How can you get started with introducing new revenue streams into your business? This episode is another installment of the Missing Ingredient series, where I’m sharing the hidden steps necessary for running a successful photography business. Today’s guest, Rob Hall, is sharing his experiences and advice on diversifying your business and creating more financial freedom within it. 

The Focused Photographers Podcast was created based on the idea that the most incredible tool for learning is a deep dive into any given topic from multiple perspectives. Join us every other week as we explore important topics, with host Daniel Moyer and a variety of guests offering different perspectives! Make sure you’ve hit that follow or subscribe button on your favorite podcast player to get notified each week as we air new episodes!

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REVIEW THE SHOW NOTES

Rob’s experience diversifying as a photographer (5:45)

Blowing up and pulling back on YouTube (14:09)

How to begin with diversification (18:00)

Chasing new ideas (29:34)

Getting started in commercial photography (45:32)

Final advice from Rob (55:00)

Connect with Rob (57:13)

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Review the Transcript:

Dan Moyer
Hey, friends, welcome to the focus photographers podcast. I’m your host today Dan Moyer. Today’s episode is part of a larger series called missing ingredients. There’s an abundance of education out there about pricing presets and sales. But there’s so much more that goes into building a successful business than just those three things. This series aims to explore those practices and habits that go into being an entrepreneur and having a business that you love and enjoy. It does take a lot to put all these pieces into place in a way that allows you to be a person that still has hobbies and friends, an intact mental health and time for themselves while growing your business. If your work feels like it’s your whole life, versus your work fitting into your life, if you’re editing until 1am, you’re behind on your emails, you’re tired all the time. You can’t wait until the offseason, if you haven’t seen your family or gone outside or exercise you are missing out. It’s not enough to focus only on the growth of your business model, neglecting your personal growth and your personal life. It’s why being more productive and focusing only on self improvement doesn’t fulfill you. The other half of that equation is self acceptance. And I coach photographers on both. I like to call myself a life coach that’s disguised as a business coach, or I’m interested in you and your business. So if you’re stuck and you feel like you need to get out of your editing cave, I promise if you give me six months of regular one to one coaching, you and your business will be more calm, more balanced, productive and more content than you’ve ever been before. If you’re ready to get out of your editing cave, then get in touch with me and we’ll see if we’re a good fit. Okay, let’s get to the show. Now. The pandemic really put a hurting on a lot of us wedding photographers, and it got me thinking a lot about diversifying your business and introducing new revenue streams. That’s what my guest today is here to unpack. Today’s guest is Rob Hall, who’s a photographer and a well known YouTuber who became the go to for go docks photo equipment. It’s the second time on the podcast and I’m really thankful to have him back and sharing a whole bunch of his really helpful thoughtful actionable advice. This episode is kind of like a funnel, we start out catching up and exploring and bouncing around between a bunch of different topics. But as we go we get more granular and more concrete on how to introduce new revenue streams into your business. So thanks for being here. And without further delay here’s my conversation with Robert.

Dan Moyer
Man Good to see you again for episode number two second time on the podcast. You made it now you’re here thank

Rob Hall
you for having me back. Man. I appreciate it. Yeah,

Dan Moyer
can you check this off of your like your list now of like accomplishments being on Yes,

Rob Hall
yes. I think my trophies in the mail right.

Dan Moyer
It is. As I drove it’s a plaque. It’s a gold gold plaque.

Rob Hall
Put it next to like my ever pending 100k subscriber plaque.

Dan Moyer
Oh, man. Yeah, so you’re at like, 190 2000 or something like that.

Rob Hall
I’ve been at 92,000 for like a year because I haven’t been uploading.

Dan Moyer
Yeah. But you know, as we were talking about sort of pre show, that’s, uh, that’s the way your life is out right now with kiddos and all that.

Rob Hall
That’s right. Yeah. Yeah. It’s it’s been complicated adapting to new lifestyles with kiddos, I know, I try to be an engaged parent as much as I can, while still Billy being really busy as the sole provider. Yeah. But, you know, it’s, it’s been a challenge. And unfortunately, YouTube and Instagram, social media, in general has just been the thing to suffer, which kind of hurts a little bit, because like, I put so much effort into it for so many years. But and unfortunately, social media is kind of at a place where you need that constant commitment in order for it to benefit you. But yeah, you know, I figure I’ll be able to jump back into it and just take whatever I’m given by the algorithm, Gods

Dan Moyer
algorithm gods, you have to be able to still make, like, make some moves on that, like, you’ve got a significant following on Instagram, you’ve got a bunch of, you know, followers on YouTube or subscribers subs on YouTube. So like, you know, just make some moves again,

Rob Hall
I believe in Yeah, you’re not you’re not starting at zero. But yeah, if you if you take a break, unfortunately, you’ve definitely take a hit. Yeah.

