Can men be boudoir photographers? Can you book client’s from Tiktok?
Join us for an exciting episode of Humberto Garcia’s Photography Profits, where we sit down with Corey Garrison from Cory Brandon Boudoir. With a background in Uber driving and sales, Corey followed his passion for photography and created a thriving business in a traditionally female-dominated industry. In this interview, Corey shares his journey to success, including how he uses video to book clients and how he has achieved an impressive sales average of over $6000 per client. We also delve into Corey’s experience as a man in a female-dominated industry and how he has navigated the challenges along the way. Tune in and discover the secrets to Corey’s success as a former Uber driver turned boudoir photographer.
About Photography to Profits and Humberto Garcia
Humberto Garcia is the world’s leading photography business growth expert.
Founder of Photography to Profits and high-performance coach to multiple 6-figure photography businesses. Humberto coaches photographers from his special operations military experience and photography sales and marketing experience. After years of high performance in Marine Special Operations and building businesses, he knows what works.
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Humberto Garcia: [00:00:00] All right. Today we’re talking to Corey Garrison from Corey Brandon Boudoir, and he’s going to walk us through how he went from driving an Uber at night to try to make ends meet, to opening two boudoir photography locations as a man and averaging over 6000 hours per client lately. What’s up, Corey? Can you tell everyone who you are, what you do, and where you do it?
Corey Garrison: [00:00:24] Sure, I’d love to. So first, just excited to chat with you today. But like you mentioned, I’m Corey Garrison. I’m the owner of Corey Brandon Boudoir Photography. We are a boudoir studio based here in Houston, Texas. Also, I did just open up another location, so based in Houston and also in Dallas. So I used to say that because it’s kind of like a new thing there. But yeah, that’s that’s where we are.
Humberto Garcia: [00:00:51] Yes. Which you’re going to jump right into it, I guess. But yeah, tell me about that. So two locations, what causes that?
Corey Garrison: [00:00:59] So what? Cause it was basically just geographical. One of the things that that I noticed I’m originally from Baltimore, moved to Houston in 2019, so we’ve been Houston based for a couple of years now. Right. And through that process and growing the business here and establishing it, I noticed that I was having a lot of folks that traveled from out of the state, out of the country, and then also a lot of folks that travel from within Texas. So Dallas is like a three and one half, four hour drive. So it’s doable for four day trip. Had an opportunity, was having clientele come down. So just figured it would be the best way to dip my toe into expanding out a little bit wider from like my home base market.
Humberto Garcia: [00:01:45] I guess I’m definitely going to have to get back into that because that’s interesting how you schedule it. Who’s shooting that? But yeah. Tell us a little bit about your background. What did you do before photography? What would you.
Corey Garrison: [00:01:57] So for me, photography is something that I stumbled into by happenstance. I spent my years kind of cutting my teeth in sales. I did telecom sales for. Probably ten years or so. So probably for the entire working life, if you will, up until that point, that was like what my background was and what I excelled in. So that’s pretty much what I was doing before photography came and knocked on the door and eventually kicked down the door and made me have a little career shift, if you will.
Humberto Garcia: [00:02:33] Okay. And then yeah, so I mean, were you always artistic? We always a photographer, like.
Corey Garrison: [00:02:41] So what’s interesting about that, right? I believe that you, you find things out maybe later on, right? Like when you get a chance to reflect. Right. So if I answer this question a year ago, two years ago, I would say, oh, like, you know, I like to draw as a kid, but like, I never really expressed a bunch of like, you know, autism or stuff like that. But what’s really interesting is that photographer was something that was kind of always in me, and it just took the right opportunity or the right moment for like that call to come out. So like my baby pictures are bridal. Like my dad took my baby pictures. Like my dad was a professional photographer, right? And like, it never clicked when I started my journey there, like, you know, I’m doing something that, like my father had done, it never clicked on me that, you know, I remember taking a photography class, a film photography class in high school, right. And being excited about like, that process. I never clicked that. Specifically speaking about Boudoir is that I’ve always appreciated the human body. So, like, I love going to like art museums and like, you know, you see the sculptures and things like that. And like, I’ve always just been fascinated with that, right? Like just the, the form that we take physically and the art and being able to document that. So I have come to that realization or that conclusion through the journey. But, you know, it was one of those things where I was being guided subconsciously and it took for me to kind of like sit down and like think about everything to see like, hey, like these little these little embers into this fire were, were sparked at different points in my journey before I kind of was conscious to put it all together in a sense.
Humberto Garcia: [00:04:21] So obviously gone a long way in your photography career, mainly because, number one, most people don’t have two locations. Most people don’t even have enough business to really run one full time. So like, walk us through the contrast of like when you first started. How did you run your business and how did you get to where you are?
Corey Garrison: [00:04:41] So I’m going to tell a little story, if you will. Right? So when I first started, it wasn’t something that was intentional for me to do this genre, right? So like all of my research and my planning and everything else was like, I’m going to shoot portraits, I’m going to shoot weddings, all that stuff, right? And for me, I. Kind of how it how it happened, in a sense was this was a genre that kind of kept finding me right. And kept kind of coming around and coming around. So I’m sorry I got lost in the story. If I could repeat the question, I want to stay on because I was getting ready, like go way left. I was like, real little impact was like, give it some more time.
Humberto Garcia: [00:05:24] Yeah. How did how did you go from like beginning? What was business like when you first started?
Corey Garrison: [00:05:29] Gotcha. So for me, I didn’t know a lot, right? So I would say my story is probably average. Like a lot of folks, I was shooting Burn. I was very nervous about what I was creating because I didn’t come into boudoir knowing how it worked or kind of what it was about. I was like, Hey, I’ll just shoot you for a couple hundred bucks, right? Like, you know, 2300 was like my go to price at that point in time. Right? And that pretty much included the entire show. So that was the way in which I ran my business. You know, as I learned a little bit more about how successful studios ran, I was very nervous and apprehensive to to try some of those things because for me, a lot of that information was tailored towards weddings, and I didn’t know that if you can use those same concepts towards boudoir. So I remember just doing Shoot and Burn. I remember trying same day sales sessions. I kind of feel like I’ve touched on a little everything in that journey to get to where I am now, to find a system and a process that works for me. But I wasn’t I wasn’t afraid to kind of experiment and kind of go through the ringer, if you will.
Humberto Garcia: [00:06:44] Yeah. And it’s I mean, you’ve done super well with it, I guess. Tell me, how did you even get into Boudoir initially? And by the way, I know for a lot of guys, you know, a lot of times the people we coach or the studios we have, a lot of the concerns are always, hey, you know, am I going to be able to do as well as a woman? This seems like a woman’s genre. Are they going to be comfortable with me? So, yeah. How do you navigate that and has it affected you?
Corey Garrison: [00:07:13] Okay, so great question. I love the fact that you brought it up and I want to make sure that I take the time to try this one home, because when I was early in my journey and my process, having someone to relate to would have helped me out tremendously, right? So for me, the way that I got into Boudoir photography was it was a genre that just kept finding me. So literally. My first client that I shot was like a family session, you know, everyone’s like, everyone’s home for Thanksgiving. They’ve all got the same matchy matchy outfits on, you know, we’re doing all the typical cheesy, like family portraits, right? And the the moms who book me, and she had daughters that were in my age, like my age and like a couple of years older. One of our daughters was pregnant with twins. So after the family session was over, she was like, Hey, would you mind doing a maternity session for me and my husband? Like, Yeah, sure thing, no problem. I’ll do that and I can laugh on it now. But like, she goes up to change and burn off and she comes back downstairs and like, if you just like Amazon, like lace dress or like black lace robe, like she comes back down in that and it completely like, rattled me because I was like, okay, wait.
