Lessons from the Road

I recently spent 5 days traveling up and down the California coast with The Focus Tour. We visited Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco with an amazing group of photography educators. The Tour was Melanie Anderson’s idea and was sponsored by H&H Color Lab, 17Hats, Fundy Software and other industry leaders.

We spent the daytime traveling, shooting and having enlightening discussions.  Evenings were spent in each host city presenting a formal program of education, motivation and networking. We were joined by some of the industry’s heavy hitters including Sue Bryce, Scott Robert Lim, and Andrew Funderburg.

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Our mode of transportation was a large executive van. I felt like a “rock star” on tour.  Long hours of driving, eating at bad restaurants and sleeping on the sofa at a crowded Airbnb. Am I complaining? Not one bit. It was a great experience with some lessons learned. Here are a couple of my main takeaways:

  1. Everyone can have his or her own TV show. Facebook Live is amazing. I was not a believer until I went on this adventure. It is the ultimate marketing tool. You can broadcast live and then it remains on Facebook for others to see and watch. On the drive from LA to San Francisco – we stopped at Emma State Beach, near Ventura California, at high noon, and had Scott Robert Lim do a session on taking portraits in super bright light on the California coastline. We broadcast it live on Facebook. As of this writing it has had over 9,000 views! You can see it here. Live streaming is the future – how can you use this in your business? Live stream from a wedding shoot to show potential clients how much fun you have working with the wedding party or maybe during a senior session. You could even get your clients involved and talking live on air.
  2. Another huge take-away happened by accident. There was a group of us standing outside having a conversation when the topic of social media’s importance came up. Before you know it, Melanie Anderson and I were live streaming on Facebook and debating the pros and cons of using Social Media for marketing. You can see our discussion here. Ironically my take-away has absolutely nothing to do with social media. It is that there will often be more than one way to accomplish most tasks in the photography world. That’s what I love about this business. It is critical to keep an open mind as we listen to and partake in photography education.  At the end of the day – we have to figure out what works for our businesses and us as individuals, but remember our way may not always be the best way.

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  3. Photography is fun. Sure it may be a business and your livelihood, but let’s remember to have fun while we do it. You probably started in photography because it was so enjoyable. This was so obvious to me as we would stop the tour van to take photos. We would goof around, share ideas and create some killer images. It was fun! Lots of fun. When you find yourself in a grind – take a moment to catch yourself and then remember to have fun. Your clients will appreciate it!
  4. My last lesson learned was that business and life is all built on relationships. We need to continually be working on our current relationships and being on the lookout to develop new ones. During my time on the road – I got to hang out with some existing friends, make some new ones, meet new photography vendors at our stops along the way and most important meet so many enthusiastic photographers. It’s always exciting to make new friends. One of my core beliefs – is that we are only as strong as the people around us. Get out there and make some new acquaintances.

While I enjoyed my time on the road, there is nothing better than coming home to family and your own bed. After all, that’s why we do it – hard work, travel, late nights: in the end it’s all for our family.

William Innes is a Los Angeles Wedding Photographer.

H&H Color Lab

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