BPP 136: Nick Church - Beginner to Pro in 24 Months

Todays guest is Nick Church. A UK based Bristol wedding photographer who until 2014 had never picked up a camera. 24 months later he had left his full time job as photography had replaced his income. Today Im excited to talk about how Nick did it so quick!


Full Episode Transcription:

Disclaimer: The transcript was transcribed electronically and may contain errors that do not reflect accurately what the speaker said. Because of this, please do not quote this automated transcript.

Raymond: 00:00 Hey Raymond here from the beginning photography podcast, and I don't have a favorite hobby. In fact, I have a million [inaudible]. I don't have time for all the ones that I do have. Plus I want to get into things like woodworking and playing the bass and salsa dancing and becoming the world's best grill master. I just don't. Hey, how do people find time to do all these things? I want to do all these fun things. What is your hobby? What is your hobby? Okay, let's get into today's interview.

Intro: 00:27 Welcome to the beginner photography podcast with Raymond Hatfield, the podcast dedicated to helping you grow your photography skills. Raymond interviews the world's top photographers in their fields to ask questions that will get you taking better photos today. Now with you as always, husband, father, home brewer, La Dodger Fan, and Indianapolis wedding photographer, Raymond Hatfield.

Raymond: 00:56 Hello and welcome back to the podcast. As always, I'm Raymond Hatfield, your host, Indianapolis wedding photographer, and someone who's just really, really excited about today's interview. It is with Nick Church. Now, you may not have heard nick church before, but trust me, you will. This guy went from beginner to pro in just 24 months. And today he's going to share how he did it and some of the tools that he used to get there as well. So there's one that you will really, really love, but one of the things that you will find interesting in today's interview is that that nick talks a lot about like continuously learning photography, right? When you're so new, you want to pick up as much as you can because that is what's going to move your skills forward. And that is exactly why I have created the flash in a flash course online video course for you because there's so many people out there.

Raymond: 01:46 If you're listening right now, maybe you know, you know how to use a camera, but what, like what's next? Okay, I know how to take a photo, what's next? And the answer is flash. I honestly cannot tell you how much flash will improve your photography specifically off camera flash. And if you're listening right now thinking like I, I barely know how to use my camera. Flash is not something that I think that I can handle right now. I want to let you know that in the Facebook group, the beginning photography podcast, Facebook group, we had a mandate in there the other day who said thanks to Raymond's flash in a flash course. It made it super easy to follow. I feel like I get it now and now I can just explore different things. That is awesome. That is exactly what you should be doing, right?

Raymond: 02:35 That is what I've tried to do. I want you to learn flash in a flash. I cover everything from, from taking your flash out of the box. I'm serious. I cover everything from the beginning. Taking a flash out of the box, putting in bug batteries to how to set up flash triggers and setting up your camera off camera, setting up your flash off camera to create really unique portraits anywhere you are. Even in like a really ugly and locations like my garage, I'm serious. I use my garage, my ugly garage packed full of stuff, and I use flash to turn it into a, a beautiful location. So if you want to check that out, you can do so just by heading over to beginning photography, podcast.com. There's a link about halfway down the page. It's a big, big photo that says flash in a flash.

Raymond: 03:18 You can't miss it. So if you're interested in checking out, and again, I'm telling you it is the number one way to improve your photography. I'm serious, I'm serious. So check that out. I would love to know which you think. All right, let's get into today's interview with Nick Church today. He is Nikki. Nick is a really interesting guy because he has a very technical background. He knows what he's doing when it comes to you know, thinking about the technical side, like the camera wasn't so much a problem for him, right? Learning the technical aspects of the camera, he understood. So this episode is a lot about business, a lot about business. So you know, but I asked the questions like, what was, you know, his main sources of, of photography education, what was the hardest part about photography to learn? I asked him about his first clients, right.

Raymond: 04:09 That you are all, that you're gonna hear all of this stuff. Why he transitioned from, from the very good job that he had to, to, to leaving it all and going as a, you know, as a freelance photographer. But as always, a cutout, the most valuable part of the interview for premium members to hear, which was focused more around business. Like how do you know when to go full time? Why beginners seem to struggle so much to get bookings after, after they first go full time. I have them walk through a Facebook ad strategy that's right. A Facebook ad strategy that you can implement right away that is booked him more than half of his weddings, which is really impressive. And and what else was there? Oh, tools specifically that nick uses to in his business to to keep them organized on track.

Raymond: 05:02 And how he keeps track of all of his clients. So if you want to listen to that, you can become a premium member by heading over to beginning photography, podcast.com and clicking the premium member button up at the top and then you will get access to this full episode and the entire back catalog of full episodes as well. So after the break we come back and nick answers some more questions like, like what are the biggest misconceptions that that people have about going full time? What was he surprised to learn about going full time as a photographer? Just to keep you aware of changes that could happen if that is something that you want to do. So we're gonna go ahead and get on into this interview right now with Nick Church. Today's guest is Nick Church, a UK based wedding photographer who until 2014, had never picked up a camera. 24 months later, he left his full time job as and has had photography replace his income today. I'm excited to find out how nick did it so quick. Nick, thank you so much for coming on the pod.

Nick Church: 06:04 Hey, no, you're welcome. Pleased to be here.