Corey Garrison: [00:08:31] Like she’s like halfway naked. Like, I can see her like as a photographer, I have to look at you to take your picture. But like, how do I navigate through this? And it made me, like, really uncomfortable, right? But I’m still excited to do it because again, like I mentioned about loving the body and loving the creation, like, I was really excited that they trusted me to capture this, right? Because as far as I know, that was like her last last pregnancy is to be able to capture that with art. And I did that. Went ahead. Was running my wedding business trying to get that off the ground. And I just kept having people come to me with these type of sessions. And I didn’t have a word for it, didn’t have a name for it. You know, I thought that, Oh, I’ll do some milk baths and some roses, and that would be great for Valentine’s Day, and maybe I’ll do it again next year for Valentine’s Day. But no one’s going to want it after February 14th, right? Like, this is like a seasonal thing. And for me, I was trying to find something that made me happy and I thought weddings would make me happy. And you get romanticized with this, this picture of, you know, this is like the day that you’ve always dreamt about.
Corey Garrison: [00:09:38] And like, everyone’s like, this is like their fantasy. To have this big, beautiful wedding is the most important day of your life. And, you know, and I’m quite sure, you know, because you just work with so many photographers, but like, you’re busting your ass for 12, 14 hours. So I’m glued to my bride, Like my eyes are, like, wide open. I’m capturing everything. I’m delivering galleries with, like a few hundred images in them. And, you know, my clients were appreciative of the work that I put in, like the sweat equity that I put into it. But I just didn’t feel that the work that I was creating had that impact that I wanted to write. And I think as artists we are a little selfish in that sense that like we want our work to have meaning because like it’s our baby, right? We create this and we give it to you, right? But we want to to know that you value of money, but you also value with with what it what it does for you and for me. As Beauvoir kept knocking and kept finding me, I realized that, you know, I could do five of these sessions in a week and I could only do maybe one or two weddings in a week, right? Because it was just so physically demanding. And how I would change my clients lives from the moment they walked in to when they walked out that four or five hour, however long the whole process takes, I was having a greater impact on people, and that’s what really connected me to the genre.
Corey Garrison: [00:11:00] So like that impact is what made me fall in love with it. And I remember I was at a wedding expo and I’m an introvert, so like networking events, like that’s like the scariest thing in the world for me. So like, I’m in there, I’m trying to pass business cards out and meet vendors. And we were on break and I was watching a YouTube video. I only knew of one other guy at the time that was in the business. He was like on YouTube and he made a video and he just posted it and it was like, Why I quit doing weddings to do Boudoir full time? And I’m walking outside. And it was one of those things where like out of a movie where like everything he said I agree with, right? I was like, I’m tired of shooting plates and how to shoot invitations and how to shoot and ring shots. I’m tired of like not having my work impact people the way I wanted to. And then that was like the sign from above, if you will. That was like, pursue something different.
Humberto Garcia: [00:11:53] By the way, I don’t take kindly to talking bad about ring shots. For some reason, my favorite part of photographing my wedding was always like pulling out a macro lens. You know, seeing whatever background and lighting I can put on them. So ring shots are cool.
Corey Garrison: [00:12:08] It’s cool, but like, it’s like they look like you’ll spend like five or 10 minutes, you know, like usually that was going to begin like I’m adjusting into the Bri’s chaos and I’m like pulling out all the lights and I’m gelling and I’m lining up here and they’re like, Oh, that’s cool. I’m like, Do you know how hard I had to work to get this minimum focus distance real quick? Like so?
Humberto Garcia: [00:12:27] All right. So I know you said there was somebody that inspired you. So walk me through this because it couldn’t have always been super easy as a guy in boudoir. Like, what challenges did you have? And yeah, let’s start with that. What challenges did you have?
Corey Garrison: [00:12:42] So for me, doing the sessions themselves wasn’t a challenge, right? My family is like all women, right? So, like, I’ve been raised around women, like, my entire life, right? So that was naturally comfortable for me. It wasn’t like a I mentioned it being a little scary, that first client, but that was mostly because, like, her whole family is around. So I was like, okay, wait, this kind of came out of left field. For me personally, the things that I struggle with in the beginning was learning how to market myself because everything that I saw was from a woman’s approach. And as relatable as I want to be, as relatable as you can be as a guy. You can’t do girl talk, right? Like, so when you’re seeing all these studios and all these brands that are positioned around you, just like, you know, girl to girl, I can’t emulate that. So I had to find the concepts that they were doing and try to figure out a way that I could make it my own or make it unique to myself. Because at the end of the day, are there some people that won’t shoot with me because I’m a guy? Absolutely right. Does it affect me? It doesn’t because they make that decision before reaching out, right? Like no one gets to like a consultation.
Corey Garrison: [00:14:04] You call it like, Oh, your voice sounds like a guy. I thought you were a lady. I’m not going to do this shoot. Right. So they kind of weed that portion on the on the front end. Other things that that were challenges for me was honestly like just. Finding someone to to help cut that learning curve and just some type of positive reinforcement. You know, like I remember and I’m quite sure we’ll touch on this later on in the in the talk here, but before I had some of the cars you like if you scroll up in our Facebook messages I’m like, Myrtle, can I do this as a guy? Like, don’t lie to me. Like, tell me if I can do this, because I came from a previous educator or a previous course or whatever you want to call it, and literally to mask for this person’s failure. And I’m not going to speak ill of someone, but I’ll just give you the facts. But the mask for this person’s failure, it was you’re not getting booked because you’re a guy. You’re not getting what you want because you’re in a home studio and people aren’t going to be comfortable with that.
Corey Garrison: [00:15:04] So basically killing the confidence or killing the bravery that I thought that I had to have to be able to say, I want to carve out a niche in this business and my intentions are honest and true. I’m not just doing it because I want to be around women without clothes on, right? Like I can give a damn less about that, right? Like I love what boudoir stands for, the vision of it, and I want to bring my artistic talent to this. So those are the biggest challenges for me. In addition to regular business things like how to price it, where to get albums from. Like Man, I remember the first album that I brought like, Oh my gosh, that thing was like, I paid client prices for it because I had no idea on how to how to how to put that stuff together. So those are some of the the challenges and just finding your your style as a photographer, you know, you can’t copy what everyone else does, right? You have to find what makes you you in a sense.
Humberto Garcia: [00:16:00] By the way, who does edit your albums.
Corey Garrison: [00:16:04] Like making.
Humberto Garcia: [00:16:04] Them or like like puts them together and like, all the clothes I do.
Corey Garrison: [00:16:08] Oh, really? Yeah, All of like, I create everything. So, like, all the album spreads and everything. Of course, on the sale session, they pick the images and then I just take whatever they give me and I make it into make it into something. Basically say.
Humberto Garcia: [00:16:22] So walk me through because I remember we had a lot of those conversations on like Messenger or through Slack, and I’m like the first person to say, right, Like in the high Rollers Mastermind where we, you know, our group coaching program, I want to say of the almost 1000 students, 50 to 75 are probably men. And I’m the first person to acknowledge, like you guys have way more hurdles and obstacles, but it’s not like they can’t be overcome. And the advice I give you guys, I if there’s women on the call, which there always are because there’s 90% women, I’ll tell them everything I’m telling them is what you guys should be doing. Except the guys definitely have to do it. Like, you know, we’ve talked about video content, we’ve talked about social proof testimonials, like just being having pictures of yourself, having pictures of you with clients. So walk me through that because, you know, when when we look at your website like you actually you’re one of the clients of ours that has some of the most videos and has the most amount of social groups like you really like jumped headfirst into that.
