Errors, Mistakes and Epic Fails – Oh My!

We exist in a society petrified of making a mistake or committing an error. We see that fear broadcast big and bold when someone flubs his or her speech at an awards ceremony or someone messed up the ceremonial first pitch at a baseball game. We see memes designed to ridicule those who make mistakes forever immortalizing them in a viral sensation for others to laugh at behind the safety of their mobile devices. We sit ready to judge the very next misstep or typo or grammatical error or literal trip up as someone falls on his or her face.

As a result, when it is our turn, when we are at the plate, when we have to give the speech, when we have to perform – we freeze. We become paralyzed in fear. What if I mess up? What if I make a mistake? Will I ever recover from the mistake?

And that fear will keep us grounded as long as we allow it to, which, sadly for some may be forever.

One of my first brushes with this coincided with my first opportunity as a writer and editor for a small newspaper. Every time we put out an issue we would receive a large envelope in the mail with no return address. Inside was our most recent issue, which was edited by some anonymous individual with red ink circling and indicating every single error or mistake we had made. This happened issue after issue for the two years I was there. Who knows, 20 years later it could still be happening.

Was this somewhat embarrassing and uncomfortable? Sure. Did I survive it? Let me check my pulse real quick.

Believe me that was the one the smaller end of the spectrum of errors I’ve made in my professional career (we can just leave the personal life out of this). The trick I learned was that we cannot allow ourselves to get caught up on the errors and allow fear to prevent us from doing more work.

Last week I had a comment on one of my blogs indicating that the reader liked my blog content but how I should be embarrassed by the grammatical errors in my writing.

What was my response? Nothing.

I appreciate the person reading and hope my weekly articles bring value to their life and their professional journey. However if a few rogue typos or grammatical errors slip through the cracks – I’ll live.

Over time I’ve basically learned not to care too much about small errors or mistakes. I rather focus on people’s ability to do something.

The author who is able to published his or her first book.
The model who is able to land his or her first paid assignment.
The personal trainer who is able to develop his or her first program for clients.

That is what I care about. Should that not be what everyone cares abot? Yes, the typo was intended.

James Patrick
IG @jpatrickphoto

Author’s Note: If you enjoyed this article or found it helpful in your own brand’s journey – please share it with a friend to help them overcome their own obstacles.

What Was Your Turning Point?

We are coming into the home stretch for our second round of the LAUNCH program where we work with entrepreneurs who want to LAUNCH their idea into a reality.

One of the most essential elements we examine with all the participants is their turning points. You too have a turning point. In your journey to achieve something (whatever it might be) there was a moment that everything changed for you.

Perhaps it was something positive like a challenge from a friend or colleague to do something that then inspired you to want to share it with the world. Perhaps it was something difficult that you had to overcome that forced you to dig truly deep to emerge transformed.

It is important for you to understand what the turning point was in your journey and then it is equally important for you to share that turning point with your audience.

Why? We as consumers are human and we connect with humanity. Showing your turning point shows your transformation. It shows that you were able to get from one point to the next and that means that they can to.

Thus my challenge to those of you reading this is, if you have not yet, to start to figure out what your turning point is. Journal about it, meditate on it. Then once you have it figured out – share your turning point with the world and then show how you want to help others find their own turning points.

Best wishes on your journey!

James Patrick
IG @jpatrickphoto

Author’s Note: If you enjoyed this article or found it helpful in your own brand’s journey – please share it with a friend to help them overcome their own obstacles.

The Paradox of Hard Work

What have we been told would lead us to success? Hard work. Our baby boomer middle class parents worked so hard to build us a life of opportunity and from them, to our schoolteachers, to our bosses to our mentors would continually try to instill upon us the importance of hard work. Keep your head down, don’t ripple the waters, work hard and you will succeed.

Perhaps you, like me, are a textbook definition of a hard worker. You wake up so early, put in long hours, pretend to never be tired and constantly feel like you are striving towards your ultimate goal.

Lately I’ve been fascinated by how paradoxical hard work can actually be, or at least what we define as the “work.”

