Jeff Brown was a photographer in the Royal Navy for 10 years before setting out on his own to start 5 successful photography business. Today Im excited to talk about some of the challenges he faced as a photographer in the service and how it prepared him in becoming a professional photographer. Jeff is the author of the book The Photographers Missing Link-ed In helping photographers make connections and book gigs through linked in.
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In This Episode You'll Learn:
How Jeff got his start in photography
The rigorous process to become a Royal Navy Photographer
What the day of a Royal Navy Photographer looks like
How Jeff ensures he can capture beautiful portraits of heads of state quickly
How to know if your work is good enough to start charging
A difficult situation Jeff had to go through in his photography business
Premium Members Also Learn:
How Jeff went on to start 5 successful photography business
The most challenging aspect of running multiple brands
What makes Linked in a great place for photographers
What to do after you set up a linked in page
Did you enjoy this episode? Check out more recent interviews with other great guests!
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 Because of this, please do not quote this automated transcript.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 of photography podcast. And today we're talking about how the Royal Navy prepared today's guest to successfully run five different photography studios. So let's get into it.
Intro: 00:14 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 field to ask questions that will get you taking better photos today. Now with you as always, husband, Father Ho brewer, La Dodger Fan, an Indianapolis wedding photographer, Raymond Hatfield. Oh, welcome
Raymond: 00:45 back to today's episode of the beginner photography podcast. As always, I am your host, Raymond Hadfield and I am excited to be here today. Today is a great interview and I cannot wait to get into it with you. But first I want to give a little bit of a shout out. I want to share a recent review that we got on iTunes. Now, today's iTunes review comes from user Barbie brew. Uh, and uh, I'm, I'm guessing it's a, she, I'm guessing Barbie is a girl. And, uh, her review is just as amazing podcast and it's a five star review and, uh, she goes on to say, Raymond has always, uh, Raymond always has a unique interview on board interviews that I never thought would help so much. Keeps it interesting and I really appreciate that short, sweet. And to the point Barbie, if you're listening, if that's even your name or if it's not even just a like a, like a username.
Raymond: 01:40 Thank you for that, a five star review. I truly do appreciate it. Uh, it's nice and quick. I understand very quickly what it was that you enjoy most about the podcast. And uh, I have to say that I share the same view as you when it comes to interviewing, uh, others, genres of photography that, you know, sometimes I feel like, ah, you know, what can I get out of this interview as a wedding photographer or what am I going to, you know, uh, pick and pull out of this person's mind. And somehow everything always relates now may not relate directly, but you can always find one piece of information that is helpful to you in whatever it is that you shoot. So Barbie, I'm glad that, uh, that you have found that as well. So if you're listening right now, I cannot tell you how much I would appreciate it if you were to leave a rating or a review for the podcast in whatever podcast player that you listened to.
Raymond: 02:35 iTunes is, uh, the, the podcast, a rating and review of choice. Uh, but anywhere where you listen to podcasts, I, it would truly help out the podcast. Uh, if you were to just take a moment and leave us a review. So I thank you for that. All right, let's go ahead and get into today's interview. Today's interview is with a photographer, Jeff Brown and Jeff is a UK based, a photographer who has an interesting story of how he got into photography, how, uh, he spent many years as a royal navy photographer before going off on his own and uh, trying his own thing. And it was a lot of interesting stuff. In this episode. Um, and specifically for premium members, if you are a premium member, you are in for treat in this interview, uh, where Jeff is going to share things like how he handles multiple brands and whether or not you should kind of divide them up or just keep them all under one roof.
Raymond: 03:35 The one sentence that, uh, Jeff used to help, uh, book him almost 750 weddings. That's insane. And I've definitely, uh, tried to figure out how I can adapt it into my business because it's gold and uh, what linkedin has to offer photographers that Facebook and Instagram don't. So there you go. If you are a premium member, you're truly going to enjoy this. Uh, the extra information in this episode. There's more than 22 extra minutes for you. And if you're listening and you want to become a premium member and get all of this great information as well as a great information from all past interviews, then go ahead and hit over to beginner photography, podcast.com and up at the top you'll see a link to become a premium member. Just click that and you can join right away. So that's it. All right guys, we're going to get into today's interview right now with Jeff Brown.