Corey Garrison: [00:17:30] Yeah, I had to because, you know, I, I love what I do. I love the clients that trust me for this journey. And, you know, the number one rule in business is you never run out of money and make money. Right. But. Having more clients is not about a dollar for me. It’s about being able to give. What I create to someone like I. I’m like, I romanticize the business and I’m like, Hey, listen, like, I have to bring this to you. Like, I am. I am bound to do this. I am bound to bring this experience to as many people as I possibly can. So having the social proof for me was a way to eliminate some of that barrier, and it was a way for me to be comfortable in myself, right. To know that like, you know, this isn’t like a, you know, a shady you’re not coming into like the basement in the corner and it’s dimly lit. And, you know, it’s just this is the service that I provide and I provide an excellent service, right? It just so happens that I’m a guy, right? But like, I’m a business owner and I’m an artist. So that’s why I brought the social proof out there. And then also I saw a trend like this is stuff that people want to consume. This is stuff that, you know, how many clients do you speak with, you know, that don’t even know how to pronounce the word boudoir. You know, let alone what actually goes on during a session. So I found it to be a really good way to differentiate. I always struggle with that word myself from from others and be able to to show that as well to, you know, as part of my passion, was to make it approachable, you know, to make it for. And I truly mean it, but to make it for the every woman. Right. So I wanted to to give as much of an insight into it as I could so that I can educate as much as I could and inform potential clients on why we are the best studio that you can go with.
Humberto Garcia: [00:19:29] Like, So walk me through like how many times are your clients on video? Is it something like you do every single time or you just kind of like randomly asking people like, is it a system now that, you know, the fact that you create so much video content through the testimonials, like, yeah, how do you do that? And most of the people I talk to when I, when I do tell people like, Hey, you need to create video content, you need video testimonials. They’ll say things like, My clients don’t want to be on camera. And a lot of times I feel like they’re saying that without even asking. They just are like, you know, and everyone’s clients are all unique to them, I guess. But they say things like, All my clients are professionals and nobody wants to be on camera. All my clients are private and they would never do that. And then I’m like, That’s so strange as a studio right next to you and all of their clients do. And I can’t imagine like, you know, Yeah. So tell me, like, what’s the what do you actually do day to day to get all that?
Corey Garrison: [00:20:22] Gotcha. So for myself, the way that my process works is this my hair makeup artist. He stays with me throughout the session. So he’ll be doing like touch ups and things like that as we’re going through it. And one of the roles that I have him do, in addition to touching up hair and makeup for clients, is creating content. Like, you know, content is key. Content is what that’s the currency in which we all trade in is basically content. And the way in which I do it is this. You. I create this work, write these images, these albums for my clients. It’s not my client’s responsibility or job for them to allow for me to share. There are some folks that just are private and don’t want to share. I mean, I’ve got celebrity clients, right? Like you’ll never know who they are, but like, you know who they are. If you see their pictures, Right. So sometimes we can’t share those images. But in my contract, there’s a permission slip in the contract and it is completely their call and totally optional. It doesn’t change or affect the level of service that we give them, but it will let them know, Hey, do you agree for us to share your images online? Do you agree like a like a full image release? A no image release at all? Like post nothing, You know, never speak of it again. Type of deal or. Yes, but with anonymity. So no faces, no identifying marks, things like that. Right. So there’s different levels of consent, I guess is a good word to use or like permission for for them to give to us as a studio to be able to use those images.
Corey Garrison: [00:22:07] Right. And I send that out to them. It’s like one of the first things that they get. So I never want someone to feel like they come to the studio and they have to do this. Like you make that decision. We honor. We respect that, whatever it is. Now, for people that are mentioning that they may have a difficult time and they have a hard time, I’m going to kind of detour them to get back to where I was going with that, that thread. When you do amazing work and you provide an amazing experience and that’s the first thing that we focus on here. People want to have it shared, right? They want to inspire others because they realize that whatever it was that they got during their session, they want the next woman to feel that level of empowerment, strength, love, fearlessness, whatever that may be. So it almost becomes cathartic for them to say, I want you to share that experience because I want the next person to to be able to get what I got because I was once in their shoes and knowing what I know now, in the back end, it is completely worth it, right? So that’s that, that first portion. The second thing and kind of getting back to to what I was talking about before is that, you know, the de facto social media platform right now as we’re speaking, it’s tik-tok like that’s that’s where everything is, right? Like all of the platforms at this point in time are legacies or ones that are slowly dying.
Corey Garrison: [00:23:27] Slow death, right? And with Tik-tok, with it being such a great platform for for reach and everything else, it has a level of censorship built into it. And it’s hard to show some of the stuff that we do because, you know, we basically are working with little to no clothes on, basically. So the way in which I got around that as well is that I had my hair and makeup artists basically there to create behind the scenes content. Instead of turning the camera and focusing on my clients, I had them turn it around and focus it on me. So if my client is like here, like right off the camera to the right, if the camera is focused on me, I can still do my thing, instruct on different poses and stuff that we’ll be doing. And you can see that, but you don’t have to see the person. So that can be another roundabout way that you can still create that content know. Because if a person doesn’t want to be seen or doesn’t want their stuff out there, I don’t think they’re going to mind as much if you especially if you let them know, Hey, listen, this is just focus on myself just so other people can kind of see what I’m doing in a sense. And that’s how we create the content that we create with permission from clients. And then if we can or if we can’t, you know, turning it onto myself to be able to to create that.
Humberto Garcia: [00:24:45] By the way, the fact that you just said tick tock. Let me see. I actually pulled up your tick tock. Man, you create a lot. And not that. Not that I get discouraged, but, you know, obviously starting from, like, zero, I’m just like, oh, I’ll just stick to Facebook, my email list and stuff like that. But I was watching somebody speak on the topic and they basically gave the analogy that like if you got 20 people to hear you speak, you’d be in front of a classroom in front of 100. It’s like a lecture hall. 1000 is a small theater. You know, 20,000 is an arena basketball and then 50,000 is a football stadium. So like all of these views, like this is a huge lecture hall if you had 300 views on this. So it really it’s it’s way more than we could have otherwise gotten. And these platforms between reels and Tik Tok, like really let people like, you know, engage with you, communicate with you and then hopefully trust you enough so that when they want to do this, they come to you. So, yeah. Tell me about your journey on TikTok. How has that been?
Corey Garrison: [00:25:53] So I love like, I’m going to totally steal that analogy that you just that you just gave, because I love that. Because what happens is I’m looking at the views, right? And this is something I’ve been guilty of in the past. I’m like, Oh, man. Like, it’s only a couple hundred. Like, I’m making these this stuff and you start having comparison. And comparison is the thief of joy. And when I stopped trying to compare myself to what some of my other counterparts were doing, you know, as far as like wise, popularity wise, I just started focusing on what was what was fun for me, right? So like, you know, I got views that are like 8000 thousand, 20,000 or so, but then I got some that are like, you know, a couple thousand, a couple of hundred. So for me, I notice that every time I post it and I would post consistently, I would have people that would say, I saw your Instagram, I saw your TikTok, you know, I’m interested in booking in. For me, I’ll take that conversion versus having like 50,000 views every time I post. And maybe no one’s no one’s talking, right? So I had to shift my mindset and say, if I’m putting the content out there, something will blow and pop eventually, Right? But also it’s still making headwinds. It’s still continuing to influence people that are on the fence and also bringing new people into that orbit.
