Can Photography Studios Outside the United States do In-Person Sales? IPS
Mel and Dave are a successful husband and wife photography team, who have been operating Angelized Professional Photography for over 15 years. They initially started with Mel running the business, while Dave supported financially, but he eventually transitioned to a more behind-the-scenes role. Their business has seen tremendous growth, with Boudoir by Angel Eyes becoming their primary focus. In 2020, they generated $250,000 from Boudoir alone, and in 2022, they had 103 Boudoir clients, bringing in a total of $494,000. Prior to launching Boudoir, they engaged in a lot of marketing strategies, such as school expos, Facebook ads, and competitions. They also utilized a pricing list by Jen to increase their success, and overcame imposter syndrome by recognizing the value of their high-quality work. They have a consistent system in place, which allows them to focus on maintaining a work-life balance. They plan to invest in an investment property to transform it into a studio and have associate photographers, reducing the need for travel. They also have a “profit first” approach to finances and are reluctant to spend money on themselves.
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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[00:00:03] So I’m Mel. We both operate. Angel eyes, professional photography. But our sole business at the moment is boudoir by angel eyes. Been in business about 15 years, so. Yeah. And I’m.
[00:00:17] Dave, her partner in crime. So. Yeah, everything well said.
[00:00:21] And you guys are. You guys are in a husband and wife team.
[00:00:26] We are. Yes. Yes, Yes, we are.
[00:00:28] Um, started off the business with Mel running the show, basically. Um, I was the financial support. Um, and I slowly worked myself out of my job into the business gradually and became more behind the scenes. Um, so marketing and marketing website stuff. Um, you know, trying to get the bookings, things like that. And we’ve sort of just evolved to where we are now over a long period of time. Yeah.
[00:01:05] How long have you been in business and what got you started in metal?
[00:01:10] Um, so it was 2009. Um, it was mostly my father in law who said to me I had small kids at the time and he said, Oh, you’ve actually got a really good eye for photography. And I said, Oh, okay, thanks. And he literally said to me, You need to go and do that full time. I went, okay. And that’s how Angel Eyes was created. So I started doing family photography. Um, did that for about 12 years. We brought in Dave to do sports so dramatic, like sports photography back in about, I think it was 2018 from memory.
[00:01:45] 17 or 18.
[00:01:46] And then 2020 we released Boudoir and have been solely boudoir since then.
[00:01:52] Okay. So walk me through that. What was what was business like when you guys did all the other genres then? How did Boudoir even come about?
[00:02:01] So I was looking at my figures last night and I’m absolutely astounded at how far we’ve come. So. I was working every weekend. It was every Saturday. Every Sunday. At 4 or 5 shoots a week a day, Sorry. So in an in and out sort of thing. I was burnt out. Just nonstop work, work, work, work, work. Um, and then not getting anything from it. So looking back now, the average sale was $600 and in 2019, so I went back to 2019, um, which was my profitable year, I did 151 clients and made $93,000. So that’s a start. Yeah. Um, going forward, we introduced Boudoir in 2020, so the year of COVID. That was interesting. Um, and we were still doing family and sports. Average sale for those two genres was still $600, which just boudoir in January of 2020 and instantly. File $2,900. So on average, you said 2900. 2900. So went from 600 to 2900. Yeah, that particular year, families and sports brought in about $53,000. Boudoir brought in 193. So we went from 93,000 in 2019 to 150,000 in 2020. And then going forward, 2021, we. Did two family shoots. That was it. And we brought in 299,000. So food, boudoir. And that was 88 sessions. That was it. 88 and 22. 88 sessions. Yep. For boudoir only. And 2022 was solely boudoir. We did 103 clients and $494,000. So that’s our growth.
[00:04:02] You said for 94.
[00:04:04] 194,000. Yeah. Wow, that is so in four years we went from 93 to 494.
[00:04:12] That is a really big jump. And I will say, you know, for us, I’ve been doing marketing for different studios for a long time now and like the way I fell into boudoir might be similar to yours was that I would market so many different genres newborn maternity surprise style, glamour, weddings. And while we had success, it wasn’t the same level with boudoir and like the amount of work it took to get boudoir clients, the amount of work it took to like create good creatives to get people interested was so much lower and we could generate so much more on Facebook and video than we could for any. Like we can’t force people to like have a baby, right? So like a lot of those other ones were like kind of timeline dependent or they’re just not as exciting where like, boudoir is super exciting. It’s like it’s I don’t know, it’s almost like a new shiny object and it’s really so much it’s easier.
[00:05:09] It’s so much fun. So I even got into Boudoir is a different story. So I had a client, one of our family clients, who reached out to me and said, Oh, can you do a boudoir shoot for me? And I went, Oh, what? I had no idea what it was. So that was like a bit of a let’s look into this. So I did some research and I showed Dave and I said to him, This looks cool. I should do something. He’s like this with you. So that’s how it was created. So, um, we did a lot of education prior to jumping in and releasing because we, we wanted to do it right. Um, so that was leading up into. Let’s say September 2019, and then we launched in 2020, January 2020.
[00:05:59] So like these, how did you get your clients like before, like in 2019? You know, you said you had 151 clients, 93,000. Like, how were you generating clients? You know, what were you doing for marketing? Like, what was your how was your time spent?
[00:06:15] The fights. So school fights, long hours on the floor doing school weights.
[00:06:20] So this was with the families, families and sports. We’d be at school fetes like doing market type store things.
[00:06:28] And that was through until probably 2018. And then when I’m not doing any more of them, what is that? And then a school fete. School fete. So school expos in Australia, all the schools have like shows and everything like that. So you go there and be a stall holder basically. Um, and the sole way that we did that was giving away a collection, so. You run a competition, run a.