Dan Moyer
Oh, interesting. Even on YouTube,

Rob Hall
I think definitely on YouTube. In fact, the YouTube is like the one where I think subscribers are the most meaningless. Oh, yeah. Like, if you just look around the web, you see people with like, 10 million subscribers, 5 million subscribers, and they’re hitting 80,000 views 100,000 views. And it’s just kind of like if you get on a trajectory of like your your existing audience, either kind of going away from the platform or just not picking up on watching your videos every time like you just start disappearing out of other suggested things. And whereas I feel like every other platform right now Tiktok and Instagram, new accounts have the potential to go viral, like with nothing under them.

Dan Moyer
Yeah. Are you are you on Tick Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock, tick tock, tick, tock. Are you on that too.

Rob Hall
I use it as like I’ll do Mobile post something that, you know, I posted on as an Instagram real, you know, I started on it. And it’s actually it’s pretty interesting in the sense of like, if you look at what does well on Instagram vs Tiktok it’s it’s pretty funny and enlightening. But like, ultimately I decided on majority of my audience, even if they have accounts aren’t really, you know, it would be other photographers who are using it for their own self promotion and not really like swiping through it for that information. Yeah, they go to other places for it. So I’m like, ultimately, it’s not really the content that I want to deliver. If I have something really short and Poppy, or informative in a really short period, I’ll double posted there. Yeah,

Dan Moyer
good to know. Yeah. So this whole so that’s one way you diversified right? YouTube, Instagram. Now tick tock, the first episode or first episode you were on, you know, we talked about finances and talked about how you diversified and got yourself set up financially savvy when you were younger, and all that. But this, this episode is so much more, there’s no diversifying element to it. But it’s all about like, you do a lot of things after that initial episode, you sent me this like web of, of things that you do that bring money into your, into your life and support your family and your household and all that. So I’m just curious. And that’s about that. And that’s how this episode is. That’s the whole goal behind this is to really dig down into you started as just a photographer, you started as doing weddings, right? And then what happened from there? You start a YouTube channel, and then what? Give us the rundown? Yeah, let’s

Rob Hall
see. So wedding photographer stagnant for like, almost a decade, decade, I’d say like 2008 is probably about when I got into it, I was really humming along and promoting my own business by like, 2012 2014, I was full time, right. And then it was pretty much just that until 2018. Along the way, I had done a few jobs outside of the wedding photography industry. So I would do this commercial corporate event or this commercial project. But like always, like, I had like four instances in my early photography career where I thought, I’m going commercial, I shot for Nike for at the World Series in I think it was 2014. If it was earlier, that’s even more absurd. I shot for them again, for a Michigan State project. In both times, I was like this is it like you for Nike, like that’s your ticket? Yeah. And it was a rude awakening into that’s not how commercial photography works. Like, you know, just because you do it once and even if it is for big brand doesn’t necessarily mean that like, you know, that’s where all your work is going to come. And so because I was facing the wrong side, what I didn’t know at the time, was that when I was shooting for Nike, I was getting hired by an agency that did not always work in my area, they kind of covered national projects and would find independent contractors to fit well. And so there was no other work from that agency once that project was done. Yeah. So, um, you know, I learned a lot from those. But yeah, like I said, it didn’t necessarily push me into being a commercial photographer. What really did was getting a client that was local, that had a lot of work, like needed projects where I was doing 150 to 200 shoots for every year. Wow. Right? Yeah. So once I got them, that was in 2018. And that’s the university that I shoot with them today, right? tons of tons of content with them. Once I worked with them, I was like, Okay, now I think I have something like safe that I can pivot to and what tends to happen in the marketing world is there’s lots of shakeups, right, Creative Director, changes to a different job, all of a sudden, different departments shakeups, right, and people move on to different roles, or you just have people climbing the corporate ladder in the marketing world. And they go from one position to another. So inevitably, what happened is kind of people from that place, went other places. And then I started getting contacted with a lot of other companies. And I just have work that I can show consistently in the commercial space. So there’s that but to be on topic of diversifying, like to me like one client, even though they were high producing wasn’t enough. And so that’s when I started working with some other agencies. So I think it was about a year maybe two years later that I started working with an agency here that handles all of the tier two advertising regional advertising for Chevy. Okay, so that’s where you see me shooting the pickup trucks and yeah, we’re basically just doing it’s the only market in the country where this happens. But because Chevy is so dominant in Detroit, they actually have a specific marketing for the metro Detroit area.