Corey Garrison: [00:27:14] Right. Like these platforms. You know, again, it’s about attention. So they’re going to, you know, pitch it up in front of people that are interested so they’ll find you sooner or later, one way or another, whether it’s convincing somebody that’s on it or, you know, converting somebody that has been looking at you for for some time, you know, So that’s been like my philosophy with it. There’s another creator on YouTube is pretty popular guy named Mr. Beast and did an interview and he said, Hey, do your first 100 videos right now and don’t worry about trying to be perfect because they’re going to suck, right? You’re not going to be a perfect YouTuber or a perfect tiktoker out the gate. Just start creating stuff now and you’ll get better as you go along. And I heard that probably the beginning of this year. And I said, you know, forget it. I’m just going to start creating and I’ll find my way along along the journey. Right? And you know, by posting, I’m getting more views, I’m creating an audience. You know, my strategy is this is going to become my Facebook group, if you will. And we can know if you want to jump into that portion now. But, you know, that’s my methodology behind it.
Humberto Garcia: [00:28:30] Yeah, and that’s a really good point because a lot of people do rely and I know I notice, you know, obviously in our agency and with what we teach, we tell people like, yeah, get on, make your accounts and like tend to all of these platforms. But in reality, I know that a photography studio can be super successful if they’re just be set one of them. So we have studios that, like the owner might be a little bit older. They just hate social media and they like don’t want to post and dance and stories and stuff, so they just email every single week once or twice. And we have owners who like hate everything and they just grew a Facebook group through like different group grow methods. And all they do is Facebook posts. They don’t even have like a schedule on their website. They’re like, We’re going to schedule all our consults from the Facebook group Messenger. And like, as long as you’re doing one of them really well, like, and connecting with people, like you’re going to have a lot of success. And I saw I started following this like really cool creator on TikTok. And one thing that she said that stood out to me was she said she treats TikTok like her group, like she used to treat her group or like if you were in a group and you run a business, you know, like if people engage with you, you usually DM them or you reply, you have conversations, you engage. But people don’t do that on TikTok. They just post, throw stuff up and then on to the next video where she’s like, kind of like what you said. I’d rather have a couple of hundred views, some comments, and then like three conversations from every video than to just have a bunch of views. But no bookings, no, you know, no sessions, no conversations from it. So what do you what did you mean by like group? What are you doing to make it more like a group?
Corey Garrison: [00:30:13] Exactly that. Right. So, you know, one of the things that you learn if you’re in this in this genre is that, like everyone will tell you, like Facebook groups, Facebook group with Facebook groups. Right. And you know, for me personally, I’ve never had like a great amount of success from my Facebook group, Right? Like I’ve had a little bit here and there. But to get the return out of that group for the effort that I put in, it’s not been there like for other other studios. Right. And I talked a little bit about comparison. Robin Joy. So instead of me just being like, Oh man, like, I’m failing at this, I this isn’t working for me. Like, I’m not booking how other people are booking. Find what you enjoy, find what works best for you and you know, go be like water. So like, follow the path of least resistance and you know, hello. Like TikTok is a platform that is giving you organic reach. Every other platform is constricting or restricting that. And you know, with the intention to take you towards paved reach. Right. Because that’s how they make their money, their advertising platforms. And we are the product, right. So when it comes to how I’m using that, like I can directly have a conversation with, you know, let’s say my videos on average, again, 300 views right now, right? That’s 300, 300 people that that like my content.
Corey Garrison: [00:31:33] I don’t know how many what the percentages of returns. But for simplicity’s sake, as I say, it’s the same 300 people. Right. They’re starting to get to know you. Right. Like when you put yourself out there and you put yourself on video, you can’t hide behind words of an email. You can’t hide behind like these extremely manufactured images of yourself. Right? Whether it’s like posting the perfect selfie or curating a timeline, like you’re just being yourself. And that authenticity is what draws people to them. Because in our business, we’re asking people to be vulnerable with us, right? Like during the session is to be to do a session is to be vulnerable. So if I can’t be vulnerable or quirky or me or just however I am in my face to face interaction, how can I expect the same for someone else to give that to to me if I’m not willing to meet them there, basically. So I just use that as just a way to talk to my closest friends that I don’t know other names, but you know, we follow each other, you know, So that’s that’s like my thought process there.
Humberto Garcia: [00:32:37] So talk to us about obviously, me and you met through the high rollers mastermind. Talk to us about like the shift there. What were you doing before to get clients and then what are you relying on now? Fast forward.
Corey Garrison: [00:32:55] Okay. So before high rollers, I was Mr. Model call that was like model giveaway. I was my whole thing, man. That was the only way I run one every month and give away three winners and and hope that 103 people would buy something, right? I was like, Hey, they don’t buy anything. I’m building a portfolio, but if they buy something, then I’m proving the concept that it is going to work, right? You know? Heck man, like, dude, I was using Thumbtack. Like Thumbtack is like what launched my photography career, you know? So like advertising on there or playing the. The local Facebook group game, like, Hey, I’m looking for a photographer and like you’re competing with like 50 people or like tagging a thing like me, I’m that and then like DMing that person and kind of going from there. So like, that was my, my marketing angle, if you will, or like, how’s driving clients? You know, like I had very small goals, man. Like if I can do three shoots in a month, that was like a successful thing for me back then.
Humberto Garcia: [00:33:55] Yeah, but I know this is highly debated in a lot of photography groups, but like a lot of people talk really bad about like doing free work and doing model calls and giveaways. And for me, I’m assuming back then you were kind of beginner ish at it. Like the level of work you did is not what it is now. And like I look at it as like if you’re in like an art, if you’re an actor, if you’re, you know, an artist of some kind, like you got to kind of like earn your chops somewhere and you’re not just going to be able to get a $10,000 job just because you bought something, you know? So I actually think the model calls and the giveaway is like are just like an expedited social media, like a faster way of like getting all that experience under your belt. So like, walk me through that. Like, was that on Facebook? Was that in like group posts? Like, what did you do to like? Get those.
Corey Garrison: [00:34:43] At that time, I would I was very, very new in paid advertisements. So like Facebook post. So I was dabbling in that, but it was mostly like boosted posts. So don’t even know. As manager I was posting on like my Instagram and just like word of mouth that way, like I literally, like I it’s funny that you, you the way you were that it kind of took me back from it. And I had to like kind of put myself back to like 2016, 2017, but like it was literally like $10 boost of Facebook posts, you know, with like the most minimal targeting, you know, on Instagram or on Facebook. And that’s how I did it. You know, that that was what what drove everything in from from the very, very beginning. You know, I did a lot of of like TFP like trade trade work just so I can have stuff to show in a sense, you know. And that was that’s what I did. That’s, that’s how I gather those those folks together, basically.
Humberto Garcia: [00:35:49] Yeah, it’s really that’s really interesting. So from the model calls from the giveaways now what? Because obviously you went to the high rollers and then like, what did you start implementing that made it so you didn’t have to run high roller or sorry giveaways?
