Getting Your Partner Onboard with Your Photography Business: an Interview with (my partner) Nick
You're serious about positioning yourself as a professional photographer… but is your significant other taking you seriously, too?
When you get serious about conservation photography…
Whether as a side hustle in addition to your full-time job, or you're going full-time as a business…
Well, for many of us, there's a big hurdle that we have to leap.
Getting our family – especially our significant others – to take us seriously. To see our work as a true business, and to see us as fully fledged business owners.
Maybe your partner doesn't see how you can make a living at this work. Or they're looking at the business thinking, “It's really just a hobby, isn't it?”
Kinda takes the steam out of the adventure, doesn't it?
You want your partner to be on board with your business not only to build their confidence in you…
… but because their support is a major confidence builder for you.
When you're trying to make an income from photography, you need to make some big moves. You need to invest money in equipment and education.
You have to spend time doing what looks to anyone else like play as you head out to scout, shoot, build your portfolio, discover stories.
And weeks or even months might go by without a paycheck.
When your job is not a typical nine-to-five with a paycheck every two weeks, it can be really hard for a spouse or a partner to understand what you're doing as real work. It can be hard for YOU to see what you do as real work.
And that's when communication becomes critical.
My own partner, Nick, was with me when I made the shift from someone with a full-time salaried job into being a business owner. He's been with me as I worked on assignment photography. As I created workshops and launched them to teach other people. As I created my local photography tour company.
Oh he's seen those ups and downs! And while we aren't perfect, and we aren't necessarily the typical couple, we have made it work well.
So I cajoled Nick into coming onto the podcast to talk about what it's like to be the partner of a full-time photographer, how we've navigated the ups and the downs, and strategies that can help you bring your partner onboard with your profession of choice, so that you both can grow.
- The benefits of talking to your partner about your business goals and details
- Some of the realities of running your own business, including the ever-heavy work load
- Strategies for showing each other support
- How bringing your partner into the field with you can be helpful
- The importance of the good old smile-and-nod
This episode is sponsored by:
Our episode sponsor is Wild Idea Lab, my membership community where conservation visual storytellers find creativity, community and support for their wildest work. Wild Idea Lab is designed specifically for emerging and established photographers and filmmakers working in conservation and science communication.
With monthly masterclasses, live events, community engagement and so much more, members from around the world accelerate their growth as creatives and find their place in a network of colleagues and friends. Whether just starting out or you’ve been a pro for years, Wild Idea Lab has the resources you need to do more, and go farther with your work.
Subscribe & Review
Are you subscribed to the podcast? If not, I’m excited to invite you to subscribe today. Not only do I unroll new episodes weekly, but I also add in a ton of bonus episodes. If you’re not subscribed, you’ll probably miss out on those great bonuses and I don't want you to miss a thing!
If you love listening to the podcast, I’ll be so grateful if you leave me a review on iTunes. The reviews help others find me, and I also just love to hear from you! Just pop onto the show in your mobile device, scroll down to “Ratings & Reviews” and tap “Write a Review” Then, you’re off to the races! Let me know what you like best about the podcast. Thank you so much!
Episode 072: Getting Your Partner Onboard with Your Photography Business - an Interview with (my partner) Nick
(Digitally transcribed, please forgive any typos)
When you get serious about conservation photography or visual storytelling as something that you wanna do professionally, whether it's a side hustle that is in addition to your full-time job, or it's something that you really want to go full-time into as your own business. Well, for many of us, there's a big hurdle that we have to leap, and that's getting our family and especially our significant others or our partners to take us seriously and to see it as a business, as us as business owners in our own right. So inside of Wild Idea Lab, we had this really great discussion. It's something that's actually come up a couple of times, so we really dove into it during a professional development meeting.
0:00:40.8 JH: And it's that... Especially during COVID, when making a living as a photographer was really, really tough. It's tough all the time, but it was especially tough during 2020. The idea that partners are kind of looking at the business thinking, "Oh, you're not really bringing in money. It's kind of what you do for fun." It's not a real business. How is this real? And it's a big topic because it's something that not only do we want to ensure that our significant others understand what we're doing as a business and have them on board with us, but it also is a really big confidence boost for us to know that they support us and understand what we're doing and to see us as a legitimate business.
0:01:21.8 JH: And when you're getting started inside of this business, you have to kind of make some big moves. You need to invest money in equipment and education. You have to spend time doing what looks to anyone else like play or like it's hobby activities, 'cause you're out scouting, you're out shooting, you're out making images, you're building a portfolio, you're working on a story. Weeks or even months might go by without a paycheck. But does that make you any less of a real business owner? When your job is not a typical nine-to-five with a paycheck every two weeks, it can be really hard for a spouse or a partner to understand what you're doing as real work.
