Are you ever really ready for that next level, the next opportunity, promotion, adventure, challenge?
Those of you who know me know that I’ve grown to love public speaking – however that was not always the case. I just had to keep doing it.
I was at a Toastmasters meeting last week when someone confessed they were nervous about speaking because everyone else seemed to have more charisma, more leadership and more natural ability than they did.
My response was that you did not need any of those things to stand up in front of a group and share your thoughts – but by doing it, you would develop and become all of those things.
I wasn’t ready to lead when I stepped in as president of Ad2. I wasn’t ready to manage a commercial production when I got my first opportunity to do so. Most of our careers we accelerate slowly. But then occasionally we have the opportunity to leap forward.
No doubt we won’t feel ready when that chance arrives. But taking that chance, regardless of the outcome, is what makes us ready.
This past Saturday night at the ADDY Awards hosted by the American Advertising Federation Tucson Chapter, the James Patrick photography team took home three GOLD ADDY Awards for our work in photography.
The projects which received awards included a cover we shot for Max Sports & Fitness Magazine featuring NFL Cornerback Jamell Fleming, an interior spread we shot for Scottsdale Health Magazine featuring Gold Medal Olympia Swimmer Roland Schoeman, as well as a personal dance campaign we shot featuring Michelle Leigh Mozek which was later published in Oxygen Magazine.
This is the most ADDYs our team has ever received during this annual event.
However, the night was capped off when the announcement came through that we also received the BEST OF SHOW Award for our work of Roland Schoeman!
The entire team feels truly honored and privileged for the three gold ADDYs and especially to be named the BEST OF SHOW winner at the event.
Special thanks goes out to everyone who is and has been a part of the James Patrick Photography team for making the projects a success, to our outstanding clients for the opportunities and to the AAFT and Ad2 for the recognition at the award ceremony!
We are very anxious to see how the work does at the District level next!
As I approach my three-year anniversary of completing a fitness competition, I reflect back onto all the various activities, challenges, projects and ideas I’ve undertaken. Whether it was releasing a manifesto, running a half marathon, leaving my marketing job, writing and publishing an e-book or launching theproexposure.com network – there was one unifying commonality between all the endeavors.
With each thing I engaged in, a deadline was set. A due date, a completion time frame and a specific finish line. It was this seemingly simple, yet often overlooked, act that represented a critical facet in the completion of anything I set out to do.
In our world, and especially in our industry – we do not lack people with ideas, people with desire, people with wishes for what they want to achieve.
What we have a shortage of are the individuals with the drive, the grit and the push to finish their project, to hit publish on their blog or their book, to send the product out to the developer, to advertise their service to their audience.
However, setting a deadline on the onset of the project does a few really interesting things. For starters it shifts your personal perception of the project. It takes it away from merely being a hobby or something just for fun. If it is important enough to set a deadline to, it is important enough to truly invest in. From there, the deadline creates accountability. You put yourself on the hook to do it and to do it by a certain date. Now, a lot of the clutter and speedbumps that ordinarily would have gotten in the way and caused you to shelve the project can be overcome. There are far less excuses.
Lastly, setting a deadline is what helps you look at the project from the eyes of a professional because professionals complete and finish. Not everything is going to work perfectly when you send it out the door or hit publish and that is okay. What truly matters is that it, whatever it is that you choose to do, goes out to market.
About two weeks ago I was able to speak to a local Art Institute class on building a career in the photography industry alongside another photographer I admire. Today I have the opportunity to speak on the same topic to a group of students at ASU.
Participating in these sessions and hearing the questions from the students has certainly led to a great deal of reflection on my own path I’ve taken to get to this point.
I hear questions like; how can I be sure I make enough money to live off of, how can I make the right connections, where is the best place to start, how do I network with clients, how do I find the right clients, how do I market the business, how do I do work I love and still make money?
These are not photo-specific questions. These are questions of the eager entrepreneur – regardless of what they choose to spend their time doing.
If there was one unifying lesson I’ve learned in this 13 year trip – it is the value and importance of persistence.
Persistence in the work you strive to do.
Persistence in the clients you want to work with.
Persistence in the pursuit of quality you want to have.
Persistence in the way you run your business.
Persistence in the relationships you make.
and most importantly persistence in the passion you have for the craft.
I’ve had the opportunity to know and work with Samantha Kozuch for the better part of a decade. During that time I’ve witnessed her transform and reignite her brand in multiple avenues. What follows is our recent interview together.