Raymond: 04:31 Today's guest is Jeff Brown, a photographer in the Royal Navy for 10 years before setting out on his own to start five successful photography businesses. Today. I'm excited to talk about some of the challenges that he faced as a photographer in the service and how it prepared him and becoming a professional photographer. Jeff is also the author of the book photographer's missing linked in helping photographers make connections and book gigs through Linkedin. Jeff, thanks so much for coming on the podcast.
Jeff Brown: 05:00 Thanks for having me. It's great to be here.
Raymond: 05:02 Good, good. I, I kind of want to start off, uh, I give you a lot of contexts right there in your intro. People kind of have an idea of, of what it is that you do, but I love to start off with the absolute basics and I want to know how you got your start in photography.
Jeff Brown: 05:20 Um, W we'll go right back to the, what got me about photography. Was it funny enough, I used to go fishing, fly fishing for trout and they always used to be an early start, so we'd set out at maybe six o'clock in the morning, um, and we'd capture some that we'd see some amazing sunrises, usually on the waist of the lake or when we got to the lake. And, uh, I just thought, wouldn't it be nice to try and capture that? So I got into photography through fishing, um, and that, that became a sort of a passion of mine. And then in 1976 at 1996, I went to join the Royal Navy. Um, I knew that the Royal Navy had a photography Brunch, but you can't join as a photographer. It's what's called a sidewards entry branch. You have to do another trade for three years before you become a photographer and then apply under your own merit to it to be a photographer. So that's how I got into a career as a photographer was by transferring and becoming a royal lady photographer.
Raymond: 06:16 Wow. That's cool. So by the time you, you even joined, you had already had some sort of skills when it comes to photography. So I'm sure that by the time you got in there and actually applied for the program, uh, you said on your own merits d do they teach you photography? Is there any photography education or is it, here's the camera, let's get to work.
Jeff Brown: 06:36 Yeah, the, they put you through a very, very intensive, uh, it, it's, it's basically everything you learn in a three year degree, ah, Bang through in 26 weeks with 28 exams at the end of it. And you have a basically, um, three strikes in route. So if you fail three exams, then that's it. You're off the course and you return back to base. But the, the pre, the pre to that is putting together your own portfolio. So you have to go to, for your own portfolio, put you on foot portfolio together, and then you go before like a submission board. Uh, and then you have to get all the clearances because the photography brunch worked very closely with the intelligence branch. And then once you'd passed all that, then you were selected to be a photographer. And then if you pass the 28 exams and you come out with that, then you would go up to, um, to your next post in each shot. You shadow an experienced military photographer for maybe two weeks. And then if the thought that your work was good enough, then you'd be sent out to do jobs on your own. And incidentally, my first, my first job on we own a, it was principal of yes and no pressure. Yeah. Yeah.
Raymond: 07:41 So how to get to this point, you said that you got to, you have to be in the branch for three years before you can even apply to be the photographer or a photographer. Yeah. How can you, can you tell me how you, uh, you built a portfolio in that time? Did you do it while you were still serving or was it before you even, um, uh, joined?
Jeff Brown: 07:58 I had a bit of both. So I had, I had some portfolio work from prior to joining the navy landscapes and stuff like that. And then once I had applied to join the photography branch, it's about a six month sort of weird, before you get your, um, you get your acceptance backwards, all the, at least of the interview for so do in that time you could, I could start requesting time off work, maybe an hour here and there to go out and capture some images. Um, ev, predominantly navy based images. So it was getting photographs of helicopters, pilots, people at work, the chef in the, in the Galley doing this stuff. So to build up my own portfolios and to create an impression because the one, the type of person who's just going to go out there and do something, you know, off their own back. Um, so if you could put that enthusiasm through into your portfolio, it's more chance that you, and, and there's a very small branch as well.
Jeff Brown: 08:45 It was only a tiny little branch, so it was actually really job to get a good job to get into because um, once you in there, then, um, they, they said like when for life, you know, and I should, then they should decide to leave. Like I did in the end, but was a really, really good, really good job to be in because, um, yeah, everybody wanted the photographer, everybody wanted pictures. Everybody, everyone was pleased to see, you know, and you didn't, you didn't have to put up with a lot of the navy military stuff that you had. You did any other sort of jobs, you know, it was really good and you had the best, the best of everything, the best care to. You had the best toys to play with you out in helicopters on speedboats. You know, it's fun, fun job.
Raymond: 09:25 Yeah. It doesn't sound like a too bad of a Gig for sure. Um, so when it came time to building your portfolio, how did you know what to even include in your portfolio and how to achieve those images?