0:02:01.7 JH: Well, I definitely have a little bit of experience in this, because my partner is someone who's supported me as I made the shift from someone with a full-time salaried position into being a business owner, a photography business owner. So we have someone very special here today, and that is my partner, Nick. And he has been with me from back when I had a full-time salaried job and decided to make that big leap into being a full-time professional photographer. And he's been with me while I made that transition. He's been with me as I worked on assignment photography. As I created workshops and launched them to teach other people. As I created my local photography tour company.
0:02:42.4 JH: He's been with me through thick and thin. And so he's gonna chime in today about what it's like to be the partner with someone who is either part-time or full-time going into photography as a business. And we're gonna talk through what some of those ups and the downs look like and strategies that you can use to talk with your partner or to bring your partner in on the business, so that they really understand it as essential to who you are and take it quite seriously. Take you seriously and support you in your endeavor as a business owner.
0:03:22.0 JH: Welcome to Impact: The Conservation Photography Podcast. I'm your host, Jaymi Heimbuch. And if you are a visual storyteller with a love for all things wild, then you're in the right place. From conservation to creativity, from business to marketing, and everything in between, this podcast is for you. The conservation visual storyteller who is ready to make an impact. Let's dive in.
0:03:55.4 JH: Well, Nick, it is kind of weird, but I'm welcoming you on to the show that you have watched me record many, many episodes of. And now you're actually a guest on it. Welcome to Impact: The Conservation Photography Podcast.
0:04:09.7 Nick: Hello.
0:04:13.0 JH: So Nick, I wanna start out by asking you kind of a super obvious question.
0:04:18.2 Nick: Okay.
0:04:18.3 JH: What is it that I do? [chuckle]
0:04:25.6 Nick: I don't... Yeah. It's weird. I've tried to explain it to a lot of people and I usually am just like, "I don't know exactly what it is that she does." Yeah, you have an online class and you have an online platform for people to interact with each other and learn from each other and... Stuff like that.
0:04:47.0 JH: I think that your answer is the most beautiful example of why we need to have this discussion in the first place. Because I think that no matter... Whatever type of photography business you run, if it doesn't look like something really standard, then it's really hard for a partner to even know what it is that you're doing during the day. Do you know what I do during the day?
0:05:13.7 Nick: Other than destroy your back, not really. That and not drink enough water. On a day-to-day basis, no. Just because sometimes I think I know what you're doing, but how many times do you not even follow your own daily planner?
0:05:32.5 JH: So we're about four years into our relationship.
0:05:38.9 Nick: A little past. Yes.
0:05:39.0 JH: A little past. And so that means it's about the four-year mark... No, it's about the three-year mark-ish. It was October of 2017 when I decided that I was gonna go full-time as a conservation photography business.
0:05:54.1 Nick: So we were like six months in.
0:05:56.6 JH: Yeah. About six months into our relationship. What did you think when I said, "Okay, I'm done my full-time job. I'm gonna do this other thing full-time." I'm gonna work for myself, full-time.
0:06:10.7 Nick: I said, "Yeah, go for it."
0:06:14.3 JH: Why was it so easy for you?
0:06:18.0 Nick: For multiple reasons. One, at the time, you were an online blogger, so you worked at your laptop anyway, so it was simply a matter of you went from working on your laptop for one thing to working on your laptop for another, it didn't really make a difference. But, I don't know, you seemed really sure of it. And knowing you, I knew you wouldn't to quit a day job with a steady paycheck unless you had some idea that you could continue on making money without it. I feel like were and are in a unique situation where... Then especially our living expenses were next to nothing because of where we were living, and what we do for fun. Once you get a kayak and a surfboard, then it's pretty much gas is all it costs us. So our overhead was so low that it didn't matter. Especially then, since we where still in a new relationship, but it continues on this way, other than a handful of things, our finances are separated. Yeah, it was your money you were playing with. And yeah, mostly it's just like, "Yeah, you had a good idea of what you were gonna do."
0:07:43.9 JH: Well, you said something that I definitely wanted to get to, because it's something that I talked about with the Wild Idea Lab members when we were talking about this whole issue. Like what do you do to get your partner to support you and be on board with you as a photography business and to really take it seriously. And one of the things that I mentioned is I brought you into the business conversation. So it wasn't just me inside my head running numbers, but I brought you into that and showed you, like, "Here's what my budget looks like." Here's what I'm planning. And sometimes it was just you like with the dazed look on your face politely nodding.