Raymond: 06:06 So before we, before we get started, I know that there's going to be a lot of listeners thinking I'm not a wedding photographer. This interview isn't going to apply to me, but you make an income off several different types of photography. Is that right?

Nick Church: 06:22 Yeah, I mean it's primarily weddings but short professional headshots a few family shoots and some landscape stuff and a bit of everything really. Yeah, I mean it's, I think it's applicable to all.

Raymond: 06:34 Perfect. That's exactly what I was going for. Just to have somebody come on who's going to share knowledge that is more than than just wedding photography because I think that your story is unique going from picking up a camera one day and then within 24 months, being able to leave a, a full time job, which as I've read online was, was a pretty good job. So, so knowing that it's more than just wedding photography is going to help a lot of listeners. So before we get into that, I want you to take me back to 2013 right? You picked up a camera

Nick Church: 07:05 2014. Yeah.

Raymond: 07:06 What were you doing and how did you get your start in photography?

Nick Church: 07:10 Well, it was, I've always been into art, so I've always been fat, you know, how to creative, you know, creative out and that's either been music or arts creating pen and ink drawings and things like that. The job that I, the career that I had was in the software industry and since I'm moving from being a software architect and software engineer, which is quite a creative job, bizarrely cause you're correct and software designs and so on moving into management that I find that extremely dry and I needed there to have this sort of creative side as well. It was purely that I was doing quite a lot of traveling with work. So I was going through the middle, the Middle East against the Far East and I wanted to, to take some pictures so that I could draw that when I got back. You know, just different things to draw.

Nick Church: 07:57 And so I bought say micro four thirds camera, just Olympus and thought, right, better read how this works. And I had no idea about man, you know, it was on automatic mode. So I thought right on the flight I worked out how that works. And just really worked out the things I didn't know. So I didn't know how, what aperture meant. I didn't know how that affects depth of field. I didn't know how the sensor reacted to different lights. And just so that, that was a few months of just learning about that cause I want to, the way that I tend to learn is to do a deep dive straight away and just get from the ground up. So I'm not one of these people that could just put it into mode x and just start shooting. I've when know what that mode is, what have I just done to the camera that's different from mode white.

Nick Church: 08:45 So yeah, and that was it. So I was suddenly find that the process of taking those pictures was, was actually a lot more media for stop than going home drawing them. But it was just something I really loved doing and it was when I came back to the UK after that trip, I started shooting just scenes around my local city, Bristol in the UK. People say, these are pretty good, you know, these, you should exhibit these. So I did that and before I knew it, I was just doing some exhibitions in cafes, some galleries took some stuff in and I was selling a bit of work and it was, and that was an amazing feeling just to be able to, you know, when someone comes along with 20 quid, you know, sort of $25 equivalent and says, yeah, we really liked that.

Nick Church: 09:29 We'll give you some money for it and to be rewarded financially for something that you love to create. And it was a creative process. It's amazing. But a couple of people that did that also then said, do you shoot weddings? Which I've never shied away for challenge. So I said, yes, absolutely. And then thought, right, I've had to work out how I'd actually shoot a wedding pretty quickly. I had about nine months or so to do that. And yes, it just, just spent not that nine months really working out what the diff, the differences between shooting a nice church that stays nice and still, or a sunset. The states pretty still unload stuff happening at a wedding, but you only get one chance. And so that, that was kind of interesting learning that, learning that process. But I think it was after that first wedding delivering those photos back and seeing that reaction.

Nick Church: 10:21 I haven't looked at the photos for awhile, so I'm not sure if I, I don't think I dare look at it now. But to see that reaction I thought, wow, this is the most rewarding I felt for years. You know, and I thought, right, I've got, you know, as I was toying with the idea, could this, could I do this? You know, am I good enough to be able to do that? Could I build up the business to do it? And my son, who was 10 at the time was listing, you know, I was boring him to tears with this. And he said, he said, just do it. You know, what's there to lose? And I said, well, there's a career that I've had for 20 years. There's, there's our house, you know, but all those things, he said, well, you know, you can just get back to it. Oh, that's quite hard to argue with that, that kind of logic of a 10 year old. So that's what I did. I thought, right, what, what will I need to do to get from where I am now to a position that I could leave my current role without being irresponsible to my family and you know, us all being on the streets and, and just set the plan in motion. So I had that as a target.

Raymond: 11:21 Yeah. So a lot to tackle there. A lot to unpack. Okay. So the first thing that I want to clarify, did you say that you bought a camera for a trip and then on the flight that you were taking the trip on, you learned how to use the camera?

Nick Church: 11:34 Yeah, yeah. I'll ask him a minute, but [inaudible] but I didn't need it for the trip, you know? Right. I mean if you, if you got children Raymond,

Raymond: 11:44 I do too. Yes, yes. Yeah. So

Nick Church: 11:45 You can imagine, you know, being on a flight for 10 hours is the most peace and quiet you have that you've had for years. Right. So that was a perfect time to get like, so I just sat down and read what I needed to read and

Raymond: 11:56 Yeah. Oh, that's great. That's great. Okay. So, so based on that, when you were reading through this manual, what would you say was the hardest part technically for you to, to, to comprehend or understand?