You are a personal trainer who is trying to grow your business. You put in 12-to-14 hour workdays where you see clients back-to-back. You get home to finish up e-mails, write meal and workout plans before you crash out exhausted so you can get up again the next morning to do it all over again. You have this idea for where you want your brand to go, but there quite literally is not a single more second left in the day to spare. You seek out advice or inspiration and what you hear back is how you need to “work hard” or from the Gary V approach, you have to “crush it.”

Does that not make you feel a bit insulting and short-changed? Who could say that you are not working hard? By any measure you are extremely hard working but you have maxed out on the output you could obtain for your effort.

The truth, as I am coming to realize, is that hard work is not always the roadmap to success. Smart work, however, is.

Wait! Before you close out of this article as you smirk with platitudes like “work smart not hard” allow me to explain what is actually missing that even I personally struggle with in a very real way.

The fundamental difference between hard work and smart work is that one is visible to us and the other remains somewhat of a mystery.

It is (ironically) easier to do hard work than it is to do smart work because we know what hard work looks like. We saw it from our parents. It is right in front of us. It is those 14-hour workdays. That is hard work.

Smart work, on the other hand, is harder to measure. We don’t know what the next steps are to take, what would maximize our time and energy, what would grow our businesses exponentially. Smart work can be scary because it is unknown. It is unmeasured. Smart work requires going on a journey where there is no map to tell you what turns to take next or what pitfalls to avoid.

The result is that most of us continue working hard, keeping our head down, grinding it out. We do this out of ignorance. Some of us, myself included, will do this out of fear.

But the real opportunity for us – is in finding the smart work we can do.

James Patrick
IG @jpatrickphoto

Author’s Note: If you enjoyed this article or found it helpful in your own brand’s journey – please share it with a friend to help them overcome their own obstacles.

The Trick About Inspiration

James Patrick Photography WorkshopEarlier this month I conducted a lighting workshop for a handful of high school students looking to learn about shooting sports and fitness portraits. Over the course of two separate three-hour sessions I discussed as much as I could conjure up on lighting, composition, style, creativity and even marketing.

The thing continued to pop up throughout the day that it became a theme; inspiration. We talked a lot about inspiration, we dissected inspiration and we turned inspiration on every side to examine it in detail.

Many of the students admitted to struggling how to find inspiration and wanted input on where it was and how to mine it to build a career out of it.

I confessed to them that if I only took pictures when I felt inspired to take pictures, I would not have any photos in my portfolio. The trick about inspiration is that it is not found by waiting for it, it is only found when you are already doing the work.

Imagine you worked as an engineer and you only came into the office when you felt inspired to do calculations to develop a new bridge. We would still be waiting on that bridge.

Imagine you worked as a landscaper and you only would approach a customer’s yard design when you felt the inspiration to put all the pieces together. Your very first customer would still be waiting on that design.

I take out my camera a lot. I almost never feel inspired to take it out. But by taking pictures with it, I get inspired. When I start a client’s project I seek inspiration while doing the work. When I engage in a personal campaign, I hunt for inspiration while the work is already being created. Sometimes we cross paths, other times we don’t. But the work still gets done.

Amateurs will wait forever for inspiration. Meanwhile professionals will do the work and if they are lucky and diligent, then perhaps inspiration will strike them. It does not work the other way around.

You want to write a book but are waiting for inspiration? Start writing every single day and maybe you’ll find it.

You want to create a video series to connect people on YouTube but are waiting for inspiration to know what to film? Start filming and posting videos and maybe you’ll find it.

You want to release a training program for clients but are waiting for inspiration to know how to perfectly put it together? Get it together immediately and get it out the door and revise as you go and maybe you’ll find it.

Inspiration only comes to those who do the work.

James Patrick
IG @jpatrickphoto

Behind the Scenes Golf Magazine Style Issue Photo Shoot with Paige Spiranac

Golf Magazine Paige Spiranac Photographed by James PatrickOur team had the exciting opportunity to be a part of the inaugural Golf Magazine Style Issue when we were hired to photograph golfer and model Paige Spiranac. What follows is a detailed account on my approach for this project as well as why making a contingency ended up creating a photo for the magazine.