Jeff Brown: 09:39 Um, well what I did, I went and that was on a small base at the time, so I went and had a word cause each bass had its own, um, best photographer. Um, so I wouldn't had a word with him. And I says, look, you know, what sort of stuff are they going to be looking for? What sort of stuff to the need? And he said it's all about showing the navy in, in, in like the true colors in their own light. It was all PR stuff. So anything where you could get, you know, the white ensign in the background or the navy sign or you know, somebody stand at the front with a helicopter in the background. So, so the, the, the pictures told the story. That's what they wanted. They wanted like PR stuff. So it was storytelling images. So with that in mind, that's how I went out and started to create images for the, for the portfolio.
Raymond: 10:17 I gotcha. Okay. So, okay, so, so you built this portfolio, you applied to be a royal navy photographer and eventually you got the Gig. Right? So now that you're a Royal Navy photographer, you've gone through all the education. What, what did an average day look like for you?
Jeff Brown: 10:34 An average day was going into work. We had like quite a big area coverage in the northeast of, well they're not the north of England, so we could Scotland all the way down to sort of Liverpool and across the whole a, and that was on land dancy as well. Um, and then obviously there was other jobs that would come in that would require us in different parts of the country or the world or wherever. Um, so you'd, you'd go in usually on a weekly basis, the jobs would be allocated to certain people. So you would know in advance where you gotta be what you've got to do. And it could be anything from something as, as diverse as photographing, um, products or, um, maybe, uh, a defect in a plan's engine to a royal visit or to a Saturday night photographing while marines with black eyes from fighting in the local town. So, yeah. So, so it was, it was quite a diverse, um, mixed bag of jobs. You know,
Raymond: 11:30 I'm sure that you, you saw your share of images from other photographers in the Royal Navy. How much, um, creative freedom did you have in your photographs? Or was it all very technical based?
Jeff Brown: 11:44 I know a lot of creative freedom. Um, it was basically normally would be given like a brief for the job and then you'd come back with a few ideas if it was a job was possibly going to be quite an expensive job. So there's a lot of resources put into the job then, uh, what we do there is we just say look, um, would run it by the boss beforehand. So I did one job where it was the Ark Royal. I was going to be sailing up the, um, the river Clyde and it was a big PR sort of shoot for that. So they had that quite a bit of kit on hand. The Coyle was, was, was busy under my instruction, um, to, to steer one direction or another direction. I was on a, a launch, then I was transferred to speedboats. We had helicopters in the air, so there was a lost of going on. Um, so it was essential that the, the images were right because that, that job probably cost, you know, tens if not hundreds of thousands of pounds to put together to get good, good publicity for the Royal Navy and in newspapers and, and abroad.
Raymond: 12:43 Yeah. I'm sure that just the amount of coordination that would go into something like that is not something that you would want to, uh, just kinda show up to work and take very lightly that day. But Jeff, I apologize, my a two year old here came into the office, so let me go ahead and put her right outside of here.
Jeff Brown: 12:59 That's okay. Quick. I apologize.
Raymond: 13:07 I apologize about spy. You know, kids are, uh, our kids, so, uh, I appreciate the uh, the understanding though. Um, so yeah. Yeah. Then you know, I wouldn't be surprised if, uh, she came in here any moment as well and tried to, you know, sit on your lap or something. Uh, I don't even know why. I must have like the iPod or something in here. So, uh, I apologize. We'll go ahead and get back into this. Um, I appreciate you sharing that cause obviously as somebody who, um, has never been in the service has never had to photograph anything like that. It's hard. I think for me to imagine the amount of, uh, production that has to go into or could go into, um, a shoot like this and kind of where those images go. So, uh, being in that position to where something like this happens, big, uh, production, you're there to photograph it. Uh, have you ever been in a situation where you saw one of your photos and you're like, hey, that's, that's me, that's my photo and like some sort of ad campaign or something?
Jeff Brown: 14:09 Uh, yeah, lot, lots of press stuff. Um, lots of local newspapers, national newspapers, um, and, and magazines as well. So yeah, you've seen a lot. I had one particular job that I got, um, excuse me, a commendation for, um, and if I'm totally honest, uh, it was a bit of a fluke so I could say that I timed it perfectly right. And, uh, but I'll be honest, what it was is the, um, they wanted to fly a helicopter underneath what's called the [inaudible] skin bridge and uh, just outside of Glasgow. So the day before the Boston says, Jeff, go down to the river, Ricky, where are you going to do the shot? And then the next morning go to the, the, the uh, the h spot, speak to the pilot, he'll give you a radio, then you go down and you can just direct the helicopter. So the idea was the helicopter was the seeking how they kept it was going to fly under the bridge.
