💯 💯 💯 "It's not about the gear at all in any way. No one's gonna hire you because you had a 600, no one's gonna hire you because you have a phase one, but both those you can rent, right? So if the client comes to you and says, Hey, I need you to shoot and you think at that point that the lens is needed, you rent it, but you shouldn't be having a $12k - $15k lens, sitting in your arsenal that you only use sparingly."
EP 43: If you ask any professional what the most important traits and habits are to succeeding in their industry, you may get a lot of different answers, and they're all going to be valid. From my perspective, when you have the opportunity to sit down with a creative who has a lot more experience than you, try and absorb everything. Today we make an in-person studio visit with photographer, Matt Brown, to discuss what he sees as the biggest issues plaguing young and green creatives entering the industry.
*Part 2 of this conversation will be featured on Matt's podcast, Just a Good Conversation, available on all major podcasting platforms.
Podcast: Just a Good Conversation / @justagoodconversation
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Michael Der 0:02
You're listening to Artrepreneurs, a podcast that inspires photographers and visual artists to live their best creative lives. My name is Michael Der and I am a full time photographer with nearly 10 years of experience in the freelancing world. And I'm sitting down with an amazing community of visual artists to talk about process, business, and the lessons that have helped them grow. So let's get to it. Entrepreneurs starts right now.
Alright, what is up everybody? Welcome back to Artrepreneurs. It is your host Michael Der and today we are launching part one of a crossover episode with the just a good conversation podcast hosted by our good friend and photographer Matt Brown. So today we're gonna be talking to Matt about the 10 things all photographers should know. Well, I will be giving my 10 tips on his podcast in part two. So I hope you check that out. Again, it's called just a good conversation. And it can be found on all major podcasting platforms with the same Instagram handle. Now what stands out to me about Matt's career is that it is truly rich in diversity. His work has been so many projects for commercial editorial and athletic clients that it has really formed an impression on me on what a true creative looks like. So you can find his work at Matt Brown photo calm, and on Instagram at five brown crew. So it's an absolute thrill to feature him on my podcast. But I am equally as honored to be featured on his as well, which we launching in the upcoming weeks. So be on the lookout for that. Now, for the faithful listeners of this show, you're going to notice that the style of conversation is gonna be slightly different than the interviews I've conducted in the past. And that is because this really isn't an interview at all. It's really a couple colleagues sitting down and riffing about the industry and the actions needed to succeed in it. So if that sounds like your jam, if you want to listen to a couple of photographers talking shop on the reel, pour yourself a cup of hot Joe, relax, and enjoy this episode. Here's my conversation with our dear friend Matt Brown.
All right, so welcome back to Artrepreneurs, we are lucky to have Matt Brown fellow colleague, fellow podcaster into the studio. Welcome, Matt. Thanks for being here.
Matt Brown 2:04
Thank you, Michael, for having me.
Michael Der 2:05
Yeah, I appreciate it. It's nice to be face to face with somebody for the first time in a long time. I think it's been like 16-18 months. Since I've had a conversation with face to face for podcast. Everything's been zoom.
Matt Brown 2:15
Oh, it's brutal. It is it's a rough one. It's so much better this way. It really is. You get to engage with people, you get to kind of read the room. Oh, absolutely. It's way better. Yeah.
Michael Der 2:25
So we have a lot to talk about today a lot. And I love this conversation, because it's about the 10 things that you and I both think every photographer should know. Love God. Yes. And I don't even know where to start. So I'll just kick things off with you.
Matt Brown 2:39
Yeah, just throw it up in the air. Because, yeah, exactly. We should just tell people get a hot cup of Joe, get a blanket sit down on fire. That's right, we get ready to go.
Michael Der 2:49
So before we get into number one, what made you want to broach this topic? What what was about it that made you say, every photographer really needs to know these things.
Matt Brown 2:59
I was in a zoom meeting for a photo journalism class. And I was shocked how unprepared they are already in college, and how they're in denial of how unprepared they are.
Michael Der 3:11
And what do you mean by unprepared? In what way artistically business wise communication wise, where do you want to go?
Matt Brown 3:19
So because it was a zoom meeting, there were 18 people in the class. I'm a guest in your class. Not one person had their camera on.
Okay, I don't care. If you don't want to work. I know the school tells you you don't have to. But if you want to be disrespectful that way to your professor fine. But if a guest comes on Yeah, I think that's disrespectful. Now, let's say you're driving, you're doing dialysis. Whatever, I'll give you that. But now I come on, I talk to you. And I ask a question. 18 people? Nobody says it's just dead silence. dead silence. Yeah. Like, I'm here to help you. And you don't want to talk. Like what am I doing? So I turned it really quick and made it kind of hostile. And I'm like, okay, like, Listen, I'm a director of photography. And I know, Jay has told you guys, you have an assignment. Now I'm going to call on each one of your emojis. And you're going to pitch me your idea. And I'm going to be very hostile because our space is limited in the magazine. And so go and I was like Jose, Deborah, Jim Kelly. And it was like pulling teeth to get them to communicate your any photojournalism class, and you're having a hard time communicating. How are you going to work? Yeah. How are you going to get your ideas to a client? How are you going to get a subject to do what you want? How are you going to get your assistant to do things like if you're already having trouble or you're embarrassed or shy? Like, stop, reassess. Try to figure out what the hell you're going to do in life because this is really basic. Yeah, talking and it's a skill. It's completely lost.
Michael Der 4:56
Yeah, I mean, visual mediums are great because it allowshave the opportunity to not speak all the time. But you still have to communicate with people, like you said, to get your ideas across to ask for what your ideas are. What are the deliverables? What are you looking for?
Matt Brown 5:11
Whether it's in this is photojournalism, but maybe it's working for a brand. You want to know that stuff, right? How can you work a story with a reporter? You guys can't communicate?
Michael Der 5:20
And wouldn't you be naturally inquisitive? To say, Okay, we have a guest coming in? Well, I'm going to have 10 or 15 questions lined up?
Matt Brown 5:27
Yeah, ready to go. And I do a lot with J in this class, and a lot of other ones around the country, especially during the pandemic, I was on a lot of zoom meetings, helping out people. And I was shocked how many college kids don't ask questions, why not, you're not charging your forum, right? They're free. And I'm giving you all kinds of great advice, I am here to help. I am trying to get you, if not weeks, months, or semesters or years ahead, but I can't if you just clam up, and don't communicate to me, like, I can't help you. So that's when, you know, I know we talked about this on the phone a couple more weeks ago, like I'm driving my ideas flying. I'm like, Oh, I gotta get a hold of Mike, we're gonna do a dual podcast, and we're just going to bounce raving lunatic ideas that are very simple for people to understand. And I don't understand why they don't Yeah. And the reality is, we could have had a list of 100 different things, she's, you know, we could get really granular we could really get into the weeds of it. If we call in show we could be here for four days. I mean, it's really it's so amazing how, how simple some of these things are, and to 99% of the people we know and don't know, you know, because there's a lot more people we don't know, that are just that's true hiding in the dark. They're terrified of these questions.
Michael Der 6:48
And what I love about this concept here, this list, I mean, our mutual friend of ours, Michael Goulding, I know who's dear person to you, he gave me one of the best questions that I've ever had, which was, what makes a photographer a pro, other than just making great pictures, which a lot of this is going to be going down that road. Yeah, like, because it's, obviously you need to know how to make a good picture. That's how you're gonna get hired and a lot of ways, but what else is there? So I think that's a great place to start off, let's kick things off with whatever comes to mind, you can go in order of what you wanted to talk about. But what's the first thing that every photographer you think should know,
Matt Brown 7:22
marketing and being proactive. Like, why do you think because you have an Instagram, that people are going to find you as if there's only 12 Instagram people in the whole world? I don't know what the exact number is, let's just say a round number of a billion. Yeah. How are you standing out? Yeah, because you're the best pro photographer. Okay, so that will sliver that down to 50,000 of the billion. You're the best 50,000 what separates you from the rest? That's not a marketing tool that you live and die on? And so many do, you can go for hours on what makes great marketing, but not being proactive will kill you. Right? And there's a lot of photographers that don't understand the difference between passive and aggressive when it comes to marketing.
Michael Der 8:09
Yeah, I wouldn't even say it's a photography tip. It's a life principle, like, and most of these things for me are our life principles. Like I would put this up there. You know, some people might say, love thy neighbor or something like that. This these things are important to me, not just from photography, and a business standpoint, but from life in general. If you want something, and you just wait around to have somebody come to you and say, Hey, we want you man, that really that game only applies for a few people.
Matt Brown 8:38
Oh, yeah. That's basically how most photographers market sitting quietly in the room waiting for clients to bang down their door and just write him checks. Yeah, that's not the way to go about it. You've got to be the billboard on 40 freeway off and needles screaming in bright neon lights like I'm the best and here's why not because you just post some photos on Instagram. Yeah, that's not it. There's a huge understanding of how marketing works. And one sliver of that strategy does not always get the fish got to do multiple things.
Michael Der 9:17
So what has worked for you in terms of marketing? I mean, social media is probably the first thing that comes to mind when anybody says Hey, what's your marketing strategy? And they say, Well, I'm on Instagram or on Twitter on Facebook, right? What what has worked for you what hasn't worked for you?
Matt Brown 9:30
So I'm pre social media in my career. So those principles when I was younger, because I am full time now job, but I still understand these principles. And I still mentor people in this is doing mail flyers getting out media briefs, like you have to look at yourself as a multiple conglomerate Corporation. You're a business so you don't just advertise in a magazine. If you're Ford. You do commercials
You do door knockers, you do radio sponsors, you're on a podcast endorsing one if they've Ford's listening, call it Michael Der get him a sponsor on the podcast, like, but that's how it works like you're all over the place. So for me, I used to do mailers, and I'd spit out stuff and I'd send that out to everybody I want to work with, to the point where I would go to God, I'm trying to take what was before Barnes and Noble, whatever bookstore there was, and I would write down who the creative director was, find out where that building was, and I would send them a postcard with a photo of mine on it and a handwritten letter, I would call call, I would then send out my book, I would then, you know, when social media came about, a lot of guys use contests as marketing, I did a ton of contests early in my career, because that was then getting your name in front of photo editors, judges who are judging the contest and be like, oh, wow, look at that great photo, Michael took, you know, you know, when he was in Bosnia, and I were going to get him to do work for Newsweek for us like those, those kind of happened for people, I judged, international national contest where I've seen people's work, and I'm like, I'll take notes, like, Who was that guy? Oh, yeah. Josh Barber, I'm gonna hire that guy. It was great work at the community level, I'm going to give them a chance to doing it at this level. So that's one way. Again, though, knowing that some contests are very bad, and they absorb your rights. But you have to do something, and then keep doing a lot more than that. There's some people that do nothing. Yeah. And I don't think doing social media is the starting point. I think that's the back end desert, like Instagram. So easy. If you're 19. Now, you've probably been on Instagram now for seven years, maybe. Right? So you got seven years of backlog. So your Instagrams when you're like, 1213? That's probably a lot of crap. Yeah. So now any of your social media has to be a business platform, and a personal platform. And people forget that. Right? So the Michael Der skating around with his 12 year old buddies, and the sewer when he was 12. People don't want to look at that, right? So there has to be a Michael Der photo, or visual curaytor. Instagram, where that's only your work. And that's where your clients go to look at your stuff, not all your junk. And like this is you and your friends out on a weekend. Here's your photo of a burrito. And then here's four days of like, work. Got to keep it straightforward. All right, target your audience.