The shoot began, as many of our projects do, with a detailed discussion with the photo editor (Jesse Reiter) on the publication’s goals with the project and their editorial and creative direction they are hoping to take.

My next step was to compose the team I wanted for the project. This included hiring a stylist for the shoot (Shannon Campbell) who could start pulling clothes immediately for the upcoming project, as well as my in-house team of my production manager and assistant Amber Blom and my hair stylist Amanda Nicole Bland.

From there I arrange a scout to visit the location of the photo shoot, which was the Four Seasons in Scottsdale. Whenever I perform a scout I end up taking a few hundred photos of various areas that jump out at me, including angles and composition I might want to consider – meanwhile sketching out the layout and factoring in potential times and placement of the sun.

After the scout I review my notes and images I took to put together a rough estimate game plan on which areas I want to shoot in and, more specifically, the best times of day I can achieve the shots with where the sun would be in the sky.

I run my shoot concepts and timeline across the magazine photo editor for their input on what they like, dislike or changes they would like to see made. From there I finalize my approach, further sketch out what my plan is for lighting and add in a number of contingencies should anything change.

Day of the shoot we arrived early to unload gear and review our game. The stylist arrived around this time and we were able to go through the various outfits she had pulled for the photo shoot, matching up our favorite outfits with each of the locations we wanted to shoot in – confirming the plan with the on-set editor Jessica Marksbury.

Meanwhile Paige arrived to start hair and makeup and we then headed out to stage the first shot.

Golf Magazine Paige Spiranac Photographed by James PatrickWe began the shoot in the mid-morning on the course photographing Paige doing posed shots with her clubs as well as simulated action shots of her driving the ball from the tee box.

The creative goal with this set was to use the gorgeous landscape the surrounding environment offered us as a contrast from Paige and her bold red outfit.

We completed this portion of the photo shoot using 3 lights. Our main light was outfitted with a beauty dish and diffusion sock for specular but still somewhat soft light. Our two other lights were used as rim lights, each at a 45-degree angle behind Paige helping to separate her from the background.

Paige Spiranac Glamour photo by James PatrickFor the second shot of the day we actually went inside and set up a very moody lit scene in the one of the resort’s restaurant bars. The outfit for this shot was a dark maroon and black dress and the bar itself was finished with a variety of wood accents and unique light bulbs hanging from the ceiling giving it a vintage look.

To capture the mood in this scene, I added a grid to my main softbox on Paige and I placed another grid on a hair light behind her camera left. I did not want any other lights in the scene because I wanted the bar to fall dark and dramatic in the background. I had the idea from this lighting from a fashion shoot I did at a wine bar nearly a decade before – coincidentally the last time I had worked with this stylist, so it all came full circle!

In order to show the lights hanging from the ceiling, I actually had to drag the shutter a bit so they would have some time to burn into the image.

Having this set gave me a nice contrast from the first very bright and colorful set we did.

One of the gems I found when scouting the location was this ice cream cart that was retrofitted to fit this tricycle. I had this has something I really wanted to incorporate into a shot at some point. When I saw the turquoise dress with orange trim and matching heels that the stylist brought – I knew it would be the perfect match.

To light this set I used a big softbox without the grid to give big, soft and vibrant light to the scene. I then used two rim lights to help separate Paige from the background. The bright lights and sharp f-stop I used helped capture not only all the detail in the scene – but also allowed for all the colors to become rich and dominant in the image.

My focus here was on balancing all the colors so that nothing pulled away from Paige and her style in the shot. Thus I kept the shots composed tightly so she took up most of the frame.

Paige Spiranac Fashion photo by James PatrickJust past midday I wanted to shoot atop of this water feature. My goal for this shot was to minimize what was in the frame. I used a low angle to hide most of the desert scape in the horizon so that all the focus would be on this dominant foreground of the water feature, with Paige in the middle of the frame and this rich sky behind her with the sun flaring over her shoulder.

I wanted her to look almost statuesque in the frame as if she was part of the water feature. The silver outfit, with unique pattern, helped add to the vibe in the image.