Jeff Brown: 14:55 I'd seen a really nice port part down by the river where there was a little bit of sort of fence posts, like leading out, it was like a lead in line. So I'd have the fence posts leading out the river [inaudible] bridge in the background and the helicopter would fly on there. So that particular day the sun was coming in and out of the clouds every now and then. So the exposure could be a bit of a nightmare. And bear in mind, we will shoot on film at the time. So I didn't see what I got until obviously I got back to the section and had it negative negatives developed. But uh, the helicopter had enough fuel for two flights under the bridge and that was it. Uh, and the final words are the boss was, don't, don't make uh, a balls up of this cause it's costing about 50 grand just to do this one picture.
Jeff Brown: 15:35 So, so yeah, he put the pressure on. So for the first time the helicopter come on. Ah, he did each run and I thought, look, he probably did, I said to the pilot, I says, can you drop a bat another 20 feet as you come in for the second run, slow down a bit and put your front Hava lights on. Cause the hover lights look quite cool as soon as you come down. Um, I'm standing there in position, he comes flying along and as the hover lights, the hub with a hover lights on. And then because that dropped her that extra 20 foot, it created a bit of spray coming him off the water. And at that moment that the spray came up, the sun came from behind the clouds and it created a rainbow. So I was just like, wow, bam, Bam, Bam, Bam, rather than offloads a shot. And it wasn't until I got back to the section, which was a good sort of a 45 minutes drive from. I'd been doing the pictures and then we did the whole sort of, you know, half an hour or so to get the negatives processed and stuff that I could see. I actually captured it, but I could see it was really creative and had planned for it, but I didn't, it was just a complete flip. So,
Raymond: 16:37 yeah. That's amazing. That is amazing. Uh, I, this just the other day I went, uh, down to St Louis where I met with, uh, one of the listeners of the podcast and we were kind of talking about is Jason, we were talking about, uh, using a light meter. Right? He's wondering, you know, how much uh, um, use he can get out of a light meter nowadays, especially with digital back in the film days. How did you, how did you, did you, did you use a light meter to get the correct exposure for this, for this helicopter coming under the bridge and if so, how do you account for the spray and the sun coming up over the uh, over the hill
Jeff Brown: 17:10 we were, we were trained, we were trained some of 'em in a couple of ways. One was to use light meter but for the first two weeks of the program is you, um, you sent out to do photographs without the light meter, so to, to learn particular types of skies, particularly environments where you would have like a basic fall back exposure and obviously because of the exposure latitude of the film, because we got a lot more exposure latitude with film where you did have then than you had with digital then um, cause you didn't get the burnout. Then what we would do is we'd have that baseline exposure and we'd always as a default go for that baseline exposure. If you did have a chance to use light meter it so you'd know that, you know, you could push it a bit on the, on the processing and still get a really, really good image.
Jeff Brown: 17:57 So that's what we did. We knew that a lot of the time cause I think as well, whether the way the trend with the services is because you had people like, um, photographers gone with like Royal Marines to pluses like no nowhere where it's, you know, minus 30 minus 40 degrees. The only, the only kid that would effectively work out there would be like hustle bloods because any digital stuff or just about these would die within seconds. Light meters would die. So you have to use, um, basic, basic mechanical kit that we're take a picture. So you're not relying on anything technical because technical stuff doesn't cope very well in, in extreme temperatures.
Raymond: 18:31 Yeah. Yeah. He really got to learn to turn your eyes into light meters. That's good. Yeah. Yeah. Jeez. Um, well you kinda talked earlier when I asked you what the average day would look like for you and you mentioned it could be anything from documenting a failure in an airplane engine to photographing, uh, royal family members coming for a visit. Can I kind of want to ask, cause I'm sure that when it comes to taking photos of, you know, members of a royal family, your time is going to be probably very limited. So I'm also sure that you were aware that they were going to show up and that it wasn't just like a drop in. So how do you prepare for a situation like that to be able to get the shot that you need? Uh, so quickly?
