common threads that were strung through these two days of presentations and stories. These recurring threads seemed to be:  if you work hard at your craft, you can achieve whatever it is you want for you and your business and you are worth it so charge your clients what you feel you are worth but keep in mind, you must deliver on that promise.

One thing in particular really struck a chord with me, the presenters kept re-iterating was with regards to printing your work.  Then I thought about it and we don’t print our work nearly as often as we should! You MUST print your work.  Preserve those moments in time through print as you never get a second chance to go back and relive those moments.  They are fleeting!

Remember, it’s not a photograph until it’s printed!  This statement really reverberated me and reminded me just how important it is for us photographers to print our work. Not only are you helping yourself but you are also helping to preserve our industry.

Entrepreneurship - Do We All Have It In Us?

Entrepreneurs, are people just born with it? Is it in our DNA? Is it a learned behaviour?
I would say over the past six months while scouring the web I have noticed a huge increase in videos and posts all relating to entrepreneurship and becoming an entrepreneur. Embrace it, there has never been a better time than now to be an entrepreneur. These are all over the internet! Now I don’t know if it has been there all along and I just didn’t really pay attention to it or if it is just exploding as of late? I would have to agree there has never been a better time to start your own business. I mean, with the digital age and the reach the internet has granted every single person who has access to it, it would seem the timing couldn’t be better.
As the saying goes, “If you want something bad enough, you will find a way. If not, you will find an excuse”. I do honestly and whole heartedly believe this saying and you CAN achieve whatever you set your mind to.
Ever since I was in my twenties I have dreamed of owning my own business. I came to a realization that it has been for twenty years, I have procrastinated to say the least. Fear has of course played a part in this, not to mention the self-doubting questions like “what the hell would my business be? or do? or provide to people?” I know these are simply excuses. Procrastination is a horrible animal that lives in a lot of us. In my forties, I have decided to finally take the leap. Albeit part time but I have taken a step in the right direction. I know this part time thing is ONLY temporary!
In the words of Sir Richard Branson “screw it, just do it”. Is it really that simple? I guess if you have an idea, the hustle and the drive to succeed. I don’t think the entrepreneurship life is for everyone and that’s fine. Some people are happy working for someone else. You know the type going in every day, doing their job and going home at the end of the day and not having to think about it.
Personally for me, I know I am destined for bigger better things. I don’t want to continue making money for other people for the rest of my life. I want to do something I absolutely love and am passionate about and make money at it. Who wouldn’t be happy doing something you love and are passionate about and get paid for it? That’s not to say it’s easy but think about the freedom!? The joy of going to work every day doing something you love. They say: “if you do what you love you will never have to work another day in your life”.
Think about this: we spend over half our lives working, why would you want to be stuck in a job you don’t even like and be miserable for that amount of time? Life is short, make the best of it and make yourself happy. LIVE LIFE!

Image courtesy of ttentrepreneurship.com

Giving Back To The Community - Everybody Wins

As a business owner, giving back to your community is such an integral part of who we are and who we should be as entrepreneurs. It’s almost as though there should be an unwritten rule about giving back in the entrepreneur handbook (of course there is no such book). Although, I believe it really shouldn’t be “unwritten” and there really should be a handbook or guide of do’s and don’ts but that’s a whole other topic.
A couple of nights ago I had the esteemed pleasure of attending an incredible event. The event was put on by a woman named Katia Millar, a woman to whom I was informally introduced by a mutual friend a few months ago. She started a meet up group called Positive Fabulous Women in 2008 and let me tell you, she is positive AND nothing short of fabulous. What this woman has done for thousands of women across the GTA and her community is astounding. Her network of female members, followers and fans is 8000 plus and continually growing. She organizes monthly events with guest speakers, live twitter chats and webinars for her members. These members donate door prizes from their business, whether it be tangible prizes or one on one mentoring sessions from their individual businesses.
These events are held with the purpose of women getting together to network, discuss their businesses, goals, aspirations and most importantly build each other up, support and empower one another. Not only are they members of this network but they all give back to the community in one way or another, whether it be through mentorship or simply what they do as entrepreneurs on a daily basis. It truly is inspiring to be in their presence.
As an attendee and being one of the only men in the entire room, I have to say it was a little intimidating but the experience was without a doubt, three of the most inspiring hours of my life. What an incredible experience, listening to some of these women share their stories of building their businesses from the ground up. Sharing their successes as well as some of their failures because we all know, without failure there is no success. It was truly a magical evening. If any of my female readers are thinking about going into business or may already be a seasoned entrepreneur, I highly recommend you go to one of the Positive Fabulous Women events, I can guarantee you will walk away filled with inspiration! It will be 3 of the most valuable hours of your career. I honestly wish I could attend these sessions but sadly they are restricted to women only.