Michael Der 12:29
Now, because you've done a lot of classes in terms of going to schools other than zoom or in person, you've obviously been a host of a workshop for a number of years, right? you've hired people, you've probably fired people. You've seen a lot of interns come around whatever it is. Is this what they're doing? is social media really like the forefront of what their marketing experience is? Are you seeing that?
Matt Brown 12:50
Yes. Okay. Yeah, especially and I got on the hiring committee where I'm at here at work, we look and you know, people will post you know, for hiring like a production coordinator, and they'll put on there like, Oh, yeah, my you can see some of my work on Instagram, and you're just like, Oh, my God. Okay. Yeah, I find it but the first four swipes up, are you and your bachelor weekend? Yeah, in Vegas. And I'm like, you know, come on, separate to do yeah, I don't care that you're, you know, on top of a pink flamingo in a pool in Palm Springs. I want to see the work you've done, right? Be professional in what you do. If you show up and flip flops, you know, to an interview and a tank top? That's not a good look, right? You got to be the part all the time people don't understand their marketing is them. And if it's a bad Look, it's bad marketing.
Michael Der 13:43
Is there a way that you can make social media more proactive? what's the what's the more assertive way to do that?
Matt Brown 13:51
I think you got to be clever. I think you've got to have it like a campaign, you got to start out if you don't understand how creative campaigns work, then you need to look it up, take a class, figure it out. But you need to do it as a multifaceted so if you're gonna send out your your mailers, your flyers, your postcards, whatever, have that match your social media. So when they do get that postcard, they're also then looking at the same kind of campaign that's on that postcard consistency. Yeah, so it matches. So if you're trying to go after, let's say for and you send out a cool photo, you took them a Ford, they should look in the next couple of weeks and see a bunch of car photos, they shouldn't see a bunch of surfing photos. That's going to be confusing to them by and let's be very honest, time is very valuable. So today, does that art director, creative director, that photo coordinator, whoever's in looking at your stuff that they got, they want to sit there and scroll for 15 minutes to your Instagram? No, they don't. Because you think you're the only person that sent them an inquiry into a job. So I might give you two or three minutes and if you haven't caught my eye, I'm gone because that's all you get in in to be pretty impressive in a job. It's foolish.
If you don't even take marketing classes as a creative, because you need to understand how it works, and how that side desires, imagery, like the way photographers want to shoot stuff and the way marketing utilizes things are a little bit different. So you need to understand like, what sales wants, what's marketing wants, what your creative director wants, like, there's a lot of different wants, yes, salt. There's not just one kind of salt. Someone told me that very early in my career, there's a lot of different salts, I could just hand you salt. But there's a lot of different ones. And it's like that working with an agency, like there's a lot of different needs. So whatever way you shoot one photo, that might not work for sales. So we're good. Right?
Michael Der 15:41
Now what, what else in business do you think is maybe not covered? either in the schools or by the parents or whatever it might be? What else in business do you think really needs to be drawn attention to?
Matt Brown 15:54
What do you want to start? Honestly, I do know that like, everything, yeah, everything is not covered, taxes, the understanding of where money goes, your ins, your out flow, like, just simple basics of when you buy gear, it's a write off. Yeah, right. But you can only write so much off. So you can't spend 100,000 be like I'm writing all off. It's free. doesn't work that way. But you have to hit a certain amount, you got to make a certain amount. I mean, there's that mountain is so big, but you need to start. And I think that's the most important class you can take, I believe, you don't even need to take that many photo classes. But you need to take more business classes. Yeah, let's say you go to Cal State San Bernardino, I'm just gonna say they don't have a lot of photo classes, maybe they got to, and their art department too, because they don't even have a media. But you can take a lot of those other courses at a workshop. You can take it at, you know, you can learn stuff on YouTube, you can learn from friends, anything else, but you're not going to learn business, as well on YouTube from your friend, as you are sitting there getting all the principles in a business class.
Michael Der 17:06
And you know why that is, I think, is that business is is difficult, like a lot of it is pretty complicated, at least for me is this. And I think a lot of creatives they try to skirt by by saying I'm going to go to a creative field because I'm not good at x y&z in business. Well, that's why you need to take those courses. And you need somebody that's not a YouTube University type of thing sometimes to understand actual tax laws. You have personal finance, which are two different things. Yeah, people sometimes coincide them as the same thing. They're not No, you know, reading contracts, there's so many areas there that I think need attention, but we don't give it to them. Is that the responsibility of the school? Or is it the responsibility? On the parents?
Matt Brown 17:46
It's both. It's the responsibility of the parents like no, no parents should not be teaching their kids business, you should be sitting down with your kids and explaining to them like, let's say, Johnny's got a summer job, he works. He's 15 and a half, he's got his permit, and he works down at the local movie theater, you should explain to him he needs to make a certain amount and he doesn't have to pay taxes. But once he does this, the amount and he's going to get taxed. And why explain the why. Too often, we don't explain the why that's the most important leadership skill to have. Whether you're teaching a team of two or 200, when my taxes come up, at the end of the year, or my kids will say, oh, let's go there you go, let's go here. I'll explain to you like we can't, because that's that's $8,000 trip to go to Hawaii. Yeah, and I'm not going to spend $8,000 for seven days to do this, this and this, when we can go to Palm Springs for the weekend for you know, $900 or we could stay home, save that money, buy, you know, Amazon stock and watch it now become 15,000. Like, I'll explain that kind of stuff. And I think so yeah, it sits on the parents. But then I also think it sits on the school slash department like there's, I don't like the way the schools have developed apartments where if you're a photographer, and you're taking classes like Cal State Fullerton, you got to take graphic arts, you got to take, you know, an art class, but then you got to take Women's Studies and a diversity class, and you got to take PE and you got to take all but nobody says you have to take finances and business. Yeah, like, you take tennis, but you don't have to take business classes, right?
Michael Der 19:24
And here's what kind of drives me insane is that not everybody in life is going to engage with pre Civil War history, whatever, right? But every single person is going to engage with money forever, right? Why wouldn't it be a critical role to understand money and understand debt understand credit, as well as just your the jobs that you're gonna actually go into the field with?
Matt Brown 19:51
You're paying money to go to school, that's the first thing that should be explained to you. It's, it's costing you how much x y and z and oh, you took a loan. So x, y, z is gonna cost Even more. So that $10,000 a year college tuition now just cost you $18,000. Well, why? And let me explain to you the why. None of that's explained. And it's so frustrating irritates the hell out of me the way school is laid out for kids.
Michael Der 20:16
who taught you business?
Matt Brown 20:18
both of my parents have bladed degrees. Yeah. So my dad was, was an absolute stickler in it where we got $1 allowance, and he would give it to us. And my brother, we wanted a bump in our allowance, one, two bucks. And we went to my dad, and he said, Okay, you got to read, write me a proposal on why you should get this dollar raise a 50% raise, it was even $1 he used the terms like, you want a 50% bump in pay.
Michael Der 20:45
And how old are you at this time?
Matt Brown 20:46
Eight, eight. Yeah, right. So let's say you went to your boss right now. And you're making someone's listening this podcast and they're making, I'm making $40,000 a year, if you went to your boss and said, I want a 50 cent bump and pay now you want to go to 96,000 bucks, that's a big jump. So going to my dad and tell him we want a bump of 50% we had to write him a proposal, we wrote him like, you know, we're eight, so we're not that bright. We're like, we're going to clean our room faster, we're gonna, you know, pick up more grass and weeds and better and we brought it to him. And he's like, not good enough. Right? Another one, all you're telling me is you're gonna do the same thing a little bit better, you're not going to do anything more. Right? If you want to make more money, you got to do more. That was like an eight. That was a first business like experience. For me. It's still an applicable lesson to adults, you can be 38. And sometimes you need a kick in the ass to say, Hey, listen, you are in a service based industry, which most are? Yes, right. And Creative Arts. That's what it is. Yeah, you have to serve your client. And if you want that extra 25% on top, if you want to double your income without getting more clients, well, you're gonna have to say I have to up my value, right? Just because your mom says your photos are really good does not mean that you should make 50% more, right? Are you doing more than the next guy? And better, right? Because more doesn't mean better. Always. Yeah. So are you doing more better? And if you're not, you're not going to get that. And so for us, when we came back with a second proposal, we wrote all these things down. That was our first step, when we got the $2 bump and pay
Michael Der 22:22
all of these things to in business marketing. They're still fluid. There are some things that are foundational, yes. But there's a lot that has changed over the course of time as well. So you're seeing marketing trends change, and you have to like evolve, right? So you can't be taught necessarily the same marketing class from 2005. Right?
Matt Brown 22:41
Now, it doesn't apply. There's jobs today that if someone would have told me in 1990, would exist a social media content creator? What does that mean? Yeah, or content producer, content strategist, right? What the hell, but I heard him talk the lead the person in charge of social media for at&t, like their salary was like $650,000. Like that, that job didn't even exist. Now that person is making over half a million dollars. Like, it's crazy how things fluctuate and change, but that's just the way it is. If you just left me alone, let me take pictures, I'd be fine. But I spend a lot of time doing backend work that never evolves the camera, but that's the way the industry is. And I've got a full time job. And I'm the one in charge of casting scouting, product placement right now on stylists, like you got to know all those things. I gotta be able to purchase stuff. Get it here shipping. What's our budget? Keep it
Michael Der 23:41
I was just gonna say go over. Right? Yeah. You have to know how to manage a budget. Yeah, I don't know what budgets are sometimes.
