Howdy! I am Levi Walk, owner of Walk the Line photography and nationally published wedding and lifestyle photographer. I have learned a lot over my past 6 years as a photographer and decided to start a blog to document not only my own personal development but offer some of my own pieces of advice along the way. I had no mentor and had to discover certain teachings the hard way through lifes' greatest teacher, failure. So that's how Ill be starting off this "blog' (I hate gross social media slang but there's really no other name for it) by talking about just that.
Dealing with failure in photography.
I'm going to hit you with a staggering number. The average turnover rate for photographers is 85%.
In the 1st year, 60% of photographers give up their business. Of that remaining 40%, another 25% will fail within the 2nd year. The ones that make it are the remaining 15% who endure through the 3rd year. I am incredibly humbled to be in business for over 6 years now and full time for the last 2. However, with that "success" (not going under completely) I have learned quite a bit along the way about everyone's best friend failure.
I feel that the best way to deal with failure is to tackle it from a different angle by relabeling it as a lesson. I used to be someone who hated losing but in reality the losses or short comings I have experienced in my life built my character and helped to define myself more than any peewee football championship. (I won 3 of them by the way no biggie)
This mindset especially applies to my early photography career. I spent plenty of nights wondering why wouldn't anyone book with me? Why would people not even take advantage of my free portfolio building sessions? The real answer that i had to learn the hard way and its much better to learn early on before you offend some of your future peers boils down to this
You're not very good yet and people don't take you seriously.
Thats just the honest to god truth, you're not very good and there's a magnificent beauty in that because for me as an established professional 6 years later I see an overwhelming amount of growth and technical prowess that just simply isn't there when you first start. (Left Start, Right September 2021)
I am someone who believes you earn respect of not only your peers but your future clients through your hard work and devotion to your craft. I noticed "hey i've got a raw talent here that needs refined but i still suck" and immediately started to engorge myself in all sorts of intro photography literature and videos. like most things, dealing with failure or as i like to call it "exposing yourself to new lessons" can be dealt with effectively in all sorts of ways but never ever through discouragement. That is a recipe for actual business ending failure my friend.
Moral of the story without falling prey to my own biggest crutch and that's talking for way longer than i should. Failure and resiliency coupled with an eagerness to learn is the strongest foundation that most successful businesses are built upon. you got this!
This will mark the start of my little journal/advice column and i would love to know what you think of it over on my instagram at walkthelinephotography or my facebook at you guessed it, Walk the Line photography. I hope you have an awesome weekend and thanks so much for reading, all the best!
Latest Post Here!
How to tailor sessions to the personalities of your clients!
The photography business can present many challenges and one of thse you will run into sometimes if that different personalities require different posing, direction, and patience. As a professional, this proves less of challenge as you garner more experience and in my time as a professional I wanted to offer some advice on dealing with all different types of personalities.
What should you prioritize in your business?
I am a day late on this blog due to being so busy with sessions (not complaining) but that brings me to the subject matter of this installment of the blog and thats what to prioritize as a photographer in the modern day.
One problem I see arise so frequently in photographers today is their emphasis on social media and appearances online that while those things are important it seems their actual work and photos suffer at the expense of this. Obviously there is some major issues with this thought process but it is incredibly important to prioritize your actual business and improving your work/ providing quality customer service for your clients. It's no secret that social media is an important tool in expanding and reaching your clientele but if your work slips due to being worried about likes and shares then your priorities are off and will only hurt you in the long term. Lately I have been focusing on in person networking through coffee shops, direct messaging or phone calls and have booked more weddings in two months than my last 4 years of prying on social media. I know some photographers that make 6 figures who don't even use social media but instead have awesome websites. If there is one important lesson social media marketing has taught me its that it pales in comparison to organic and real world interactions or simply reaching out directly to potential clients. One good word of mouth referral is worth more than 40 facebook recommendations.
To wrap up this shorter blog I want to emphasize that social media is not bad but relying on it for your main source of outsourcing and advertising is almost always going to disappoint. Create a consistent schedule for posts and keep them simple in order to update people on your work but never lose sight of the real tangible things like your clients and refining your skills!
What separates a Professional from an Amateur? (10/22/2021)
What separates a professional photographer from an amateur. Obvious answers include gear, experience, techniques, etc. but (in my opinion) what really separates a professional from an amateur is how you interact with clients. Being able to uphold a professional and confident demeanor while also letting clients feel comfortable, relaxed, and confident is one of the best ways to set yourself apart. So, how do I maintain that demeanor while also creating chemistry between my clients and I?
Well, every session I start off by calling attention to the awkward air and have my clients just stand "however you would if you were at a wedding and someone said lets take a picture" and I talk to them while pointing my lens at them in the most obvious way possible and ask a few icebreakers and such. After that the awkward air is gone and we can begin to have real conversations and be sure to ask them about themselves, it makes people feel more comfortable and you get to learn tons of cool stuff, win win! Most people are not professional models (mentally, I think everyone is beautiful) so you should never expect them to just know how to pose, what their good side is, when to smile, etc. and its up to you to direct them, that's what you were hired for so if you're not confident in that then I suppose you should try different avenues of photography because in lifestyle and wedding photography connecting with people is your first job then creating art because if you can't get real emotions out of people then you wont have real art.