Dan Moyer
Hmm. Whenever I think of shoots like that, that are new, you’re talking about national brands you’re talking about, you know, I have a huge company. Chevy, it’s like you think of having a lot of moving parts. It’s not just you and maybe an assistant rolling up. Is that what your experience has been? Like? I’m thinking, you got lighting crew, you got models, you got hair, you have makeup, like, are you in charge of all that stuff

Rob Hall
to know. So they have this is all handled under an agency who has a producer, right? And that person orchestrates that? Yes. There’s typically a lot of people and we’re also normally filming video projects alongside of it. Okay, so there’s usually video, drone, talent producer, Creative Director, stills me, right, and then pas pas out the wazoo cleaning the car holding lights, that sort of thing. Although, I would say this, because it’s not national. That’s not quite like the budget levels. Right. Right. That would, that would be like a massive production, you know, where it looks like a film set out there. It’s still kind of, yeah, it’s a smaller scale group. It’s not like a crew of 25 or anything like that. And that’s, I don’t even know how I would describe it. Like, there’s really not another job that I have to do at that level. It’s just so unique. Yeah, you know, in terms of what they’re doing, but they’ve really, they’re really smart about the size of their crew, I think in terms of like making it that we can kind of get in and get out of places quickly. And still move fast. Right? It’s almost like the running gun of commercial photo and video. Oh, yeah. So it’s pretty cool. And this what you find is like, almost every these days with marketing, almost everything is like happening at a unique level. Like there’s no one size fits all approach to production anymore. You have stuff happening for like small brands, they’re still expected to deliver video content, you know, so they have to represent themselves. And that could just be like a videographer on a ronin. Right, right. And then, yeah, it just moves up all the way to obviously big budget national productions. Yeah. Okay.

Dan Moyer
So you’re doing weddings, you’re making that happen. And you’re saying at some point, like, I don’t want to do this anymore. So you dip your toe into the commercial space, and you get some success there. But then there’s also the YouTube side of things where you do a lot of YouTube videos. Can you talk a little bit about that? And maybe give a refresher on how you got into that? Yeah, so

Rob Hall
YouTube, basically, early on, like you said, I did it strictly because like, it felt inefficient to be responding to all these questions about equipment via like Facebook forums, right, sitting there typing up all these answers. And then it got to a point where I’m like arguing with people like no, that’s your, your assumption about this light is wrong. Here’s how it’s right. So it’s funny that my youtube channel almost began in spite of like, I hate doing this, and I hate what these other people are saying, I’m going to prove it. So it just so happened that because I was covering the Godox products, which just exploded in popularity. So did my channel might, you know, my channel did too. And that’s another aspect. We’ll get into this later, like me getting off YouTube, if you want to bring that remind me of that. But yeah, it basically just grew along with the Godox brand. And so it just became, you know, the go dark sky in terms of on YouTube, which, at this point, like a lot of people because it’s so much more popular, a lot of other people are covering it, and even doing a great job on it. And so, I mean, I leaned into it for a while. And I think it also brought up all of the social media platforms, right. As soon as you get one, it’s easier to kind of migrate that audience around. I think I have like 10,000 followers on threads. And I’ve posted three times, right? Like, that just kind of happens on social media. And so yeah, but then then ultimately, in I’d say, really like the last 18 months is when like the commercial stuff is just like it’s taking all my time. It’s my highest quality work. It’s what I enjoy doing the most I do enjoy like actually producing on shoots and creating projects for brands more than I do social media and you know, making my own videos. Yeah, I feel that and yeah, most of us I think social media is like just a necessary evil, right? Yeah.

Dan Moyer
Oh, I want to get off all of it. I just want to cancel it all. But anyway, speaking of getting off things, I mean, we can go right into that now you said you’re you’ve pulled back or you’re thinking about pulling back on YouTube. Yeah,

Rob Hall
I mean, it’s a combination of things I said the family life and stuff earlier is kind of family life has kind of made me just not have as much time for it right when it comes to like me getting home from a long eight 910 hour shoot, commercial shoot. And then like the kiddos there I’ve limited time before she goes to bed like YouTube video is gonna lose every time. Yeah, right. It’s just always gonna lose. And so yeah, I don’t think I’ve actually I don’t know that I’ve uploaded a video I contributed to one like three, three months ago. I don’t think I’ve uploaded another video in the last six, eight months. Oh,

Dan Moyer
I thought there was one from like a month ago. Damn.

Rob Hall
Could have been on my channel, but it wasn’t me. Yeah, possibly. I definitely didn’t upload a month ago.