I strongly encourage all business owners to donate their time to some community cause or event, it will leave you feeling fulfilled. I know for me personally donating my time as a photographer for the event the other night, it did exactly that for me and I will definitely be doing more of that in the future.
I would just like to say thank you to Katia Millar for allowing me to be part of and the brief glimpse into her incredible world that is Positive Fabulous Women.

Testimonials - The People's Written Word

The other day I came across a question posted on social media, asking who uses client testimonials on their websites and why or why don’t you? The responses to this post were quite varied. It started me thinking, having just revamped my website and added a testimonials section to it. My previous site did not have a testimonials section but I had wanted one for quite some time.

I personally am pro testimonial. Now, I am strictly speaking from a photographer’s view point on this topic, of course this whole testimonial thing would work for a lot of different businesses. If a client takes the time to write a testimonial about the service or product you provided for them, why wouldn’t you post it up for others to read with the intent of bringing in additional business. It’s showcasing, in written word as opposed to visually, your work ethic, who you are as a business owner and your skill set. It shows potential clients that you and your work are appreciated and valued. It tells people what type of business you are running, how great you are to work with etc. and I think it’s a great idea to have feedback posted for others to read when they come to your site and are shopping around for a photographer.

I guess there are two sides to this coin though and these two sides beg the question: do testimonials work and serve their purpose? Basically testimonials are marketing, promotion and exposure for you and your business. When it comes down to it you and your talent are being put in the spotlight.

The other side of this, are the written words in your testimonials section of your website totally fabricated or complete bullshit? How is the client to know these statements are coming from actual people? Is there an ounce of truth to any of it?

Just some food for thought ad I would love to hear other people’s opinions on this topic! So what are your thoughts on the testimonial?

 

Image courtesy of kendba.com

Believing In You - Re-ignite Your Passion!

The other week I started down my new path in the form of my very first “official” mentoring session. Let me tell you, it was so much more than I had ever expected. I have always loved and been passionate about photography but deciding to get a mentor has taken this passion and love to another dimension/level.

After my first session I was on a complete high and wore a perma grin from the time the session ended that evening right through the next 24 hours. It was an incredible feeling of elation and excitement for all the possibilities that will come from this. It was next to impossible to contain myself, I felt as though I was going to spontaneously combust due to excitement. My head felt like it was going to explode or blow right off my shoulders because of all the information I was trying to retain, all the excitement and ideas. It could liken it to trying to stop a geyser from blowing into the air.

Now having a few sessions under my belt with my mentor I have adopted a completely new outlook on my business and getting it to the next level. I have also gained a new level of confidence in myself, my skills and abilities. I am now more convinced than ever, there is NO option for failure here. I am learning so much and yes it is most definitely overwhelming at times but not beyond manageable.

It’s a great feeling having a totally unbiased set of eyes and ears, someone who is also a professional in our chosen field of work, to bounce all your ideas off of and get honest feedback. Having a mentor that wants to see you succeed is an incredibly invaluable resource to have available. Like they say about a “good” “honest” mechanic, they are worth their weight in gold. Well I would have to say the same rule applies to mentors.

As my mentor said “it may take time, but I promise you the ride is incredible.” I know I have a ways to go yet and the road is going to be long but it’s all about the journey not the destination. I am so enthused and excited for all the possibilities, opportunities and knowledge which will be bestowed upon me. All I can do is embrace this new chapter in my life with an open mind and open arms.

Image courtesy of colouryourlife.net

Support Systems - Do You Have One In Place?

If there is one thing I have learned as an artist, be it through speaking with other artists or business owners, a key part of their businesses is to have a solid support system in place. This will be of great assistance in building a solid foundation for your career as an artist or business owner.

