Let me show you…How I Went From a Starving, Struggling, Near Broke Studio Owner to Earning Over 6 Figures a Year in my Photography Studio Using Marketing Strategies That Work…
I am your grand wizard. Your coach, your fearless leader. Your guide by your side. I’ve been there, done that, and am still in the trenches fighting the forces of evil daily. I have had an interesting journey…
3.30 minute video of me….
I am not a celeb or marquee photographer….
Do you believe in following people who have had interesting journeys? Or someone who’s merely talking in second hand observations and theories.
What’s cool about my journey is the transitions I’ve been through. And how they all led to my eventual success both as a photographer, a businessman and as a healthy, vibrant human being who lives life to the max.
My experiences made me who I am. Without them, without the pain, fears, struggles and set backs I would not have become the person I became and continually evolve into.
And that’s why I teach, coach, share and help others who have similar goals to mine
and an affinity to a life’s purpose through photography and business.
I’ve learned a lot from the school of hard knocks and have the bruises and wounds to prove it. I’ve studied hard, from other successful photographers and non photographers alike. There’s nothing quite like being self-made. I believe it makes for a much more creative, individual and passionate life. A renaissance photography business owner, so to speak. Won’t you join me on your own quest?
Joseph Campbell, one of my favorites, said it best: “Follow your bliss”. Likewise, from the pain I gained as well, chosing to take every crappy experience and call it school, not join it like a club, where I visit it like old friends. Carl Jung said it best: “Every pain, every neurosis, has a gift hiding inside it.”
The Wizard Of Light Academy™ is based on life lessons, all things on running a portrait studio and covers many other dimensions. It’s only for the serious and dedicated student. I am a serious and dedicated student, and a teacher, with a unique approach to helping others.
I am not a celeb or marquee photographer. I don’t want nor care to be a ‘rock star’ in the industry. Why would I? To make me feel better? It’s a ruse, a lie. To massage my ego? Again, nonsense. I am a family man, married, with a daughter, and I run a full time home based photography studio in small mining community, earning well over a six figure income in and because of photography.
My biggest passion, besides photography and business, is self-improvement.
I believe we are either moving forward or regressing backwards. I want to constantly be moving forward. I also believe it is my duty, my calling to share what I’ve learned with others who, as I mentioned, have the same affinity as mine.
I cannot tell you what is best for you. But I can council, kick you in the butt and cajole you into thinking and being responsible about what it is you want. No one can do that for you. Only you. But it’s great to have someone help light the way, and light a fire under one’s butt once in a while. Don’t you agree?
My past is interesting and I believe a major contribution to my current skills, oddly enough. As a child, my mother says, I was a loner.
But I was social. Sounds like a contradiction, I know. I just had a strong independent streak in me. I also had a radar for trouble, and could track it, find it and get into it no matter where I was at or who I was with.
This started at the age of five and didn’t slow down until I was eighteen, after many encounters with the law and the officials. I “caught on” after one savvy judge decided to throw me in the clinker for three days to give me a taste of my destiny if I didn’t smarten up. (that’s jail for those who didn’t get it).
But I didn’t know any better, nor did I know a better way. I simply was lost. In need of direction. My teachers in school said I was smart, I just didn’t try. I did poorly in school. I believe to this day it was because of lack of direction and because of my life experiences, it brought out my leadership side.
I can relate to those who need direction, love using coaches, mentors or experts to help lead the way. There is and was no better way for me to light the passions, tap into that inner voice that I never heard before because the white noise of neurosis dampened it. I only got ahead and moved on my path by being brave, taking on the council of others, and finally listening to that inner voice.
It’s a voice we all have, and if we hear it, and listen to it, then only then can we start our journey.
When I was 17, I was kicked out of high school. Even more lost, but I knew enough to register again the next year and at least get my high school diploma. It was in the winter of that year, while waiting for the next school year to roll around, still getting in trouble, lost, running with the wrong crowd, at very high risk of turning down a very dark road, that one of the biggest turning points in my life came rolling in on a wave of what seemed like destiny.
I don’t get into religion, spirituality or politics. Too many hot heads and too much room for hurt. But this event, if any can be called one in my life, was as near providence like to me as anything.
What happened? Simple, but powerful. My uncle, a successful businessman who lived over three thousand miles away hired me for four months. He was 36, a bachelor, and had little or no patience for the likes of me.
What I was doing there was beyond me, but it was to be one of the greatest gifts and turning points in my young life. It pulled me away from my environment. It gave me a chance to think, and start studying.
My uncle had a book by Dale Carnegie, “How to win friends and influence people” and I read it front to back. It changed my life. He also sat me down and had a man-to-man talk with me. He focused on communication and that message has been branded into my soul since. I never had anyone talk to me like that before and I never read a book like that either. Deep inside, they resonated within me.
I had no idea such material existed, and for me started the journey of self-improvement, self awareness, learning, and information gathering. I became a success and information junkie. And it paid off. Big!
It was two years later that I discovered photography, while in my first and only semester at college. Only five years later I started my own studio and continue to run it to this day.
I say I “discovered” photography, but the truth is I always gravitated towards it, even as a child. I bought my first camera at the age of 15 at KMart. Cost: $11.00 A Polaroid Zip, and it only shot black and white polaroids.
I loved that camera and brought it with me everywhere. I progressively purchased more cameras, culminating to my first ever 35MM ‘real” camera when I was 19 and enrolled in a bird course at college that had a photography class in it.
That’s where it all began for me. My first, excuse the pun, exposure to the magic, the wonder and power of photography and the darkroom.
From there, my business and marketing skills grew and expanded.
I believe that any business owner, whether it’s a big business or small business, the owner is the key.
