Four Important Questions Every Professional Model Needs to Answer

  1. What is your brand and what does it represent? You should be able to clearly articulate what influences the type of work you do, the type of clients you want to have and what people see or feel when they think about you.

 

  1. What are your target revenue sources? Where will you realistically profit and from who specifically? What is the mix of work you’ll likely be doing this year and what revenue can you project from each source?

 

  1. What are your marketing strategies? Whether it is social media, traditional, relationship building, direct-client or another mix of action items – what will you be doing this year to not only target, but approach the clientele you want to be working with?

 

  1. Finally, how will you measure your progress and where you need to re-adjust your efforts?

Destroying Doubt in the Second Shift

These are certain things that no one told me. For example; no one told me that you are not supposed to be able to actually leave a secure job. No one told me that you are not supposed to be able to start your own company. And no one told me that you are not supposed to be able to be successful. In fact, I don’t believe anyone told me any of these things. So I ignorantly left my job, started my own business and in somewhat of a blind ignorance I became successful in my own right. Each year of running my business I enjoyed more success, which continued to shadow any reason to have doubt.

However I then had a year where business slowed. Sure, I beat my goals that I set for myself, yet it didn’t feel as big or momentous or successful as year’s prior. Thus for the first time ever the feeling of doubt began to show its face. Were the first few years a farce? Was it just a flash in the pan? Perhaps I didn’t actually have the ability to leave my job, start a company and be successful.

If you look at nearly any great story or film there are two major shifts a character has to endure. The first is the call to action. It is the incident that propels them into motion and changes their life moving forward. But then, later in the story, comes the second shift. This turning point is when the character faces something even harder which nearly overcomes them so they have to dig really deep to find something that allows them to achieve more than they ever thought possible. That is true evolution of a character.

When you set out to do something, the initial call to action is what got you to start the business or venture. For fellow nerds out there, think about the film Star Wars. Luke Skywalker was propelled into action when the Empire killed his Aunt and Uncle. Then you set out, just as Luke did, on your journey. You evolve and you grow – but at some point you will face another, even greater, challenge.

This second shift will force you to look inside of yourself. It will require that you dig deep down to find that energy, that passion, that drive which you can use to get over the seemingly insurmountable challenge.

You learn to believe that you deserve success. You find that courage to push past any doubt or fear. That is what develops true grit. Then, any only then, you can achieve success beyond your wildest dreams.

I’m sure these moments have impacted you in some way or form in your life. I look forward to each of your great successes as well as to working towards earning my own.

James Patrick
jamespatrick.com
IG @jpatrickphoto

I’m A Rude Photographer

When speaking with a client on the phone a few months ago I was called rude. Truthfully the statement caught me off guard so I had to question what happened to leave them with that conclusion.

The incident involved a modeling talent requesting that I give permission to their sponsoring supplement company to use an image we did together for an in store poster wrap.

However, the deal needed to happen that day as the company was ready to go to print with their posters.

I was unable to respond to the text message request immediately as I was already on deadlines with other projects. Once I completed my work I called the talent to inquire more about what they were needing so I understood all the details and scope of the request.

I asked about the sponsoring company and their legitimacy as I was unfamiliar with them. I asked what they were specifically planning to use the photo for so I could determine an accurate usage fee to charge the company. I also asked about the rush request to have everything done that day as there is typically a lead time to put everything together, process paperwork and settle payments.

After I got off the phone with the talent I called the company directly to discuss in further detail what they were looking for from their perspective. During the phone call they requested and received my estimate for the usage.

At the time the company did not accept nor did they decline the proposal but said they would get back to me if they wanted the image as most of their materials had already gone to print and it may have been too late to get this image in.

I never heard back.

The following week I was speaking to the talent and inquired what transpired to which they responded that they were “pulled from the ad.” They were upset with me because according to them, I came across very rude and I should not have asked if their sponsor company was legit.

From my perspective I was attempting to look out and protect myself and my work while obtaining all the information I needed to in order to have a full understanding and make an accurate assessment and decision. The talent’s perspective was that I was being rude, unhelpful and not fulfilling the services they paid for.

There are several interesting lessons we can take from this situation. In no way at all was it a mistake to ask the questions I asked. Just as talents need to know details about accepting a modeling gig, photographers too need information before entering into a business transaction.