[00:06:50] Competition, get leads, and then you offer those leads for something, a backup prize, you know, a runners up prize type thing. Um, but that being said, a lot of our I don’t know the figures on it, but we had a lot of no sales, if you will. So because we would offer them things like free prints or something like that, we did get quite a lot of people coming through doing the photo shoot and then going, Oh yeah, no, just the free one. Thanks. So yeah, that there was a lot of those, which is very disheartening to work your ass off and get.
[00:07:26] Nothing in return. Yeah. Um, we stepped away from. The actual in-person expos and did a lot of Facebook ads. And it was the same thing. It was like, enter a competition, win this and then we give them a back up prize and then hopefully aim to upsell. So it was effective. It worked, but it didn’t give you the numbers that you needed. There was always that unsecurity what are they going to buy? Whereas boudoir, I know they’re going to buy.
[00:07:56] So. So what were you selling as products? Was LA digitals or like, did people get physical?
[00:08:01] We’ve always done IPS, so our collections were, I’m going to say this one, my God, £300. That was our lowest.
[00:08:10] Range from about $300 to about 1500, 1500. I think that was the highest we we raised it to through the period.
[00:08:19] And we’re always payment plans. There was nothing paid in full. So we’re always living on the core people bringing like $50 a week, $50 a fortnight. So it was, it was hard yakka.
[00:08:32] I think at one stage when we looked at the figures, had over $100,000 owed to us through payment plans and a lot of failures. So a lot of.
[00:08:41] That got written off.
[00:08:43] Just paid the bills. It kept us going, but it wasn’t pushing us ahead by any means.
[00:08:49] So definitely.
[00:08:51] So. You know, 100 or 93,000 is a lot in the industry like most photographers, just because there’s, you know, a low barrier to entry. A lot of people consider themselves professional. Like that’s still a very high number. Um, but yeah, like describe to me like, yeah, were you able to I know Dave, you were probably still working. Um, yeah. Yeah. Full time. So how did that go? Like, what was the transition to, like, boudoir came into the picture and then how did you start knowing like, okay, this is really going to take off? And, you know.
[00:09:22] I think the.
[00:09:23] The figures spoke for themselves. Um, and initially it was like we made some good sales and you don’t know if this is going to be a one off thing. Um.
[00:09:32] It was COVID times. So we’re like, is this going to stick?
[00:09:36] So I think when we got into to boudoir, um, I was working casually. I had cut down a lot by then. Um, and I think I was. Until one day a week type work. Um, so I was already in the process of cutting right back. Um, and it was in that within that first year that I resigned completely, I think I.
[00:10:05] Made, I had to make him because it was. You’re now costing us working. That was the.
[00:10:12] It got down to one day a fortnight and I think I was doing that more because I didn’t want to let the guy I was working for down because he’d have to find a replacement and we kind of went, No, we’ve got to think of ourselves here. And um, yeah. Step back completely and, yeah, full steam ahead in the business.
[00:10:30] What’s your favorite part about now that you’ve transitioned to boudoir? Like, what’s your favorite part about it?
[00:10:36] No King Weekend’s.
[00:10:38] Photograph at.
[00:10:39] All on the weekends?
[00:10:40] Not no working at all?
[00:10:42] No. We had a we had an offer come through a few days ago to do like a christening or something on a Sunday. And we’re just like, well, no, we don’t want we don’t we haven’t done that sort of thing in a long time. And too, that’s on a Sunday. So we get our weekends, which is great because we have four kids. Two of them are almost one of them’s 18, so he’s an adult and the other one is on 18 and we have two younger kids as well. So the older kids grew up with us working weekends. Um, and we, we just feel like it’s really cool that the, the younger kids that we have don’t have to go through that. They can have some weekends. So that’s definitely a bonus. Um, I’d say getting, getting paid is, is having, yeah. We don’t have that financial stress that we used to have. Um, you know, we, it’s like our clients now. See the worth in what we’re doing and reward us with that in terms of money.
[00:11:49] So and what has, like changed like day to day? Because, you know, some people have like daydream about more money and it’s like, oh, I can get a nicer car. I can, you know, but like day to day, like real life. How has it affected you guys?
[00:12:02] So we joined the High Rollers Club in March 2020. It was. Two weeks before lockdown happened. We were living at our studio house and we had some people in that house at the time, so it was very crowded. It was our home that we would never we never thought we’d ever leave. So. Fast forward to November 21st. We bought our dream home. Um, it’s got a pool. We just put a fireplace in. It’s got a spa coming in the next month. It’s got an acre block, a five bedroom house. It’s our dream home. Um, then fast forward to right now. We’ve just purchased an another an additional investment property. So we had two options with our accountant. He said, hey, a hell of a lot of tax or buy a property. So we went, okay, let’s buy a property. So that’s the physical reward that we’ve achieved just by implementing everything that we’ve been taught and tweaking things and making it work for us.
[00:13:18] I think also, just like when we started the business and we shot families like we were young. Um, you know, 20. We’re still young. We’re still young. We’re 40. Um, so you don’t really think of your future as terms of like, you know, your superannuation retirement, all that sort of stuff. That stuff’s way, way ahead. That’s future me problem. And being self-employed, like I’ve when I was working full time, obviously I had superannuation put away. From the employer. It wasn’t much, but we’ve never really. Been able to do anything for our future. And as we’ve sort of crept into our 30 and then. Our 30s slowly got into towards our 40s, it gets a little bit more scary to think what does our future look like as far as retirement and what do we have behind us? What’s our portfolio look like? What you know, what’s going to happen? Um, and just yeah, in the last few years, being able to get into property and actually put some stuff behind us is a very reassuring to know that, you know, we actually have something to fall back on now. Um. So there’s a lot of that stress that’s gone away. Um, I think also day to day with me because I was very much in charge of the marketing and getting us the leads to get the work. Um, we’d go through an influx of leads, we’d run a competition or something like that. We’d have a lot of leads, it would be booming, we’d be booking people in all good, and then it would sort of like die off a lot. And that stress would be like, What’s next month going to look like? How are we going to book out? How are we going to get bookings in so we can keep paying our bills? How are we.