Matt Brown 23:46
Yeah, we just did a big shoot Now lay. And our budget was I think a you know what I don't think it was it was 80 $500 for two days. So I had to budget for our city permit food and catering, casting two nights in a hotel because we stayed the night before three of us in hotel stay at the Westin per diems that day, mileage tips, parking, all that stuff, and we had to hit a mark. And if we went over there better be a damn good reason. Yeah. And it doesn't even matter. If you're a full time employee with like AP, or you're a freelancer, there's still expenditures and money going in and out, you still need to know where your money's going. And you know, you don't want to let's say you're you're at AP your their full time staff where you get benefits of salary check comes every two weeks. That still doesn't mean it's all taken care of. You got to be able to say, Okay, so how am I going to handle my 401k? How am I going to handle my finances on my own, I'm not going to rely on AP to deal with my future and my social security and my finances. I want to be able to be in control of that. There's a lot of even staffers to just throw up their arms and be like, well, I'm going to be taken care of, because I got I got a 401k that doesn't mean anything back at all.
get wiped out as you can, you'll fast Yeah, real fast, you're not in control of that. It's just because you take maybe 2% or 3% and dump it in and someone matches it. But that doesn't mean it's gold. You know, you could have a crash like oh eight or, you know, we could have a downturn prices rising through the roof right now, that can all get eaten away before you ever see a bit of that 401k. I like to handle my finances myself, like, I would love to have my Social Security myself. I hate the fact that that government gets it and they think they can do a better job, because I guarantee you they didn't invest any of my social security in Amazon last January and watched it go up twice, right? Yeah, yeah, I would have loved money on my own.
Michael Der 25:39
Is there something that sticks out to you in terms of like, Man, I wish I knew this specific aspect of business that really could have saved me, either pain, suffering, money, whatever it might have been a client, what stands out to you in terms of your experiences that you kind of wish you had known beforehand, and then you had to learn it after the fact?
Matt Brown 26:00
the money side of the business? That's always been, I've been very good at because it was very much drilled into us. So I think the part I would have liked to have been better early in my career is to understand how businesses work their businesses, right, right, because every business operates different like the way ESPN early in the magazine operated compared to si was totally different because ESPN had Disney money, and they would throw crazy money at stuff. And they were trying to kill si and si didn't counter si stayed in its lane, and did the same old thing. And it hurt them. And they didn't evolve. And so they were getting destroyed because they looked like the same old thing because they were doing that see's candy kind of thing. Like our chocolates really good. We're not going to change our boxes white or lettering is the same font and the like, as you do and you don't if you don't well, see's candy. We're the one and si is done. Yeah, like, right. But somehow ESPN is done too. So they both killed each other. Yeah, like it's a nuclear world war three, and nobody won. But But at the time, early in that late 90s, early 2000s. I remember going to a friend going I wish everybody ran mag around photos like ESPN The Magazine, they would run huge photos giant, great giant, elaborate portraits. And I would do a portrait for them. And they had it like creative directed and all the stuff on my budget was off the charts. Like I'm talking three, four or $5,000. To do something. Did they give you that information? Yeah, like you have less money? Yes. Oh, to the point where, like they would get over that side. I never got a creative brief. It was Yeah, we're doing a portrait, let's say on, you know, Joe Flacco. Yeah. You know, we want a portrait of him. More likely, it's gonna be a single page, look for something Exactly. On the cover. Something vertical, leave some space and a person drops. Okay. Yes, be able to have complete creative brief. We're looking for floor photos, we're gonna do a big double truck. We want this and that. And I was just like, wow. And when I would do something, it would be an assistant, me and Joe Flacco. When I'm with ESPN early on, it was me. A costume designer hair and makeup catering three assistants, and not the more was better, but they wanted it big and elaborate. Yeah, and great. And they were all in because they're trying to slay the dragons. So they had to do that today. Like, both of them are dead in the water once gone once on absolute life support. And so to know how businesses work back then you got to understand how they work.
Michael Der 28:39
So what does that give you like knowing how businesses work? How does that give you an advantage? Or what does that do for you as a creative?
Matt Brown 28:46
it's an insight to how they operate. Okay, right. So this happened to me, I forgot the name of the magazine. This is like 15-16 years ago, like a it was a business Fortune Magazine, which was kind of ironic. It was a business magazine. They were sending me all over the country. I shot one portrait, and this creative director went bonkers for like, absolutely loved it. And like sometimes you hit lightning in a bottle, and he's like, I loved that shoot, and we're gonna send you everywhere. And I was like, okay, I've heard that before. He called like, two days later, he's like, can you be in Charlotte, North Carolina? Can you be in Seattle, Washington, and all of a sudden, like, I was doing like five or six shoots for them a month. Wow. And it was like, Wow, this is great. And so they're operating off and I never realized I can billing billing billing. And then eight, nine months of this just living high on the hog and all of a sudden my wife say hey, like I sent in some billing and no one's returning a call. And what's going on? I call back Oh, yeah, we change company. Whatever money's coming, get half of what they owe, and then it got a little longer and longer and then ended up like, no one's calling. I'm not getting any return calls and like they shut the door.
boiler room ghosted, gone. What the hell, I got a buddy that lives near them in North Carolina at their headquarters. Because this is I think, very early internet as like, Hey, this is where they're at. He goes by drives by He's like, there's nobody that building like the signs there but there's nobody in the building like they're up and gone. They fold it up close up shop, like there wasn't tables, there wasn't phones on the floor and everything. And I was stiffed out like 4800. Well, had I known and looked at, like some financial magazine or something, their parent company was filing bankruptcy, and they were going under. And basically what they were doing was spending like the last six months like drunken sailors, and we're just spending money like crazy because they knew they were gonna go. And so there, I just got caught up in their party and didn't realize it was going to end real quick by knowing little stuff like that about how businesses operate, how well they're doing, how things are going. I know, it's a long winded answer to it. But it's a lot of people don't think of like that inside of that business that way. No, worrying how businesses work.
Michael Der 31:10
Yeah, we're so focused on what we're doing.
Matt Brown 31:14
The Polaroid Evans, the immediacy, yeah, I get you, you call me up. You gave me an assignment, I'm going to go shoot it. Yeah, that's great. But what's the backstory? How long have the editors been there? How long? You know, how long has this company been around? Right? Like, you could have a start up like Lulu lemon 10 years ago, you don't know if they're gonna make it. They could have hires do all kinds of stuff and like they're gone. And then all of a sudden, boom, it's a multi billion dollar company. So knowing how businesses operate early in my career was something I wish I could have known even a little sooner.
Michael Der 31:45
What about taxation? Finance? You're pretty solid on those?
Matt Brown 31:49
Yes. I'm a quarterly guy. Yeah, I'm very much aware. I'm constantly communication with my CPA understanding, like, how are we doing what's going on? I don't want to get a surprise in March, have them say, you're gonna have to come up with like, 3500 bucks. And I don't want him to say, Oh, hey, by the way, you're going to get a $7,000 check. Because that means I've been paying too much throughout the year, like, either way. I want it to be within 1000. Like, because sometimes it's just numbers and the way the feds work, and there's always, always a little bit of gray smoke to it. Nothing's ever perfect. Where I'm like, I don't know anything. And they don't owe me anything. Yeah, it's never spot on. Yeah, right. No, I think you're right. If you're within 1000, that's probably pretty good. Either way. Like, I think last year, I think we got from the state, like we got to 17 $100 or $17. Check. But then we paid the feds like 200 bucks. Yeah, okay. Yep, that's fine. But you don't want the 30 $500? Or, or or more?
Michael Der 32:47
No. And the greener you are, the rougher that's going to be Yes, it's different when you have you know, if you're 50 years old, and you've made some money, you got a little bit of a reserve. But if you have no reservoir of cash, and you're living paycheck to paycheck, like a lot of 20 year olds are right, and I was doing the same thing. You can't afford mistakes like that. No, there's a literal cost. Yeah, it's not just a figurative cost. It's like, Okay, this is actually going to cost you $8,000 you're like, Oh, God, I don't have that. I don't what do I do?
Matt Brown 33:20
I could sell my me sell my kidney. Yeah, you go to Tijuana. And you give out a kidney. Yeah. And he's apologized to everybody that you know, I mean, I think and I try to tell this to everybody, the best three hours you can give in a day or listen to it or take his course is Dave Ramsey. Like, if that's a great way to keep yourself from getting into quicksand and understanding and he keeps it very simple, stupid, and he's blunt, and he'll just slap you in the face, because that's what a lot of people need. But if you listened to him while you were in college, I guarantee you'll be safe when you're in your 30s but if you start late, it's just a deeper hole to get yourself out of.
Michael Der 33:59
Yeah, I can attest to that. I listened to Dave Ramsey. I read his books. I was going through a lot of stuff. Yeah, a lot of debt. And yeah, that simple method. He kicked me right in the ass and I was like, Okay, I gotta figure this out write it but he empowered me to know that I didn't have to rely on somebody else no, you know, White Knight was coming to save the day, right? If I wanted to clear it if I wanted my $35,000 of consumer debt, not even student loan debt, right? cleared it was gonna be on me. But it gave me the confidence to to attack it because there's a system in place. There's a principle a methodology of this is how successful people live their lives you can live in however you want to but if you want to follow the people that have actually succeeded at clearing debt at making wealth, then here's what we found.
Right? Yeah, that's important. It really is. I mean, you know, you'll see these people on Instagram athletes You know, there's I did have for, you know, ESPN and so I used to the stories like I did well with Antonio Antoine Walker. Sure, you know, he made like 100 and $40 million in the NBA, I end up shooting. Yeah, and then shooting him playing basketball in Mexico for the Mexicali scorpions or whatever, because he was in debt, you needed the money to pay off the IRS. Right? These guys make this money, and they just think it's going to keep coming. Well, the more you make, the more you pay, right? I think it's the top 1% pays like 70% of the whole us taxes. And people just don't think like that. They understand that math and like the top, I think 10 pays 90, the more you make, the more you spend, but the little you make is more important, because you don't have that much. And that line is very thin. So let's say you're a kid in college, and you're only freelancing, and you're only making about $9,000, that $9,000 is very important. And you can't screw it up early. Because you can't make it up the line is razor thin. But if you're making $100 million a year, you can fudge a million or two here there. Sure, yeah. But if you're making nine grand, and you're off, and you're screwing up a couple of grand, that's a huge chunk. That's the kind of thing that that irritates me the most is that people aren't getting their early finances under control. Yeah.