0:08:21.7 Nick: Oh yeah. For very long periods of time.
0:08:27.2 JH: But you were supportive in me vocalizing the plan.
0:08:30.7 Nick: Yeah.
0:08:31.6 JH: But in that you also heard the plan, so you knew that this was something that I was not messing around with.
0:08:37.7 Nick: No. And it also you... I think you'd be first to admit that it also helped you a lot because little minute parts that came up that enhanced the business. I think I was the one that suggested an Air-Pot so that you could have hot tea all day long. And just little extras. And our conversations have often done that, where you have a rough sketch of an idea and we take the dog for a walk and talk about it for an hour, and when we're done, you have a pretty clear idea. And then you can just sit down and write it all out. And it seems like you've smoothed out a lot of edges beforehand.
0:09:19.5 JH: Yeah, that is such a good point that I completely forgot about, is I love going to you and saying, "I've got this idea. I wanna do it this way. What do you think?" And then you start to bring up things that I wouldn't have thought about, or, you bring up ideas that I wouldn't have thought about. And one of the best things that we do is we... Yeah, we leash up the dog and we head out on a walk. And we usually... Whether we're talking about your business or we're talking about my business, we do some of our best thinking and kind of strategizing together when we're out walking. And you always bring something to the conversation that is a different way of thinking about it. Or you know my flaws and so you're like, "Well, if you wanna go that route, here's how I think your brain's gonna work. So here's how... You might run into these issues or whatever." And usually I come away from that conversation with a better idea because we talked it through together.
0:10:20.6 Nick: And it's good because it's not just you telling me, "Okay, I'm gonna go do this." So we don't end up with those conversations where it's not a conversation where you're just talking at me for 20 minutes, and I'm nodding my head. It's actually a conversation, and that makes it easier to continually wrap my head around what it is exactly you do.
0:10:46.7 JH: Yeah. Well, and I think another thing that makes us a little bit unique, but isn't necessarily entirely so for everyone, but we've actually worked together. I've brought you into the business as an employee, and sometimes... I'm gonna actually rewind slightly. We met on a boat and I was the photography tour leader, and you were the cook on the boat, and that was how we originally met.
0:11:10.9 Nick: The Snow Goose.
0:11:12.1 JH: The Snow Goose.
0:11:15.3 Nick: Alaska Tours. Let's give Dan, a little bit of a free shout out 'cause...
0:11:17.9 JH: Dan gets a shout out for sure. The Snow Goose is like... Even though I've only been on it a few times for tours, it feels like home. The Snow Goose was so rad, you were the cook at the... So 10 days or whatever it was of, basically, 24/7 with a small group of people on this small boat going through Alaska. Definitely got to know each other well and hang out. I got to know how great you are at cooking. And so, fast forward a couple of years. Well, now we're a couple and I'm running this workshop. And of course, I turn to you and hire you as the chef for these workshops, these seven and 10 day workshops I was running. So we're a little bit unique in that you've actually worked for me and have seen kind of the inner workings of some of the workshops that I've held. And so you've had some... So many people, you kinda go off and be a photographer and then come home. But I feel like for you, you've actually been in the thick of it with me.
0:12:15.4 Nick: Yeah. In that regard, when we were doing that, you basically went off and did work and I stayed at the house and made food. But I did see a lot more of it. I got to meet all of the students and I have gotten to hold light boxes for you on actual photo shoots.
0:12:37.8 JH: Yes. [chuckle]
0:12:38.5 Nick: So I've definitely seen what it is you actually do all day and I've got to lug around the long lens.
0:12:43.2 JH: Thank you for that. Yeah, we have quite a few behind the scenes photos of Nick looking really bored, holding soft boxes and reflectors and and various things for shoots.
0:12:53.7 Nick: Yeah, but I got to hold the Channel Island fox.
0:12:56.0 JH: That's true.
0:12:57.4 Nick: And he growled at me.
0:12:58.8 JH: Well, so I think that what we're talking about and getting it, that is one really critical key for bringing your spouse on board and helping them to see you as someone who's doing legitimate work inside a legitimate business is bringing them into the business itself. It doesn't have to be that you're bringing your spouse on and hiring them for something, but kinda looping them in. Going through things like discussions about how you wanna budget your money or what you want your next investment to be for your business. Or how you know you're going to get to X, Y, Z level in your business, and talking that through with them, I think is really important. What are some of the things that I do that kinda loop you in or help you to see what I do as this legitimate business and not just kind of...