However, was I rude in the way I asked? That is not outside the realm of possibilities. I was finishing up a heavy deadline and saw a lot of red flags in the request that was being asked of me and that I needed to figure out before moving forward. It is possible that I was too quick or short on the phone or aloof to the talent’s excitement about the potential feature.

Although I have no recollection about being the slightly bit rude; it is something I made a serious note of. Even if it was false in my eyes – perhaps I could improve and provide even better service moving forward.

When it came to the talent complaining about the services they paid for; I was hired for a photo shoot, completed the photo shoot and provided the agreed upon number of edits to the talent for their usage. Anything beyond that is entirely separate. I am not expected to be immediately on-call to provide additional services without notice and agreement.

What if I were on vacation that day or on set and couldn’t respond until a few days later? Would the talent still think I didn’t provide enough additional services for free?

So how does one navigate such a situation?

First, I thanked the talent for the candid feedback. Why? Because it is important to get unfiltered testimonials – even if you don’t always agree with them. There is always an opportunity to learn or make improvements in what you do.

Second, I apologized for their experience. It doesn’t matter that I don’t agree that I was rude – they did and that is a subjective point of view. I claimed responsibility for that. I offered an explanation, but certainly not an excuse.

Third, I asked if there was anything I could do to help make up for the misunderstanding to please let me know.

That is where I left it. When it came to the comment on services they paid for – I didn’t even touch it. There was no win to be had there.

At the end of the day they were upset because they didn’t get used for the advertisement and it was much easier to blame me than to point the finger at their sponsor company.

Unfortunately that is how it goes sometimes. But it is important to handle these scenarios quickly, calmly and with proper thought.

James Patrick
IG @jpatrickphoto
jamespatrick.com

The Problem with Big Claims

I was browsing various photographer’s Instagram accounts when I saw one who wrote on their profile that they were the “most published (covers) fitness photographer in US in 2013.”

My initial though was – according and compared to whom? Are you contrasting yourself against the photographers on your street? Then perhaps that could be accurate. In a five-mile radius? Maybe. In your state? Could be possible. In the entire country? In that case I would be curious to see the proof for this claim.

Then I would inquire how you define being published. Does an online magazine have a real cover like a tangible print magazine? Does a small local magazine carry the same weight as a national publication? Does a newsstand magazine mean more than a print on demand independent publication?

Next, who did the counting? Did you review every fitness magazine or every photographer that was published in that industry in that year and tally up all the results? Or did you hire someone to do the bean counting? Perhaps it was done by an independent third party organization.

Next I would ask, what happened in the next two years? Was 2013 just a flash in the pan? Has your work declined? Have you lost customers? Did you switch your focus?

The issue with making a claim like this is there is a lot of risk involved with people questioning the legitimacy of it.

I saw on a talent’s Instagram page that they were voted as a Top Ten Personal Trainer. Voted by whom? Top Ten where? Ten Ten of what? Who did the voting? Where were the results published? What were the qualifications? How were the results measured?

Years ago I was “nominated” by a magazine as being of the best photographers in Arizona. Then I found out that winning the actual contest was achieved by getting the most people to vote for you daily on the magazine’s website. I suppose I could say I was nominated as Best Photographer in the state – but I would know that it was a crappy claim and I would rather not make a misleading statement.

If you plan on making a big plan – just be prepared to back it up if anyone asks. Or put the proof right in the statement.

When I worked in my old marketing career our company was ranked as the top firm in our industry in the Southwest United States. It was a pretty big deal for us and we used that in all of our marketing materials in a very specific statement. Ranked as the Number One Design Firm in the Southwest in 2006 by This Magazine. That helps make the mud much clearer.

James Patrick
IG @jpatrickphoto
jamespatrick.com

We Need Our Creativity Back

As a kid I really only had two options at anytime I was bored. I could remain bored or I could entertain myself.

Remember now, this was before cell phones, endless apps, social media channels. My family, like most others, didn’t even own a computer.

My choices at the time were looking at clouds or coming up with ways to stimulate my brain. I soon found out that all I really needed was some blank paper and a pencil.

At first it was just doodling. Then it became short stories. I got a typewriter from my father and now had the ability to write longer stories faster than before.