It is incredibly important to have that support and backing from your friends, family and peers. It is going to be a long road in building your business as an artist and you will need all the help you can get in terms of having people in your corner. This will do wonders for your confidence as well as your creativity. Let’s be honest, as an artist going out on your own can and will be draining because most of your time will not be spent creating your art but building your business and taking care of all the “business” like tasks that need to be taken care of.

I realize, as many of you probably do as well there are undoubtedly going to be many naysayers. People trying to piss all over your parade. There will be others that think you are crazy for doing this and just don’t understand in general. I say a big FUCK YOU to all the naysayers! SCREW YOU negativity! Don’t let them get inside your head. If this is your passion, follow it. These people should be the fuel that drives you, to push you even harder to succeed. Don’t let them get you down. I know that’s hard at times but you have to filter out the noise.

There will always be HATERS. The key is to remember where they are coming from. It’s a place of jealousy and discontent with their own situations. They are just too scared to do what you are doing, so out comes the hate and negativity.

Support systems are an integral part to succeeding. It will most certainly make the road you travel that much easier when you have your own personal cheering section there with you along the way.

Image courtesy of www.mywindowshelp.com

New Paths - On The Journey to Success

Have you ever had an idea or vision in your head of how things should go exactly and then realize it was very different from how things were actually progressing in the real world? Well that’s where I am right now with my photography business. I am sure there are a ton of people out there who have struggled with or gone through the same thing. I am stuck at the proverbial fork in the road, one path will lead me down the same route I am on right now with little to no progress and the other will lead me to progression in my career with some help.

I am anticipating my photography career to be a long and winding road. Soon I will embark on a new and exciting path and I am so excited and open to all the challenges and possibilities which I am sure will come with this new adventure. I am ready for a change in paths and ready to embrace the unknown of where this is going to take me.

There is nothing wrong with asking for help from people, if you ask, you will find that most of the time people are more than willing to help out with your journey. I am speaking of mentorship! I have decided to try mentorship and I couldn’t be more excited, nervous and scared for this new path and change. As I mentioned in my previous post, change is a good thing and we need to embrace that change and take the opportunities that come our way with vigor and enthusiasm.

Mentorship can only be a very positive thing, when you think about it, this is someone else who has been in the same or similar position you are now and they are willing to bestow their knowledge and life experience upon you, giving you the guidance you need to help you succeed. Your mind will be opened to new possibilities, thought processes and approaches to work and business. How can this be anything but a positive experience? I am looking forward to it and all the possibilities that could come my way on this new path.

Image courtesy of thepottershandacademy.com

Second Chances - Missed Opportunities

I saw a quote a few months back and it really struck a chord with me due to my current state of mind and all that has been going on with me as of late. It went like this, “If you are lucky enough to get a second chance in life, don’t waste it”. This rang incredibly true for me because recently I have been a victim of my own laziness and excuses when it comes to working on my photography and getting my business to the next level.

This is not a very easy thing to admit to myself or to any of you, my readers, for that matter but I figured it’s time to man up and actually say it out loud or as I am doing, put it down on paper for others to see. Perhaps by my own admission this was the kick in the ass I needed to get things “moving and shaking” again for me.

You see I have some work on display at a venue and when I first put my work in there a few months back, both of the owners specifically stated if I am going to have my work on display at their place of business I must be present and make appearances in order to promote myself and my work. I have to let the patrons see me, “the artist” in the space. This way they can put a face to the images hanging on the walls.

My engagement at this venue was to be for a limited time only. I didn’t heed the warnings I was given by the owners during this time and much to my chagrin my phone never did end up ringing off the hook with customers wanting to purchase my pieces. When the month had ended those words of the owners rang in my ears and it prompted me to contact them again and ask for another opportunity to display my work in their place of business. As it would happen there was another artist booked in there for the following month but they gladly agreed to accommodate my request to show my work again for the month preceding the other artist’s stint.

After hanging my work for a “second” time, I decided to show my face around the place a few times, mingle and speak with the patrons and speak about my art. This second chance I was given happened to get me 2 clients who ended up purchasing some of my artwork.

I would just like to tell you “second chances” don’t come along often but when they do, you had better be ready to grab on and hold on to it for dear life because you never know when that will happen again.

Image courtesy of wineskins.org