[00:15:16] Going to take time off?
[00:15:18] Whereas now we’re in a system where we can actually like. Um, we know that we’ve got a good system in place that’s consistent. And, you know, we’ve got leads, we’ve got bookings, we’ve all the gears are working together properly so that again and again it’s stressed. We don’t have that stress like we used to have of worrying and everything like that. Um, you know, in some ways it’s still there. You’re always going to be thinking like, you know, let’s make sure we’re, we’re ahead. What’s next month look like? It’s the month after that look like. But um, you look at the numbers and figures and everything and it’s, it all pans out. So yeah, it’s stressful day to day. That would be my overall response to that.
[00:16:06] And before you guys were doing like the Expos, you were running like Facebook ad giveaways. What is bringing stuff in now? Like what makes you guys so comfortable that like leads and bookings and like, what’s bringing the consistency?
[00:16:20] Our group is our pot of gold. To put it simply, that’s how we started. So we implemented our Facebook group. I think it’s got 2500 in there. I haven’t checked, um, making those connections and talking to people. And then of course we’ve paid advertising. So you Google ads, your Facebook ads, all that sort of stuff. And then, um, when we were confident enough that.
[00:16:51] When do we switch? Why did we switch to somebody?
[00:16:56] That was around March last year? Yeah, April last year we.
[00:17:02] Were in a position that the lease was constantly coming in and couldn’t keep up with them through Facebook. And I wanted another avenue. So that’s why we hired you to do all our Google ads and Facebook ads so that Dave could focus more on the retouching side and can focus more on the admin side.
[00:17:22] It was also because we had our hand in one pot, so the Facebook group was our one source of lead generation. And you know, it’s just while it was working, it was like if it just stopped, like what if Facebook just canned groups or something like that happened and we were like, We can’t just rely on this prospecting and dipping into the group and looking from the group as our only lead generation. So we thought, you know, we got to do something. Um, I had dabbled in like I had a lot of experience in doing book ads, not as a professional level, but just enough to get us by. And, um. You know, we had some leads coming through. Ads were running. A lot of our ads were just group grow ads so that we then again do what we were currently doing, dip into the group. So we kind of decided that we needed to do something. Um, we had hired. A campaign group prior to joining your team, Humberto. And we were with them for maybe six.
[00:18:40] Months longer than that.
[00:18:42] Yeah. Okay. Almost a year. And the results weren’t good. Um, so, you know, we’d get an increase in traffic and stuff like that was what pages were performing better and things like that. But at the end of the day, the inquiries weren’t coming in, which was the end goal. So after about a year with them, we had to go somewhere different. We was like, This isn’t working. Um, and I don’t even know how we. When we decided.
[00:19:18] That it was me, probably you.
[00:19:21] Put it forward and we went, Well, let’s get on the phone and go down that avenue and see what. What everything is. So, yeah, and remember.
[00:19:33] When we first spoke, you know, we kind of talked about it because while we do like templatize a lot, because we work with one industry, we work with mostly 1 or 2 genres. Like for us, a lot of it is processes and like just following like a given, almost like a template. But then like we have to like figure out the business owner themselves and like maybe like focus a little bit more or skew like depending on what works for them. And one studio we worked with was in New York and for some reason for them, like they told us, similarly like our Facebook group is gold and we try to like force call schedulers and like everything. But the Facebook group, it was still a little bit of a priority, but like didn’t realize that it should have been the 100% priority. Um, so like now you’re getting leads through your website, you know, through forums and stuff like that and off Facebook, but. Are people still joining the group? Are you still prospecting or do you still have those habits going? Like at the same time and like, do you just have new people in the group as well?
[00:20:38] So we got to a stage that we could not as just us to do all the work ourselves. There was so much going on. Prospecting dropped off because there were so many leads coming on. So thank you. Um, but then we just, we thought we’ve just switched from just solely Facebook to just solely, um. Google and all that.
[00:21:03] In one bucket. We took that handout and put it in another bucket and we.
[00:21:05] Went, We’ve got to combine both to make this work. Otherwise, what’s the point? So we actually hired out. So we in October this year we had a um, an admin lady, so she does all of our calls. Um, and she does all the admin for me. So she’s transitioned to all the calls. Now we were doing both and I’ve turned up. You handle it. It’s all yours now. Um. And she and we’ve hired someone to solely look after the Facebook group. So in essence, we’ve got two now, a team now of six. So we’ve got three the social media team plus the admin and two as well. So um, going back to your question is like we had to, we didn’t have enough time to do everything ourselves, so we had to outsource it.
[00:21:55] So, but you are like, you guys do keep up on the Facebook. Prospecting like that is a big.
[00:22:02] Um, Sherry actually does some prospecting as well, so she’ll help me in that side of it. Um, and out of our hair and makeup team will actually do the real for us because we don’t have the time to do that that we used to do. So we used to do everything ourselves. Now we’ve time.
[00:22:19] And they’re really good at it and they’re actually better than us at it. So yeah, that’s plenty of sense.
[00:22:25] Yeah, It’s funny because a lot of times I talk to photographers and like some people are die hard. They know they for some reason, they just know that prospecting is just the basic principle of like the more people you know, the more people you connect with genuinely, like the more sales conversations that are going to pop up from that. Not all of them, but a lot of them will. Um, and then some people are just like, Nope, I don’t want to talk to anybody. They have to like submit a form on my website. Otherwise I’m a spammer and I don’t want to be scammy. So for you guys, I feel like you guys, maybe it’s your personality, but you are never in the not talk to people.
[00:23:03] No. Yeah.
[00:23:04] I’ve always thought of it as a, um. It’s a conversation like someone reaches out through like Google and that they’re inquiring. So it’s our duty to provide that customer service of the information. Same thing is why are they in our Facebook group? It’s a boudoir photography group. They’re interested in some way. So let’s make that connection and give them the information.