0:13:47.6 Nick: You've shown me... Like if some of your students have been published and you would show me that. And you've definitely shown me a lot of their images. It's still just more talking because at the end of the day, it's an online business, so it's not like you can hand me something, I guess you could print out the photographs. Anyway, you do a lot to just inform me on what your students are doing, and mostly tell me a lot about what's next.
0:14:21.6 JH: What's coming down the pipe?
0:14:23.5 Nick: Mm-hmm.
0:14:24.6 JH: So I think that might lead us into the next part of it, which is what you do to make me feel supported. Because there's the side of the conversation where it's like, what can the photographer or the creative do for their partner to bring them into the loop and to help them understand what this looks like. But then there's also the side of it of what does that spouse or partner do to help the business owner, the photographer, the creative, feel supported in what it is that they're doing. And I think that this is something that's been a really interesting journey with us, 'cause there are so many things that you do that make me feel really supported.
0:15:02.2 Nick: And keep you alive.
0:15:06.0 Nick: I'm 100%, the reason you are not dead and being eaten by your dog right now, because I feed both of you on or regular basis.
0:15:16.1 JH: Yes. There's that.
0:15:16.7 Nick: I take just a little bit of credit for that.
0:15:17.9 JH: There's that, yes, indeed. Yes, that's a big part of it, because one of the things I shared with the Wild Idea Lab members when we were in this conversation is I was really sensitive when we first got together, because I worked from home... I've been working from home since 2008, and I was in a previous relationship before this where I kinda got a trigger. And that trigger was just because I'm working from home does not mean that I have time to do the laundry, to do the grocery shopping, to do the dishes. To basically do all the household chores that seem like they should be my job because I'm home. But I'm home because that's my office and I'm working. I might be sitting on the couch all day, but I'm working. And so I came into the relationship with that as kind of a trigger point. [chuckle]
0:16:07.9 Nick: A little bit. You had a little bit of your guard up.
0:16:13.0 JH: And I remember telling you, even though we were living in a cabin in the woods with no washing machine, and it meant basically hauling all of our stuff into town to the laundromat. And I was like, "Just because I work from home, does not mean I'm on laundry duty every day on the week."
0:16:26.9 Nick: And then you proceeded to do all the laundry.
0:16:28.0 JH: I did. I like getting it done.
0:16:31.8 Nick: Yeah. You can still do all the laundry if you want.
0:16:35.8 JH: That's okay, you were actually... I came out of the office. Now we live in a house where I have an office. And I came out earlier today and you were doing all the laundry, and I really appreciated that. But anyway, we're getting off topic. So to kind of reel us back in, it's that you've done a lot for me to make me feel really supported. And one of those things is feeding me. Like literally... I definitely have students and Wild Idea Lab members who have been on Zoom calls with me and see a plate just like magically lowered down in front of me.
0:17:08.7 JH: As you bring me my first meal of the day, which might be at like at 2:00 PM, because I just have not gotten around to eating yet that day. You've been really supportive in terms of the calendar. And this is a really touchy subject for a lot of people who have full-time photographers and spouses, where I might be gone for a month or... Like not so much anymore, but it used to be that I would be gone for three weeks in Africa or two weeks in Alaska or whatever, doing an assignment or leading a tour or exploring something on my own. And we were definitely apart for a while and I think that you were super supportive during that too.
0:17:51.8 Nick: Yeah, I guess that's... Not that I don't miss you when you're gone but that's not one I've ever really understood. I did spend a solid two-thirds of my 20s single, so that helped a lot. But I've always been pretty big on my independence. So when you're gone, it's just like, "Yeah, I'll just do what I want." I'd just lead my life.
0:18:15.6 JH: Yeah. And I mean, on the flip side, you've gone off for a month or six weeks to go be a cook on a boat in Alaska while I'm at home. So we're kind of used to; Yeah, sometimes our relationship means we're apart for long distances.
0:18:28.3 Nick: Yeah, I know some people's relationships don't really work like that.
0:18:35.4 JH: Alright, I'm gonna ask... We're getting into therapy session here, guys.
0:18:40.8 Nick: Should I go get the whiskey?
0:18:42.4 JH: Well, yeah, we're finishing our beers right now, but the only way I could convince them to do this interview is he has a giant stein of beer next to him, and he's already mostly done with it, so that he's got the courage to be recorded. But I would like to ask you... And with the caveat, I may edit some of this out.
0:19:06.8 Nick: Yes.