Corey Garrison: [00:36:03] So now I still run. I usually do like one a year though, right? So like now it’s like an event, if you will. Right? But like back then it was like every month is like a new one, right? So some of the things that I implemented to kind of change the business, I would say. It’s a it’s a two part question. It’s it’s like what you do on the field and then what you do in the classroom, right? So the classroom portion of it was, excuse me, building a website, right. Building a the social media portion of the social proof is what I meant to say. So like my Google reviews the website, the portfolio, stuff like that, as far as how I go about acquiring clientele now, that is going to be heavy, heavy through Google ads, Facebook ads. I have been blessed to be able to get a lot of word of mouth, you know, like people will say, Oh, you shot my mom or you shot my sister or you shot a coworker of mine’s, you know, So that has been like my main my main avenues, if you will, of course, like by running ads and, you know, social media things that are happening like those those capture forms, you create an email list, you create a text messaging list. You know, you have people in your in your pipeline and your funnel, if you will. So those are the main things. But I would say my business like lives off of of pay paid marketing, whether it’s Google, Facebook, you know, like that’s, that’s like my jam.
Humberto Garcia: [00:37:44] It’s funny, when I was pulling up your Google, I just googled your name. One of the blogs you wrote for us showed up. You remember one of the blogs you submitted to us? How to grow it?
Corey Garrison: [00:37:57] How to grow it? Yeah. Yeah. Oh, you know what I do? Man, I think that was like pandemic time when we wrote that. But yeah, I do remember that one. Yeah.
Humberto Garcia: [00:38:07] Yeah, that’s pretty cool. And it’s really thorough, actually. Actually, it’s a really good resource because I’m sure it was a snapshot in time because like, you, like went all in Google ads, Facebook ads, pixels, like you posted screenshots of your analytics, everything. And I’m sure all of this has improved since then. So like, actually walk us through like how has your business grown or like where were you at last year and where are you trying to get next year?
Corey Garrison: [00:38:35] So how has the business grown? So last year actually was a very interesting lesson. We all have gone on this journey together from 2020 through through now, right? So like this three year window is felt like ten years in some capacities. And I don’t mean just in a negative way because like the growth has been tremendous in that in that time frame, right? Especially for us in our genre. Like, you know, when the world was falling apart, like we were just taking off at like the perfect time. So as far as how that growth has been less, she was very good to me. You know, I went through a lot of personal stuff, man. You know, that has affected affected my business, you know, So and we can jump into that if you want to. If we can just keep it on. Business is fine. Doesn’t matter to me. But I would say my sales average, I would believe that is probably one of the highest in industries. Like my sales average was like 67 or 6800 last year. So pretty, pretty damn healthy. So that was a shocker because, you know, it went up from the year previous, but it jumped up dramatically, honestly. So that was really cool. And then my goal for this year is to continue to to grow the business out like I want to.
Corey Garrison: [00:39:57] I’m not the the sales average for me is not a vanity number. It’s not a vanity metric, but I am more focused on creating the value for the clients and I will let that average carry me where it does, right? So as a business, you want to be able to meet the market where it is. And because I’m now operating in two markets, I had the luxury to be a little bit creative in my approach. So yes, I still expect to have and maintain a high sales average, but I want to increase the number of bookings. So like I have a goal this year to shoot 100 clients and have a stretch goal to book 150 in this year. And that’s what I’m focused on. And my focus there is because I want to change 100 lives. So like I’m not focused on the money, on the dollar amount, that stuff will come if you put out good. If you do good work, people will respect your work and they will pay a premium for it, right? Because I’m priced at a premium, but I am so focused on on on delivering, you know, the the gospel, if you will, of what this session is and what it does and what the experience with myself in the studio creates.
Humberto Garcia: [00:41:06] Nice. So how are you going to get there this year?
Corey Garrison: [00:41:10] So this year is exciting. I am growing the team, right? So I am adding on some some creative business solutions as far as continuing to schedule calls. Having sales reps to book the calls for me in addition to me doing them myself, I am doing expos for the first time, so that’ll be an exciting thing, if you will. But also just growing the team and all in all facets. You know, like I tell people, I’m like, you know, you may see the front facing folks is going to be myself and like the hair and makeup team, like the artists that I have. But there are so many people that that touch this business like you just you don’t see them because they’re not forward facing. So continuing to to grow and hire and add help will allow for me to do the stuff that’s fun for me to do right outside of business, but also allow for me to be the best version of myself, to not be burnt out, to not be overworked, and not like I want to still have that hands on touch that every client that comes in is going to get the best that Corey Brand has to offer and not like, Oh man, this is like my eighth client in seven days. Like, let me just get you out the door because I’m really tired and like, please just give me the money and go. So that’s like the focus for the year.
Humberto Garcia: [00:42:31] Yeah. And it’s every you know, we have actually we started working with another male photographer. He photographed like 130 women. But that sales average or actually it was like 200, but the sales average was like 1500. So for him, like the goal was, hey, how do I like maybe equal that or scale it down, but like triple, quadruple the sales average. So with yours being so high, like what do you credit that to like? Obviously he’s part of the high rollers mastermind 2.0. So I told them like, hey, first thing I suggest is like, go watch Jen’s training on that. But what would you suggest? Like because obviously a lot of people, they they and I tell them to watch the training, adopt it and then make changes. But don’t second guess it as you’re trying to do it. Do it how we say and then make all your changes afterwards.
Corey Garrison: [00:43:21] So I completely agree with that. One thing that I did is when I join high rollers, dude, I was I was not making it, you know, like I was I was freaking driving Uber in the middle of the night, like I was married at the time. My wife was pregnant, Like things were falling apart. Like this business was taking more money than I was making. And I remember, like, I had, like, 10,000 left in my name. And I was like, you know, listen, I’m going to give what I got and buy this course, and let’s hope that I can at least break even and not lose any money. Right. But one of the things that that helped me and you touched on this is doing what you guys say to do how how you guys teach it. And, you know, like if I can just kind of plug the work that you guys do, right. So whether it’s your specific agency or whether it’s high rollers, is that, you know, like Umberto dude, like you’re you’re so frickin smart and talented man. Like and I’m not just saying that because, like, I’m on here with you, Like, you’re you’re like, the real deal, man. Like, you’re you’re that guy when it comes to it, right? Like, you walk it, you live it, you research it like all of those things.
Corey Garrison: [00:44:32] So and the same goes with Jen, you know, like she walks as she lives it. So when you have these two great minds that have coming together and that are educated on how to do it and you guys don’t hold back, it’s not like this behind the doors, like what really works. And we just give you like what worked two years ago type of type of deal, right? You guys are dynamic and you’re teaching. You’d be a fool to not follow exactly what it is that you guys are doing. Right. And, you know, should do it. Scared. You know, like I did it scared, you know, like I remember like, you know, looking at the investment menu that because I think you guys have like different ones that you can kind of plug and play the numbers on. And I remember being like, all right, I’m starting the bottom one because like, I got no clients, so like, I’m not going to go at the top one because I’m not there yet. Right? But I did it scared and I put it at the top one. And when it comes down to it, it’s like people will pay whatever you ask them to pay, right? If something costs a dollar, they’re going to pay a dollar something cause $1,000 is going to pay 1000 on this food. Right. And I did it scared.