[00:23:27] And in a.
[00:23:29] In a face to face situation, you walk into a shop, they usually have a door greeter or someone there that says, How are you? Can I help you today? But they’re not trying to put hard on you, but they’re just it’s like customer service. So you’ve entered our group. You’re going to get a message to say, Hey, thanks for joining the group. You know anything? What’s got you interested? Blah, blah, blah. It’s no different than a door greeter in a shop. In my opinion.
[00:23:56] That’s a good point.
[00:23:57] What have you guys, as you guys have like grown, what is like the biggest challenge you’re experiencing now or what are you trying to solve?
[00:24:05] Work life balance. Oh, did a 14 hour day yesterday. It’s it’s been a it’s been a big week with five shoots for ordering appointments. Um, the hours were long so trying to get that downtime, I think that’s very important for us to not work weekends for that reason. Yeah, that’s a struggle.
[00:24:27] Male, male, workaholic.
[00:24:29] And how do you guys like the how do you guys split the tasks? Are you photographing it all day?
[00:24:35] So we it’s always a team. So it used to be Dave would get leads, I would follow them up. Now it’s just they just come to us. Um, but we, I’m the admin side of it, so I’ll do all the. Well I used to do all the calls, all the admin contracts, anything to do with getting the client to the door. We both shoot. So Dave does more of the photo side as I do more of the posing. Dave will do the retouching. I will do the sales, he’ll do the order, and then the order comes back to me for a final proof before he sends off to print and I send off digitals. So it’s a team effort the entire way start to finish.
[00:25:16] How Who is responsible? Because, you know, the first touch we had when we were working together was the high rollers, which is, you know, group coaching program accountability through the Facebook group and, um, you know, even the cohorts and then the video library and all the assets there. But who was like responsible, Like, what was your methodology for like going and implementing all that?
[00:25:36] We each had our own parts to play. So did all the emails. Uh, Dave did all the marketing, so I don’t think I watched a single marketing video because I’m like, Nah, that’s.
[00:25:48] You didn’t understand.
[00:25:50] I had too much else on my plate. And he didn’t look at the emails. So implementing all those email processes, that was not him at all.
[00:25:59] But then there.
[00:25:59] Were a lot of, um, one of the things we used to do. So when we’d drive to work in the morning, um, we would, the video.
[00:26:08] Library was playing.
[00:26:09] Yeah. We’d put on instead of listen to music or something like that, we’d be watching some of those Q and A’s and that where you just listen to people talking and asking questions and stuff like that and you just pick up on stuff, it spark a conversation between us in something we could implement or change. And um, yeah, there was lots of videos, things that we would watch together because they kind of.
[00:26:37] Anything to their roles.
[00:26:38] Yeah, anything that involved both of us. So gems to sell, um, all that sort of stuff. Um. And that was like predominantly both of us. We would watch together or I’d watch and go, You need to watch this part.
[00:26:56] Uh, we’re before you even joined. Did you guys have any hesitations? Like, what was, like, the biggest thing? Like, because, of course, like, everyone makes promises. Like, what was the biggest hesitation you had or like, concern?
[00:27:08] It was the biggest hesitation was the.
[00:27:10] Biggest hesitation because I’m the most skeptical of anything and everything.
[00:27:14] Yeah. So we’d gone through a few marketing teams in our careers and nothing ever worked. So I think the first thing I did was buy Jen’s price list. So all I did was like, okay, well let’s try this. So I implemented, I tweaked it a little bit. Um. And my first sale, using that price list was with a newborn client and she bought $5,000 and went, Whoa!
[00:27:45] And prior to that our highest collection was 1500.
[00:27:49] So that was.
[00:27:50] Huge jump to a five grand sale.
[00:27:53] And paid in.
[00:27:54] Kind of opened our eyes and I guess opened my eyes, especially being the skeptical one, to say that, okay, so this actually might work. This may not be full of crap. Like, yeah, we had signed up for other marketing things before. Even little things like certain. Add type goods where you. Pay a couple of hundred dollars. And this is going to sort of show you how to do a Facebook ad and you’d get some template and you’d just be like, Well, this doesn’t help at all. I could do that myself. Not relevant. And all this information I already knew anyway. And like, yeah, So when Mel got the price list, implemented it and straight off the bat we had success with it. That really sort of opened the doors up for us to say, Well, we need to do this.
[00:28:49] He’s still sat on the fence for a long time. I think I spoke to you. I spoke to Jen, I spoke to Nikki. And I’m like, Dave, come on, we got to do this. And I think I spoke to another friend who was like I said, this is how it is. This is what it’s going to do. And he’s like, Well, just do it. I said, Can you tell Dave? Because convince him I’m ready. And then I think it wasn’t that long after I just went, Let’s just do it. Look, I’ve made five grand already. I think I’ve made another couple of five grand by then. And I said, All in all, if it doesn’t work, we’ve covered our costs with one sale. Don’t stress. So I think that was the justification.
[00:29:27] I think that’s how we justified it was. Well, if if we can do this price list and we can make that kind of money off a couple of sales, then it’s paid for it.
[00:29:36] Exactly. So the risk wasn’t there in his mind?
[00:29:39] And then I just kept reading the testimonials going, Yes, let’s just do it. Let’s just do it. Then we went and got a loan. Um. Yeah, right before COVID shut us down. So that was fun. We just went, Oh, my God, what did we just do? But we met up back. Our investment in session fees prior to even shooting. We came back shooting in July and we had, I think, 60 clients on the books without even.
[00:30:04] Yeah, we had we had leads popping in from prospecting left, right and center.
[00:30:08] Because I had the time.
[00:30:09] To sit there and do.
[00:30:10] Video calls.
[00:30:10] Doing video calls. Yeah. I was in the process of building one of our studios and while I was doing that, Mel was in the next room just on the video calls, just booking people in. Bang, bang, bang. And it was like, all right, this is good. It’s working.