0:19:11.1 JH: Living with a person who runs their own business has some unique challenges, and one of those challenges is that I think a lot of people think that when they're gonna go into business for themselves, they have all this freedom, you set your own schedule and you figure out your next steps on your own and you're your own boss and all of those things. But really when it comes down to it, it means that you're working a lot harder than you probably ever thought you would. You're doing work that you didn't even realize you were gonna need to do. So many people envision photography is being, primarily being out with your camera, and that's a tiny fraction of what you actually are doing. And so I'm curious if you are willing to get into some of the kind of darker moments of working with someone who runs their own business and what that schedule can sometimes mean.
0:20:07.0 Nick: Yeah, sure.
0:20:11.2 JH: When has it been difficult?
0:20:17.9 Nick: Basically, when you don't do your share of the household things like... We have a very, I should say you... Now we have a very active herder dog who when he doesn't get walked for a few days in a row, lets you know it, but yeah, no, it's really just the little day-to-day things when you don't do your share of the grocery shopping. And there's other things that I would say haven't bugged me, but I could see them bugging other people. Yeah, we spent three years of our relationship living in one of two cabins, both of which were simply one room with a loft, so, we had no walls other than the exterior wall, so there literally was no door to close that we could be in separate rooms. So if I was listening to a podcast or watching TV, I did a lot of it with headphones on, and that doesn't bug me, but I could see how other people having to be so sensitive around the other person.
0:21:26.7 Nick: And for a while now, your Tuesdays have been very... Your on calls all day Tuesday, so I'm pretty much gotta dial that, "I need to feed you Tuesdays, I need to walk the dog Tuesdays, and I need to be quiet." And it's fine by me, it's one day a week. And until what? Two weeks ago, now that you have an office, that's really changed a lot, because you have an office, your work stays in the office, the door to the office closes at, between 4:00 and 6:00, depending on what you're doing and your day actually ends, and before then you used to continually just work until I told you dinner was ready. And especially in the summer, you know how itchy I get when it stays light out that it got really annoying to be like, "Hey, let's walk the dog, let's watch the sunset, let's do anything other than be in the house and you just kept working." So yeah, you've tried to have business hours for years and it never works, but I think having the actual office has really changed that. We'll see if it continues to change that. But so far, so good. I mean you have a very definite start time in the morning, and that's nice 'cause that's changed the mornings a lot.
0:22:56.0 JH: Yeah, I think that is one of the challenges, is the idea of a schedule that doesn't look very traditional and isn't always easy, because it means not necessarily overlapping with your partner. When I was running Org Coast photo tours, one of the big things was waking up at 3:00, 4:00 in the morning, getting everything ready and getting out the door for a tour, or if I wasn't giving a tour that morning, then I would be out scouting or something. And so basically running my life in very odd hours, and now that a lot of it is online, 'cause I'm doing so much online teaching, then it's... Yeah, computer work until later in the evening or.
0:23:40.5 JH: But I think the idea of figuring out scheduling in a way that makes a lot of sense for both partners is kind of a big one, and that's a big sticking point for... Especially if you're gonna go into assignment photography, where you might be gone for three weeks, a month, six weeks. That's a big challenge, especially if you have kids and you're gonna end up leaving like... I mean, granted, he's not a kid, he's a dog, but still it's a responsibility, he's quite a big handful of a dog, as he's a Border Collie healer mix. And when I went to Africa for three weeks, guess who's watching Niner. And when I wanted to do this or that or the other thing for three weeks, I'm leaving to go be a second shooter for a film project, and there's a week where I completely forgot to say, "Hey. So by the way, would you mind having the dog... " It was just to like, "yep, I'm the door, bye," and you have to remember to check in and just even acknowledge, "I'm gonna be gone for a week, and I understand that that puts these responsibilities fully on your shoulders. How do you feel about that?" Are there arrangements?
0:24:53.8 Nick: I think in this case, it was more you... What's the term? Genially accepting the ribbing I gave you when I pointed out the fact that you just assumed I would be watching the dog. You just went along with that one.
0:25:15.9 JH: There's a hardy amount of sarcasm, snark, all kinds of interesting conversation dynamics that happen between Nick and that I, that I think make sure that we keep things lighthearted even if we are handling something pretty serious. Do you ever look at what I do and think it's, "Oh, what a great hobby you've managed to turn into a business?"
0:25:41.7 Nick: No, but when we first met, you carried a camera around, just non-stop. So I never thought of it as a hobby, 'cause it was just so obnoxious, it couldn't have been a hobby. If it was, I would have dumped you about a week into it. I mean, the first time we went on a hike, we walked less than half a mile in 40 minutes, because she was taking so many photos, and there's a bunch of... You should actually share a couple of, the dog and I just looking so bored, 'cause we both wanted to just crank miles and you are sitting there with 50 pounds of camera gear on your back. And basically that was a real early idea of what I was signing up for dating a photographer.