Corey Garrison: [00:45:31] You know, I’ll be honest with you, I still do new things. Scared because you don’t know if they’re going to work out, but it’s like, screw it, I’m going to go. And the worst thing that can happen is I’ll learn a lesson on how to improve in the future. Right? So that would be the first thing is like, just follow everything. Like, you know, I remember I didn’t have I had the the luxury of time, but not the luxury of money. So I spent hours, man. Like I went through the course, you know, I did all the training, like I built everything step by step by step. I literally I would have it up in one window. I would do this, look at it, do this. Like I was just cross checking it, right? Because I knew that if I followed what you guys taught, I would have a level of success. I didn’t know what it would be, but I would have it would set me up to have the greatest level of success that I that I possibly could. So that’s like the first thing that I just want to say is just like. You know, when you find people that are living and walking the walk and talking the talk, you’d be crazy to try to reinvent the wheel. Coming in.
Humberto Garcia: [00:46:29] What did what did you change?
Corey Garrison: [00:46:32] What did I change? Yeah, a little bit. I found I found me, right. I found my identity as a business owner, as a as an artist. So some of the things that I changed was like, I believe that I approach sessions differently than other folks. So, again, my my main thing is client experience, right? I focus so hard on the client experience portion of it. I increase my pricing and I also. I wouldn’t necessarily say that this is something that I changed, but something that I was cognizant and aware of is who and what type of class that I showed. Because you always hear the adage that like you show what is it like? You whatever it is, like whatever you show is what you shoot basically, right? So being mindful of that and focusing on that experience and then investing into myself is what I change. I don’t know if you guys have like a module on that portion, but like, I’ll give it an example, right? Like I’m in a 2000 square foot studio, right? My studio is and I need to update my website to have an actual studio tour. I’m behind on that one, but like, I invest it in like the best design, Like I spared no expense when it came to designing my studio, right? Like, my studio is immaculate. It’s a work of art in itself. We create art in a work of art.
Corey Garrison: [00:47:54] I’ve spent thousands of dollars on client lingerie, wardrobe, right? Like, I have so much frickin stuff, man. It’s crazy, right? You know, and that. So something small like that. People want to shoot in a place like mine because it doesn’t look like everyone else’s. I’m not carbon copying the same thing, right? I’m creating something that is is of quality when it comes to the wardrobe, I’m not going to be limited by what I can sell a client because they buy cheap lingerie and it doesn’t fit the body shape or body size. Right? Like, you know, I’m I will I will style you for your whole shoot. I will put you in nice lingerie. I will, you know, like do that little bit of extra work there that makes the image that much better. That’s something that I changed. You know, I don’t I don’t care how long it takes when we’re doing the session, we move at a pace and speed that’s comfortable. Like those are some of the things they’re like. They’re they’re soft things, if you will, that I’ve changed. If you want, like a hard thing, I would say videos, social media, staying out there, pricing scripts, and then my voice and how I want the the studio to be presented and what I want you to see. Is that does that answer your question, or do you want to dig a little deeper?
Humberto Garcia: [00:49:03] No, no, no. Yeah. Yeah. I guess I was asking specifically, like on the price list, were there things that you change from it? Because I know a lot of people aren’t comfortable. They’re like, Hey, I’m confused by this. I didn’t like this. I changed products. Yeah.
Corey Garrison: [00:49:17] So for pricing, I got rid of print credit, right? I looked at it. That one thing that that Jen says and I feel the same way too, is like, you know, we give you print credit because, like, I want you to hang my shit on your wall, right? That’s what she says. And I think that’s great. And I love that portion. But what I noticed is when I took out the print credit, it did not lower my sales average, right? It increased it, which was interesting. And it lowered my cost of goods. Right. Which means that I was being more profitable. Right. Which meant that I can invest into myself, into the business a little bit more. I added in a five figure package so I bumped up to 1199 is like my my top end. I eliminated my floor.
Humberto Garcia: [00:50:03] So 1199, like 11,000, 9099.
Corey Garrison: [00:50:10] I eliminated my floor. So like, you know, my collections started three. So like, yes, I still have a loss leader, like $1,000 loss later, but it’s not a collection. And yeah, I was, I was willing to tweak some of my deliverables. I don’t do eight by eight albums. I do ten by ten it up. I don’t do it by 12 or 12 by 14 because they cost too much to create. Those are some things that that I changed. I switched vendors for my Wal mart because the vendor that I was using, they’re fantastic, but it is a pain in the butt trying to open and opening up that package. It takes forever. It takes too long. And I found somebody that was significantly cheaper as well, too. I eliminated some of the bloat, so I guess I still have a viewfinder. But like, I hate ordering those and, you know, they don’t really move the needle, so I don’t really offer that as much. I got rid of medals. I offered. It’s available, it’s on the pricing thing, but I never talk about it because canvas is cheaper and people understand Canvas a little bit more. Those are some of the things that I tweaked. I added some things into my some of my top end packaging. So for example, I’ll give a free session retainer if you get like my top two collections for your next go round. I tend to use Wal as a like a closing offer. So it’s like a not listed special or not listed perk that you would get. So like if someone’s looking at getting like an AK or a5k package, like I’ll throw a piece of wall art in to push them towards AK. You know, if they’re looking at AK or 12 K I’ll give them a couple pieces of art to push them towards the 12. K So those are some of the things that I tweaked in my investment menu to be able to better serve my clients the way in which I want to serve them.
Humberto Garcia: [00:52:07] Nice. So I will. I don’t want to take too much of your time, but I will ask because you’ve accomplished a lot. And we’ve talked about kind of how you’re going to achieve your goals for the next year. What are some challenges that you know you’re going to face this next year?
Corey Garrison: [00:52:30] Mm. I would say one of the challenges start listing in no particular order. Comparison, right? You know, just because one year went one way doesn’t mean that you should expect that same thing to be there. So being able to meet a market where it is being an agile business, those are challenges because it’s going to be something new. Like we can’t rinse, wash and repeat the same thing every day, year over year over year. We’re going to have to tweak and we’re going to have to change that. That’s a challenge that I look forward to, to embracing. Another challenge of minds is, you know, hey, man, listen, like, you know, the economy doesn’t make sense right now. You know what I mean? Like from what they teach you in books and how it’s going, it’s a little bit different, Right? You know, so there are smaller factors that are having an impact on our business, you know, So inflation can be a sticky thing, you know, So sometimes that may, you know, the cost of as can eggs can determine if someone books a session with you or not. It sounds so simple, but like, you know, a couple hundred dollars on a retainer with your grocery bill goes up, you know, like maybe that takes away some of that the disposable income. So those are the challenges. So being able to meet the market where they need to and then also growing, right.
Corey Garrison: [00:53:53] And having faith and trusting the process and in scaling up and bring on other people. Right. That, you know, you hire the right people. Like what did they say? Like you guess, you guess when you hire but you know when you fire, right. You know, so going through through that process, those are like some of the challenges navigating a new a new market as a term in restaurants that like if you open one successful restaurant, your new location is not the same thing. It’s a completely new business. So the same can be said with an additional market. So those are some of the things that are challenges or opportunities on the table for us to to compete against. You know, also just not listening to what the masses are doing, you know? So, you know, there’s a bunch of people that are into this genre now because it got more popular. Those people are going to struggle If they aren’t if they aren’t built to cut the mustard, they’re they’re going to close up shop. I’m not going to listen to people that aren’t more successful than what I am or listen to people that aren’t doing things the right way. So I’m not going to let people’s negativity affect my business trajectory. So those are just like challenges that they can be that are on that on the horizon, if you will, to be able to navigate through those.
Humberto Garcia: [00:55:10] Sweet. Is there anything else you’d want to share or anything? Something people don’t know about you? Anything. Because, by the way, I had no idea that you were driving Uber. I did not know that.