James Patrick: You’ve been on camera almost as long as I’ve been behind the camera. Over the nearly 10 years we have worked together your brand has evolved several times over. How have you managed your brand and growth over time? Samantha Kozuch: Yes, wow! Time does fly when you’re having fun doesn’t it?! Basically, at the beginning of each year I reevaluate where I’m at in my career, what are my goals for each month and the year and then I realign my day-to-day activities to achieve those goals. I make a vision board and check back with it monthly to gage where I’m at as well. Over the years my goals have changed drastically, I’ve gone from glamour bikini model to fitness and commercial talent and yes as you mentioned, have changed my brand over multiple times, and that’s the beauty of this business. I finally feel like I’m at a place in my career where I feel happy, proud and successful! I’m checking off goals that I’ve had on my list for a very long time! It gets really exciting when you keep pushing yourself and don’t give up – you can accomplish so much!
JP: When did you find yourself gravitating towards the fitness industry? SK: I’ve been an athlete since I could remember! My parents had me in sports since I could walk, but actually becoming a health & fitness advocate didn’t start until after I graduated college. When I was in college I had gravitated towards glamour modeling, then when I started noticing the girls in the fitness industry I realized that I could too bring my two passions together – health & fitness and modeling & acting. I had then realized that I was really dieting and excising the wrong way, and damaging my body to look thin more then I was nurturing it and after lots of reading and research I came to find healthy ways to achieve a fit body and wanted to share my experiences with other women. This led me to start my first fitness blog www.GetFitBeSexy.com and then from there I grew a following on my social media channels. I enjoy being able to share my passion and educate others, it’s the most rewarding thing about my career! Getting emails and messages saying how I’ve inspired someone, or because of my tips a person has lost 10lbs is the greatest feeling! Having great looking images and being published is fantastic, but if all that work doesn’t help to inspire anyone then it doesn’t really fulfill me. I want to look back at my career and say I helped make a difference in a world with a high running obesity rate.
JP: You’ve developed multiple income streams as a model from doing freelance commercial and editorial work, to having a commercial agent, to promotions. What led to each of these avenues and how have each continued to build your brand? SK: It all started my freshman year in college, growing up I heard over and over, ‘you’re so tall, you should be a model’, but I was an athlete my whole pre-college life playing basketball and running track year round so I was focused on sports and school. When I got to college I decided to leave my sports teams behind and turned down athletic scholarships in order to have a “normal” college experience without having the obligations of being an athlete. I was worn out from that lifestyle! When first semester of college hit, there was a HUGE void in my life that I had not prepared for, what the heck could I do outside of the classroom? In high school it was always training or games to go to and now I had absolutely nothing but homework! It was depressing, I never knew I would feel this way! I needed a hobby, so I decided to get into modeling. I had seen some ads in The Daily Wildcat for models and I started there. James, you and I, had actually worked on my first published piece of work, the Tucson 12 swimsuit calendar and that really kicked off my modeling career because it gave me that boost of confidence knowing that I could do this! I had gone to a casting, booked the job and got published – viola! So from that I had my own month in that calendar, and I was also in an ad for a local bar within that calendar. The bar I had been advertised for then had asked me to bartend at their place, which I took up instantly because it was so hard to find a good paying job around the university! It was there that I saw promotional girls come into the bar and from there I was just constantly asking questions, how did you get into this, how can I apply? and so on!
This industry is ALL networking and putting your self out there and most importantly, being professional. So that’s how I got started in promotional modeling, then I got into working as a spokes-model for tradeshows, and from there everything just started coming together. I got booked for more work, more events, more photoshoots, etc. whether it was through an agency, or someone had referred me or a repeat client it just kept happening over and over and once I graduated college I did this full time for 5 years. It’s almost a blur now, but basically I hustled! Ha ha! There is no simple answer to explain how I got to each of these. One opportunity led to another and it all just started steam rolling together. My moto is, if it makes sense, makes me money and is aligned with my brand and goals then I’ll probably do it!