Nick Church: 12:08 I, I'll be, I am very lucky. I'm, I do have a background in physics and maths and so from that I know how light works. I know how optics, you know, the theory of it. So that whole side of it was, was just already there. So I already had, I had that knowledge and that, and that was a great, you know, advantage. But you know, there's about an hour's worth of youtube videos you could watch to, to, to bring you up to speed on that, on that side. Yeah, it just all seemed to make sense really. The the technical side of it. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. It makes sense. Minutes. It is pretty much true on our own. I think you do need to then go into going into the going into the field and, and see what it's like to try some of these, these settings out. But once I knew how aperture priority mode was going to work, what my variables were in each of those cases, the classic exposure triangle, those, all that stuff, you know, that that's really the basis of what I thought I needed to be able to go in and shoot photos and get and be able to record on that sense of what I had in my mind that I wanted to do.

Raymond: 13:12 Right. No, that makes sense. So later on you said that you, when you got back from that trip, you had a few photos, you started shooting around Bristol and then you said one thing led to another. And then I was doing exhibitions and selling prints. Yeah, there is, there's, there's something in between there that there's something in between the, Hey, I took a photo and now I'm selling prints. So when you say that you're doing exhibitions and putting in coffee shops, was that a, I mean, you had a full time job at this point. Was that on purpose that you would, would you just approach coffee shops?

Nick Church: 13:45 Absolutely. No Prince. Yeah, absolutely. So there's, I'm real believer that that apart from maybe one or 2% of people are going to get someone come up to them and say, hey, we will, we're gonna give you this fantastic opportunity for no apparent reason that you've not earned. You know, that just doesn't happen to most of us. So the, for the rest of us is legwork and effort and that is really tough when you have family and you've got full time job. It's tough to, to be able to put the, the amount of time and that you need. So what, what I've realized was, well, I've got these photos I want to be rewarded for, for this. I want to get that feedback from people buying this or at least appreciating it for not buying it. So that was quite a drive I wanted to, I thought, right, where can I do that? So I had a list of things I could do, which was contacts with the art galleries around my city or the coffee shops with all this wall space in cafes, you know, and as it turns out, they will bite your arm off. If there's a local photographer with some free artwork, there's gonna they're gonna put on the wall, you know, loads of them said, and in the end I just had to just pick a selection because they pretty much wanted it. And so

Raymond: 14:54 That you were hoping to get out of that. Sorry, what was it that you were hoping to get out of displaying your photos in a coffee shop? Was it sales or was it [inaudible]

Nick Church: 15:01 Yeah, recognition ourselves. I think you can, you know, from the vantage of got of her having had a career in business and in software where you have to lots of marketing and you know, if, if you're going to do anything, you have to have a brand and you have to stop growing that brand and you know, making it a thing. And I think when we start out, it isn't a thing. It's just whether it's your name or whatever you call it is, that's just what you've called it. As soon as it people see it on the wall, they see it on Facebook, they see it on your website, they see the business card is becoming something that is tangible that, and I think that's all part of it. I don't, I'm not sure I was really making some big intention to think, right. I'm going to get my name across this group of this part Bristol through the coffee shop. I just knew that if I was going to do anything other than just enjoy my own photography, then I was going to have to stop pushing my work out there. And it's pushing, you know, people aren't gonna come and knock on your door and ask for it. You have to. Right.

Raymond: 15:59 You know, even though that's what everybody wants, everybody thinks that about a website too. I think that's one of the main things I hear like somebody lit, I literally read the other day that somebody put up a website last week and they hadn't got the response that they were hoping for in terms of bookings. And I thought to myself like, wow, like one week, like, like there's going to be a lot of failures in your eyes, in the, in the, in the coming future if, if within a week you don't have a, you know, a successful business. So that you're absolutely right. You know, you do gotta put in that work and it's great to hear that you went out of your way to figure out, kind of just test things out and you know, put them up. So at this point you still had your full time job, right?

Nick Church: 16:37 Still? Yeah. It's still full time. That's right. Yeah.

Raymond: 16:40 When you, when, when that couple approach do to shoot their wedding w what was going through your mind in terms of where you, where you ready to, to leave your job that day or, or what, what was the thought?

Nick Church: 16:56 No, it was in that stage. I was still just going with it. Thank you. Wow. That, that's what a compliment that somebody wants me to shoot their wedding. So that was still a thing. You know, if you've got one booking in nine months time, you're not going to in your right mind going on Monday morning and have your notice in and leave your job. But I knew that, that that was in the place in before I got to that point. I had done a few more. I'd come along. So by the time I did that first one, I had about four more in, you know, following once a few months after that. And it was that at that point when I had sort of five or six I thought, right. You know, I'm at the point now where I'm busy enough as it is anyway with with the children, with work is not even a nine to five job.