Do you have your sons? Do you have this conversation with your boys?
Matt Brown 36:17
Yeah, both of my boys are all three of them. The oldest one, he works at Amazon. And so he's invested in Amazon, he does finances. My middle son, Malcolm, he's huge. He just he bought Tesla, he's got Apple stock, they both invest all their birthday money, whatever, they get Christmas, I wish we could do Hanukkah, whatever, any holiday they want to be involved in and make money off of. Like, they don't go out and buy glowing headphones for gaming, or a new shiny bike. They invested in their future. So they're sitting on the morning, and they'll be like, yeah, Tesla made, you know, 30 bucks for me this week, or I'm looking, I got a couple more dollars, I'm gonna buy some more Apple stock, or I'm looking to buy Home Depot. And so they're very much aware and invested that
Michael Der 37:03
it just goes back to what you were saying earlier that people shouldn't be taught this, once they start making money, they should actually be taught this before they start making money, right? And it's such a great lesson because you know, what you get is not house money all the time. Right? And I think that's the mentality that a lot of young people have your boys not so much because they've been taught this. But I talk with a lot of young photographers through the workshop through jobs that I've done. And every dollar that they make they spend it either it's on equipment, either it's on, you know, fun stuff, like, Oh, I'm a sneakerhead I have to spend X amount of dollars on new sneakers you don't right? Listen, it's not me telling people how to live their lives. That being said, there's this basic business principle called opportunity cost, right? It's like if you go on, you know, you have $200 and you spent $200. On one thing, you can't buy the other thing, right? So, a hard lesson zero, you're at zero. So if you want to get your hand into a bunch of different cookie jars, because there's always something there, right? You either want to, you know, fund your emergency fund, you want to fund your retirement, you want to get into crypto, if you want to buy new gear, go on vacations. Well, how do you do all of that, if you're spending everything that you have on just like that one shiny new object, right? Can't do it?
Matt Brown 38:22
No, you can't. It's very frustrating. I'll give you you're out of college. That's it. But it should start before college and have an understanding of what that's even going to cost you. So if you've already gone to college, get yourself in debt, and you think who's gonna bail you out? Like, that's got to stop. It's always on you. There's no Grand Wizard, that's going to wipe away debt. I don't care what the government says or anything. It doesn't work like that. Because even the stupidest economists will say, even wiping out the debt means it has to get paid by somebody. So then the taxpayers paid for it. Right? So that's not wiping out it's just robbing Paul to pay Peter. Right. I mean, that's just simple math. So it's under, it's on you to understand where your money goes.
Michael Der 39:06
And this is also goes down to listen, if people want to eventually get to a point where they make, let's say, $100,000, let alone a million or something. But you can't manage $100,000 income if you can't manage $1,000 income? No, no. And so I think that's one of the lessons where it's like, learn how to manage and let's just start off with 14 year old kids, or something like that your son's here's a an allowance for $10 for washing the dishes and thrown out the trash. Okay, how do you manage that? $10 that's an important lesson that I think a lot of people maybe are skipping and saying, Well, you know, in the real world, that $10 should be divided up in some fashion, you know, you're gonna have to pay some for taxes. And so they, if by avoiding that, they've missed out on this tutorial for a long time of how they respect and treat and engage with money.
Matt Brown 39:58
My dad used to call Paying for the future, like 1/3 always go away and be locked up and put in the future.
Michael Der 40:04
Yeah. And it's super hard for a young person to grasp that concept, which is why I don't want young people to rely on motivation. I want them to rely simply on the habit. Like I just want them to be ingrained with the habit of okay. You make $10 $3 is going to the IRS, right? So sorry, that doesn't go into your piggy bank. Keep seven of it. And then you can spend five of it on something that you want $2 goes to something that will go down the future, or whatever it might be. You split that up.
Matt Brown 40:33
Yeah, it's you'll see, you know, people that let's say they've done a job for somebody calls and says, Hey, can you do a shoot of our, our new building an open house or ribbon? Whatever? 125 bucks, we compare $200 to 50. Big Day. 250. Okay, you did not make 250? No, right? You got to pay yourself. You got expenditures, you got your car, you got all this stuff. Like that's the way photographers need to look at stuff, but they don't. They've made 250.
If you own a business, right, and you and I own a bakery, and we turned on the lights, made our dough, paid our salaries, paid our employees, the electrical and gas, our insurance, everything else. And you know, we sit there and go, Oh, we're out money every day. Yeah. How long? Would our bakery be open? Not very, very long. No, but and that's how young creatives are running their business today with the fact that at some point, somebody will bail them out, or they're going to learn this very, very horrible problem the wrong way. And they're never going to be able to be who they could have been because they got themselves in the financial debt early. And so I guarantee you, you don't know everybody's secrets. I bet you and I both know some people right now that are playing the shell game of they're in a lot of debt, or they're on the verge. But they're presenting themselves as being okay.
Michael Der 42:00
Oh, yeah. 100%. And I don't know who they are. But I'm confident
Matt Brown 42:05
Oh, we know that. Yes. And that sad.
Michael Der 42:07
It is. They're just not thinking about where that money can go right to, to fill all these other aspects of their life, because it's not just about your photography. Okay, I made $800. That's a new speed light, like, well, if that's how you look at it every single time, you're only going to be breaking even right? At the very best minimum.
Matt Brown 42:28
But you still have to pay taxes on all that stuff and everything else. And then it goes to your insurance and you buy more stuff and your insurance goes up. Yeah. So like, that's, that's the worst way to go at it. Like if you make $300, you should be like, I got a remote core for 60. And everything else goes away. Right? It should never be one to one, you should do three jobs at 300. To make 900 by $300. speed light. That's right.
Michael Der 42:49
I've noticed also, and I think I was this way to start. When you're in financial stress, you make desperate moves. Right? So you have to take that eight hour job that pays you $100 you almost have to Yeah, this is not a good position of strength. And so much of what we're talking about today, is not even about having better skills, or more talent. We're not saying like, Hey, you need to be 25% more talented. It's like sorry, that's not gonna happen. There's only so much that I can train and, and be as good as LeBron James. It's not gonna happen, right? But a lot of this is just decision making.
Matt Brown 43:26
Yeah, it's it. Right? And if you got that foundation early, understanding business and finance, understanding how your business works, marketing wise, and advertising, those decisions will likely be less violent to your business, and you won't be like taken away from you. They just think that I just keep banging off those 234 $100 Oh, maybe I got $1,000 job. I'm going to be okay. You have no idea. No, you're swimming in that pool, the sharks, you have no idea.
Michael Der 43:54
And as we've talked about, you know, using that money, that income to buy new gear, this kind of transitions into another topic that I think he wanted to talk about, which was about the gear and that is not all about that, right?
Matt Brown 44:06
It's not about the gear at all in any way. No one's gonna hire you because you had a 600 no one's gonna hire you because you have a phase one, but both those you can rent, right? So if the client comes to you and says, Hey, I need you to shoot and you think at that point that the lens is needed, you rent it, but you shouldn't be having a 12 $15,000 lens, sitting in your arsenal that you only use sparingly. Let's say that rental fee is $200 a day from sammies, and you use it honestly, five times a year. Yeah, there's a lot of people are not very efficient and adequate with a 600. So a hard lens, right? That's a that's 1000 that's $1,000 in rental fees, that still saves you 11 to $14,000 of it not sitting depreciating on your insurance.
Sitting around ready to be damaged or stolen? Yeah, right. But you still have access to it. I think it's back to school. There's a funny scene where Rodney Dangerfield sitting in a business class on day one. And the professor says they're going to buy a business. This guy's been a professor forever. He's never run a business. And he's like, we're gonna buy a business 40,000 Ronnie's like, Why buy it you should lease the land back it up, you know, he, he cuz he's coming from a real business world. And he understands like, I know businesses don't buy property, they rent, everything they do is on loan, right? Because it's somebody else's money. The most dangerous thing is actually a debit card, because it's your money immediately to your into your account. But you'll see a lot of people that say no, you run a business off of credit, it's somebody else's money, but you can cover it, right? That's the difference. You can gamble with other people's money if you have the money to back in, like Vegas in the house. That's what a lot of people don't understand. So they're always trying to like, buy a 600 by a phase one buyer at five millimeter one, four, and they only shoot it wide open twice to shoot their girlfriend and then they never shoot it again. And they could have been the 24 to 72 Wait, that's more efficient, and they could have done it and two times they wanted to do the 85 they could have rented it to that and the ad campaign for Lou Lemmon because they wanted a wide open you have to understand those simple things on how you utilize equipment. It's an asset that you don't always want sitting on your your spreadsheet. know when your expenditure you don't want it there because then it becomes a liability. Yes. Right. I've got a six. Yeah, but I use it all the time. A 600 600. Okay, shot soccer the other day, I only use that shot volleyball the other day, I only use that shot the last two soccer games for Irvine only use that like, that's oddly enough, my go to lens like I'm a surgeon with it. But I've also been using it for 30 years. Yeah, the same lens. Right. But that's it if you've had it for that long.
600 for that period of time. Yeah. You should never own anything, if you're not using it within there every 30 days. Right? If you're not touching that 80 514 I love that lens. I did. But do I use it every like, and not use it to shoot my portrait of my wife in the backyard, right? for a client? Yes, right? My wife looks beautiful in that lens. But she's not making any money. But if I shot for a client, and I shot it more than once a month, right? Not just once a month, and then I didn't use it for another two, three more months. And I own it, I don't I don't touch it, I get rid of it. Because it's depreciated. I don't want to depreciating on me, right? often goes sell it to somebody, when I need it, I rent it. And now I use it. And then I back charge it, that rental fee to my client, right?