JP: Eventually you had an idea for a company you wanted to launch. Talk about the need you saw in the market and how you positioned yourself and your new company. SK: Well it was two things that got me going with my video production business, www.WhiteScreenVideos.com was initially created because I needed a long term plan for my financial needs – who knows how long I’ll be able to model, act, travel, etc. I’ll eventually have a family and there’s no way I’d be happy going into the corporate world after being an entrepreneur my whole life. In the past, and still today, I’ve been the hired talent for many production companies, where I’d go into their studios and read lines while they filmed me. It was after some brainstorming with a friend that I should set up a production company and do it all myself, instead of just being paid a minimum as an actress. I also saw that many video production companies charge thousands and thousands of dollars, many startups can’t afford such costs; especially if they need multiple videos, so I created a turn-key solution that is more affordable. That’s when White Screen Videos was born, we create professional marketing videos for you! Every business should have videos on their website! They help build rapport, get you more traffic, increase conversion rates, clarify your products and boost your sales! For most businesses, the process of creating a video is overwhelming or impossible, so we do all the hard work for them and create a professional marketing video that they can share on their website with potential clients and turn them into customers, all over the world!
JP: How has what you’ve learned and the growth of your brand helped you in this new venture? SK: Well I’ve been very driven to succeed since day one, that’s just my personality type, and not only does my lively hood rely on the income from the businesses I run, but I really hope that I never ever have to enter the corporate world, unless I’m the CEO of course! I’ve learned I have to be professional, consistent and reliable. I hold myself to the same standards no matter where I’m working. When I tell people that I have my own company and work from home, many think I “have the life”, but it doesn’t mean I can just chill on the couch all day, eating bon bons and expect money to roll in… I have to say the hustle is very real and I work around the clock to build and keep my companies thriving. Heck it’s 11:15pm right now and here I am doing this interview… it never stops and I absolutely LOVE it and that’s how I know that I’m doing the right thing with my life.
JP: What made you decide to not rely solely on modeling work for revenue? SK: I’ve been very fortunate in the modeling world thus far, but you never know what’s going to happen in life. Early in my entrepreneurship days I was told to never rely on once source of income, and modeling was my one source. You never know when that will be taken away, god forbid; I could break my leg next week and be out of work for a month! And looks fade, things can change in an instant and when you rely on you’re looks you really do need to have another means of income – it’s just the smart thing to do! So whether it’s selling products, offering other services, etc. having an additional source was always the goal. For me it’s great to have a mix, one week I’m working at home with my video business clients and the next I’m travelling for a modeling gig… it keeps it fun and exciting and I think that’s another reason I’m just so passionate about it all!
JP: Talk about the importance of paying professionals for services such as photo shoots versus getting free work. SK: When you pay for a professional service such as photos, in my experience, you can bet that you’re going to have some outstanding results! Whenever I’ve paid for a photo shoot it’s always been top-notch and an amazing experience because everyone on set is looking to further their business or career so the whole shoot is taken seriously! I’ve always been able to use those shoots to my advantage to get more publishing’s or book higher paying jobs because the images are of great quality!
But I do have to include that it also depends who you are working with when it comes to free work! I’ve been fortunate to work with top photographers and production companies for free and have received incredible work for my portfolio; however, this is not always the case for everyone. Free work is great to learn your skill, such as practice modeling, being in front of the camera, maybe even network with people in the industry – I still do free shoots to this day, but I know what to look for in a photographer prior to shooting and whether they’re worth the time to work with and if I can make those shoots pay off for me in the long run!
JP: Where do you see our personal brand as a talent and your company going from here? SK: I have so many visions and dreams, many I haven’t even started on yet! I’ve barely scraped the top of the fitness industry of where I want to be and I have big goals for fulfill this year. I’ll finally be getting my healthy lifestyle plans and workout videos out to my fans, they really have been asking me to do this for years! Also with WhiteScreenVideos.com I’m at a point where I do need to expand and hire other professional talent, video editors, and get an actual studio outside of my house – so that’s going to be another big and exciting leap. Basically, I’m going to stick to everything that I am doing and expand my brands to be better!
JP: What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned in your journey and advice you could give to others? SK: Before starting any modeling, acting or entrepreneurial career I’d write out a plan of what you want your brand to be – and stick to it or just evolve to be better from it! What do you want to be known for? How do you want to be remembered? What brands do you want to possibly work with? Is your current work going to turn them off from working with you?
My goals and vision has changed DRAMATICALLY in the past 10 years – and that’s normal of course! We all change during our twenties so I’m not surprised to look back, because at that point in time it’s what I wanted .