Jeff Brown: 19:13 It all depends on which member of the royal family it is. Because some, some were a little bit more enthusiastic to photographers than others.
Raymond: 19:22 It's a very diplomatic way of putting it.
Jeff Brown: 19:24 Yeah. And some, so, yeah. So people like Charles, um, was actually really nice guy and very self, um, sympathetic of photographers. And a lot of them would hold the pose a little bit longer if they're greeting somebody or shaking somebody's hand because they would be aware that the military photographer was there. Now bear in mind when stuff like this was happening, the military photographer would be in front of the press lines. So the press would usually be be kept behind the line and we would be walking side by side that member of the royal family. Um, my first job as I says, was Prince Philip and add he, you know, two weeks out I train and, and he, my boss said to is he hates photographers, especially military ones. So he, yeah, so he didn't make my job very easy, but, um, th that it was like anything is just preplanning known the route known.
Jeff Brown: 20:12 Um, where are going to take the pictures from where the vantage points are going to be. Way's going to take the salute, who is going to be meeting, what dignitaries. So have like a really good sort of time schedule for everything. And, and obviously that's like a military thing. And effectively, that was a really good, um, skill that I learned prior planning, uh, time management and attention to detail. Three key military skills that helped me build up a wedding business because all those three skills are really required in wedding photography. You've got to get your timing right. You've got to, you know, to pay attention to detail. Um, and you've got to, you've got to Preplan, you've got to know where everything's going to be and who's going to be there and what photographs the bride wants. So it was a really good transferable skill that took us over to the wedding for several weeks side when I left.
Raymond: 20:56 Yeah. Yeah. I would imagine. I would imagine as you were saying, uh, having that good timetable, knowing when you know he's gonna do the salute. I'm sure. You know, my first thought was knowing when a bride is going to have that first kiss, you know, like these are things that, you know, are gonna happen. Just being prepared for them. So if you knew, um, you know, when the salute was going to happen and where it was going to happen, would there be anything that you would do to, um, uh, just ensure that that shot was the best that it could be beforehand?
Jeff Brown: 21:26 Yeah, well, I would say one of the, one of the big things was, um, because again, we're going back today, a lot of that was on days film. Um, so a lot of this was, was just checking the background out. You know, you're, the last thing you want is a picture of Prince Philip with a, uh, a billboard with something [inaudible] appropriate on, you know, the naked woman on a billboard next to a car. And then, hey man, I seen goes all the time. I understand. So, so yeah. So you've got to think, you've got to look at the bigger picture. So don't just, and that was where the attention to detail cam, you know, focus on, on that, but also what's in the background, what's going to obstruct? Is there going to be anything going out the back of his head? Yeah. Um, because yes to fly this can can be corrected, but we were taught anywhere that, you know, shoot it right in the frame of first time and he can save yourself a hell of a lot of time afterwards, whether it's like in the dark room or whether it was with digital photoshopping.
Raymond: 22:16 Beautiful. Beautiful. Um, so you talked there about, uh, being prepared, uh, going into the, uh, on your own, right. So after leaving the Royal Navy, uh, you said that you started, uh, you started shooting, uh, weddings, which I know just from reading from your website, you have started, uh, companies shooting weddings, portraits, commercials or commercial work, PR Work, uh, school and nursery work as well as bu Duar, which shoots a thousand shoots a year alone, which is just, wow. So my question to you is not only how, like how do you even do something like this, where, where, where did you start? Was it with weddings?
Speaker 2: 23:01 Enjoying today's interview with Raymond's 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 by 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. One thing,
Raymond: 23:34 we're talking a lot here about kind of the business side of things, starting a a a business. But before we even really start a business, people start charging for their work. And one of the things I hear very often from listeners is a that they struggle to know when their abilities, their technical abilities are good enough to start charging. Um, and we kinda touched on this earlier, but I'd love to hear your thoughts on that.
Jeff Brown: 23:59 But I think one of the, one of the things to do, you know, everybody has to do something that, um, we, you know, we all started doing stuff for free and, and actually some bloke had said on the, on Linkedin when ad put in a post a while ago about some, you know, we all, even the best photographer in the world did his first shoot for free. And then this guy was saying, no, no, no, there's people who don't, you know. And I says, no, I said, because you're never going to have a portfolio. You know, before, before I started doing weddings, all ad shop was marines running around with guns and pitchers of ships. I'm not gonna show that to you. No, no, no. Bright to be, he's going to go, oh yeah, he was a nice picture of a ship. Um, do you want to do my wedding?