As I got older I concepted and sketched out dozens of comic book characters. I wrote short stories constantly.

Thus my entire life I have constantly exercised my curiosity to be creative.

However today when people are bored they pull out their phones. Not to open up the note pad section and start typing away a new story – but to scroll through apps, open a browser window. This has severed our ability potential to create.

I would still take a blank piece of paper any day.

James Patrick
IG @jpatrickphoto
jamespatrick.com

Answering Your Questions

I would like to know what you all are interesting in learning. In the comment section below leave me your comments on what you would like to learn or simply just ask me in general.

Smaller questions will receive a comment back and larger questions will be converted into a blog post to be shared over the new few weeks. Thank you so much – I look forward to hearing your questions.

James Patrick
IG @jpatrickphoto
jamespatrick.com

The 10 Minute Photo Shoot

Sam FoxI recently had the opportunity to work with business owner and entrepreneur Sam Fox for an editorial spread in Tucson Lifestyle Magazine. For those outside of Arizona, Mr. Fox owns Fox Restaurant Concepts and is responsible for the launch of such fantastic eateries in Arizona such as North, Blanco, Zin Burger, True Food Kitchen and Olive and Ivy to name a few.

Often times when we are working with a business owner or a professional athlete we may not get a great deal of time to make a lot of pictures.

That is why we plan as much as we can before hand to make sure we maximize every minute we have on set with the subject.

For our shoot with Mr. Fox we were working at his test kitchen in Phoenix. Before the day of the photo shoot I already planned out how I wanted to light my subject using a small deep octa for a soft, rich light with a fast fall off and potentially a backlight with a warming gel on it.

I arrived to the location with my assistant early to scout the test kitchen. We found a large kitchen area with a stainless steel counter top. Behind that was a bookshelf made from white planks of wood. I thought that made a cute backdrop given his profession.

We set up the lights and I began to test the shoot from a few different angles. Originally I planned the shoot with the stove and ranges in the background. However because we had enough time to test I found another set up I really liked using the bookcase as a background slightly out of focus.

By the time Mr. Fox came down for the shoot we had all the lights set up for the two shots, metered and ready to go.

At that point it allowed me the opportunity to connect with the subject, something I like to do before I start snapping away photos. The goal is to help them feel comfortable on set so they can open up on camera.

Once I believed he was ready to go my assistant and I worked quickly shooting the two set ups we had planned out completing the entire project in a little less than 10 minutes and right before Mr. Fox had to head off to his next meeting.

The planning we did before hand as well as the set up and testing prior to him getting to set allowed us to achieve this.

James Patrick
IG @jpatrickphoto
jamespatrick.com

The Secret to Success

I’ve kept this topic chambered for many years fearing that my audience would be unable to handle the true secret to success. This method is applicable to the trajectory of your career as a model, photographer, stylist, or whatever it is you choose to spend your time doing. Consider this the revealing recipe for your potential proficiency.

Located deep within the thickest woods of the Appalachian Mountains there exists this cottage built of stone and wood. Inside this distressed adobe exists an elixir kept forever warm as it sits atop a small inextinguishable fire. One sip of this potion of prosperity will yield an abundant supply of success for the rest of your life.

When I speak to high school students I am asked what the secret of success is as if it were only a potion you could digest or a simple parlor trick you could perform.

The truth is much less glamorous and far less mystical.

You have to do the work everyday to get to where you want to go. Do you want to be a prominent photographer? Then you must put in the hours, do the work and maybe you will have the opportunity to have a small taste of success. Don’t count on luck or the generosity of someone simply handing it to you.

Do the work.

James Patrick
jamespatrick.com
IG @jpatrickphoto

45 Covers and Counting

1453458_1075657865797976_5069063720462182761_nA lot can happen in five years. Entire industries can evolve, change, shift, rotate, adapt. Myself personally I managed to buy a house, make friends, lose other friends, leave my corporate job, launch my own business, launch a few other businesses, close some businesses, write a few e-books, host a few events, the list goes on. Yet since the beginning of 2011 I have had the opportunity to work with Max Sports & Fitness Magazine on 45 of their cover assignments and nearly countless interior features.

As the magazine celebrates the publishing of their 200th issue, I could not help but to reflect on the quarter of their cover assignments I worked on for them.