[00:30:27] Yeah, because we.
[00:30:28] We do model call and had five clients prior to shutting down, so yeah, that’s all we had. That’s all we had to show.
[00:30:37] Yeah. That was like a big concern for me and Jen. Actually. It was like a debate, like, should we do the price list? Because the price list is like $7 and then there’s some upsells. Um, and my, my thought was hoping that we would have stories like yours, like someone’s going to be blown away by this. They’re going to see they’re going to make their money and then they’re going to be like, Yeah, let’s buy into the whole system where sometimes initially a lot of educators think like, Oh, if you give anything away for free, then they’re going to steal it and then they’re going to run away with it and never not steal it. You know, you bought it, but then they’re never going to need anything from you again because they like took your secret recipe. And it’s like, no, if you put a lot of value into them, then hopefully you gain their trust. So it’s really good to hear.
[00:31:20] That mean that was.
[00:31:21] One piece of the pie. So yeah, there’s so many other aspects that just grew our business exponentially. Having the time due to COVID, um, shutting down, we were able to implement so much so quickly. So we already had our emails done before we were shooting, like they were all, all done. Um, images from our first shoot were first five shoots were all in there, so we had to redo them again. But um, we were able to go through, I think we went through about 70% of the course in that time, so that helped. It’s not juggling anything else.
[00:31:58] So tell me about that, because obviously the price list was the big one. A lot of people don’t think that internationally you can sell like that. And I’ve heard I’ve been on sales calls for, you know, our coaching clients and our like agency clients. And a lot of people have said, Umberto, you don’t understand. Like in London, no one spends like that. I’ve even heard people say in Dubai, everyone’s cheap and they can they don’t pay for that. So now I’ve heard that about any, you know, insert any city or any country and people will say that. So what did you guys think about that before you took this price list? Like, did you have the same thought process like, oh, that’s an American thing?
[00:32:33] Yeah, absolutely.
[00:32:35] Like so we thought sort of population based too. So if you look up the population of an American city compared to an Australian city, we’re small, tiny, you know, and it’s like, well, will it still work when you’re advertising everything to such a smaller audience? Um, and it does. So like at the end of the day, you walk outside or you go for a drive and there’s people drives, people drive BMW or Mercedes Benz pass you or Alexis or Alexis, and they’re not cheap cars and people still justify and can afford those. They had the option to buy a Toyota. They went for the Lexus. Yeah.
[00:33:17] People have money for what they want to spend. That’s as simple as that. So, um. Honestly, in my personal opinion, our family side. Didn’t have it. Um. We tried to do like a I think our clientele knew that we were like, let’s give away something. So that’s what they were always waiting for.
[00:33:43] And I think.
[00:33:44] Because the industry is really saturated with upcoming photographers sort of getting their hands on the gear and going, All right, I want to do this and how am I going to do it? I’ll give stuff away and I’ll be super, super cheap. And the family photography, I’m not sure what it’s like over in the US there, but over here is absolutely saturated with people doing that. So it becomes a very recognized normal that if you want to go and get photos of your family, you just hit up a photographer or find one that’s giving stuff away and it makes it’s so much harder for those family photographers to actually make some decent coin.
[00:34:28] It’s I’m not.
[00:34:29] Saying it’s not possible. Um, but I wasn’t willing to put in work. To get the no sales anymore. So in my mind, I was sick of families. I didn’t want to deal with them anymore. I’d done 12 years of chasing it and I went, No, I’m done. We hired a family photographer to help us. She did like five shoots and went, I’m done. We went, okay, we’re closing that side. Um. There are definitely photographers in Australia, boudoir photographers specifically, who will charge absolutely nothing like it’s $150, $350 for everything, just like the family industry. But. I think there’s a big difference. When? The confidence of you charging $5,000 as an average sale as opposed to $350. Um, it’s. We have clients who travel eight, nine hours to see us because we, they they know and trust us. They they like our work and they go, I will drive past all those other ones to come and see you. So in essence, it’s hard to get. It’s not hard to get the high paying clients, um, in boudoir in family. I wasn’t sold, but that was just my personal experience.
[00:35:51] If that.
[00:35:51] Makes sense. There are others that do it, but I think the average sale is only about two grand.
[00:35:56] To me, it’s also you’ve got to get over that imposter syndrome. I mean, okay, like I’m going to charge like $5,000. I’m going to charge $8,000 for a collection. So, yeah, I know that I need my work to be up to standard. Like, I need to make sure that it’s top quality because. Otherwise I shouldn’t be charging those prices. So it does keep you accountable personally and as a business to make sure that your quality is high and your standards are high. So if you’re charging ridiculously low prices, then maybe your standards not very high, maybe not holding yourself to that high standard. And it comes down obviously with boudoir. A lot of it is about the experience as well. And again, you sort of go, okay, so we’re we’re charging these prices. I’m not going to feel right if they’re not getting an A grade experience. So.
[00:37:02] Yeah, I think.
[00:37:03] It sort of helps you as a business. Perform better as well to be charging those prices.
[00:37:10] What was that like the first like? Because I know you said your highest package was 1500, like to go into a sales session with like, you know, bigger packages. What was that like the first time?
[00:37:21] Scary. Very scary.
[00:37:24] That imposter syndrome was huge because you’re like, is it right?
[00:37:28] Like, I remember our.
[00:37:29] First year going, Oh my God, these are really bad. But she bought like, I think a first first boudoir sale was 5000. I went, Oh, okay. And then when that becomes the norm, it’s like, okay, I expect it.
[00:37:45] But then because because we knew we were going to charge these, we wanted these price points to be our collections. We wanted to be making that kind of money. We weren’t just going to wing it. We, like Mel said much earlier that we invested into a lot of training and education with the photography side, the posing and the editing and stuff like that. So we went, you know, like we can’t just wing it and charge these prices. We can’t just pick up a camera and start shooting, trying to find angles and what works. Like we need to know what we’re doing. We need to know how, how to pose properly and everything. So, um, yeah, it was definitely scary. And getting over that sort of imposter syndrome was probably the first hurdle, I think, with our own personal confidence as photographers. But I think once we did that, we started to sort of see our worth and people were showing us that worth. So we were like, You know what? It’s okay. It’s great.