Jeff Brown: 24:35 You know, so I had to do my first two weddings for free, but I think what you do is, is you use their, um, how happy they were as a, as a good reflection of it. Right. Okay. It's ready to tap to start charging. And one thing I want, you know, we all have to start off at the very beginning, but I said don't become too price obsessed. So when you feel, you know, if somebody, if somebody says to you, those pictures are amazing, I love them photographs bright, you've got the ability, you've got the scale, you've got three or four weddings on the lapel or you've got four or five portraits and the about now is the time to stop doing stuff for free because otherwise people will just continue to take the Mickey out. Urea expects to for free. You know, you wouldn't get a builder to come around and put in your kitchen and then say, oh, are you gonna just going do it for free?
Jeff Brown: 25:23 You know, we, we, we are professionals and we need to be re, we need to be rewarded for doing what we do. You know, it's our time, but because we're creative, we usually quite funny about the money thing. But you've got to get strict and you can say, no, this is, this is, you know, if, if you don't like it, go elsewhere. So I would say to start with, get an average idea of price of what people in your areas charging, right? Get that, get that average idea in your price initially so you can start putting your price and structure together. Once you got that average idea, stop it. Never look at another local photographers price again. Then where you want to do is you want to look at, pick four or five photographers. So this could be in your a, I would say pick three now. Um, so two nationally, one internationally and one locally. But these are all top of the game. So what you wanna do is if you're a wedding photographer, find out the best wedding photographer in your state. Then find out the best two wedding photographers in the u s or in the UK or in Canada. You know, it depends on which way, where your country is and then look
Raymond: 26:32 Should they be in a similar niches as you?
Jeff Brown: 26:35 Um, yeah, if you're going to go for a particular Neisha let you know if you're going for country themed sort of. Yeah. So go for that and then look up the big guys in the world. And the reason being what that does is it also, it lets you know that these people do exist. These people do get regular content on, you know, regular, regular shoots. You just got to look at their social media. You look at the social media, see fresh posts on everyday with different people's faces on these people are shooting all the time. Um, but you know, 10 years ago those people were doing their first jobs for free or even two years ago. Your things can change so fast. When I first started out, you know, it was, it was slower because you had a build up in the yellow pages. We didn't have initially social media in 2004.
Jeff Brown: 27:18 Um, now I've, I've had clients come on board and then within three month, you know, they're doing 5,000, 10,000 pounds because they've created a brand quickly online, you know, cause you can just source your new clients and look at themselves and then target them. So I think what you, what you wear, a lot of photographers go wrong. They start looking at what everybody else's charged and keep going back to that. You don't want to use that. That starts off as your reference point. Put your reference point in. Your goal is to look at the big boys and say, well, I'm going to get there and that's where I'm going to go. And the good thing is in looking at the big boys from where you are now, as you start to develop, not on, not you, not necessarily photography skills, but your business skills and your people skills and the people skills are massive thing for wedding photography.
Jeff Brown: 28:02 You can start a pick faults with the big boys. So yeah, you've got all this money but you don't, you know, your website doesn't come across very personal. You don't do a free consultation because you think you're too big to be doing a free consultation anymore, you know, so you can start picking her. So, you know, if I was in and that top money, this is what I'd give, this is what I do. So you can start improving yourself, you know? And it's exactly the sort of the thing I did when I started my mentor in Business. You know, I started out doing mentor and with one follower, then I got to, you know that now I've got like 60 70,000 followers and I work in 21 different countries. But I started out with just one person and I'm still following two big mentors and keeping an eye on what they're doing and thinking, I'm going to pee, I'm going to, I'm going to wipe your ass.