0:26:36.5 JH: Well, and that's another really good point, is we actually had to have... Okay, we basically beta a thing, is this a Nick hike, or is this a Jamie hike? Because they're gonna look differently, and we have to agree on which type of hike this is, so the other behaves accordingly.
0:26:52.8 Nick: Yeah, but that's actually a very good metaphor for everything, is what are we doing, is it you or me, because I wanna go out and get some exercises and sweat a bit, and you wanna take crap tons of photos. So there's so many activities that it's like, what are we doing? But in general, it's just another conversation of what are we doing today, what's the goal? So, how do we pace it and what's expected of it.
0:27:30.6 JH: Yeah, I think I really wanna lead that into another element that requires the same thinking, which is our life together, we have to have the same thinking when it comes to that too. What's the goal? Where are we headed?
0:27:44.6 Nick: New Zealand.
0:27:47.6 JH: Because one of the big things that I think that you deal with too, that you're... I think this is where you show me a lot of support and where it could easily become something that is exhausting for the partner, but you go with me into the roller coaster that is stress about where the next paycheck is coming from and how much I'm gonna bring in and is it gonna be enough? And the ambition that comes with, well, I have these goals for the year, I wanna create this story, and then I never get to go shoot it because I'm working on other things to bring in a paycheck or how many times did I have to cobble together five leads on something to be able to have a paycheck. And I know that as me, as you said so clearly earlier, I'm very anal, I'm very aware of the plan ahead. And I think you...
0:28:41.4 Nick: You're a strategic planner.
0:28:45.0 JH: I am. And you go into that with me and you let me be stressed to a degree. I think that there's definitely points in time where you have just been like, "Okay, enough. If you're this stressed out, why are you doing this?"
0:29:02.0 Nick: Yeah, it's just an endurance run. Yeah, it's hard to sit there watching you be so hard on yourself.
0:29:13.8 JH: So, one of the things I wanna come back to, because I think that this is a really important point for a lot of couples, is money. And we're in a little bit of a unique situation in that I'm just very particular in that I have my own money, it's just separate. We have separate accounts for our stuff, and actually I'm gonna be getting into an entire podcast episode where I break down the dozen or so accounts that I have, because I'm very strategic with how money is funneled to ensure that there's always a cushion and there's always a safety net somewhere. But money is a pretty big deal, and while we're in a little bit of a unique situation in that our accounts are separate, a lot of people have a joint account. And even though ours are separate, I feel like money is still something that we talk quite a bit about. I'm always telling you where I'm at on my budget and how much I have to contribute this month, and so on and so forth. When it comes to photography, the investment that needs to be made on equipment and education and travel, it can be significant, and it's something that you have to...
0:30:25.1 Nick: It's huge.
0:30:27.7 JH: And it's something that you have to discuss with a partner. So, what have been some of the ways that we've navigated that, where we talk about the investment that needs to get made and why?
0:30:38.9 Nick: You do the same thing I do where I... Every time a new course you wanna take comes up, it's the same thing when I mentioned there's another surf board I wanna buy, and it's just kind of... I'm not necessarily asking your permission, but I'm kind of voicing "is this stupid?" And much on the same way that I'm like, "Well, this board will fit these ways," you're like, "Well, this course will teach me this, this, and this, or to help me perfect that," and it's the same as anything. It's basically us just running ideas by each other, not for permission, but simply clarification of whether or not we're doing some stupid, 'cause you've had a couple multiple courses where you're like, it teaches me this, but it's $4000.
0:31:31.9 Nick: But on the other hand, I don't even know how much you've spent on things, learning to do what you do, but just like the camera gear or anything, it's all an investment in yourself, and you're not beating around the bush at all. From the first time we talked about the expense of your camera gear, it became very apparent that while this is a gratifying job you've got into, it is not a cheap buy-in, and for anyone thinking about this, I really think sitting down and running some numbers and just... That 50-pound bag of camera gear you were toting around, I soon learned how much it cost, and I was like, that's one of two camera bags full of gear, and you don't consider yourself to have that full of a kit, and then there's the computer and the editing and the light boxes. And that's all for still photography, and then you wanna talk about video, and then you wanna talk about sound and... Yeah.
0:32:45.7 JH: Yeah, I think that's the big...
0:32:47.4 Nick: Sorry, that was a bit of a rant.