[00:38:45] That’s awesome. Yeah, that’s really cool. And then, like, after that, you just stuck to that price list and didn’t go back.
[00:38:51] No, no, we’ve tweaked it a few times.
[00:38:53] Oh, but did you.
[00:38:54] Keep increasing it or what did you do?
[00:38:56] Um, well, we do have a $13,000 collection that I have sold at once. I was very happy when I did that. Um, I sold four bombshells this week, so pretty happy with that. Um, $8,000.
[00:39:10] Holy smokes. Yeah, but. So tell me about. Tell me about that $13,000 sale. How did that even come about? Because that’s.
[00:39:16] Well, that was actually.
[00:39:18] The first shoot of the year. And it was a guy. So he was a male stripper wanting to build a portfolio and get out internationally to some stuff.
[00:39:32] And and he wanted everything. And I went, All right, well, the best, easiest way to get everything is this is the price. And he went, okay, So that’s the easiest.
[00:39:43] Ones was um.
[00:39:46] Yeah, we definitely didn’t expect it. Um.
[00:39:49] I was we’ve.
[00:39:50] Always been open to shooting men, but, uh, when you put your ads out there and our experience when we put ads out there and that we just get creepy guys being weirdos, so we sort of went, Well, let’s just keep pushing what is working for us? And, yeah, out of the blue, a legitimate guy. He wants photos and wants to spend money for them. So yeah, yeah.
[00:40:15] So a few tweaks that we made, um, to Jones pricing. I think our. A minimum investment was $750. That gave them five printed images. That is still a little bit of our hook when we talk to people on the phone. Then we jump up to $2,000. That gives ten digital files and a box of prints. So there’s no albums or anything like that. Um, then we went 3500, 5000, 8000. That’s where we stopped. Then I sold one loss leader and I went, Right, that’s got to come off the menu. I don’t want to advertise it. So it got removed to like the little bits of extra stuff.
[00:40:59] It went into the price list where you, where you spend, you spend your credit and stuff like that.
[00:41:06] So. So that was our first step.
[00:41:07] Our second step was adding that. $13,000 collection. I think that’s been in there for about a year now. Um.
[00:41:16] So we took the album out of the $2,000 collection as well. Yes.
[00:41:21] So I kept selling the 2000. I’m like, I don’t want to sell this, so get rid of the album.
[00:41:27] So it was a it was a small, smaller album and cheaper, if you will. But we just thought, no, if they they want an album, then they’re looking at three and a half as a minimum. So that’s another thing that sort of pushes them up.
[00:41:40] But then I was selling the 2000 still and I’m like, No, don’t want to sell this. So I got rid of that off there as well. So all our collections now, three and a half, five, eight and 13, so they’re all on. We have little booklets. I don’t have one here and I open them up in our. At at the shoot. And I show them these are our most popular collections. And there’s four on one page and the two middle ones are the 8000 and the 5000. And I say these are the most popular. This is the reason why. So our bombshell is the only one. And the 8000 and the 13,000 are the only ones that actually have color and black and white in their collections. The Vixen and the Sirens. The 5000 and the three and a half have only got eight per image. So you either get color black and white, or if you want to get both, you have to pay for them. So this week, all of my clients have gone well, I’m up in the the goddess or the 13 and. So I say to them the most, You’re in the God. Now. The easiest option for you is if you wanted to stay there, you can get all them, no problem, but don’t force it. It’s more of a the easiest option is to go down to your bombshell. I’ve got to take out a certain amount of images. And so, for example, yesterday’s client, she had 147 images sitting in her her pile when she started. And essentially it was only 78 individual images. So in order for her to keep the to get the bombshell, she only had to take out eight images. 78 because that’s.
[00:43:23] How many sessions are you? How many photos are you showing?
[00:43:28] Average is only from 100 to 130 individual images. But we sell the black and whites and colors are separate.
[00:43:36] So they’re doubled. Um, most.
[00:43:39] Of the time they’ll choose one or the other. Sometimes they’ll double up and in an order where you might have 50 images selected, um, they might have 4 or 5 of those images as doubles. So ten images being sold where they were. Five.
[00:43:57] So yesterday’s client, she said, well you can either get rid of 100 images to get down to the vixen, which is what she wanted, or you can take out eight and she went, I’ll take out eight. That’s easier. And then there you go. There’s your bombshell.
[00:44:13] It’s so cool that like, you know, at one point you were like beginner at this. You were just learning. You’re like, don’t like daunting price list. And now you’re like hotshot expert. I just did your sales average.
[00:44:25] At this.
[00:44:25] One. This is easier.
[00:44:27] Yeah, I.
[00:44:27] Just said the average, you know, it probably includes retainer fees, but like, getting.
[00:44:31] No, that doesn’t include retainer fees.
[00:44:33] Oh, that doesn’t.
[00:44:34] So what’s the average.
[00:44:36] Um, right now on.
[00:44:40] I did it. I did it with the gross year and then I divided by the sessions. So the gross.
[00:44:45] 4800 was 2022. And. Right now. For this month. I’m at 7400.
[00:44:56] Holy smokes. Oh, yeah. The lot of bombshells, right? Yeah. And the big one.
[00:45:01] One vixen and four bombshells in one week.