Jeff Brown: 28:49 I'm gonna beat you. You know? Eventually I'm gonna get past and, and I don't say, yeah, and I don't care what the other ones below at their end, because I'm not really bothered about them, you know? And I think the other thing is, well, as he's trying to copy anybody, be yourself. You know, you've, you've, you've got to be your own person. You don't want to spend a lot of time doing videos and stuff like that. And if I wasn't just me, if I tried to be somebody I wasn't, then people would see through that and get, you know, I'd get, luckily I don't get much bad press on doing videos. That's why I'm quite keen to just do it and get, as long as I get the message out there and I come across as me and I come across genuine, then people quite find it hard to say bad things about you. If you try and be somebody false, I'll try and be somebody you're not, then that's when people will start to pick faults with you. Yeah, they're going to pick that up for sure. I totally understand that. Yeah. That was a great roadmap to,
Raymond: 29:42 to starting off from your first free shoot to actually like making it and not only making it but like being very successful and happy. Yeah, so that was, that was a great piece of information that you shared on. I know that the listeners are going to really appreciate that. I know I'm going to go back and listen to that, see if I can pick up any little extra bits of information to apply to myself. So again, thank you. Thank you for that. No problem. Um, this is my last question for you and this one I'm really excited for because it's not something that I ask very often, but in your email that you sent to me when we were having our correspondence back and forth, you said that in your journey as a photographer, you've had some ups and downs, Fun Times and not fun times. Can you tell me about one of those not fun times and how did you get out on the other side?
Jeff Brown: 30:32 Um, I've had a few, Eh, I think for biggest disasters, um, is, and I think I would say this definitely from the business point of view because a lot of photographers might, um, might get that is, um, you know, we get the phone calls of people trying to sell the advertising. Um, as soon as you set up as a business and I got sucked into the radio advertising one and how it was going to be amazing and there's going to be prides flocking to the door and stupidly spent, this was there were [inaudible] you probably went for and I spent uh, over 5,000 pound on a radio advert. Yeah. Which didn't get me one thing, not a thing, not a thing. Um, yeah. So, so that was financially, that was probably one of the worst disasters within that business. Um, so think another one, like one thing I've, I've offered for, for years that we, um, is as part of our packages, we offer a hundred percent money back guarantee.
Jeff Brown: 31:30 So we say you'll totally love you wedding photographs and if you don't, we'll give you the money back. And that was our sort of, you know, that made us stand out. That was, um, because I believe as well, you know, if you're a wedding photographer, if you can't guarantee that you're going to do a good job, then you shouldn't really be doing a good job anyway cause you got, it's not, you can shoot it again the next day. Sure. Um, so anyway, for years we ran with that. Never had anybody, um, take us up on the money back guarantee cause everybody was totally happy. But what we did is the images went onto an online gallery and within seven days there would have a, an email sent out to them, tell them the images will live to go on and check them. And then if they had any quibbles about the service or the images, they'd have to notify us within seven days if they wanted to revoke their, their guarantee.
Jeff Brown: 32:17 If the, if the soldier for totally happy, then they'd get the USB key would go out with the full resolution images and start putting albums together anyway. One bride and did try to revoke guarantee told us that she absolutely hated the images that are totally ruined. I, when they, well she didn't, her husband was on the phone, she was in the background crying her eyes out. I could hear her going, oh, oh, oh. And, and he said, you know, would add, I mean I was absolutely devastated. There was me and this girl Hannah, who was my second shoot and worked with [inaudible] for over 10 years. She was a very experienced photographer. So basically they wanted a full refund and they wanted, um, another 500 pound in compensation for the deal, the upset that it caused. So I agreed to it, um, and said I would, I would get the money cause in the terms and conditions that would get the money within 14 days.
Jeff Brown: 33:08 So it was right. We just gotta pull some money out of the business seven's apparent accounts book, you know, pay them within 14 days. It was just about the pay of them. About four days before Hannah Rudd said to his, Jeff, if you, if you had a look on phase Facebook page, and I know, cause that had never occurred to us. So she says, go, go ahead and look on our Facebook page. She says, you haven't, you haven't refunded I yet have, you know, and she says, just have a look and then ring us back. So I, I checked her Facebook page now profile picture was the sign under the Rochester, a cover photo was them walking down the aisle and all these images that would been uploaded at low-resolution to the online gallery. We'll all over a Facebook page and people go, wow, you look amazing.
Jeff Brown: 33:53 Oh you must love these. And she's saying, yeah, yeah, the fantastic. Now I know her brother worked in it, so I don't know how we'd rush to get these images at war. So I found my, um, good friend up in London. He was a, uh, commercial barrister for the BBC and he looked through the contract that she'd signed and he says, well, she's actually in breach a copyright because those images are not yet hers. Wow. Because, cause there was still on the online gallery, I hadn't given a USB t he says, so what she's doing, he says we were going to sue our for breach of copyright, which at the time in the UK I think was some tonight at 10 30 you could be fined up to 10,000 pounds. Wow. It was a lot of money. So Ricky put this really nasty, very stern worded letter together and he says, wait until the last day.