Every business starts with the individual and is a reflection of you. Whether you are a small studio owner who wants to make an extra $1,000.00, $2,000.00, $5,000.00 every month, or a commercial location with staff and a steady stream of clients. Matters not. Your business will reflect you.
I also believe marketing plays a key role. Much bigger than people realize. Marketing is where you innovate and grow your business. That’s why, for the most part, this activity cannot be delegated or farmed out.
In it holds the key to success. And in it is where much of the fun, creativity, passion and profits express themselves.
Many don’t get this. For those who do, it is like a gift that never goes away. In business, I feel, you have an opportunity to become a better, stronger, more creative person. Easy? Not really. Possible? Yes. But it takes a certain mindset.
And I believe my mindset was formed by my early experiences in life. I have no problems stepping out of the box as they say and throwing hand grenades into the room to shake things up.
I believe my experiences shaped me, and molded my gifts into what they are.
And I get to tell my story, my challenges to others, and help them, anyone who is like me, looking for direction, for council, for someone to look ‘em in the eye and ask with strength and conviction: what do you want? who are you? where do you want to go? how much do you want to make? create? let’s go!
Currently, I run a full time portrait and wedding photography business from our home studio location. It’s a 1200 sq ft garage about a stones throw away from our backyard patio. In spite of many full timers struggling, many failing and packing it in, I can say we haven’t had to pack it. To the contrary, business is great and I personally believe marketing and personal passion plays a huge role in this.
I am co-founder of No Bs Photo Success Inc™. I am affiliated and have taught many times at Niagara School Of Imaging. I am a writer for shootsmarter.com going on about 7 years so far, maybe more (who’s counting). Traveled to many places on my motorcycle, including Alaska in 2008. Played in a blues band for a while (guitar, sing, harmonica). I’ve the coordinator and master brains behind the Inferno 3 Day Workshop…
I’ve organized and presented at many other workshops. I don’t get out that often to speak, preferring to stay close to home and helping others via the forum or skype and gotowebinar….life is good.
If you’re interested, here’ some irrelevant facts and further details about me:
- Brought into this place on July 26, 1958 in Blind River, Ontario
- My only vivid memory of Blind River up to the age of three was seeing Santa Claus walking up the driveway as I looked out in horror from the picture window, ran screaming and hid under my bed until he left. All other memories are grainy black and white films my dad shot. After we moved from Blind River, we visited a lot. Those memories are some of the best of my childhood.
- I ‘escaped”, as I say, and moved to Sudbury, Ont when I was three years old
- I was a handful, played with matches, climbed everything, found trouble where I could and at the age of 5 while at church with my 4 year old baby sister (those were the days when mom, too busy with a newborn, a two year old, would just send us up the road to attend mass on our own) dragged her the front to receive communion. We got busted for being under aged. I had to see what all the fuss was about, what can I say.
- Being the oldest, with four sisters under me, a dad who worked a lot, I was eager and energetic to get into any trouble I could find. I caused my mother a lot of concern, and I wouldn’t have blamed her had she had me checked out. Nowadays, I would have been medicated. For sure.
- Got my first camera when I was, ten, I think. It was the worlds cheapest camera and when I opened it up Christmas morning I was so excited I ran into my dads arms. What’s important here is that we never hugged much. I sorta lost myself. I never actually used the camera. We were too poor to buy film. I think they bought it on sale. It was a nice gesture.
- I got my first working camera when I was 16. My next camera when I was 18. All cheapies, but I gravitated towards cameras and loved going around shooting everything.
- My teen years were rough. Arrested four times, jailed for three days on one of those, paroled another, kicked out of high school and overall dark years for me.
- In spite of all the trouble, I had a leadership side to me. I ran the local youth club teen dances at our church and was the teen representative at the local playground. These were roles I simply stood up and took..”I want to do that…” I’d say.
- I graduated grade 12, after going back. Started college in a bird course that had photography and a darkroom. I was hooked from that point on.
- Dropped out of college to attend another college in a legit photography course. Dropped out of it.
- Started working for a local advertising magazine shooting photos for their ads. I drank a lot of beer too. Age 20 ish.
- Started a legit job at the age of 21 working for a successful commercial and mining studio that also did some portraits. I ran their high end black and white darkroom
- Around 18 months later, after feeling bored and sensing that I knew all their was to know in that job, I got hired on as a school photographer. I had been sending resumes everywhere and in spite of severe shyness I was bold in marketing.
- Age 22 started school photography, had my first ever anxiety attack and first heart break. I was devastated.
- Two years I managed through gut wrenching anxieties and trying to get mastery over feeling so overwhelmed by life and shooting hundreds and hundred of children every week.
- Worked for 10 months managing a franchise style photo studio. Got laid off.
- Started my own studio. I was basically unemployable. Age 25. Here it is.
- Age 26 got offered to buy an awesome 3500 sq ft home studio. I believe this opportunity came about because I had taken the steps into starting my own place. I signed a “rent to own” deal and five years later I owned it.
- At age 31 I quit drinking, smoking and started on the most amazing time of my life. Self help workshops and group therapy, Toastmaster, University, involved in our photography association and countless workshops and seminars on business and on photography.
- I met and married my wife Tina when I was 36 and we had one daughter right away. She quit her job (my wife, not my daughter) as an accountant and we’ve been a super team since then.
- Moved the studio to our current home location, my dream home as I call it…a 3000 sq ft cedar home with a detached 1200 sq ft cedar garage converted to a studio. Dreamy!
- That’s it. Now I teach cardio kick boxing, run, bike, travel to Costa Rica several times a year and run the studio, as well as coaching other aspiring and ambitious photographers. Like you. (you have to be ambitious to have read this far:)…)
- I’m a Leo