Nick Church: 17:40 It was a ridiculously busy executive role. I'm gonna either need to artificially stop it. It may be what a number, you know, 10 a year perhaps is the most I could reasonably do while not making myself ill with too much, you know, work at weekend having a downtime or I need to go from 10 to a lot more than 10 if I'm going to make it something that I leave my job for. And so that's why I decided to do, I thought, well, I've, I seem to stumble into something. It's something I love doing. I'd love, you know, when I woke up in the morning to go and shoot a wedding, I felt that kind of feeling you get when you do the first job that you love when you're younger. And I had that for a long time and I, I, you know, it was addictive. I wanted to do that. And so I decided to think, right, how can I make that the, put that in center stage rather than going back to work on Monday morning and you know, going through the motions of, of that part one life. And so it was just a then a strategy of how to build up from the 10 or so I had up to the 30 or 40 bookings, I would need to provide the, you know, an equivalent level of income that, that I had before.

Raymond: 18:57 Right, right. So during this whole process, you're obviously still very new to photography and you're trying to learn as much as possible. And I know that you said that you learn a lot by doing, but were there any other sources of education that you had to, to, to master your skills? As a photographer.

Nick Church: 19:12 It was largely looking at other people's work I think was I think if you can in whichever is whichever genre photography is your thing. I think for us all to improve, we have to be able to appreciate what it is by someone else's images. And it doesn't need to be someone that's really well known. It can be someone that's their first DJ posted. You think, wow, I really loved that part by that image and to understand what you're saying, why you think that is better and understand what your image, your images are lacking that don't have, don't create that feeling. If you can understand all of that, then you've got everything you need to actually start doing the things that you're seeing. Cause it's the same skills, right? To be able to, to be able to critique an image. Well it's the same skills.

Nick Church: 19:53 You need to actually create an image that's got all those positive points in it. And so I did a lot of looking around and thinking, right? Yeah, I can see that my stuff's okay. It doesn't really communicate a story as such. And my editing album. But when you see other people's editing, why just jumps from the page? So I started to just listing the things that I needed to know. As I said, time was short. So if it was white people are using Photoshop, I've got no idea how to use Photoshop. Next time I want to train and I'm going to a meeting, that's what I will do. I'll spend that hour looking at a couple of youtube videos, working at cheese for shots and the baton and get to the meeting. I could do all that stuff. But I've also then acquired that skill of, of, you know, I can go back and take some shots, put in the Photoshop and try and recreate some of the same looks that I, that I'd seen.

Nick Church: 20:41 So that was always his, I've never been one for books I can read. I've never been, I've never been in one. I've never been one that thinks, right. I'm going to find you, I've read, read a several book on photography or anything like that. I probably should have done, but I've just done, that's not the way that my brain is wired up. So it's mostly trial and error. And that was shooting every opportunity I could. In a commercial sense, I wasn't particular interested in doing laser shots of the cat because I didn't really think that that was going to give me any particular feedback. But there are loads of other opportunities like every small business needs photos with their products and they don't necessarily want to pay for it, but then you don't necessarily need to be paid for it if they do.

Nick Church: 21:25 So for, for ages, people's birthday and Christmas presents were the things that people were making that I was taking their photos off. And that was, that was how we, you know, but that, and that's still being rewarded for what you're doing and that, and you're getting feedback. Plus you can refer to that website to show your work off and those other things. There's some local history of renovations going on named near me where they were renovating a very old gatehouse to an old mansion. So I volunteered to be the photographer that so that was something for about a year that I did. Just charting. It's, it's development from like a route into to a space. It's now used for conferences and all sorts of things. Again, didn't get paid, but the exposure you get in the paper in on TV because I show all the photos and you get a credit every time. It's invaluable. So some of that stuff you just can't buy that kind of marketing sometimes.

Raymond: 22:15 Yeah. And it just feels good to get that. I totally get that. So I want to go back to that first couple. Who approached you to shoot their wedding? Okay. I want to know how was it that they found you? I want to know how, so how you booked them? Were you nervous and, and how did it turn out

Nick Church: 22:36 That well, they, we, we, they met me at a at the gallery, so I was exhibiting this work. So we've talked about that. And I did explain, you know, I am pretty bullish in what I will go for. But I'm not gonna sell myself. I'm not gonna sell something. I don't have. So I did, I was open with them and said, I haven't shot one in before. But I think I can, I think I can do it. And you know, I said, you could see that, you know, if you like the work that you're looking at now, then, so I was selling, managing expectations from the outset, but also at the same time, I couldn't afford to be that guy that's doing $200, $300 of free weddings, you know, whatever. Because that's never then gonna get me to where I needed to go.

Nick Church: 23:19 So even at that point in time was, my time is so limited. I'm not gonna be doing four or five days of work for free, you know, I just don't have those, you know, for a start. My partner said, we've got quite a lot of stuff here you could do for four or five days if you don't want to be know. So I monitor expectations, but all the while selling the fact that I've, I have got an eye that they obviously like I've got style that they like from my work. And then yeah, it was th th then a lot of researching to find that. Right. How do you book a couple for a wedding? How, what do you take payment all up front, you take a deposit, what's the contract look like? And how'd you manage, you know, how'd you manage the, the workflow of that wedding, you know, the appointments. Luckily again from my, with my, the career that I was still in, then meetings, workflow management and everything else is, is fairly something I was familiar with. So yeah, I, I've put down what, I wouldn't probably wouldn't call it a contract, but put down what I thought was it should be my terms document. This is what you're going to get. And took that booking. So I took their 20% for the fee. I think it was 900, 900 pounds. I think I try to say about thousand dollars or so. And

Raymond: 24:38 That wedding turnout, like when you shot at, you mentioned earlier that you haven't wanted to go back and look at it. I totally understand that. I'm sure a lot of other people do. But how, how, how did they react to the photos?