[00:45:04] So what’s that like? Because obviously, like, someone reading this or seeing this is like, what the hell? I can’t get there. It’s too late. Or sometimes you feel like if you’ve been doing something for four years and to switch over, it’s like a big, like, knock on your head that you’ve been doing things wrong and people don’t want to, like, admit that. So like, for you, you know, what’s it like now? Like, like I just said, like, you’re kind of like an expert now. And you did exactly what I coached people on is like, take it. Do it the way we teach, you know, don’t second guess it. Don’t, you know, go ask 400 Facebook groups. And then, you know, because those people are going to tell you this is unreasonable. They’re all going to give you doubt. But when you do it yourself, you’re going to learn ten times more in one. Even if it’s a bad sales session, then you would, you know, asking for advice. Mhm.
[00:45:54] What was the question? Sorry.
[00:45:56] Oh. So the question is like what is that like for you now. Like do you feel the difference in the sales? Like I know you said you feel a lot more confident but yeah, there’s a big contrast from before. Yeah, it’s, um.
[00:46:08] My think in the back of my mind is like, please pay in full, Please pay in full. Please pay in full. That’s always I want the cash flow. We have a finance company that we use over here who can do like the bombshell, like $8,000 collection for $102 a fortnight. So that’s my selling point.
[00:46:31] Um, so after the photo shoot, um. I’ll start cleaning up like the rooms and sorting them out. And Mel will be client for about ten minutes just talking to him about all the products and things like that. And that’s one of the big indicators she gives them. So when she shows them the investment menu and goes through the whole these are our most popular ones with the the five and the $8,000 one. She breaks it down for how much it would cost a week in finance.
[00:47:03] So it’s not.
[00:47:04] So big of a.
[00:47:06] It does depend on the client’s credit rating. Um and unfortunately some of them don’t have good credit ratings and they don’t qualify for finance. Um, so that’s kind of where we cross our fingers because we can’t control that. Um, that’s entirely on the client. But you know, if, if they do qualify for finance, they’ll go finance. We’ve had a few that have just paid out full. Um, yeah, it doesn’t happen often, but the finance is definitely, um.
[00:47:36] We treat each client like an $8,000 client. It’s as simple as that. We will shoot exactly the same. Um, doesn’t matter. Their age, their, um.
[00:47:47] Yeah, treat them exactly the same. So what’s.
[00:47:49] That mean? Was there a time where you didn’t? Because I know that, you know, a lot of times in Facebook comments, I see people like, Hey, this person’s young, I don’t want to waste my time. So they always have like this.
[00:48:00] Like we’ve had a few surprises.
[00:48:03] We’ve had a pregnant woman.
[00:48:05] Yeah, there’s 20.
[00:48:07] Pay, $8,000 up front. I went, Wow.
[00:48:09] So we’ve always had.
[00:48:10] The experience where if. We’ve had brides, if you will. So they going to get married in the next couple of months maybe. And they want to do this as a wedding gift type thing. And you sort of think to yourself, you know, that they’re getting married. They’ve got like all these other expenses loading up. How much room do they actually have for a boudoir session in their budget? You’ve like you just mentioned, young people. Like I remember when I was 20 years old, I had no money like and you kind of think, how much room do they have in their budget to spend money on this? And you do have those sort of stereotypes, if you will, in your head of going, okay, this person probably won’t spend much, but we just I guess our our method is just to put a block on that and go, well, they’re here, but they’ve booked in, they’re here. So at the end of the day we can rush a shoot, do like a 45 minute shoot or something like that and. So I guess shoot ourselves in the foot. If they were going to spend money because we wouldn’t have the images to offer them and they wouldn’t get the full experience and all that sort of stuff. Or we could just do what we normally do. It costs us a little bit extra time than if we cut it short and we just give them the full experience, the full amount of time, the proper amount of photos that they should get. And like Mel said before, sometimes then they’ll buy a bombshell and you’ll have like a. Someone in their early 20 seconds who’s getting married or they’re pregnant doing a maternity type one, and then still by BAM, they spend $8,000 and you’re like, did not see that coming. But thank God we gave them the full proper shoot. We didn’t, you know, listen to that little voice that told us they probably won’t, you know. So regardless of what what we think, we still just do the standard so that, you know, you never know.
[00:50:07] And we are very much systematic shooters. I know exactly what’s coming every shoot.
[00:50:12] So by the way, I will say this is definitely a compliment, but like your work has gotten significantly better than when you first started.
[00:50:19] Yes, definitely.
[00:50:20] Light years almost. I don’t even recognize it compared to you. Yeah.
[00:50:25] Thank you.
[00:50:27] Yeah we that is that we do is we actually critique most of our shoots as well so we’ll look back and go why did we do that? That leg is wrong.
[00:50:36] You’ve really got to.
[00:50:36] Put your ego aside. It’s like, you know, like because like I said, I’ll do the photos. We play our strengths. Mel is much better with posing and fine detail. Um, yeah. If I had to take care of posing and stuff, I’d miss a twisted strap or ring out a line or things like that. Um, my strengths are more with the lighting and the camera angles and things like that. So we play our strengths and then we’ll also get critique each other’s work and critique our own work and be like probably need head back a little bit more tilted there or something, or the angles are a bit off and needs to be a bit higher or something like that, and just trying to like improve things. Even when you think it’s brilliant and perfect, you go like, okay, now we can do this one better. Or Yeah.
[00:51:26] Well that’s really, that’s really cool and I’m glad you took that as a compliment. Um, okay, so we talked about pricing. We talked about your Facebook group, your international, just the fact that you’re international. What is the next big goal you guys have? Obviously New Year. I’m sure you guys are up from last year already, so.
[00:51:45] Yes, we are. Um, so we it’s actually hard for me to do these figures because we are our financial year is July to January. So sorry. July to June. Yeah. So, um, from July to February, we’ve actually done $392,000. So that’s in what?
[00:52:09] Seven months.
[00:52:10] Yeah. Our goal this financial year is to try and get to that 650.
[00:52:15] Yeah, that’s our stretch goal. I’m want to crack that 500.
[00:52:18] That’s my crack to 500 easy. So 650 is where I’m at.