Michael Der 47:55
And so I was actually gonna ask you this too, like if a client were to say, which oftentimes I've never really run into the situation where a client says, Hey, we want you to use this lens. Or we want you to use these Profoto lights instead of the elinchrom, right? Like I've never had anybody requests anything like that, because they're not creative. They don't really care. They don't want the results, right. But if they were to do something like that, then you'd have the ability to just invoice them for that request. Right? So
Matt Brown 48:21
absolutely, you know, the only time a client is ever asked something of me is megapixel size, right? Like they'll say we want a phase, because we want it on a 80 megapixel back because we're going to do X, Y and Z with it. Yeah, but nobody has ever said to me, we refer you shoot Nikon prefer you shoot canon, right? We need like, I really know. Yeah, not gonna happen. Right? So that does not happen. And I think I have I've been with Earth, probably 50-60 fortune 500 companies I've shot for hundreds of creative directors, art directors, Junior directors, managing whatever that allows. And nobody's ever said boy, I wish he would have shot on those last I really didn't like that. softbox Yeah, that softbox just didn't nail it for me. Well, I wish it was more you know, Einstein's and then Chimera. Know, right now, they might say we wanted, we want you to have a bigger light source because we want the light to look a certain way. Sure. Okay, but I can I can do that with a 10 by 10 scrim that's true, it doesn't need to see softbox if you know how light works and your whole life is what you should be a manipulator of light and understand how it works. I can have a cheap 10 by 10 scrim and make that work. I don't need to have a, you know, $20,000 shamira light, right? Like it's all the same.
Michael Der 49:47
Have you ever noticed either when you were coming up, or working alongside colleagues, whether it was in sports or something that you've shot that you were able to compare work? Did you ever see people out shoot you, youYou know, you had the higher end gear?
Matt Brown 50:01
No. Okay. No, like, if you got out shot me early my career might have been, someone was better, right? There's better days. Now, if you're gonna have you're gonna beat me, it's just because I, you know, was doing something different like I am at Irvine, I get to make photos I can do ever I want so I might have missed the game winning shot on a soccer goal in the 72nd minute, I will get the Jube Yeah, man, I might not get the ball being kicked. But that's because I was doing something else. Interesting, right? I'm trying to make a photo of the coach and a clean background pointing or I'm on a girl, and she's in a shaft of light. And I have the capital, right to let to wait for her to get into that light and make that beautiful once in no time of the year photo. So those are the only times where it's like, oh, you know, so and so. Got it? Yeah, I'm not going head to head with anybody anymore.
Michael Der 51:00
Sure. Yeah, I think one I think that's a good place to be is just to kind of like consistently just work on. Not so much competing against other people, even though it is competitive. It's sure it's just be the best person that you can be at that job. Yeah. And but the reason why I bring that up is because I have been out shot by people that had lesser equipment. And so that to me was like a first hand lesson of, Oh, it's not about the gear. No, it's not, and vice versa. I've outshot people that had soup to nuts, the top end stuff and I was like, Oh, I came away with a better shot right now. So to me, that was just a great lesson of, you know what? The gear is a tool and it's great, but it's not everything.
Matt Brown 51:38
No, it's really so Robert Hanashiro and I did this one workshop where we did out shoot Robert and Matt, where we invited 10 people to a football game. They showed up with whatever they had. And then Robert and I picked four lenses. And like I think he took like it picked his two to 470 200 like whatever it was. And then we put his his lens wrote it down and put it in a hat and he picked one out, he can only use that one lens for a quarter, then the next one, so I had a 650 2414 to 24 like a 7200. And I can always use it for that quarter. So we were either really outgunned or undermanned or really working in it, we were the whole practice was to show them that you can shoot a football game with 7200. Yeah, you can shoot it with a 50. Yeah, you can shoot it with a 14 to 24. But what you are going to do is you're going to have to see the game differently, right? So when I had the 20, or the 1424, I didn't try to shoot the football game. I worked the bench like a documentary, you know, NFL films type scenario. And so it was interesting, because I don't get to do that as much, but I'm working the bench. So I'm shooting the offense getting screamed at and the defense holler and coaches and clipboards and all this stuff going on which, when you see those photos, you're like, oh, that photo of tick buckets and the bloody hands on the side of the bench and they're all taped up. I really want that shot. Well, you can only get it if you go shoot the goddamn thing doesn't magically happen. Yeah. So you got to know when you have those tools when you can use them. And so it doesn't mean if you have lesser tools, you're going to beat somebody. You got to learn how to use the tools you have. Yeah. And having better tools. Like when I shot the six, I'm not going to shoot the bench. But then I got I realize I'm limited when they come inside the 20 yard line, right? Yeah, I'm shooting really tight shots. So what do I got to do? I got to swing and shoot the coach on the bench or some other things, reactions, knowing how your tools work is way more important than having all kinds of tools or better tools.
Michael Der 53:46
No, you're right. One of the best examples I had was, and I'm not sure who did it. Maybe it was you, when I was going through the workshop basically just said like, you know, tape down your 70 to 200 at a focal length. Yeah. And just make pictures for a half an hour just with that. So you're at like, 105 What can you make? So it forces you to think differently, right? Instead of just saying, Oh, I'm going to zoom out when they get closer. And I'm going to zoom in when they're farther away. Yeah, it's just lazy thinking. Yeah. So again, it to your point. It's not about the quality of the gear or how expensive it is how new it is how shiny it is. It's understanding how to use that gear, right?
Matt Brown 54:23
It's not rocket science, but everybody gets caught up in like, I need the latest greatest like right now. I have a bunch of gear and yours like three or four years and because there's nothing out there that's right now like what I like a D six Sure. Does it make me shoot better pictures? No. Yeah, I want to spend 60 $500 No, yeah. Why do I want to eat up, you know, a quarter or more. Three quarters of what I'm making with Irvine to buy one camera like that's, that's stupid. I can still make all scissors in my D five. So do I need a 80 514 No, not what I do in Irvine. If I am and they need
Something special in that regard than the expensive back to them. But again, they don't go and say I want that. Look what I like to make that look occasionally sure. But let's say I have that at 514. And I'm shooting for client x. And I use it on Saturday. On Sunday, I'm going to go to an Irvine game, and I'm going to use that lens on pregame X, Y and Z to give them a little bit of a different look on those sprinkles. Right? Right. Yeah, so I'll use that multitask that tool while I have it, but I would never just go keep it to have it.
Michael Der 55:34
Yeah, with photography, lenses, and cameras and add in lighting, I believe that you should bite off more than you can chew occasionally. Right? That's how you take steps. But if you're don't know how to master one light source, don't say I have to set up six lights for this shoot, it's going to turn out disastrous. Yeah, you know, if you're just learning how to yield, or wield a 400 millimeter, which is a prime lens, you know, don't bring the 400 and the 600, you know, and a teleconverter and a tele and you know, three bodies on you and have the remote set up. Like you're biting off way too much. You're just gonna have a lot of bad pictures. Yeah, you've got to have a couple of really good ones.
Matt Brown 56:18
Yeah, there's a lot to be said to strip yourself down until you can slowly build up and have the ability to visually see when you need to switch. Right? So if I gave you a 50, around your neck and a 400, can you accommodate everything I need from that? Yeah. Now, if I gave you a 16 is 35 around your neck, a 50? A one, four and a 7200? a two to four and a 600? Like, how do you think you're gonna do, you're not going to know when to go to what? So it's really slowing down. And understanding when you need tools, and how good you are with the tools you have. Once you've mastered and you can do like a high school football game. And even then there's a lot of guys that don't shoot high school football game or the 400. There are 300 to eight, right? You move up and you get to the next level next level next level.
Michael Der 57:16
It's just you know, everybody wants new shiny object. Yeah, photographers more than most other professions. I feel like they love their gear. Well, I one of the conversations that I had earlier this year was with Alexis Quaresma, and he, he brought up some really good points to me about the portraits that he makes. And so he shoots a lot, sort of close down, you know, f eight, f 11, somewhere in that neighborhood. So the point of him having the fastest lenses really doesn't make any sense, right? And so it showed me once again, it was like, Okay, here's a photographer that's making outstanding portraits, without the top level gear that everybody else is clamoring to get over to use for what, if you know how to use light, and craft and make portraits? You can do it without having to spend three times as much?
Matt Brown 58:05
Yeah, there's a there's a lot of people that get caught up in that. I have to have that 35 or 135. Two, and then they realize when they're on lights, or there are an f8. So what that was the point right, exact now, if your style is available light or continuous light and you like to shoot it f2, then that's your style. Understandable. But then, is everyone your clients going to want that? Look? That's that's the business side. Right? You've all that's your thing? Who knows? Right? But to go out, and to have all those shiny objects to have them. That's bad. No, that's bad. Yeah, it's bad business.
Michael Der 58:47
How often do you?You said you hadn't upgraded your gear in a while? How often do you normally
Matt Brown 58:54
it would be, you know, something's got to like, kind of start to fall apart or break down. I mean, I keep what works for me. Yeah, you run in and run them into the ground, but not into the ground. But like, because I keep them in unbelievable. You know, all cameras like when this weekend, everybody goes in every four months get clean and jacked, whatever.
A lot of it comes from assisting McDonough and he always, you know, took unbelievable care of his gear. So as an assistant, you've kind of rubs off on you and they take care of the gear.
You know, I've had my six for four years now. It's still tack sharp looks great. There's a new one out that's a little lighter. Do I need it? No. What I replace it maybe in another three or four years? Maybe. But then Does it still work? Will it mount if I go mirrorless? Do I stick with Nikon do I leave and go to Sony like those variables right now? Because the way the industry is is a different component than the weather I need. So we're at this time right now, where we're not sure how long is night
I'm going to be around 24 months?
I don't know, that's a fair question, right? One of their finances just reported and they're not they're not looking good. Yeah. So what do I do?
Michael Der 1:00:12
Nikon I was talking to a rep about this. There's a, there's a Nikon Rep. Maybe this was a couple years ago, where the differences, Nikon does basically, two things are whatever, cameras lenses and binocular optics. Right, right. That's it. That's it. What does Sony do? They do PlayStations. Right. Do movies, like, canon does printers? Right? Like there's medical equipment? Yeah, scanners, right? There is so much more of an umbrella that they have to use for resources, like having a lot more reps. And so he was like, that's why we were there's only like two of us. Whereas Sony has 50 on the west coast, or whatever. Right? And I just thought that was an interesting, but it's a tangent about these companies. But I thought it was interesting to see. Oh, yeah, if you're, if you're looking to get into gear, maybe back the horse that has a lot of resources.