To make this shot work it was important that her posing match the mood and feel of the overall image. Before each set I would discuss with Paige my vision for that set. This is how we could go from moody and sultry in set 2 to bright, cheerful and carefree in set 3, to stoic and sturdy in set 4. Once I communicated my vision I gave Paige the room to pose and move herself, giving direction to make small changes that I would see fit.

Paige Spiranac Portrait photo by James PatrickThe fourth shot was actually our intended conclusion for the photo shoot and the time when we were supposed to release Paige to the video crew to do her on-camera interview for the web portion of the feature. However, we were just a few minutes ahead of schedule, thanks to everyone who worked quickly and efficiently, and I saw something that I just absolutely had to capture.

Right behind me as I was doing the fourth shot was this semi-shaded walkway made from a pergola-esc configuration tree trunks. I had listed this as a potential contingency location in case one of the other shots did not pan out.

However there was something happening in that moment that I did not see when I did the scout. The sun was shining right through the pergola creating a series of beams of light.

I pleaded with the entire crew on set to allow me 5 quick minutes to make one last picture that they would not regret. I got the green light and moved quickly.

Paige was to wear a white tank top in her video interview. I asked her to grab the black leather jacket the stylist had brought and throw it on.

I positioned her so that the sunlight beam was right over her eyes. I used a beauty dish to fill in the shadows slightly and added in one right light camera right.

After just a few frames I had the shots I loved and set the camera down.

That very shot was one of the ones that made it prominently into the magazine spread.

My sincerest thanks goes out to everyone on set and off who helped make this a successful fashion campaign for the first ever Golf Magazine style issue. This shoot was everything I could hope for in a team effort as a creative.

Canon 5D Mark IV
Canon 24-70 f2.8 L Series Lens
Canon 70-200 f2.8 L Series Lens
Canon 17-40 f4.0 L Series Lens
Paul C. Buff Einstein E640 Strobes
Paul C. Buff Vagabond Battery Packs
Paul C. Buff Octabox & Beauty Dish
Elinchron Rotalux Deep Octa

James Patrick
IG @jpatrickphoto

How to Fail as a Gym Owner or Personal Trainer (Read This to Avoid)

Starting out the New Year I have been in the market to hire a personal trainer. You would think this would be something that should be fairly easy to find, particularly in my field of work, but what I’ve learned is a lot of personal trainers and gym owners are making some critical errors that are losing them potential business.

Here is what I have personally come across that those reading this should try to avoid as a gym owner or a personal trainer – if they want to stay in business that is.

1) Be confusing in your offerings
What specifically do you offer? Are you a group trainer, are you a one-on-one trainer, do you only offer online training? Do you train out of a gym, if so, where is the gym at? Do you train on location, if so, where are the locations? What style of training do you want your clients to engage in? It surprised me how many questions I had to ask prospective trainers because that information was not readily available.

2) Be vague when answering questions
This may seem like it is the same as the first, but it actually deserves its own point. When I contacted gyms and personal trainers to ask questions and try to obtain answers, it shocked me the vague answers I would get. Responding to potential consumer’s questions with “well, it depends” or “well, we should meet to discuss first” does not instill confidence. Do not ask people to jump through hoops when it comes to hiring you. One gym I contacted about rates would not give them to me. A week later they posted on their Instagram how they will never give out their rates over the phone and that consumers should come into the gym to see how awesome it is before they hear the rates. What a terrible way to do business. We are going to hide what we charge until we get you in person. And then to double-down on your dumbness by posting about it online; another fail.

3) Don’t follow up with prospective clients
With that same gym I was talking to, they told me they would have their head trainer call me to discuss my goals and what options I would have. That was two weeks ago (before they performed that idiotic post on Instagram). I’m a potential consumer, who was told I would receive a call and never did. Why would I give you any of my money now?

Now… let us flip the funnel to show you how a gym owner or a personal trainer can avoid these mistakes and actually succeed at booking clients.

1) Make it simple to understand. Illustrate your offerings in detail on your website. It is okay to limit your offerings and if it makes you feel better you can add in an option for “custom” packages. Bottom line; don’t assume consumers will know everything about you and what you offer. Make it crystal clear.

2) Answer questions completely to ensure your potential consumers understand the service offerings and what their options are. A consumer should not feel more confused after talking to you.