0:32:49.0 JH: That's the big kind of... I think where probably a lot of people get hung up, is if you're trying to do this as a business, the hard part is in terms of seeing it as a real business and seeing it as something that's like legit, that you're really going for, is you have to have a profit. And in photography, you have to work really hard to have a profit within the first couple of years, because a lot of it is establishing your kit, and it's establishing your education and what you know in order to have everything that you need to go out and make a profit. And so when your spouse is watching you drop 1000 here, 5000 there, whatever it is, on equipment and education, that can really add up. I remember what your face looked like the first time, you were like, "I think I might wanna spend $700 on a surf board," and I was like, "Oh, you're cute. Would you like me to walk you through how much this... This lens is like $700... " And it was like I had to teach you... Not "I had to teach you," that sounds really condescending.
0:33:50.9 Nick: Show me.
0:33:51.7 JH: But yeah, I showed you the difference in thinking about numbers that happens in the photographer mindset versus the average person mindset. Because in the photographer mindset, add two zeros and now you're in the realm of whatever that cost may be to what you think might be a normal price for something.
0:34:12.4 Nick: Yeah, there's also... You wanna think about the offset of... You sold a couple of photos, and you show me how much you make on that. And granted, bigger price sales aren't as often, but you get them and it's just like, "Oh well, that pays for your lens," "that paid for your course," "that paid for this, that and the other," not to mention, depending on where it's published and what it's published with, and it could actually be doing some good in the world, and that's measurable. And then there's a simple fact that it makes you really happy and it gets you out in the woods, and it fulfills a big part of your life and what's that really worth? End of the day, to bring it once again back to boards, I always offset what's the price of this board versus how many more times a year am I gonna get in the water because of it? And that's just a no-brainer, that it's you get to go do this thing. To go on a complete tangent, that was a big part of... When you went into business for yourself, you'd already started doing the tracking courses, and I think you had started... Did you start doing the sit spot?
0:35:46.3 JH: Yeah. That was what I was doing when I launched the local photography tour.
0:35:51.2 Nick: Yeah. So, I was just so happy that you were putting your computer down and you're like, "I literally go and I sit in one spot of the woods for two hours, so that wildlife will acclimate and then go back to doing what it wants to do." And I was just like, "Great, you're out enjoying your life." And with the tour is you had to spend so much time exploring so that you could then lead tours, and granted, you didn't bring the dog with you a lot of that 'cause you didn't want them to scare all the birds. Which I got, but still. But yeah, it was, for me, it was a really easy yes, 'cause it was like, "Well, okay, you're either gonna sit in front of the computer hating your life or you're gonna go walk around the woods for hours at a time as research."
0:36:43.2 JH: Yeah, you say that like, "Oh yeah, it's research" but I know you...
0:36:49.4 Nick: No, it's totally research.
0:36:50.5 JH: Yeah, and that's the thing is, I know you and you fully support that this is legitimately research. But we're getting on to a touchy subject right now, which is that a lot of people look at that and say, "But that's play? That's not real work, that's not research," but it is, and that's what makes the tours possible and successful.
0:37:13.1 Nick: And photography successful, how are you supposed to take pictures of something if you don't know anything about it?
0:37:18.2 JH: I mean, I think that the concept of this is, it's research in the fullest, most critical sense of the word, it is research. And so even though it's really enjoyable, wonderful research, I think the fact that you support that and know that that research leads to pay checks, leads to business success, leads to excelling at your work, I think that that's a huge part of being a really supportive partner inside of this. And what are some of the ways that... Other than the fact that we're just on the same wavelength anyway, about spending time in nature, what are some of the ways that I helped you you understand that I wasn't just off messing around in the woods doing nothing, but I was really growing?
0:38:13.5 Nick: When you did your sit spot, you always kept a pretty detailed journal, so you have some stories of like, "Oh a chipmunk yelled at me for an hour straight, or two eagles have been hunting for the last month and I see them every day, or a tree fell right where I usually sit, so, I'm glad I wasn't sitting there." And then there is the overwhelming amount of photos you show me where you go out in an hour, you shoot a couple hundred photos and then show them all to me.
0:38:51.3 JH: And you do sit quite nicely through the show and tell.
0:38:55.3 Nick: Sometimes, yes.
0:38:55.3 JH: And then this happened, and then this happened, and then this happened. So, alright, I've got one more question for you. For any listener out there who is trying to start the photography business and they have a spouse who's just like, "I see what you wanna do, but it seems like a hobby. Not really. Is this real? Is this an actual business? Because it seems like you go out and play." Do you have any experience, earned words of wisdom that can help that spouse understand a little bit more about what their creative partner is trying to accomplish?