Matt Brown 1:01:08
Well, that goes back to my knowing how businesses work. Yeah, right. The business of the business, right? If I was with Nikon in the 90s, I would have looked at that and said, boys, you know, we're only making like two widgets. Yeah. What if someone starts stops buying the one other widget? Now we're down to one widget? Actually, optics are they selling? Like, I shoot guns? I don't know. Last time I saw somebody that had a Nikon scope. So you know, there's Bushmen, and there's tons of them. Like, that's where you're putting all your money and do like optics. I get it. You got glass. You got a great one. But yeah, they never went and said, What, uh, well, we look into optics for digital cameras, or x, y, and z, whatever, something military, nothing. So they didn't diversify. They just stayed to their self, their image, their true self, but at some point, it got burned out. And now they're in trouble. Yeah, because they don't have any other widgets. And so I don't know if they're waiting for Google to come in and swoop them up and put their optics to their phones or what but yeah, yeah, I mean, what Sony's got a phone I don't know if you saw this, but Sony now has it where their camera and their phone work in like an unbelievable ability where you can't it's a lot of work sometimes that connect to the cannon and connect to the your Nikon into an Apple or Android. There's a seamless Yeah, because one division talk to another one. That's the kind of unbelievable business sense. The other ones have right. You have three big boys. Yeah. And one's getting crushed. Because diversify. Yeah.
Michael Der 1:02:49
Which is there's a lesson there for photographers. Yeah. Right?
Matt Brown 1:02:52
If you don't, right, you know, if you only shoot horses, how big is that audience now, right? Especially if you're only shooting horses in West LA. Right? Right. Yeah. But if you're in Wyoming and might be a little bigger, Montana might be bigger, but then you're only still shooting horses. You're not shooting concerts, you're not shooting food. You're not shooting headshots. I mean, there's a lot of other widgets to, to pick up on.
Michael Der 1:03:17
Alright, so that that actually brings me up to a good segue because we're talking about what you see on websites, right? That's you're talking about shooting horses, shooting fashion, shooting, whatever. And I know you have that on your website, too. You have fashion, you have commercial work, you have sports, what would you want to see? from young photographers, green photographers, experienced photographers on their website that is maybe not addressed as much
Matt Brown 1:03:41
you need to have a good bio section sounds silly. Yeah. But it's funny how many people don't have a decent bio section? Tell me a little bit about yourself. What your from what you can do.
If you only shoot, let's say you're starting out, and you've only shot a couple of concerts, right? That's fine. But only put the very best up there. Don't show me 12 photos from the first concert you shot and then another 12 from the other concert. Show me four. Yeah, right. That's it. Less is more sometimes, especially when you're early in your career. A lot of times the ideas show everything, like everything I shot Well, no, because that's not a lot of good. Just show me You're good. I understand you're young, and it's going to get better, and you're going to get better at getting more. It's on you early in your career. If you're not getting assignments, or let's say you go to a school that doesn't have, again, a photo department, it's on you to create up your own stuff. So you can put that on your website. So go out, shoot that stuff and have content to put on your website. It could be nature, it can be product, but give me a little bit of that stuff. And you got to go out and do it yourself. You can't always rely on a professor or a school to
tell you to do X, Y, and Z. I think a lot of times, photographers are waiting to be told when to shoot. And if you're really hungry and determined, you're going to go make that content for your website. Yeah. So it can be seen early, that it's just that simple.
Michael Der 1:05:13
How much is too much? Is there? Do you have like a number? Or do you just know it when you see it? Like there's too much on this website?
Matt Brown 1:05:19
again, it goes back to have someone look at your work. Yeah, don't rely on your mom, find the professor, someone in the art department, someone who has a creative eye, don't go to the accountant and say, Do you like this, you know, concert photo. Most galleries have 20, maybe 30 in a slot early going on, you're only going to have six to eight. Don't fool yourself and to think everybody's Marcus Yam, and you're going to be crushing it early. So have someone look at it and have them give you a really good idea of what your good stuff isn't only show that. And I would say six to eight per category, whether it's weddings, or nature or cancer. That's a good starting point. For early in your career, if you haven't yet done internships and stuff.
Michael Der 1:06:07
It's such an evolving area. Because as you get better, you're gonna have to kick some stuff out, right? But that's a good exercise.
Matt Brown 1:06:14
yes, yeah, you've, you've got to kick stuff out. It's very rare that whatever you shot, let's just say college, your sophomore year, it's still gonna stick around unless you've completely won an unbelievable shot. But you should be clearing stuff out regularly, early in your career, because you want to be shooting as much as you can, as often as you can and getting better. And if you're not, then that also should be you should be looking at it going. Well, I haven't really moved anything out in a while that's kind of on me, what am I doing, right to make better images? Is it the assignment? Is it me not practicing? What, what is it? And you've got to always constantly be looking at yourself clearly in a mirror and determining where you're at.
Michael Der 1:07:01
When you look at, let's say an interns coming to apply to work for you. Work with the angels work at Incipio wherever it might be, and you're looking at their portfolio. What do you see as maybe the pitfalls in their portfolio outside of just maybe like the quantity is there anything else that stands out is like you're, you're overly diversified or you're overly niched like, Is there one that kind of jumps out to you?
Matt Brown 1:07:26
the ability to try to talk yourself into telling you it's a good photo, right? If it's out of focus, if it's underexposed, if the compositions completely off, but yet, you're telling yourself No, I really like it.
Okay, I get it, but it's a bad photo. Sorry. I'm the one who's hiring you. I'm telling you. Yeah, it's garbage. Right? I got 35 years under my belt, I'm telling you, sorry. So a lot of times younger photographers are starting out, and they don't have the ability to let things go. Right. And it's hard. It's like it's hard. It's hard to say, you know what, I missed? I missed I completely blew the exposure, or the lights changed on me and all of a sudden spotlight went off, you know, the lead singer, or dad's back focus, but it was it wasn't bad focused enough for the high school or the college paper. So we ran it. But now on my my website is a lead photo. Wow, I can really see it saw like, this is not just happened to young photographers. This happens to photographer everybody. My wife has a friend her son wants some headshots, his agent sent him three links to professional photographers in LA, that he likes their websites. And so the kids like can you shoot my headshots like this? So I take a look at these websites. Two are very good. And one was absolutely atrocious. Like, it was so bad when I hover the mouse over the photo, it said D DSC underscore, like 10101 which was the actual file name by right which I don't know why that was showing up. But why you hadn't even had that as your mind is m BBB right? My my initials right so i if i ever shoot with a 10 a team, it's something was never we you know,
he had his lead photo of a headshot a headshot. I'm not talking about the challenger blowing up in front of you, right? was out of focus. The guy's eyes. Were out of focus. The back of his neck was sharp. His eyes were out. And this guy's charging 375 a session. That's a professional website. Allegedly. Yeah. So it happens people just don't have honest people around you. I'm sure your relationship great with your wife where you can say Honey, what do you think and she's better be
Be able to say to you, Mike, that's crap. Right? You should have thought it was crap before him. But if you were in the gray area, she should give you a thumbs down, right? If you don't have those kind of people around you, you're never gonna make it never gonna make it. You've got to have people that are willing to stand up in front of you going, No. Bad photo. You also have to have the fortitude to be open to that. Yeah, how many people get professional edits after college or have real world photo editors take a look at their project? Very rare. Is that right? Oh, you think about it. Last time you sat down at a photo editor.
rip into your work and get you a blade a minute. Yeah. And give you a real earful. Like, wow, Mike, I really liked what you were doing here, or Boy, you blew this job, right? What the hell are you thinking, man? We wanted X, Y, and Z. And you're totally not even what we wanted.
Michael Der 1:10:56
And kind of going back all the way to what you were first starting about when you're talking about proactive mentality. It goes to this to feedback is not always going to be automatic. Yeah, I've worked with many clients. Crickets. Yeah, neither good nor bad reviews. It's either just like, Okay, thank you, and accept it moved on. And so in my opinion, I don't know which route to take, I guess I did a good enough job. But that doesn't push me to make it to make better. You know, I'm not getting actual critical feedback on the work that I'm doing. So you have to you have to sometimes be proactive. In the same way to say, Hey, listen, Matt, take a look at my portfolio. What do you think, right? Well, can I get better? Where can I get better?
Matt Brown 1:11:34
Yeah. You know, you like, what do you what do you like right now? And what do you what do you think i can i can shift around sometimes on a portfolio. It's not even whether the photos are bad, but it's how you have them displayed. I like the sequence. Yeah, okay. Yeah. Now, people always forget that, you know, I'm scrolling through 20 photos, you want to catch them early, but you want to leave them with some kind of thought to. So you don't want to go like action, action, action, action, action, action, action, feature, photo action, action, and that's it. Like, we want to be able to have a good palate, you're telling a little story, whether, let's say your gallery is weddings, you don't want to show all the dancing photos in the beginning. You want your story, let's say it's 40 different weddings, well, you should still show it as a sequence of a wedding day, whether it's 40 different weddings. So everything needs to be manicured and shown. And sometimes you need someone to actually take a look at your stuff and help you out. And that's okay. It shows the maturity and confidence level to have someone look at your stuff. And as a matter if you've been doing it for four years, or 40. I mean, I work with Robert Husky right now we work at Irvine together. And you know, I've known him for 10 years, and I still look at his stuff and give him pointers like, hey, do this, do that do this because I want him to get better. Right? Right. Like, you know, he's my partner, but just in in what he does, like, I look at his wedding stuff. I say, try this. Try this. Try this. But don't try it at the wedding. Try it on your bride first at home in the backyard. Yeah, practice a little bit. And then when you go to your next wedding, try it out on the bride, right? Right after your meat potatoes, try this out. You know, you want that kind of feedback from people. Don't be afraid of it, it's only going to make you better. And if you can't take it from a friend, a photo editor, you're certainly not going to take it from a client who's paying you. That's right. I'm never coming back. That's right. Right. They're your worst critiquers It's a paycheck involved.
Michael Der 1:13:32
The more criticism you can give to Robert Husky, the better.I have no problem with that. good pal. Let's talk about your one of your next ones. You know, you talk about having a career path. What do you mean by that? As far as something that the audience should know?
Matt Brown 1:13:47
Alright, so let's let's let's take you, for instance, or anybody. Yeah, how long do you want to be a photographer?
Michael Der 1:13:53
I'd love to be a photographer until I can't actually physically do it.