[00:52:25] So let’s say, you know, that is a like I describe that as being like a goal that is like an end state. Do you guys have any goals for, like, your habits? Like anything you guys are trying to like, implement any, like, habits. You’re trying to, like, take on new things and, you know, for employees.
[00:52:45] We our ultimate goal is to at the moment, we travel an hour to our studio because we moved an hour away. Um, we would like to build a studio out here where we are so that we can actually have the associate photographers, we can work, all that sort of stuff that we don’t actually physically have to do. So ideally, I’d like to be shooting 2 to 3 times max and then retire and all that sort of stuff. But we can’t do that at our current studio because our son currently lives there.
[00:53:14] So and that house just isn’t.
[00:53:17] It’s not big enough for it.
[00:53:19] Whereas yeah, a big goal of ours for the future is to purchase a property where we can look at that property and go, This will be turned into a studio, the whole house, like multiple rooms, multiple sets and stuff like that. Like so much more potential than we have now. Not that we don’t have much potential now where we’re at. We sort of looked at it and went, you know, like we’re pretty lucky with the studio we have we’ve got three sort of sets, three big rooms that we use, which is a lot of variety already. But, you know, you can’t help but go a lot more. So that’s definitely a big goal. We have to get that new studio.
[00:54:01] Was there any time you guys doubted any of this? Were you like any any like weak stretch or month stretch where you’re like, Damn, I’d rather have a regular job and no past that we had.
[00:54:13] I mean, I’ve been self-employed for 15 years, so I didn’t want to go work for someone else. I don’t think I could. So, yeah.
[00:54:22] Now that we might just make way much, way much more money than we did working our 9 to 5. And it’s flexible. If I want to take a day off, I can. As long as I’m not too far booked out at the moment, I can’t because I’m too booked out.
[00:54:38] But what’s like the kind of the last question, but what’s like the most unique thing that’s happened to you in the last two years? Or like a story you can’t even believe has happened to you or something that some nobody knows about?
[00:54:54] Oh, I don’t know.
[00:54:55] I was just gonna say, like, we’re still going through the. The hideous process of getting that investment property. But so we were at our studio, so we had the studio and we lived there as well. Um. We purchased the house we’re in now. So now we have two properties under our belt and now we’re getting a third property and we sort of just every now and then, even now, we just sort of look at each other and go, We.
[00:55:24] Want invisible property like this. Is this real?
[00:55:27] Like, when did we get in a position where we could actually have investment properties under us? And it’s just still a little surreal to think.
[00:55:37] But how did it happen? Short time as well.
[00:55:41] Do you guys? I will ask. I’ve worked with people that have like done crazy years, right? They’ve kind of like you. They like maybe made a couple six figures, low six figures. And then, like, the next year, they’re making like a huge amount, like 400, 500,000. And I had a friend that like got into really bad, like financial trouble because they started spending on like, you know, do a wedding again, buy a bunch of cars and stuff. And they got into like really big trouble by not paying taxes. So do you guys follow the profit first system? Do you guys follow any like financial?
[00:56:16] Those think because we’ve always struggled with money. We don’t like spending money. It’s like we don’t spend money on ourselves. Like, no, it’s hard.
[00:56:26] Like the investment property thing. Um, I probably wouldn’t have even done, to be honest. But it was something that it.
[00:56:34] Made more sense to do that than pay taxes.
[00:56:36] Yeah, we got, we got financial help. And they said, well, these are the options. You can pay like this much to the tax department or you can do this. And it was like, Well, we might as well go down that road and, and not pour money into the government’s pocket and instead pour it into our own investments.
[00:56:58] The only thing that we have bought recently that’s been quite big is our spa. But that’s something that was always my goal when we bought this house was like, I need my spa. That’s that’s my downtime. We every time we’d go away on holidays when we were younger, it was we’d always find somewhere we were a spa and that’s when our we’d brainstorm, we’d brainstorm stuff. I’m like, We should do that. So that was.
[00:57:20] My we’d be talking.
[00:57:21] We run holidays in a spa, talking business and like trying to, like, write things down and but yeah.
[00:57:29] Like, we just don’t spend money, so that’s good.
[00:57:32] Well, that helps. Yeah.
[00:57:33] I’ll still, I’ll still go to the shops to buy like a shirt and go oh $25 for this shirt. Is that. Oh I don’t know. And you. Like, I know I can afford it, but I don’t want that mental block. You still have from being very tight with money. Yeah. Still there?
[00:57:52] Well, it’s a responsible habit to have.
[00:57:54] I don’t spend money.
[00:57:57] I was in the military for ten years, and like my whole career, I didn’t care about my car. And then that’s the one thing that changed. I definitely care about my cars now, but surprisingly, I don’t fly like first class almost ever. I always think about it, and I actually asked my daughter because I asked her. I was like, Would you rather sit first class or coach? And she said, I’d rather sit first class. And I said, okay, let me ask you a different question. What if I put $1,200 on the coach seat and I told you to go sit back there for four hours and at the end you get to keep the $1,200, but you don’t get to sit in first class. She’s like, Wait, what? 1200? What can I buy with 1200? I’m like, Yes, iPad. You can buy this. It’s like, I’d rather go sit in the back. Why would I want to sit in the front for a little bit? I was like, Exactly. That’s the question.
[00:58:42] You should always think about what I’m going to spend. What do I really need it? Yeah. And to answer your question, yes, we do do the profit first. So we a certain amount of our income will go into our business expenses. And then. Um, the other part goes into our personal like actually goes against our mortgage at the moment because that’s the easiest way to bring it down.
[00:59:06] Nice. That’s really awesome. Well, thank you so much. Got so much insight from you guys. You guys were a really good interview to do and I’m super excited to hear that you guys have had so much success.
[00:59:16] Thank you. Thank you for your help.
[00:59:18] All right, guys, have a happy Saturday. Does this count as work?
[00:59:22] No, no, that’s all right. All right.
[00:59:25] Guys, have a good morning.
[00:59:27] Thank you so much. Bye.
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.