Jeff Brown: 34:42 He says, because you can guarantee if you haven't, we funded them on day 14 day 15 you're going to get a phone call. Sure enough, diff 15 gets a phone call off her husband shouting and screaming. We haven't had the money. This is disgusting. I'm just going to, before you go any further, I'm just going to send you an email. I'd like you to read and then decide what you want to do afterwards. So I sent the email and I got an email back within 10 minutes in, forget the whole thing. Or you know what happened? The funny thing that happened is they, I actually got the last laugh because they'd paid for an album package, a digital, you know, a storybook style album, which, you know yourself, you've probably paid about three or 400 quid from somewhere like Raffi studio or someone on how to [inaudible]. And I sent them just, just out of goodwill. I sent them the USB key with all the high resolution images on, but then never got back to it was about the album because they were too embarrassed. [inaudible] I went in the end, you know, I said, it just goes to show with comedy, isn't it? You know what, what goes around comes around. So,
Raymond: 35:44 yeah. Well I appreciate you sharing that. Obviously difficult situation from a, uh, from a bride as I'm sure plenty of people listening right now would think I would have no idea what to do in a situation like that. And, uh, now they need to know that they have to look at their contract and make sure that those specific terms are in there.
Jeff Brown: 36:03 Yeah. To protect their site. And I think the other thing too is, you know, you can never win when you do them with the public. And this is not a horrible thing to say because 99% of the general public is honest, but you know, um, sometimes it just doesn't surprise you what people will do.
Raymond: 36:19 Yeah. From like you've been in business for that long. It, it's, it's almost like when is it going to happen? I would assume, you know, you get so many people coming through the door that statistically you would have to have a situation like that. So again, thank you for sharing that. That's incredible. So, um, but Jeff, I got to say, uh, I've, I've, I really appreciate everything that you've shared today. Um, your knowledge and your skill is, is, is very impressive and it was a joy to speak with you before I let you go. Can you let everybody know where they can find you online?
Jeff Brown: 36:54 Yeah, well I have a website which is a focus on marketing.co. Dot. UK or you can just drop me an email to info at focus on Marketing Dakota, UK. And then I also have a Facebook page, which is the same focus on marketing. And then you can find us on Linkedin as well. So linkedin is just Jeff Brown, the photographer mentor.
Raymond: 37:13 Perfect. And I will of course link to each and every one of those things in the show notes. Jeff, again, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. It was, it was a pleasure.
Jeff Brown: 37:23 No problem at all. Thanks very much. Thanks for having us take care.
Raymond: 37:27 That was such a great interview. So much for shared, including my, uh, my two year old daughter. She came in here, she was so excited she wanted to listen to. So, uh, if you're, if you heard that, I apologize. Uh, but that's kids. So I, I want to share though, my biggest takeaway from this interview, and Jeff shared a lot. Jeff shared a ton of great stuff today. Um, a lot of it I thought was, was actionable that you can put into your work right now. But I think overall my biggest takeaway was just how much work you have to put in to be a photographer. Right? It's not something that you can just go out there and press a button and take a photo and it's great. We know that, right? We know that. But what Jeff shared was that obviously having a very strong understanding of the fundamentals of photography is what is going to set you up best in the future.
Raymond: 38:19 Um, specifically that example of the shot of the helicopter coming in under the bridge just wouldn't have been able to get that shot. Anything more than just a snapshot if he didn't have a strong understanding of the, of the fundamentals of photography. And you understand that that is when you can go off and start practicing your creativity because creativity is hard to teach because it's kind of, it's inside of everybody and it's, it's how you tell a story, but that's easy to learn because it's inside of you. What you have to do is figure out the fundamentals of photography and that is what Jeff shared today. So that was, that was definitely my biggest takeaway. I would love to hear your biggest takeaway, uh, from today's interview. And you can share that in the beginning of photography podcast, Facebook group, share it with all more than a thousand members, uh, who are likeminded photographers somewhere in their journey in photography. Who Will, uh, appreciate you sharing, uh, your thoughts on today's interview. So that is it. Uh, I'm going to leave you guys with that. So until next week, uh, I want you to get out there. I want you to keep shooting. I want you to stay safe and I want you to focus on yourself. All right, that's it. I'll see you next week.
Speaker 2: 39:35 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.