Matt Brown 1:13:56
Okay. So with most photographers, you're stuck in, you're stuck in a block. Let's say you're only going to let's say you're, you're in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. You're never going to make half a million dollars, okay? You're never gonna run an agency or do this or do that. So you're stuck. A lot of photographers get themselves has only photographers, there's not a path for them to become a photo editor, a director of photography, a photo coordinator, do to even manage up or manage a team like so right now, if you're applying for a job and one of those interviews is what's your leadership skills and tell us the last time you ran a team? Well, you haven't ran it's only been a solo photographer. Well, we're looking for you to be able to run, you know a campaign with 14 people on a set. It's good point. Oh, oh God. I've never I've never managed a team for a week. Oh, I don't have those skills. So no
career path when I say that it's very interesting. You can be a photographer forever, but you'll see something come up on indeed, like there's one right now, at RVA. They're looking for a global what is a global director of photography for the, their whole brand, which is like 20 brands, world salary reading starting salaries like 375,000 you're never gonna make that as a photographer, right? Right. Yeah, in working in Irvine, like that's, that's really hustling. And that's getting a couple of big fish. That's, that's a lot of work. Well, that's a career path to become that you were a photo editor, maybe you were photographer, photo editor, maybe for photo coordinator, you managed maybe a studio, you became a director, now you're a global director. That's a career path. And a lot of photographers don't look at it as, wow, maybe when I'm in my 40s, I don't want to be chasing down clients all the time and working missing holidays, maybe I want to run the team, right? Maybe I want to run the studio. Maybe at some point, I want to be able to, you know, become the creative director of visual arts or whatever, you know, name no crazy title they give you, but you're running a team underneath you. Well, you can't get that experience has a one man band. So that's what my references to that a lot of people don't realize that. I didn't.
Michael Der 1:16:24
Yeah, that's a really good point. Right? I think that there are and one we've talked about. There are so many positions that are evolving. There are new ones popping up. It's like I've never heard of this title before. Well, now now it's here. Right? And can you make that jump? No, because you're just a photographer,
Matt Brown 1:16:38
right? Like, I'll say this, this is point blank, and it's still raw.You know, I'm, there's, there's jobs I've missed, because somebody will say, well, we wish you were you had your leadership skills where you had more people under your belt, like, right when I was the angels that will say I managed five and they say, well, we're looking for somebody who can manage like a department of 20.
Michael Der 1:16:59
Gotcha. Right. Well, so you have that against right.
Matt Brown 1:17:02
So I've I haven't managed one. Well, I could have if I would have had a path that looks in that way. Or Oh, we're looking for somebody who's a photo coordinator. Have you ever worked with people all across the US? And you have a good network? Well, no, I only kind of shoot for people and, you know, Orange County? Yeah, I don't know anybody in Florida.
Michael Der 1:17:24
So how do you go about setting this up in your career path? Does it happen organically? Do you kind of proactively say, Well, you know what I've been doing photography, business is good, but I have to go pursue something else. So that I have that under my belt under my resume.
Matt Brown 1:17:37
You can go about it organically. But that way is going to be a much more harder route to get there because having those things fall in front of you is going to be very lucky. Yeah, right. You should be at the horse track at that point that let's say 10 years into your career someone says hey, do you want to manage this team? Do you want to become a director of 30 years right that's kind of rare, right? I think you need to have a plan where you look at it and you go Okay,
we're going to we're going to get married at x we're going to have two kids this is what I expect this is what I would like to make this is where I want to be in 10 years I want to be here 20 years I want to be here now I'm in my 40s and 50s I want to do this and I want to stop you know flying on Southwest all over the place and for that to happen now you need to look at okay what jobs are open what's the next step and you need to be able to move be willing to move up in your place and that means if you're driving to Burbank that's going to suck but if you need those two years you're going to have to do it you know if you're going to have to go to Costa Mesa and you're in the valley whatever but you need to look at it as a career path. And you know there's there's lots of jobs that we just don't understand ever existed like you know, there's an opening right now for Amazon in Vernon, which is a little offsuit City and then LA and then Warner Brothers had to add a position for manager photography at Warner Brothers we got to go to Burbank were you willing to do that now for the salary? They're paying like a couple years ago I applied for the Vice President of photography at Warner Brothers studio and one of their perks was the ability to use the company jet private plane. Oh
right but like you get to a certain level Have you ever applied for a job that the one of the perks is you get the private plane? Nope. Yeah, like that's a different level. So you want to get to those levels and you've got to start laying out a career path and a lot of people don't look at it that way. It's like I want to be a painter I want to be a photographer yeah that's all I want to do right if you're happy with that great but then you got to understand where your boundaries are gonna be right you're gonna be in a boundary Yeah, no, you're right you're not going to get a private plane you're certainly not but it's interesting cuz I can see it in your eyes like you went like wow, think about that.
Michael Der 1:19:53
It definitely a good food for thought, you know, to say like, well, what are the other opportunities out there is I had Brad Smith on the showEarlier in the year, and he said, there's more people that work for the Yankees, than play for the Yankees. And so he said, You have to view opportunities out there in that same light. Everybody wants to be a photographer is great. But there are other positions out there involved in photography, that you can also have a tremendous success with tremendous growth, as well as creative satisfaction and fulfillment, right? So don't just be pigeonholed into a have to be a photographer, there could be a number of different creative jobs, that that can help make your resume and your experience richer.
Matt Brown 1:20:36
Oh, absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. If someone would have told him 15 years ago, he was going to be the VP of photography for wrestling, right? Do you wanna laugh your ass? Yeah, I'm always going to be in Real Sports, exactly. career path, things change. You've all got to be there. It's an it's an interesting thing to look at, because a lot of people don't want to because it's, it's then taking an assessment of thinking that they're not going to be successful, but you are going to be it's just you're evolving, right? You're evolving.
Michael Der 1:21:08
There's also this sense, this is the first reaction is, well, if I have to shift from photography, that means I've failed at photography, which in reality to your point, that's not true. You've just evolved. Yeah. And that actually, that new position may make you a better photographer, right? They might
Matt Brown 1:21:26
Yeah. Like, do you always want to be the gunner? Or do you want to be the admiral, like, the ammo hasn't failed, because he's no longer than gunner. He moved up, right? Like, you don't want to be the global photography director. And you're actually calling the shots, hiring people making decisions, understanding dealing with budgets, you know, being on the cutting edge of stuff, like there's a different way to, to fulfill your creative passion. Sometimes it's being head of the photo, not making the photo. Now,
Michael Der 1:21:37
you're 100%, right. And there are days without question, I just came off of job or 1214 hour days, busting my ass. I'm like, I kind of want to get out of this game. Right? You're like, God, I would love to be a photo coordinator. Yeah, I'd love to be an editor right now. Yeah, looking at the photos, not having to go out and make them and put 15 miles on my feet. You know, like rice. tough work. Yeah. So it's something
Matt Brown 1:22:21
I think people need to look at, because it's not a bad thing. But it's a frightening thing, because you have to actually have a path.
Michael Der 1:22:27
Yeah. What's next on the list here? What do we got? We got?
Matt Brown 1:22:29
Well, a backup, I think that's something people just don't understand. backup your stuff. Don't assume that the hard drives not going to fail. You know, your external hard drives, not going to fail, your cards aren't going to fail, like backup your stuff, right? So let's say your job you shot, what was your process on the backend for backing up for your client?
Michael Der 1:22:53
Just a second hard drive. So I edited on location with an external hard drive. And then I get home and then I put those that information, those raw images and the edited ones onto my own hard drive. That's it.
Matt Brown 1:23:04
All right. Does the client get a full set?
Michael Der 1:23:07
Matt Brown 1:23:08
Okay, so what do they get? selects?
Michael Der 1:23:10
Matt Brown 1:23:10
Okay. Where do you keep your full set?
Michael Der 1:23:13
On my hard drive
Matt Brown 1:23:14
on both hard drives on both hard?
Michael Der 1:23:16
Matt Brown 1:23:16
So are they matching hard drives?
Michael Der 1:23:19
Matt Brown 1:23:20
separate ones and external ones, like travel drive? Or how do you do it?
Michael Der 1:23:24
Yeah, once I get an external kind of SSD drive, and then the other one is more of like a Western Digital, a terabyte?
Matt Brown 1:23:31
Nothing on the cloud?
Michael Der 1:23:32
Matt Brown 1:23:33
So the house burns down. They're all gone.
Michael Der 1:23:35
All gone Yeah.
Matt Brown 1:23:36
Right. That's where if the bank burns down, does all the money gone? No. It's all backed up. Right? So if your house burned down, how many of those photos live elsewhere that exist? That can be safe?
Michael Der 1:23:51
off my work? stuff? Probably not a whole lot.
Matt Brown 1:23:53
Not work heavy. Any of your photos? wedding photos? Yeah. Your baby photos, right? First Date with your wife. That's the thing photographers Don't think about, like, I've got an external hard drive at my mom's house. She's four down four homes away. But the chances of both of our homes burning down, and I have no kid photos is almost zero, right? Right. So I've got dual hard drives, amb that everything matches up with all my clients. So everything's redundant at my desk, everything gets go goes to the cloud. And everything that's personal goes to my mom's house on a separate drive. So my drives work as a B drive, personal drive, that's redundant with another B drive that goes to mom's house, and then a clouds push. So it's in three places, have all my stuff. Because if you lose one job for a client, yeah, they're not coming back. But if you lose all of your stuff, it's never coming back, right? And we're always relying on
The hard drive not failing, or they're never going to get rid of FireWire 400 or they're never even get rid of FireWire 800. So understanding like, keeping like right now everything's starting to switch over to USBC. Yes. So you got to get an adapter. So it still goes into the old USB C or USB a, whatever the standards go, you know, keeping up with those making sure what you have those hard drives, and you've put them away? Are they still spinning? Are they good? Are they redundant? Are they in the cloud? Like, how are you keeping stuff? How long do you keep your client stuff forever? Five years, two years, like have a plan. And then a lot of people it's kind of weird, like, do you mark on your hard drives?
Michael Der 1:25:46
Mark as in?
Matt Brown 1:25:47
like, a drive D drive? June 2019 to march 2022.
Michael Der 1:25:54
So basically, I do for my external drives for because like a lot of my work is travel based. I pretty much do it by year. So it's like a two terabyte drive that I bring in. It's like this is 2019 and then once 2020 hits I could use one for 2020. That's right, kind of my system
Matt Brown 1:26:09
it's funny. Everybody looks at their hard drive. Like it's some kind of art. Mine's got gaffers tape all over. Yeah, right. So I write everything on there, I will put on because you'll put like the assignment like, but not just the size. Like it'll say, two terabyte drive. June 1 2019. When it's done full, I will put that on the side, I will put drive a yellow wall says hey, Dr. B's what's redundant, like I put stuff on there. So God forbid, if I get run over by a drunk, someone goes into the closet looks in the vault, they know what they're looking at.