Nick Church: 24:50 They, they loved them and I was really pleased. They, they really loved them. Fit the venue. The venue is still, you do use a couple of the photos for their, on their website. So I think it went well. I was, it was a beautiful venue and I've been there several times since it is. So I was dealt a pretty good hand eye putting hand. It's a lovely, it's a pretty venue. It was a gorgeous blue day. So it was the one of the three days in the year here. It's like that. So it was an outdoor ceremony, which two years ago was still relatively rare in the UK because there's different rules again, the weather and the licensing, you can't just get married anywhere in the UK. You have to, you have to, you have to get a license for a particular building. And so if it's a nice day, if you haven't licensed the bit of the garden, then you can't get married outside.

Nick Church: 25:38 So, so it was yeah, and I've got some shots now that I think are probably a little bit cheesy. That there were some that I thought, right, I'm just going to try this. It might not work. And I think that's really important in whatever genre photography. If you want to do something a bit different, you've just got to try some stuff. And you know, especially once all the safest shots are in the bag, just try some crazy stuff and probably two thirds of it won't work, but occasionally you'll get something that just really works well. And I think on that one, it was a I was trying to get a shot of the bride and agreements and bridesmaids beyond the venue. But in the way was this this old, it was a Cadillac, an old 50s kind of like the [inaudible] Jews and I completely messed the focus up and focused on the word Cadillac of this car.

Nick Church: 26:24 And they were in the background, out of focus. And that was the, that was the front of the album source it, and it was just a happy accident. But if you're, if you're up for just playing with things and seeing what comes out of those sorts of accents, then I think that's really useful. But yeah, it was great. You know, I did the album for them, took it round. They start dying and they, you know, they, they, they were happy that they, they referred me to other people. So I have, I have picked up a booking for them. So I don't think it was just lip service. I think they were, they're quite happy, but I'm sure looking back on it they probably could've got a better photographer for their, for, you know, if they'd looked around. But Hey, you know, it's too late now.

Raymond: 27:03 Right. I'm gonna wait and look at it. You know, it's too late now. They picked me. That's hilarious. So after that first wedding, did you know at that moment that you wanted to take wedding photography and photography full time to eventually leave your job?

Nick Church: 27:19 Yeah, I had tried all sorts of photography at that point. And so I was, I had this wedding for a while booked in, but all the while I was thinking I'd love, you know, I love music, so I'd love to do band photography. So I was doing all sorts of things like live events some baby stuff, but the practicalities of it are, if you want to earn serious money, then, you know, weddings is where it's at. And I think certainly is not the only place is that, but it's one of the easiest places to sort of get a foot in and start, you know, it's where most of us are going to buy photography for as well. You know, it's for a wedding. We're likely less likely to get our own head shots done or anything like that. So that's why I decide to put my focus and that's when I started, once I thought I'd, I love that place for the wedding.

Nick Church: 28:06 I was nervous. Especially now looking back that I ha I had my nick on through SevenFifty 50, 50 mill lens and a 7,300 and that was it. No backup, nothing, you know, nothing. So looking back, I think I probably should've been more nervous than I was because if something had gone wrong, I would have struggled to have fulfilled that size. But I don't think that's particularly unusual. I think probably a lot of us are like that the start, because you don't want to go and buy two cameras, you know, from the outset when you can't really afford one.

Raymond: 28:37 I dunno how big it is a over in the UK, but I know here in the u s there's a lot of services where you can rent camera gear, lots of lenses and and bodies. If you could go back in time, would you have rented a separate body?

Nick Church: 28:50 Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. It's something that I still have, I've never done. And I think I probably could have saved myself thousands over the last two years of buying lenses thinking yeah, I'm not gonna Switch camera system selling those, the, the, the amount you lose each time. And I did at the time as well, shooting on a a 70 to 300, you know, 4.5 to 5.6, you know, thank goodness it was a bright day because I'd been struggling much better would have been to yeah, just to run a 2.8, you know, 7,200. I don't know why I didn't, but I just figured the boff guys, I've got what I need and I'll, I'll limp along. I think I did bring a compact camera with me. Like my partners come register is a backup, but only that cycling a bit claim it's a bad recipe.

Raymond: 29:42 Save a few bucks. Yeah. Yeah. I got that. So, so after that first wedding, I want to know when and how you made the decision to, to, to go full time. And how can the listeners know when, when it's the right decision to go full time

Intro: 29:58 Enjoying today's interview with Raymond guest wants to hear their full interview and gain access to more monthly educational photography tutorials. Become a premium member of the podcast. There is no commitment and you can cancel at any time to sign up, head over to patrion.com/beginner photography podcast or Mike clicking the banner on beginner photography, podcast.com sign up and start taking better photos today. Now let's get back to the interview with Raymond's guest, right? Of course.

Raymond: 30:31 That was a very clear way of describing exactly kind of the workflow process that needs to be done throughout an entire booking. So, so thank you for sharing that. And just the idea of Kanban is something that that I found probably two or three years ago and I can attest to the power of it and and how it can just organize almost everything if you really spend time to, to put in the the work. But I want to know now that you have gone full time, right? You've left your job, you now work from home, you've now gone full time. What is a misconception that people have about, about going full time?