Corey Garrison: [00:55:24] Well, I ain’t nobody like. Oh, no, I told not a soul. You get me. I would start at like midnight. I was like it, mind you. So I can laugh at it now, man. But like, I knew three people want to move to Houston, and I was like, These people will not know. I’m going to drive at midnight. No one’s going to see me, right? I’ll be in and out. I’m a very I’m a very private person. So like when I’m going through stuff or stuff is bothering me, like it’s hard for me to share in the moment, right? So like the Uber story, like I can laugh and say it now because I’m years removed from it, right? But in the moment I’m like, I’m not copping to this at all, right? Like, you didn’t see me if you saw me. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But that’s just like my own, my own thing or whatever. I would say you said, is there something what was the question again?
Humberto Garcia: [00:56:05] Something that. Something that people don’t know about you as we signed off.
Corey Garrison: [00:56:11] I mentioned going through some issues and some personal stuff. I went blind in one eye. Over the course of 21 into late, 20 into 21, and that was like, fucking scary, dude, because like, my eyes are what I use to produce my income. And, you know, going through and having like, the surgeries and things like that, you know, like that stuff is scary, dude. Like, it’s scary. You don’t know how long you’re going to be down. You don’t know if you’re going to recuperate. You don’t know what this is going to be. So being able to adjust to that, like for the when when people find that part out is usually met by like and you took that picture, I’m like, yeah, I took that picture. We want to, you know, So that’s something. So, you know, I would say that no matter because everyone’s story is not going to be similar to mine, but like if you’re going through shit in your personal life, you’re going through stuff. If stuff is affecting you that you know, you can still be great through that process and that, you know, like you just have to have. Got to have a North Star man or like a light or something to be able to guide you through that because like, you know, I went through some dark time with that stuff, man. Like, I, you know, I did that, but my business didn’t break even though I try to break it, I’d be fully honest with you. You know, my business still still persisted through that. So that would be something that I would share with folks. Maybe inspire somebody. Maybe. Maybe someone’s going through the same thing. I don’t know, man. You know.
Humberto Garcia: [00:57:42] Did you get your site back, by the way?
Corey Garrison: [00:57:44] No, I can’t say I don’t want to.
Humberto Garcia: [00:57:46] Oh, really?
Corey Garrison: [00:57:47] Yeah. No, no, no.
Humberto Garcia: [00:57:49] How does that affect you at all, if anything? I mean, one of the good things, I guess, is when you’re looking through a camera, you only kind of use one eye.
Corey Garrison: [00:57:56] My wedding training comes into play, right? Because, like, when you’re shooting for a wedding, like, you usually have one half of your vision blocked anyway, So you learn to kind of know what other people are. The way it affects me laughingly is that I will bump into people at airports because I can’t see on my on my right side. So like if I bump into you, I bet my depth perception is off because you need both eyes to be able to judge distance properly. So that part is has been affected. It affected my confidence for a long as time. Like if you go back through like my TikTok and stuff like now as you know, now that you know it, you’ll see it like when I’m wearing glasses or like I’m turning to one side, like I’m trying to cover it because I feel that I’m not as symmetrical as I once was. But those are like the you know, I don’t think it affects my shooting. I could be wrong, but I don’t think it affects my shooting.
Humberto Garcia: [00:58:47] No. I mean, I shared your website earlier, like you definitely have way above average, like extremely high percentile work. So I don’t think. Yeah. And by the way, you did a amazing job with the website and everything you did build. I know you said he sat down and like really put time to it, but you can really tell that the other good thing about everything you’ve done is like all of it, a lot of it is like evergreen. So you built it once and then you maintain it. So like all the videos you talked about the site, all the social proof, like you and all the automations, like all the ads, like a lot a lot of what you’ve done, like just kind of carries over and like, every year probably gets more streamlined. I know it is for me in my business. Like sometimes it I’ll go months or years without like updating some things, but like it’s fast and easy to update and it’s just cool to know. And, and I basically have the mindset of like anything I have to do more than once has to be automated. So anything from like an employee is going to on board and I need to get them to do something boom, automated. If I sign up and sometimes I’ll find myself doing something like more than twice, right? Like sending them an offer letter or like, you know, and for anything, this is anything that a new client signs on and they don’t know exactly where to do this. So like, I’ve just automated every portion of it. So like, you know, it just just removes that much work because I know I’m going to be doing those things over and over again.
Corey Garrison: [01:00:13] Yeah, like that. Like that stuff. It pays dividends, man. Like when I was going through and setting everything up, like the stuff that I built, that’s why I was so diligent and just following exactly how it was taught and not trying to tweak it or change it. I changed it later when I found my voice. Right. But what you guys gave was evergreen enough. Like, there are some emails that I haven’t changed three or four years into it, you know? But like, as I found my voice, I was able to tweak some things, but I built that stuff once and did it the right way. And it continues to pay dividends even to this day, you know, So like, you don’t have to if you do it right the first time, you don’t have to continue to keep doing that because it’s business owners. Everything’s going to move fast, man, you know, So like take advantage of when you don’t have the bookings that you want to have or you’re not where you want to be at because you have the time. You’re either going to have time or you’re going to have money, right? And use those two tools to your success. When I was driving Uber and just starting, I had time, you know, by day, 12 hours, by day on the computer, building out the business, right. Building out the skeleton and the machine that you call it. Right. Like, dude, I can like, quote videos that have watched because I watched them so many damn times. You know what I mean? Like, like I just went into it that deep, you know? But if you make that investment, if you follow that that that structure, it will continue to to pay dividends because like that stuff doesn’t change the you tweak in different parts, right? You build the car, but you can change the tires and you change oil, but the car is still the same. That vehicle is still driving towards, you know, studio growth year over year and revenue growth and sales average and all this other good stuff.
Humberto Garcia: [01:01:51] Sweet. By the way, this has inspired me. You’re probably for those of you watching. You’re probably going to be the first chapter in the book just because of what you did share about your struggles and stuff. So yeah, I think it’s so easy to just, you know, my background is in the military and I’ve done some of the I actually had somebody’s DM on Instagram and they were like, Hey, I want a side hustle. They make six figures. A good friend of mine and they were just like, I want more in life. Like, What did you do to become self made kind of thing? And I basically just said, I don’t know. But like one thing that happens to me is like, I always am the best at everything I do. So I was like when I joined the Marines and I was in it for the first five years, I felt like I was the best IT guy. I volunteer to go on all the missions. I volunteered to go all the all the areas to set up comms and like, I just took pride in it when everyone went to sleep to because they couldn’t figure something out, they would wake up and they’d see it fixed. And I stayed up for 4 hours. I joined Special Operations when like I remember I went and came back and somebody had told me that somebody I really respected and was kind of like a mentor didn’t think I was going to make it, that they found out that I was going to try out, and that his response was, Umberto is too small, like he’s he’s cool and everything, but he’s not built for that.
Humberto Garcia: [01:03:08] So the first thing I did when I came back, I went to his office and I was like, Did you hear? And he was like, Yeah, I heard. I knew you would make it. And I was like, No, you literally said I was too small. I wasn’t going to make it here. And there were guys like when I showed up that looked like GI Joes, there were guys that were just like, ripped six packs, like, look like the dudes in the movies. Like when you see, like action heroes, like, just Jacked. And I remember like when I got through the tryout, I was like ranked number six out of 100 something. So it was like 100 guys are all like peak physical condition. And I was ranked number six and I didn’t I didn’t do anything special. I wasn’t from that community. So I literally look back to the time and all I did was just work out every day, swim every day, every three days, maybe every two days. I’d hike three times a week. And I just did that for months before I went to the tryout. And I remember like talking to people what they did to prepare. And like, not much really. And I was like, Damn, Like you guys had all this heads up. We had to go through all this, like, paperwork to get here.