When I first started in this industry, I was young, in college and 18 so my primary goal was for people to recognize me as a sexy glamour model and I didn’t want to be the “jock” that I was growing up. I was in a new city with new people it was the perfect time that I could re-brand myself without even realizing that this is what I was actually doing. It worked out great for a while, but then I grew out of that “sexy picture” stage pretty quickly and I wanted to make a serious living with modeling and acting. So I started attending modeling and business seminars and was able to network with other people in the industry to learn how to brand yourself and make a living doing so. I asked experienced models questions whenever I could… I was just yearning to learn how to become as successful as them. Since then, I’ve been able to completely rebrand myself, now I’m “The Fit Girl”. These days my work ranges from fitness to commercial to semi-glamour, people know me to be humble, easy to work with and professional. I’m constantly getting rebooked by companies and getting referred all the time, I’m really blessed. So by making a plan, educating yourself and aligning yourself with other people who can help push your career in the right direction is my advice to anyone looking to start or accelerate their career.
Special thanks to Samantha Kozuch for being a part of this interview feature!
It perhaps would seem overly simple – but something new talents still struggle with.
The first step you can take to getting published in a magazine in ensuring you have the right images in your portfolio that a magazine editor would want to see.
Look at your present images in your portfolio and ask yourself – would the magazine I want to be in care about these images? Would they publish these images? Would the editor of the magazine resonate with these images?
If the answer is yes, then the next step is to get your work in front of them.
However, if the answer is no, then you must re-engineer your portfolio to make sure you have the right images for the right publication.
Seven years of my life I spent in the marketing world and my primary job was to chase work on behalf of the company I worked for.
I would have to constantly monitor our current and prospective client’s to track what work they presently had and what work they would have coming out in the near future. Once a client advertised a specific project they would have a very detailed request on how companies needed to apply to be considered for the work.
The pitch or proposals I put together varied in length but had to follow an extremely detailed request to the very letter. If the client’s request was that I used Times New Roman font at 10 size, and I used Arial – our proposal would be thrown away without consideration. If they requested the information be presented in a specific order and we didn’t follow that precisely – our proposal would be thrown away without consideration. I literally once had a proposal tossed out because a single page in it had .9″ margins when they asked for 1″ margins.
You may think that sounds a bit overboard on behalf of the clients – but not really. When you are soliciting work you will have an extraordinary amount of applicants that you have to wade through. What better way to lean out the group and to find out who really paid attention to details and who did not by making these requests?
The experience taught me a lot about paying close attention to what clients are asking to see and providing it to them in the manner to which they want to see it.
Let’s correlate this to casting calls for modeling gigs. We recently had posted one for a magazine project we were working on and requested, very simply, a quick bio paragraph, contact information (e-mail and phone), location and willingness to travel if selected, and lastly a few samples images from their portfolio.
I would estimate that less than 20% of the applicants provided all the requested information. We would an application that had no images or contact information, others that had no location but lots of images, others that had only the partial sentence of “I’m interested.”
Had this been like my prior career, that would mean that 80% of the applicants would be thrown out before ever being considered. Why? Because it now takes us more time to have to respond to request information that should have been provided with the initial application.
So here are the tips for models applying to casting calls.
1. Realize that the reason for the casting call is that the client is in need of assistance in finding a qualified person or persons for a job they need to complete. You are in the position to help them by providing them with everything they need to make their job easy. Don’t add more work to their plate by requiring them to follow up with you to get additional information they needed to begin with. Providing them everything requested for shows that you were paying attention.
2. Take the time to craft a submission. It illustrates to the client that you care enough about the gig to take an extra step to stand out from the competition. When I used to do proposals we would take the last few days before the submission deadline to see if anything could be redesigned or rewritten to make it look, read or feel better. As a model you have the opportunity to vary how you pitch, what you include in your pitch and what differentiates you from others. Although we didn’t request it, a few talents provided a small resume. Another provided a positioning statement of why they were the best person suited for the gig. Contrast that with the person who simply sent the two word message of “I’m interested.”
3. Send the right images. Look into the client’s style to see the type of work they do and showcase to them that you can do the same. Do not send images that do not match up to the content and style of the client. Thus if it is a female-oriented fitness magazine, do not send overly sexual images – we get a lot of complaints about this from the editors of the publications.
4. Following up is not a bad thing! Often times talents think they will upset or offend the client if they follow up to see if a decision has been made. Although I wouldn’t advocate following up every day – a well timed follow up shows that you were still interested enough to remember the gig and that you were very interested in the results of the selection. There have been times where the act of following up propelled someone into being selected.
