I (Antonis) had the pleasure, a few weeks ago, of attending a workshop by my photographic idol: Jasmine Star. She embarked on a nation-wide tour giving a lecture and having an open discussion with thousands of photographers about building a better photography business, overcoming the struggle, believing in yourself, and successfully selling your work to those who want it.
Jasmine started the evening with a meet-and-greet (and an open bar). She was there to personally thank everyone who came and take pictures with those who wanted them. I spent a long time wondering what to say when I met her. She shook my hand and spoke to me like we’d been best friends for a thousand years. And all I could muster was, “I’ve waited a looooong time for this.” Which I then realized came out more stalker-ish than fan-ish. And I instantly wished I could take it back. So, sorry, Jasmine! At least I wasn’t as creepy as the old Eastern European guy who tried to make out with you!
Jasmine then did a 90-minute lecture on building your business. She said right from the get-go that she wished we all came away with one enlightening piece of advice. I got about 7,500 of them. My notes from The Fix take up 6 hand-written pages (and I write small)! The first two lines are the ones that hit me hardest:
1) The average photo business in the USA lasts 3.5 years. If you make it past this point, it’s a good sign you have a good business model and can succeed, but it takes motivation and sacrifice.
2) Other photographers are not necessarily competition: a photographer can only shoot one event at a time. Creating a network of photographers to which you can spread booking overflow will create a great mutual relationship that will yield tons of business.
The second item in particular hit home very strongly. I’d always viewed other photographers as people to be avoided and ignored: they were, after all, out for the business we left behind. Jasmine’s point was something I’d never even considered, and something I really, really want to get done in the next few months for Stellar Year.
After her lecture, there was a moderated discussion forum and several open question sessions. I mustered up some courage and asked Jasmine about her workflow and outsourcing her editing. There were fantastic questions which received some great answers. Jasmine wasn’t afraid to say what needed to be said, and I think everyone appreciated her honesty and sincerity.
I won’t go into a detailed play-by-play of everything Jasmine said – we’d be here until August. The evening was absolutely enthralling, completely engaging, and an absolute pleasure. I would see her workshops again in a heartbeat. Jasmine’s manner of speaking, humble attitude, and incredible ability to be in a room with 200 people who idolize her without once making us feel like she thinks she’s better than us are just incredible.
Jasmine, on the off-chance you read this, I really want to say, “Thank You.” The things you said, the way you acted towards me for the 14 seconds we interacted, and the candidness with which you put yourself out there for the world to see are inspiring. You exceeded every expectation I could have had, and I feel so very honored to have been able to meet you. I’ve read countless times that you shouldn’t meet your idols because they’ll disappoint you – you did no such thing. Thank you very, very sincerely for your words and your welcoming nature. Your work has been an inspiration to me for years and your advice will now take a huge role in shaping our business and our marketing. You really are, to use your favorite word, fabulous.