Nick Church: 31:10 I think the, you probably find that you work longer. You're putting more hours in than, than you did in you know, nine to five job for sure. Because the time when you've been working, either sh shooting, taking photos or editing, you get back five, six, seven o'clock and anything it right now is the time I'm gonna just chill out now and spend some time with my partner. Yeah. That's the time that everyone else is sitting down. What's that? But that's what everyone else is thinking. Hey, let's just message that photographer and see if they can take our landscape for all you know, and say you then you sit down and your phone is going crazy. And so you do have to compartmentalize your time a bit. Which is extremely difficult when you have a, a potential booking coming in. So you do, you lose a bit of time.

Nick Church: 31:56 But what I love is that you are in absolute control of success and failure. And if you do a shoot this, you know, happy with, you've got no one else to blame, you look in the mirror and you can, you can say that, you know, if you learn something from it, then instead of positive thing, you think, wow, I didn't deal with the poor light very well at all in that shoot. I need to up my game. I need to do this next time. And that has been, you know, and that's really productive because you can then go straight into your next shoot with a refreshed attitude about what you're gonna do differently.

Nick Church: 32:29 So that, that's one thing. I think the the other side of, as I said it being that you're just going to be a creative that sits there in coffee shops and edit some of those things. You know, sometimes it is just really hard graft of plying through emails messaging, messaging clients, doing loads of editing, advertising campaigns and those sorts of things. It's a huge number of other things. I didn't imagine I'd be doing as much of as I am, but the reward is that it's something that's mine and it's taking the business further forward. And that's, yeah, that's something I could never give up and I do wish I'd done it years before. I really do.

Raymond: 33:13 Yeah. Oh really? Wow. That's a really interesting to hear. But I, I hear the exact same thing from a lot of other photographers. You know, they have this lofty idea that once they go full time, it's just free time, except for when you're shooting that you can dedicate all your time to shooting, which there's a lot more time that you can dedicate. But like you said, it is, there's so much more that goes into it than just shooting. And it's, it's not even just like other photographers, like, even though that's like the dream, like, oh, that'd be so great. It's, it's, it's everybody. Like every time we go out to dinner with, like my wife's friends, one of my wife's friends made a joke the other day that I don't work. She's like, but you don't even work. And I was just like, oh my God. I felt like, you know, triggered right there. I was like, well, did you just, you have no idea. You know, it's, it's, it's that misconception and a, you know, I can't blame her for thinking that. But once you, once you've figured that out, it's,

Raymond: 34:08 Once you figure out what it is that you're doing and how to do it proficiently enough to earn an income from it, like you said, there's nothing better in the world than that feeling of being in control of your own success. So thank you for sharing that. I want to know if you had to go back to 2014 right, that, that flight that you took when you were trying to learn the camera, if you could go back to that date, is there something that you would tell yourself? Is there something that today, Nick Church who would tell that Nick Church that, that could help them along their journey to get here faster?

Nick Church: 34:45 What would I say? Yeah, I would certainly for a while I was convinced that that going into, you know, do I go into to technical stuff, but I was convinced that this micro four thirds camera was going to be fine for everything. And I invested too heavily in lenses for it. Think about I need, I need a zoom lens for, you know, a decent zoom lens for weddings and that kind of thing. And even before the first wedding, once my knowledge had improved a bit, I thought this is going to be quite hard to use this camera. And where we are now with mirrorless is quite a different place than we were in 2013, 2014 so yeah, that, that was one thing I think I think is take, take time to think, right, what do I need?

Nick Church: 35:29 What if you're going to buy, if I'm going to buy a piece of equipment, what problem am I expecting that Lens to solve you? What is it there's got, if I'm, you know and that's even, even I think it's easier to get an a to have that problem when you're running your own business because you think, oh, I probably could do the new laptop this year, but it does that, does that laptop, is there a problem with the current one that you're not solving or do you just want to buy a new laptop? Just kind of cool to, you know, and I've, I'm, I'm a sucker for that and I do struggle with that quite a lot. And so that's something that I would definitely try and start off with without having that problem in place

Raymond: 36:07 Just trying to buy like as basic as possible.

Nick Church: 36:10 Well. Okay. Just just get the tools that you need, you know, work out. What do you need to do? Classic example is last year I went to a Sony system from [inaudible] so I sold all of my lenses, bought Sony, kept, which was fabulous expensive and I love it, but it hasn't solved any problems I had. I was in pretty well with nick on and it's not helping me get any more shoots. It's not earned me any more money than I would've done with nick on it. It's just a cool thing to do. But not particularly sensible from a business perspective. If there was, you know, if, if you're a travel photographer and you're shooting scenes in central Africa say and you want to travel light, there may be a murder system then does make sense. And that does solve a problem you've got because you haven't got tons of stuff to get carry around.

Nick Church: 37:00 So it's just, it's just, you know, horses for courses or thinking in who you are, what you're trying to achieve and get the right tools in place at the right time. Not too early. You know, and a good example is you, as I said with having a spreadsheet, if I'd had a huge management system from day one, then it would have cost me, you know, the monthly fee and I've never would have used it until that first thing. So it's finding the right time. I think you do it too early or too late and just try intensified when it is.