My first cover with the magazine is still one of my favorites as it symbolizes the beginning of a great working relationship with the magazine but also the subject, Registered Dietician Tiffani Bachus. The shoot was done at her house where I set up a mobile studio to photograph the cover as well as the interior workout circuit. I recall being nervous as it was my first big assignment with the magazine and I wanted to make sure I covered every base I possibly could. I probably overshot by a few hundred frames – but I left the shoot feeling confident we achieved something strong. Since that issue came out in February of 2011 I have had the ability to collaborate with Tiffani on numerous editorial projects as well as co-emceeing an event together in 2015.

Several of the covers our team had the chance to work on even went on to win some awards including the cover shoot we did with NFL cornerback Jamell Fleming and dancer and personal trainer Michelle Leigh Mozek.

For the July 2012 issue I woke up at about 4 in the morning after working till midnight the day before to meet with Danielle Pascente to photograph the magazine’s runner’s issue at sunrise.

For the May of 2014 issue I had the privilege of working with professional golfer and model Blair O’Neal in which we got to work at one of the most beautiful country clubs in the state.

Later that year in 2014 we got to launch the first ever Max Sports & Fitness Magazine fitness swimsuit issue which we have continued doing annually since.

In the September 2013 issue we got to work with fitness talent Marcus Johnson on an MMA spread photographing in a gym that was so hot inside that our lights began to misfire towards the end of the shoot.

For the October 2014 cover I had the opportunity to work with military veteran and amputee Derek Weida.

In the July of 2013 we hung fitness talent Deborah Goodman upside down for a rock climber inspired photo shoot.

In February of 2014 issue I got to gather together several cover models I had worked with previously for a large group shoot. These included Michelle Leigh Mozek, Kasie Rae, Tiffani Bachus, Gyda Loveres, Shandi Hudson and Morgan Tran.

The list of memories and fun projects goes on an on. There were projects that went splendidly and projects that drove us crazy with anger and disappointment. We had talents who surprised us so much we put them on a cover as soon as we could. We had other talents who were so rude they were yanked from their features before they even know they had them. We got to have long lead times planning certain features and short turn around times to scramble and put something creative together.

But the most important element of my experience in working with Max was the relationships that were formed.

The truth is – having tenure of that length can be rare in the publishing industry. Art Directors or photo editors change jobs, the magazine decides to go a different direction, the publishers decide to spread the work around. However we’ve been truly fortunate to earn a relationship that yielded us all the projects we’ve received.

For all 45 covers and all the interiors features I had the opportunity to work with Editor in Chief and Creative Director LaRue Gillespie. I truly could not have been blessed with a better client. The type of client who believes in myself and my team, challenges us, pushes us, supports us and collaborates with us. My sincerest thanks goes out to LaRue. I am ready for the next 200 working with you in any capacity!

James Patrick
IG @jpatrickphoto
jamespatrick.com

The Transition

This time of the year marks my anniversary of when I left my career in marketing to pursue my passion in photography full time. In hindsight the decision to make the transition was as simple as deciding what to eat for lunch. It needed to happen so I made it happen.

The truth is that the decision was a culmination of years of effort, thought, worry, fear, anxiety, pain and self-induced turmoil.

For myself, as for many working professionals, my full time job represented stability and security. Sure, my photography work seemed to be taking off and I was spending nearly all of my free time on it – however I had a guaranteed paycheck, I had benefits, I had a safety net.

Stepping away from that meant that I would truly be on my own. If things got rough and lean I would need to figure out a way to make it work – I couldn’t just wait for my next pay period. I would be in charge of every paycheck that would be brought in.

My mind immediately went to the worst possible scenarios. I would strike out on my own and I would lose any big clients I had, perhaps they would go out of business or hire another photographer and I would have no way to support myself. I would need to foreclose on my home and move back in with my parents.

But most crucially – I feared that the market would tell me that I simply was not good enough to be successful at doing what I loved to do. As long as I stayed at my other career, I would never have to face the potential of failure.

Change often occurs when there exists a catalyst pushing for a shift in direction. For me, that catalyst was measured in discomfort. The more uncomfortable I got in my marketing career, the less daunting it seemed to do something else. The company I worked for at the time was dealing with the economic hardships striking most businesses. We went from a booming office of around 130 staff members to less than 40 in a now barren-feeling building.