Here are a few examples of photos I feel convey raw emotion perfectly!
one of my favorite quotes ever is by Alfred Eisenstaedt and it goes like this "It is more important to click with people than it is to click the shutter." and that basically sums up this fridays blog perfectly. If you can't provide clients the confidence and comfortability they pay for then you've got some work to do. but we all do in different aspects of our lives so just keep working on it!
Thank you all so much for reading and I will see you on monday, have an awesome weekend!
How I prepare mentally before a shoot.(10/18/21)
How could I meet families for the first time and produce images like these?
Preparation is key in photography and often incredibly overlooked by even the best of the best. Sometimes, when you've been doing photography for years you begin to get a bit too comfortable or even as much as some may hate to admit you get a bit of an ego that says "hey i got this thing figured out" and in my personal opinion those are dangerous mindsets to get stuck in.
For me, photography is an evolving art that requires that same evolution from the photographers. Styles, ideas, techniques are all aspects of your business that should be improving consistently while also holding onto the integral foundations of what your artistic thesis was built on. For example, I started off with the mindset that my photos should take a journalistic and more true to life approach in regards to my editing process. (not sacrificing true colors and providing relaxed raw images) Which doesn't mean you cant change your style it just means don't stick with the same preset forever.
And while i still hold these values I have constantly fine tuned my editing process and how i handle my interactions with clients consistently looking for new avenues to explore in order to better myself as an artist.
That being said, preparing mentally for a shoot should entail a lot of self awareness and healthy critiques that you will attempt to work on with every shoot. the idea isnt that you'll reach a specific goal the idea is that you will improve slightly and consistently over time. I always have a pre-shoot routine that includes stopping at sheetz and getting an energy drink then riding with the windows down to wherever i need to go (weather permitting) in order to have the energy i need to lead my clients and also direct that energy toward a positive mindset by taking in some fresh air. I then run through in my head how i anticipate the session will go with posing, lighting, and general chemistry between my clients and I. I also keep a journal of positives and negatives from each session that I keep in my car and will attempt to correct the negatives from the previous session.
Long story short, stay prepared, stay consistent, and stay improving and I guarantee you'll find a lot out about yourself as a person and improve your business rapidly.
Its a monday, you can either be garfield and hate them or you can say this is a brand new week full of opportunities to get better. Have an awesome week everyone I will see you back here friday!
Handling young children for shoots! (10/15/21)
Have you ever been on a shoot and your clients have small children? If you're a professional wedding photographer full time or shoot products full time chances are at some point in your journey to landing those gigs you started off shooting families or dabbled in exclusively children sessions and when you were new to the photography scene and naive the challenges presented with handling portrait sessions in general are exponentially amplified with little ones. (at least for me personally because i really want the best photos i can give)
And thats an uncomfortable/challenging feeling.
Now, I am someone who is a weirdo in the sense i love being uncomfortable because I feel it is where I am most creative because I am then forced to find a way to feel more confident in the situation if that makes sense. So In the spirit of that I decided to let everyone else do the fall family minis and i was going to do fun and engaging childrens mini sessions.
To me, it is incredibly important to be better all the time and in order to continue loving what i do i need to explore new ways to do what I love and with this session in particular I had an absolute blast with these two lil monsters (get it? they're actually really great!) and truly felt like the veil of repetition that this job can have draped over it every once in a while was lifted and I was super proud of the results. See the rest of the gallery below and feel free to book your own mini session before halloween for a similar experience as these guys!
a fun, comfortable, and engaging experience
felt extra fall-y today so Gina and I decided to take a stroll downtown and grab ourselves some @saints_cafe coffee and take advantage of the great weather/fall colors.
When do i use Black and White in photographs? (10/11/2021)
Knowing when to use black and white in your photos is an incredibly useful artistic tool that I see so many Photographers overlook by just offering photos in both color and b&w.
Personally, I feel that you should reserve black and white for those photos where the colors and aesthetic aspects to the photo aren't the main focus. images like this are great examples of when to use B&W.
The highlight of the photo is more on the smile, emotions, and weight carried by the moment itself as it was captured and less on the colors and technical aspects that normally call for "in color" editing.
I am not trying to say that I'm necessarily right as this is an artistic field and with that comes free reign however, following this thought process will save you hours of time in post processing deciding when to use B&W effectively rather than freely.
an example of an image that relies on aesthetic and coloring can be seen here
The difference between this photo and the B&W photo is that the zoomed out perspective and composition coupled with the warm and soft greens is what makes this photo exemplary. It still holds the same aspects as the b&W photo in terms of weight of the moment and emotion but is only truly done justice in color!
Thank you so much for reading and i would love to know what you think of the blog so far over on my instagram here! Have an Awesome rest of your week!