Raymond: 37:30 That's a good, that's a, I had never even thought of it like that way. Cause obviously picking up a CRM is going to be pretty expensive to get some sort of client management software. And if you don't have enough work coming in, you probably just gonna neglect the whole system. And I never had to think about that. So thank you. Thank you. W what is, as somebody who, who, who, who recently started, right and Kinda has gotten to, to, to where you are now along your journey, was there any commonly taught information that you think is just poor information for new photographers to, to

Nick Church: 38:09 Well, I did find that yeah, I mean things like that. If you've got a great website, you know that that's the main thing. Get people to go to website. That, that's what it's all about. It's all about SEO and I just don't think it is, I'm not saying that if my website has better SEO and I put more effort into it, I wouldn't have more direct bookings. I may well have done, but I've also got to the point I am now without doing that, you know, that isn't as important I don't think. Another, another one I think is so there's the SEO side. Yeah. Sorry, what was the question again? Sorry, I've got off track there.

Raymond: 38:57 No worries. What are some commonly bad information that you hear being [inaudible]?

Nick Church: 39:01 Right. Okay. The other thing I heard quite a lot of through forums and just through youtube videos is that don't expect to earn a huge amount money. There's no rich photographers and I think that's completely untrue. It just depends what it depends. What if that's what your goal is. If your goal is to make money from through photography and you've got the right strategy in place, then you can do that. And so that's something that I'm really pleased that I've been able to prove wrong because I couldn't afford it not to be as you said at the start here, I've, I, you know, I did have a good career. It was quite scary to leave it after so long. You have a security in a, in a responsible position in a company and to leave that and just go out on your own with something completely different that can leave any he'd been spending a couple of years working on is really, you know, can be risky if you don't have the right strategy in place.

Nick Church: 39:51 So, but I was able to get it to that point that it was paying the same which had the double-edged problem of for one year I was earning almost twice the salary because the wedding photography business was off running and I was still doing another one. So, so this the first year, last year it was quite tough cause I've got gone back drawn back. But as I said, nice problem to have. Right. You know, so yes, that's another thing. And I think that you need to, you have to know, you know, I can't even give an example cause I didn't do this, but you have to read the book by such and such, such and such. And if you don't read that you're not going to be able to take good photos because they'll know more. And if you don't read them then you're somehow disrespecting the industry because you know it's crap.

Nick Church: 40:40 It, you know, there's if you wanted the, there's lots of ways to yes you can do it that way or you can decide probably possibly I've come from an art more of an art background that you probably don't want to just spend time learning how other artists do it. You want to, you want to work out how am I going to communicate what I want to achieve in my photos? And that might be completely different and perhaps not reading the book that everyone reads is the right thing to do. So I think so rather than saying don't read or do read, it's more of a, there isn't, there's, there's no one way to do it. The way that works for you is, is the right way to do it. And you know, everyone comes to a position of success in any business. Loads of different ways. That's why there's so many people that are multimillionaires that have never been to college. You know that, that that's why there's not just one way to do it.

Raymond: 41:27 Yeah. Right. I mean if there was then that would be the bookstore.

Nick Church: 41:31 Yeah. And don't know if I'd be writing it. If I have an opportunity,

Raymond: 41:37 I probably wouldn't read it only because like you, I don't, I don't pick up anything from reading really. A, I do have to go out there and do, but I know other photographers personally who they've learned everything about photography from reading books. So thank you for sharing that perspective that you really have to be self aware. You know,

Nick Church: 41:55 You do. Can you do? And I thought, I think that that's a really good word for it. You gotta be self aware of your work, your photography itself and that that means if you, if you're, if you can either pick up in other people what you want to choose, the bits of their photos you want to try and achieve and use to give that same feeling, then that's great. But also get critique from other people that who people that you trust, not just people on Facebook when you know they're going to just slight your photos. Regardless. People that they can give you an honest appraisal of, you know, w what your photos are like. I think that's something that you have to be quite brave, but it's better to know before you start paying for your marketing that you'll, your images aren't quite up to that because you've then got the opportunity to say, right, what can I do to get to the point before you start spending money?

Nick Church: 42:43 Then you're just there. You're just selling the wrong products and you need, you know, you've missed opportunity. So that, that's really important. I think, you know, getting a, your own style is, is very important as well. And I think since it's learning from others, getting critic critique, but also making sure that when, cause the goal for, I think for most photographers rightly, is that when you see a photo, it's kind of cool if it looks like a nick church photograph or someone else's photograph and you can kind of tell who it's taken by because you've got, you've got a style and it takes a while for that to happen. But you can't just do that and you can't just follow other people either.

Raymond: 43:22 Right. Right. That was good. I think if anybody's going to pick up anything from this episode, that's going to be a big piece of it right there for sure. So from going from this, my last question here for you, and it's, it's kind of a fun one. I know that I say it was every episode we've gone way over at a time. It just, I get so excited to asking questions and talk and I do this every time. I apologize. Going from from, from, from starting, having never picked up a camera again to where you are today in a very short window of time and as somebody who like myself has to do something to be able to learn something, I'm sure that you've made a few mistakes along the way. Right. Have you ever made, have you ever had an embarrassing moment on the job that you'd be willing to share?