0:39:30.7 Nick: Always smile and nod.
0:39:31.5 JH: Oh my God, really?
0:39:33.6 Nick: Yep. No, quite honestly, because there have been so many times, and I do pay attention, but there have been so many times where you just hit me with so much verbal vomit of what is going on and you don't actually need me to come back with a viable... You're not looking for an answer, you're just telling me, and you simply want someone to listen and appreciate, and that's fair, all of us do. And there's plenty of times where we have very real deep conversations too. But honestly, yeah, the smile and nod isn't a bad approach.
0:40:20.2 JH: Okay, so let me rephrase it then. Do you have words of wisdom to help them feel confidence in their partner, that what their partner is doing as a creative business owner is legit?
0:40:38.7 Nick: It's a cliche saying, "Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life." And it's like, yeah, these people are playing. And there's no ifs, ands, or buts. Like you come home with photos of otters, and it's just like, that was your work for the day, you watch otters play for two hours. I wish I got to just sit around and see watch otters play. But on the other hand, it's like, yeah, one of us made a very good decision because one of us went and painted a house, and the other one went and watched otters play, and one of us got paid more, let alone getting paid.
0:41:19.9 Nick: I think just be realistic though, it's a job, and so, you need to treat it like that and the photographer needs to be realistic, you need to... Like I said, you need to have your eyes open. This is gonna cost me X to get into, this is gonna cost me this much time, how am I actually gonna make any of this money back, am I gonna make a profit? But at the same point too, it's simply a matter of, depending on your scenario, situations in life, if you're about to be evicted for not being able to pay rent, maybe you should rethink what you're doing, but if you can afford it then why not? You let me do a lot of dumb stuff, I figure I can let you do some stuff too. So basically no, I don't have a very good answer.
0:42:19.3 JH: I think that might be one of the reasons why I feel really lucky that we are partners in this, because you understand the creativeness, you understand that work can be play, and play and work can be one and the same, and you also take in stride some of the darker moments, because there are many. If you're going into this as a profession, there's gonna be a lot of low points and really scary points and points where you're looking at the numbers and they don't feel like they're gonna work out, and so you're hustling and then that means a lot of time spent outside, a lot of time spent buying the computer. And I think that it's really great that you understand that the reward that is the play time is what you're working toward.
0:43:17.6 Nick: Also if it's a significant other that you're dealing with, date nights.
0:43:24.4 JH: Oh yes. Date nights.
0:43:30.1 Nick: Granted, COVID has kind of run amok with them, but we used to have, I think every two weeks, every week, every week to two weeks, we had a date night and it was big and keeping us as an actual couple and not just room-mates.
0:43:42.7 JH: Yeah, and let's give some perspective on what big to us means. We would take 40 bucks and go down to one of our favorite Mexican restaurants and have margaritas and Fajitas and walk there and walk home and be a little tipsy and have fun, or we would take 40 bucks and not even and the cribbage board, and we would go down to our favorite bar and play cribbage for a couple of hours over beers. It doesn't have to be big and fancy, but it is just us. Just us enjoying time. Just us.
0:44:15.6 Nick: Yeah, we got dressed up and went to Sushi and looked very out of place.
0:44:18.9 JH: Oh my God, that was so much fun.
0:44:21.6 Nick: It's just something that it's like, "No, no, we're special to each other." Yeah, anyway, the point is, it doesn't have to be big, it's just simply a matter of like tonight is us, you didn't talk about photography, I didn't talk about whatever annoying client I got to deal with that day. It was we unwound and spent time with each other, and that was that.
0:44:45.3 JH: I feel like date nights fix all wrongs.
0:44:49.7 Nick: They fix a lot of them.
0:44:54.0 JH: Well, thank you Nick, for being a very supportive partner going through the ups and downs with me alongside me, being the type of partner who very clearly lets me know when it's a down moment and then working through that together. I think that our ability to talk through a lot of these situations is what has kept us going. And thank you for finishing about three beers in order to come on to this episode and talk with me, because I know that you can be a little bit self-conscious when it comes to this stuff. But I appreciate you being so open about it. Thank you.
0:45:32.5 Nick: No problem.
0:45:38.6 JH: Before we wrap up, I would love to ask you to do one quick thing, subscribe to this podcast. As a subscriber, you'll not only know when each week's episode goes live, but you'll also get insider goodies, like bonus episodes, you might miss them unless you're subscribed and I don't want you to miss out on a thing. So please tap that Subscribe button and I will talk to you next week.
Get all the good things delivered!
How-to action plans, expert interviews, behind-the-scenes insights & more delivered weekly.