5. Realize there will most likely always be another casting and another opportunity. On any project, only a finite number of people can be hired for it. Often times it is only a single model out of the numerous who applied. If not selected, take that opportunity to build a stronger connection to the client. Feel free to inquire about what would make a strong application on the next casting call.
Simply stated – if you show that you are invested in them, there is a higher chance they will invest in you.
Excite to share with you my recent interview with Erica Willick, the co-founder of Gorgo Magazine about the formation of the magazine, their unique approach to publishing and what they look for in modeling talents.
James Patrick: What was your background prior to the launching of Gorgo Magazine?
Erica Willick: (Laughing) Corporate finance for 10 years. Fire ignited by fitness.
JP: What inspired the launch of the magazine? EW: Gorgo co-founder Val Solomon and I created Gorgo out of our own dissatisfaction with the fitness magazine content and imagery.
We craved more than hoola-hoop workouts and surface level content.
The images also didn’t fit us as we strived to embrace our everyday fit that is not stage lean or airbrushed.
JP: Discuss your multi-phase strategy for Gorgo from going to online only to eventually printed issues.
EW: The print industry is in major flux. Head out to any airport or coffee shop and you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone holding a print magazine. Everyone’s faces and attention are on their devices. Print is certainly not dead but it’s not the only option now for distributing content and powerful images in magazine format.
So in the first phase of Gorgo, we started exclusively online to establish our brand and evolve our offering based on what our community craved. Now just one year into its existence Gorgo has developed a character, more powerful than our first vision of her. Many of our subscribers are using Gorgo as a verb, noun and adjective. “That’s so Gorgo!” or “Be Gorgo” or “I am a Gorgo Girl” is used by women now.
The next phase of Gorgo is fully underway and we can’t wait to reveal where we’re going to take health & fitness content next. I expect our Gorgo Girls will be thrilled when we roll out this phase in the late spring.
JP: Gorgo has a unique approach to publishing without advertising. What was the decision behind this and how do you make this possible?
EW: Print cost is prohibitive unless you are funded by advertisers and we wanted to create something that didn’t need to cater to a funding source because we created Gorgo for one purpose – to give everyday fit women a voice and to inspire her to find her true strength.
Now with the traction of the subscriber funded online magazine we are able to put out a print edition this spring. The content in the print edition is better than anything out there because we cater to no one but our subscribers. The images are powerful and raw and real because we don’t have to sell (out) to pop culture.
JP: Could you share with us what you look for in modeling talents for the magazine?
EW: You’re “Gorgo” in what you do. You support other women in their fitness journey, you have depth to your actions which means not endlessly posting selfies of you, your abs, your ass, and you have a balance and love for real health and fitness.
JP: You no doubt receive a lot of pitches from models wanting to work with the publication, how do you handle and sort through these?
EW: We’re really busy so the pitch needs to stand out to be taken seriously. One glance at photos or words that don’t fit our magazine’s brand and mission & we’ve hit the delete button. Well… we typically acknowledge because we’re respectful, but we don’t pursue.
JP: What do you find works in a model’s pitch and what do you find does not work?
EW: The strongest pitches from models come when they have something more to offer than some photos. Don’t pitch me random photos. Pitch me solutions. Ideas are shit. Everyone’s got them. The question is, can you execute? It doesn’t just have to be articles, though we always use photos of the writer if they have them. Where is this industry’s creativity? Think out of the box. I’m surprised no model has sent us images of herself with some inspirational Gorgo-esque words on them to be shared on our social medias – with the Gorgo logo on them. Or a video blog that rocks and is Gorgo editorial. Or…or…or…
JP: Are there any specific no no’s models should know about before pitching to a fitness magazine such as yours?
I figure if you’ve done your research by reading our articles and looked at our covers you’d know not to submit in photos of yourself in sexy poses or outfits. Too many clearly don’t understand that or couldn’t be bothered to take 15 minutes to check us out in depth before submitting. So in return I don’t take more than 10 seconds to hit delete.
JP: What, to you, represents the ideal cover model?
EW: Her everyday fit. Strength and personality emulating from her body. Bringing others along through genuine help. Authentic.
JP: Lastly, what are the plans for Gorgo in the coming year?
EW: Next level in more ways then one.
Special thanks to Erica for joining me in this interview. Be sure to check out the Gorgo Magazine website as well as Facebook page. You can also follow them on Instagram @gorgomag