3) Always follow up, especially if you say you are going to. This goes to building and keeping trust with your potential clients. How can you expect your clients to do what you are going to say if you cannot follow through and simply do what you said you would do?

James Patrick
IG @jpatrickphoto

New Team Member Taylor Salewske

The James Patrick Photography team is excited to announce the addition of Taylor Salewske to the team! Taylor is now the editor in chief of the FITposium Online Education Network – called FITposium U.

She has a marketing degree and a passion for small businesses, the fitness industry and creative online content.

In her role for FITposium, Taylor will be writing articles, filming videos and curating content from contributors to the site.

Feel free to reach out to Taylor directly if you have content you would like to contribute to FITposium by emailing her editor [at] fitposium [dot] com

James Patrick
IG @jpatrickphoto

The One Thing That Leads to Success

Over the last ten plus years in this industry I have noticed one thing that separates those who often succeed versus those who do not. It is not the amount of money they spend or the number of Instagram followers they have. It has nothing to do with their background, education or credentials. And it is certainly not about how often they get published or appear in the media.

Out of the thousands of faces who have come across my camera, purchased my e-books, attended the FITposium conference, listened to our podcast or hired my team and I for coaching – there is only one single thing that separates those who achieve success and those who do not.

Those who succeed are those who LAUNCH. They don’t go around talking about the ideas they have. Instead they spend that time taking those ideas and turning them into a reality. This singular action of launching is what inspired Kelly Sparotnos and myself to create the LAUNCH PROGRAM. The inspiration behind it was very simple; help a group of fitness enthusiasts take their idea and turn it into a reality.

The moment you LAUNCH your entire life will change. How you view the world will change. How you view yourself will change. How you view future challenges will change. The LAUNCH PROGRAM is a 6-part course held over 7-to-8 weeks where both Kelly and myself will guide you through everything that is required to take your idea and LAUNCH it into something that is real.

As I said at the start, you do not need a special degree in business or a background in this industry. All you need is an idea and the willingness to work with us to break through all the barriers that have stopped you from launching before.

Our first LAUNCH program concluded right before the end of 2017 and was vastly successful as we worked with just over half a dozen entrepreneurs to help them bring their ideas to market.

So I now offer you a challenge. I challenge you to take action. I challenge you to put your ideas into motion. I challenge you to LAUNCH.

Apply to join us on our second round of LAUNCH (starting January 20th) by applying today at – if you get your application in before this Friday at midnight we are taking off $100 of the program fee!

Thank you so much and we very much look forward to launching with you!

James Patrick
IG @jpatrickphoto

Happy Holidays and Thank You for a Great Year

On behalf of all the teams from James Patrick Photography, FITposium, Patrick Creative Media, You in Focus Consulting and Imprint Studio – I wanted to take the time to thank you all for making 2017 our best year we have ever had.

In the last twelve months we have grown our teams, we have expanded the projects and clientele for James Patrick Photography, we once again grew FITposium to more than 200 attendees, we launched and have been growing Patrick Creative Media, we started You in Focus Consulting and kicked off our LAUNCH program, we opened Imprint Studio and so much more.

All this was made possible from you. You who hired us, you who attended our events, you who supported our direction.

From our family (myself, Kelly, Amber, Kristina, Carly, Audra, Nicole and of course Wrigley) to yours – we all hope you are having the happiest of holidays and we are so excited to join you in the new year!

James Patrick
IG @jpatrickphoto

Dangers of Ego-Based Goals

If your goals are ego-based then you will not have any passion behind them. For example, if you have a goal of growing your Instagram following to 100,000 followers – the only thing that gets satisfied upon accomplishing it is your ego. Getting 100,000 followers does not mean you will actually help anyone, does not mean you will actually sell anything and even accomplish anything. The goal is entirely ego-based.

If, however, you set a goal of having a 40% open rate on your e-mail list, that means you are working to grow the connection you have to your audience and how much your messages resonate with them.

As you set your goals for the new year, take a moment to reflect upon the goals that are set to help the business versus the goals that only serve to satisfy your ego.

James Patrick
IG @jpatrickphoto