Nick Church: 44:07 I almost every, every shoot, I think there's something because I, so I, I, I've, the thing that happens almost probably 50% of the time is like I forget to fill out my images before I take photos. So I've always, I've always got bunches, bunch of cards, so I know that I know that I do this. So I've always got maybe half a dozen six, four gift cards in my pocket. I know I do this all the time, so I just forget to format them, record a hundred images on card and that it runs out of space. And then you can either format the car down cause you've got images. So you have to swap it out but not lose that image. And then when you get back, I've got 15 cards from the sheet because I've done it on both cameras. So that happens frequently.

Raymond: 44:52 Have you ever accidentally formatted a card that had a, had a undelivered y

Nick Church: 44:57 I haven't done that. Thankfully I've, I've knocked my camera into low quality jpeg mode for some, for some dancing shots at the end of the day. And I was pleased I did it in that last hour and not the first hour cause I just didn't notice. So, so that, that's one for sure. Yeah, that, that's the what else, what else? Words you have things often because I take quite a few of my bookings without meeting people. Just the way you know, about half or half of them. I don't meet people. So that first meeting, sometimes you don't, when you get to a wedding, I sometimes don't know, especially if it's a pride and they were within the same pajamas. I don't know who to. And there was one time where I had spent 90 minutes shooting what I assumed was the bride and it turned out it wasn't. And I only picked but then I thought, I don't know how to get out of this now without making it too obvious. So I just then took loads of photos of all the others to try and dilute the problem, which in hindsight I'd be better off saying, oh my God, I'm sorry. I've just, you know, I assumed you a, a secret advice. But anyway, so yeah. So I ended up with over a thousand bridal prep images to believe cause I've just taken so many to try and cover up the next day.

Raymond: 46:16 I could totally see myself doing that. Absolutely. And what's, what's bad is that I, I meet with all of my couples before the wedding. I'm sure that I, I don't know if it's like face blindness or like when you show up, you know, they're there and makeup and they look different than when you first met them. But I always walk in the room like, okay, I'm not gonna say anything until somebody like ray man like points me out. I'm like, Oh hey, there you are. Because they would be the only one. But that would totally be something that I would do. That's great. Thank you for sharing that. Nick. Like I said, we've gone over our time. You've been incredibly gracious with your time. You've answered a ton of questions that I know that the listeners are going to get a lot of value out of if they want to find more of you online. Can you share where is the best place to do?

Nick Church: 47:00 Yeah, the best place is the usual suspects. And My Facebook and Instagram are both at Nicha church. Photography's, that's nic, K C H U r c h photography, Nick Church photography. So yeah, please connect. So insta and Facebook and any comments or messages or questions? I answer every question that I get because I know that when I was a couple of years ago, I had a ton of questions and quite often you get, you get nothing back from people. And I definitely don't want to be that guy. So I will always respond by my website as well as www nick church, photography.co. Dot. UK.

Raymond: 47:34 Perfect. Nick. Well again, man, thank you so much for coming on, sharing everything that you did and I'm excited to keep up with you here in the future and see what's new with you and and, and see all of your progress. So again, thank you for coming on. So they have it, man. Nick, that growth is incredibly impressive. And as somebody who I thought that I went full time pretty quick, but it was not, it was not in 24 months and I certainly was not booking what, what'd you say? 40 weddings whilst they're working a full time job. So Nicki, obviously you're doing, you're doing things right and I appreciate you coming on the podcast and we've got to get you back on later to to, to share some more and go more in depth, maybe on a sealer topic to really dive deep into this stuff because you clearly know what you're doing.

Raymond: 48:21 And I'm excited to see a growth for the future. Like I said at the beginning I think that you're going to become a photographer who was very well known for your work and I'm excited to kind of be a part of that somewhat near the beginning and and just continue to watch your growth. If you're listening right now, I want to know what your biggest takeaway was from this episode. You can do so by sharing it in the beginning photography podcast, Facebook group. I want to know, was there something in this episode that is going to push you to going fulltime in your photography? Is there something that you felt you weren't getting, you didn't understand about being full time or, or what it takes to make that leap and something that nick shared that that was the Aha moment for you.

Raymond: 49:03 I really want to know what that is. So come on over to the beginner photography podcast, Facebook group. Share what that was. All right. That is it for today's interview. I want you to get out there, keep shooting, maybe go to a local coffee shop and ask if you can hang some free prints on their wall. I know Jason did that a few, maybe a year ago. Jason and the beginner photography podcast, Facebook group, and a, that's, that's huge. It takes a lot of courage. He did it. They were hung up. That is awesome. You know, so, so get out there, keep shooting, try to hang your portraits in a a coffee shop. Focus on yourself and stay safe. All right, that is it for this week. Until next time, I'll, I'll see. I really screwed that up. I'll see you next week. I love you all.

Outro: 49:43 If you enjoy today's podcast, please leave us a review in iTunes or your favorite podcast player and continue the conversation with Raymond and other listeners of the podcast by joining the beginner photography podcast Facebook group today. Thank you. We'll see you again next week.