As a result we moved locations to a smaller office complex and I went from a nice big office with a great view to a small cubicle in the middle of the building next to the elevators. My travel time to work went from 40 minuets round trip to more than 2 hours round trip. My workload seemed to more than quadruple as I was picking up work from other offices that lacked a marketing lead – in addition to the reality that we were simply chasing more work than we had in years past to attempt to recoup our losses.

For the first time in the seven years I worked there I was absolutely miserable. People in the workplace, including myself, became a bit more distant. We had shorter tempers and lacked any resemblance of patience with one another. In essence, many of us became hostile towards each other.

It was becoming clearer that I had to make a change.

The week I planned on putting in my notice I was having anxiety attacks over the ordeal. My manager was coming to visit me from the corporate office for my annual review.

My entire drive to the office was consumed with me practicing over and over in my head what I was going to say. My mouth was dry and my body temperature was spiking.

I would estimate that more than fifty percent of me was certain that I would not go through with it and that I would stay at my job for the foreseeable future.

When my manager showed up to the office my heart was pounding so loudly that I could barely hear what he was saying. I was fumbling over my words unable to even make small talk.

We sat down in a conference room and began to go over my annual review in which he believed I once again was doing a great job, despite all the struggles the office was having relating to lay offs, the economy and the added workload.

The words that I wanted to move on were starting to be swallowed deep down by my fear. I wanted to scream them out so bad but elected to remain seated quietly and gaze out the fourth floor window.

As part of the process he collected reviews on my work from all my co-workers and fellow-leaders in the office. These were to be recited to me as anonymous sources to help with my growth in the company. However my manager seemed hesitant to share them all with me.

Curious as to why I asked him to let me hear them. He tried to preface it by saying “although I can’t tell you who said this, just know that he was asked at a bad time and he probably didn’t really mean it.” I persisted for him to read it to me.

The comment on my report from my co-worker was “I’ve lost faith in James’ ability as a marketing lead.”

When I think back to that specific moment I try to recall exactly what I was feeling but truthfully it all became very cloudy at that very moment. I’m certain I was shocked and hurt by the comment but at the same time it made me feel numb.

There was no hesitation at that point for me to turn in my notice. My manager’s response, which I won’t forget, was to say, “what took you so long?”

Evidentially, he and many of my other colleagues were waiting for years for me to make the move. They saw what I was preventing myself from seeing.

It was the day before Thanksgiving that this all transpired. My manager and I made an agreement that I would stay on through the holiday season before the announcement became official to help the rest of the team with the intense backlog of work that was forthcoming.

However I went to visit my parents that Thanksgiving to tell them the news. I remember overanalyzing their response. They were obviously and with good reason nervous on my behalf. They wanted the best for me and I was taking a risk like none I had done previously.

My last few weeks of full time employment flashed by leaving this impending feeling of fear as to what would possibly come next. I recall on my last day I was only given a half day and I sneaked out of the office before I could talk to too many people fearing someone would try and succeed and dissuading me.

The first morning of solopreneurial employment is still vivid in my memory. I woke up before the sun rose and made a full pot of coffee. I had no assignments to work on but instead a list of potential clients I could contact to try and get work from.

Over the next ten hours I was glued to my e-mail sending off dozens of various pitches and promotions to past clients I had worked with and prospective clients I wanted to work with.

At about four in the afternoon I looked at the list of things I wanted to do as well as having my mind flooded with an endless list of new things I could do. Yet it was at that point I made the decision to turn off the computer. It was the first of many times I had to learn to put a limit on myself.

The next few days went about the same. Having about seven years of experience working in a corporate setting I had some basis to build my day around. Yet over time my structure loosened. I developed a system that worked for me and how I operated.

The big change however, was the fear. It now began to feel different. It was no longer suffocating me. Now it seemed to just be standing next to me – no longer in control. I had pushed it aside a bit. But the only thing that pushed the fear aside was actually doing what I was afraid of.

Now, several years down the road, the fear still exists. Yet I can never let it dictate how I run my business nor how I run my life. Everything has a way of getting figured out. The transition was never the hard part. The biggest obstacle was the willingness to make the transition.

I encourage you to make yours.

James Patrick
IG @jpatrickphoto
jamespatrick.com