Humberto Garcia: [01:04:13] We knew we were going to get here and like, all you had to do is just put in a little bit of work over a long period of time and the people that failed and you probably heard this analogy, if you watch all the videos, is there’d be guys that I thought were like, this was going to be easy for them and they would quit. And what would happen is like when people would quit, you’d go back and their bed would be missing. So like the rack would disappear. We’d be in the middle of a training exercise. You might be alone by yourself, and you didn’t know who made it back because you just scramble in. It’s dark. By the time you get back and you get back and you’re like, Was that mattress gone before? And you’re like, Wait, that’s his mattress. And the and one of the reasons, I think is because I talked to some people afterwards. You’re not you’re not supposed to talk to them because they can like poison the well, but you kind of bump into people you like sometimes bump into people. They can’t stop you from talking to each other. But like I remember, I talked to people and they’d be like, Yeah, man, I just knew that later on, four weeks from now, we’d have to do this. Like six weeks from then, I’d have to pass this qualification. I’m already struggling with this and they would just let everything like pile up on them.
Humberto Garcia: [01:05:20] So we’re all in with me and my friends are saying was like, we just got to get some chow. Chow is food. We just have to make it to breakfast. And when we make a breakfast, we just only have to worry about everything. And some of the days were hard. I’m talking about like you’re literally, like throbbing in pain and can’t move and you’re like, Glad it’s over and you’re just happy to eat dinner. And then all you have to worry about is the next morning. You got to make it past the 4 a.m. workout or whatever. But if you started thinking, Hey, I have six more workouts this week and a 1220 mile hike next week, and I have to pass this qualification, like now you’re facing everything at once and like it’s really hard to overcome. So like our saying was like, you just got to live chow to chow like one step at a time. And like if you just focus on that and your goal is it’s almost like the process, Your goal is just not getting to the end. It’s just like beating it every single day. And I feel like with a lot of what you’ve talked about, it’s like, you know, you’re not going to build your website and build all your ads and like get 100 clients in a day. But you know, it’s better than six years from now. You wake up and your business is in the same place.
Corey Garrison: [01:06:26] It’s it’s one of those things where just to kind of add a little bit to to what you mentioned, like, listen, you know, the military is not going to just slap a badge on you and call you special Forces. Right. There’s a responsibility that comes in with that. You’ve got to earn that that portion. Right. And you’ve got to dare yourself to be to be great. You’ve got to dare yourself to to do something, you know, to to to to rise to an occasion that you can get. Right. You know, so I understand what you’re saying with that. And it’s one thing that I got. I was listening to a podcast, I forgot who or whatever was a military guy, Navy SEALs or something. I don’t remember. But what I was saying was just going through that that training was quit tomorrow. Right? Whatever you going through, it’s cool. Just just quit tomorrow. Make it through today, but just quit tomorrow. And that’s what, that’s what drove him to, to get into to that to that goal. And the same thing can be said for, for business. You know, like, just do it today. Quit tomorrow. Like one of the things I always say is that the time is going to pass anyway. You can’t stop the time from passing, so you might as well make something out of it. Right. And then you’re right, like those small incremental things like getting up, it’s all the stuff is cliche, man, because it works. Like success is does not reinvent itself. You know, it’s been around for thousands of years, right? So like getting 1% better every day, you know, like making that that progress will get you towards towards that goal.
Corey Garrison: [01:07:47] So I think that’s that’s 100% true for for business and just do your own journey, you know like do what makes you happy. Follow your own path, follow your own journey. You know, listen, do I look at other studios and say, man, like I should be where they are revenue wise? Of course you have that doubt. But I say, Hey, I’m gonna focus on what I can focus on, right? I mentioned this time and time again throughout the interview, but there may be other studios that create better work than me because art is subjective, right? So someone may like someone will prefer someone else’s work. That’s fine. There’s no studio that has a better client experience than mine, and full stop on that. I don’t care if you can challenge me like no one has. If you don’t believe me, read my damn reviews. Right? Like, you know, sit in on a session or book me for whatever it is. No one’s going to have a better client experience than what I than what we provide. And that little detail, right. Like that, raising that bar every day is what gets us closer and closer towards that. Whatever that thing is for you, is joining Special Forces. For me, it’s, you know, interviewing with you and having a successful studio. Right. You’re all going you’re always going to have people that don’t believe you. Some of my closest people don’t believe in me. Right. And like, I had to learn to just turn them off. Like, listen, you don’t you don’t believe in what I’m doing at all. Like, you want me to fail. You know, I. So.
Humberto Garcia: [01:09:04] Yeah, that’s crazy, because. Yeah. I’m not going to say one is harder than the other, but they’re different in the sense that like when you’re in the military. I know what to do. There’s a standard. It’s written on the chalkboard or this formal piece of paper with letterhead, and there’s no doubt how to pass and the exact steps. I’m told what to do. So in that sense, yeah, physically it’s hard. Mentally it’s hard. But like in business I find like the really challenging part is like there’s so much to do. It’s like, how do you prioritize? How do you know things are working? What timeline, Right? Like, I know I’m supposed to run three miles in this time on this path, but like, how do I. You know what I mean? Like, how do I know if I’ve built this thing right? How much am I supposed to lean into it? Is it even going to work? And it’s really easy to just stop or, you know, have to double check things, and next thing you know, you’re just stuck on a problem for a while.
Corey Garrison: [01:09:57] That’s leaves clues, you know, find find your your North Stars. And, you know, just they leave clues and they give you the game. If you just if you stop talking, you start listening or you open your eyes and you start watching. They leave clues, you know, And like those little breadcrumbs, they may not be like the complete this and this mouth, this date, and you get this gratification, but it will get you closer to what you want to go. You’ll get a higher vantage point on that mountain and you’ll be able to survey the landscape and see a little bit farther.
Humberto Garcia: [01:10:25] Speaking of which, that actually gives me an idea. It’s like, why don’t we create that? Like I should create that. Those checkpoints, like that roadmap of like exact syllabus, because it’s obviously what we do. It’s like, Yeah. All right. That actually is I’m writing it down.
Corey Garrison: [01:10:45] So people can measure measure against that. You know, like having that that that mile marker, if you will, because it’s lonely being a business owner. You know, it’s it gets romanticized, you know, But it’s hard, man. Like you’re doing this by yourself, especially with this type of business. Like you don’t have coworkers. You know what I mean? Like, even though, like, my hair and makeup artist is with me, like, they’re contractors. They’re not coworkers of mine, so I have no water cooler top. You know, you’re on an island, you know, by by yourself navigating this, you know? And the easiest person to to cheat is yourself. You know, your self doubt your self there will creep in. So that that checklist could be, you know, paramount for new people, a new person success and an existing studio. You know what I mean? So, yeah.
Humberto Garcia: [01:11:30] Yeah. All right man I really appreciate the time and yeah, we’ll keep in touch.
Corey Garrison: [01:11:35] Perfect. Appreciate it. And I will see you guys later. Better.
Humberto Garcia is the world’s leading photography business growth expert.
Founder of Photography to Profits and high-performance coach to multiple 6-figure photography businesses. Humberto coaches photographers from his special operations military experience and photography sales and marketing experience. After years of high performance in Marine Special Operations and building businesses, he knows what works.