Michael Der 1:26:41
So walk me through this process of like how you set up this backing up system without having to how much extra work do you have to do? So if you shoot a job, you only have a laptop and an external, right? And you shoot it there, then you bring that home? You drag the images and everything.
Matt Brown 1:26:58
So everything goes into photo mechanic, right? Yes, everything has a sequence of numbers in the file names and everything's created, all the metadata is put on. So if I'm on a job, it goes on to external hard drives. Okay, so I started this, I got really anal about this when I was with angels. So to draw, I would have two drives, one drive, I would give the Tim Meade and one drive would go to me. So if somebody stole my bags, something happened in my bags, he arrived of the away game that we were on, because I would go on road trips with the team would still exist, he would just keep that drive. Just it still lived somewhere. I was pushing it to the cloud every night when I'd go to bed. But we wouldn't know if it failed for a day or two. Right? It better came in. So I know it's a copy on. I would give to Tim copy would live to me. So I come back. I put everything on two drives, I plug it in two drives, it copies to amb drive, automatically automatic. Okay. boom, done. Matching folders. Everything's identical. Done just like that.
Michael Der 1:28:04
Okay, gotcha. Do you have to pay for any cloud service that you use?
Matt Brown 1:28:08
And then yeah, there's a million different cloud services, right? We can that could be another for our podcast, but I think but Google Now I think charging right? I think there's but it goes back to, don't be afraid to pay for something because you're a business, don't try to find the cheap and be like, Oh, well, there's this free, so I'm going to go with them. You lose something? How are you gonna try to explain that to your client that Well, I was using the free one, and they just went out of business or I didn't want to pay or I can't download their servers that pay for stuff. Yeah, it's a goddamn business. Don't be cheap. Understand the cost of things, when it fails, is going to cost you more than the cost of being safe.
Michael Der 1:28:49
I think everything that a seemingly invest into nowadays is always like redundancy based, but I don't quite as often think about what you're talking about, which is the The only real asset you have, which are your photographs, right? So all the equipment's backed up and redundant, but what about the actual digital assets?
Matt Brown 1:29:07
Yeah, it's major. And everybody kind of takes it for granted that drives aren't going to fail. Yeah, only needs to happen once.
Michael Der 1:29:13
That's a lot of trust to put into something like that.
Matt Brown 1:29:15
Yeah. It's just a spinning wheel with a little needle and they can go bad at any moment. Yeah. And you're never getting them back. If it goes bad, bad. You there's no guarantee. I know they got the recovery system. They can take it into a clean room or if it's gone sometimes gone by by signer. Yeah, that's heartbreaking. So you don't want to happen. So backup, backup backup, make it something you start early and make it something you do for the rest of your life because you don't want it to. You don't want to be the statistic. Right? People look at you and go, I got a friend Gary. He lost all his stuff. You don't want to be that guy. You want to be like I don't know anybody and all my friends are bright, smart. They never have that.
Michael Der 1:30:01
We just got a couple more it looks like here, what are your kind of last couple tests?
Matt Brown 1:30:06
fail more take risks. I think that's something photographers don't do enough of be willing to move away from the pack, stay away from people and take risks. If you're making photos all the time with your 7200, a basketball, you're near court, and you're down chords of 400 this or that, and you're shooting the same thing all the time, and your photos look the same. You're not taking risks to make photos, you're just taking photos, be willing to fail to make great photos, there's nothing worse than you're just making the same thing safe. Yeah, it's okay to take a risk. Those are how photos are made a lot of times, you know, like, Walter iOS gets the famous photo and 1980 Dallas 40 Niners he gets the catch shark Do you think that was just dumb luck, like even practicing and doing that and, and having that camera around his neck and being ready to go all his career, you've got to be willing to do those kinds of things. So having that camera looking to make those pictures, taking the risks early, and getting better later in your career will pay off to being able to take those chances. But so many people are scared to fail and make those photos especially even when they're paying for with clients. Like sometimes, you'll never make a better photo unless you actually take a risk. It will just always be the same thing. Doesn't matter what you do.
Michael Der 1:31:32
I think there's something about just sort of maintain being satisfied with the status quo is a real dangerous spot to get into. It's like oh, well, nobody's complaining.
Matt Brown 1:31:41
Yeah, it's like an endorphin. And you're like, I'm good. I'm good. Yeah. But man, you get to the edge of that roller coaster and you take that drop, and you make that great photos. There's nothing better.
Michael Der 1:31:52
One of the best lessons that I've had was actually through the workshop. I was shooting a basketball game or football game soccer, soccer, and then a basketball game, okay. And I had a 600. And I remember taking it out from Nikon, and I was shooting the soccer game. And so you had seen the shooting with that 600, right. Once we get to the basketball game, I put the 600 away. And you're like, break that thing out. And I was like, Okay, I had no idea. You were like, what do you have to lose? You know, right? You're not here for client. Try to make something epic, right? And I didn't make anything epic. I made everything terrible. But the exercise itself was completely valid, right? Because it forced me to be like, man, if I get this, let's go for broke, right? You know, this isn't like a client paying me, Hey, you have to nail these shots. Otherwise, we're screwed. It's like that you might have to play a little bit more, you know, safe. But when you're going for something, go for it. Right?
Matt Brown 1:32:48
Yeah. Because if you had hit it, that photo is going to be in your portfolio for a long time. That would have been really unique, right? And those are the ones that get you jobs. Then editor is this is a double back, double back to my back, who looks at your website and goes, wow, this guy's willing to take risk. And he made a great photo. This is this is fantastic. Yeah, this is what we want to hire. Not simple vanilla. We like a guy who's got a little rocky road in them. Yeah, that's, that's sometimes that's what you got to do be willing to take that risk. Yeah, yeah.
The other one is a big one is find a mentor, find somebody that can mentor you. Don't be willing, or don't be scared and unwilling early in your career to find somebody, whether it's an old crusty photographer, working in a local paper, whatever, find somebody that's got some experience on there and ask them a lot of questions. Take them out, get them up, you know, some coffee and a PI norms or whatever, and just sit there, ask some questions. Let them look at your stuff. And and find as many people as you can to help you in your career, and you will move quicker. Mentors are a great thing. I mentor a lot of people, I give a ton of advice.
There's so many people from the workshop pass workshop, still contact me, I was on some Facebook message board sports thing. I'm helping out some guy in North Dakota and his team needs better access. And it's just like, I told him, I said, Call me Let's Yeah, let's work this out. I'm gonna help you get this access. I don't get on what's going on with your athletic department? Well, we're gonna figure this out Ross. And so those are the kinds of things like if I, or you or anybody else can mentor down and help people and only makes our photo community better. Right? And that's the end goal. I want it better when I'm not here. And it's stronger than when I when I first got here. So find a mentor, and be good to them and listen to them. And you're going to be a better person for
Michael Der 1:34:50
Yeah, I mean, it's a really good synergy to have. What kind of goes around comes around to
Matt Brown 1:34:55
absolutely, you know, stop some people and figure out what's going on. It's not It's not magic, what we're doing is we're not curing cancer, for God's sake. We're just taking pictures, trying to make people you know, interested in what we're selling or what's what we're looking at. That's it. That's all we're doing.
Michael Der 1:35:10
Yeah. Outstanding. Any final words, Matt?
Matt Brown 1:35:13
I think we nailed it. We still got other podcasts to do. That's right.
Michael Der 1:35:17
So we're gonna be jumping onto just a good conversation podcast to kind of finish up the other aspects of what every photographer should know. But thank you for jumping on to this one. It was fantastic having you
Matt Brown 1:35:28
absolutely Michael. Let's do it again.
Michael Der 1:35:30
Appreciate it. All right.
Hey, everybody, this is Michael Der thank you so much for making it all the way to the end of the episode. I hope you'll follow tag and engage with us on our Instagram account at Artrepreneurspod. We've also launched our website Artrepreneurspod.com. It is the central hub where you can sign up for our newsletter, read our blog posts, send us voicemails, and even access discounts from our amazing affiliates. It's also the perfect spot to shout out Artrepreneurs with what would be an immensely appreciated five star rating and review. And if you're feeling extra generous, you can even make a small donation that's really going to help accelerate the growth of this podcast. But no matter what you do, folks, I just want to say thank you so much for supporting the program. There are a lot of great photography podcasts out there and I am just grateful to have gained your trust even for a moment. Take care everyone. See you next week.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
Photographer / Director
Matt Brown was born with a passion for photography. The Southern California native has been looking at the world with a photographer's eye all his life.
Over the past decade, Matt has covered The College World Series, Super Bowls, The World Series, The NBA Finals, AVP, Stanley Cups Finals, NCAA Bowls, The World Cup, PGA, and LPGA Golf.
With an emphasis on sports photography, Matt has worked regularly with a number of national sports publications like Sports Illustrated, ESPN the Magazine. However, not limited only to sports, His Editorial and Commercial clients include Mizuno, Sony, Newsweek, Nike, Time, Stern, National Geographic Traveler, Nikon, New York Times Magazine, Gatorade, MLB, Forbes, Fortune, NBA, Architectural Digest, Premiere, Esquire, GQ and U.S. News & World Report.
Matt has shot portraits of numerous world-famous athletes and stars including Shaquille O'Neal, Mike Trout, Peter Ueberroth, Misty May-Treanor, Kareem Abdul-Jabber, Chad Cordero, Vin Scully, Landon Donovan, Chick Hearns, David Beckham, Magic Johnson, Tony Hawk, Reggie Bush, Freddie Adu, Michael Flatly, Kobe Bryant and Albert Pujols.
In an effort to help future photographers, Matt, along with USA TODAY photographer and Co-founder of Sports Shooter Robert Hanashiro, has recently started a Sports Shooter Academy and Boot Camp held in cooperation with the NCAA Division I Big West Conference in Orange County in 2005.
Matt has lead workshops for Nikon and Colleges as well as served as Keynote speaker for university's and working media members. The Annenberg Space for Photography held a show of his work as well as the Smithsonian Museum.
Matt is the host of the podcast Just a Good Conversation. Some of his guests have been award the Silver Star, Emmy winners and the Pulitzer Prize. Check out the podcast at Justagoodconverastion.com
Currently, Matt is the chief photographer at Incipio Technologies. He lives with his wife, Antoinette, and three sons, Grant, Malcolm and Willem in Fullerton, California. He enjoys travel, surfing, Bocce ball, John Madden Football, and playing Xbox with his sons.