Dan Moyer
Yeah, so but we We were talking about like the importance of like, like, wow, you’ve got all these different, all these different knobs that it’s so great all these faucets that like, you have the ability to just say like, my energy level is not here for that my focus and is on my family, right. And that’s something that a lot of turnovers only have this one knob to turn off, and they’re either trying to like, crank it really hard, and try to like, get everything they possibly can out of it. But then the other stuff in their life ends up failing the other stuff that they really want to do. It’s a trade off, right? You’re putting all this energy trying to get every drop, you cannot have this one faucet. And and if you end up just like overloading it right? Like I think you said it really well, when we were talking sort of pre show about how you can, it’s great to have all these different faucets that you can turn one off, and rather than just one, yes,

Rob Hall
yes, if you have one faucet and that faucet happens to be your lifeline, right, you need a glass of water and you have one faucet, you can’t turn it off, there is no option to turn it off. When you have nine different bosses or eight, you know, a few different faucets, right? You have the option to pivot and control and get them from different sources, turn them up, turn them down. And you know, diversifying is huge and like all aspects of personal finance, right? Like no one would suggest when you start having money to invest that you just go put it in one risky thing. Right, right. That is just it’s stupid. So why would we apply that logic to our work as well? And ultimately, not diversifying is what got a lot of people in trouble in 2020, right, because wedding photography was their lifeline and all weddings were canceled, right? And then kind of came back and that business seeped into 2021 and 2022. And people recovered. But some people did it. Right. Some people were unable to recover, because they couldn’t withstand not having water come out of that faucet. Yeah, so for me, like you said, I sent you that flowchart. And just kind of like the web of income, you know, extends beyond just work. So if you look at an area of my work is commercial photography. And I work basically with four different agencies or marketing departments within an organization, right? diversified in that one sector of work. I have four different clients, if one has a problem, or we have a problem or whatever, the work doesn’t align with me anymore. I can close that faucet. And I still have three other ones going in that one sector. And then on top of that, that’s not the only sector within photography, right? You know, I have other types of work that I do, although not as often, I leaned on the commercial photography, but I still do headshots stuff, I just did a massive 100 and 115 person, headshot gig for an organization. Right. So I just did a corporate event for an organization not too long ago. Like there’s still other things that I do here and there. Just to allow for flexibility. You know, when

Dan Moyer
you’re making, I feel like most photographers are here, and they’re like, Yeah, I want to diversify. I’m ready. Like, I need to move out of weddings. But I think the actual conversation is great, but the to do is really hard for people, because all most wedding photographers and portrait photographers know is like, let me get my name up on this wedding photographers directory. Or let me go to the knot or let me go to Wedding Wire. And that’s not the way that it works in the corporate world. It’s not the way it works with agencies and stuff. So how do you actually make the action behind? I need to diversify, I need to do some other things to start building that up.

Rob Hall
I think a number one, you have to kind of start at the destination and then work backwards, right? So if you’re saying yourself, I want to be a commercial photographer, and you’re coming from a world where like your last five years have just been weddings and portraits. Well, you have nothing to show right? To really become one. It’s a little bit different. And I feel like if you were like looking for advice online, it really depends on your market, right? You have to identify whether your market is something that is dominated by like large marketing agencies, which is going to be your big cities, right with lots of business HQ that are under these different agencies. But nowadays, there’s a lot of like solo marketing agencies, right. There’s individuals who are literally handling the creative for companies on their own. And they’re doing photo video copywriting, right. They’re doing all of that. So that’s a cool thing. Because it gives you the opportunity to kind of control what it is that you want to do. Now if you know that you’re going to obviously need work to show for whatever your ultimate destination is. I think that your first step is to like, dip your toes into photographing that type of project on your own right starts with a personal project. It’s a great test to because you can identify if like you actually like that subject matter and what I say Just to anybody is, most of us have interests outside of photography. And I would highly suggest to leverage that as your foray into commercial photography. Because if you have some type of specific knowledge, whether that’s a sport, good example of this is my buddy, Steve Walter got into pickleball really early. And guess whose agency is like handling one of the largest pickleball equipment, right? He, their company is shooting all of that he was into it super early. He knew this already understood this sport, he knew where to go, he knew the people that were playing, right. And so if you’re, if you’re interested in something, then you have like a unique avenue into that knowledge. If you were a lifelong musician, you have more insight in terms of like a guitar ad, right? You kind of know what people would want to see if they were shown a guitar at whether it be in a live performance or this stage setup. If you’re into auto culture, right? You know, what people are looking at online, because you’re looking at it online. So by exploring an interest, it just kind of gives you an edge as a photographer, to actually go and photograph that and put your own creative spin on it. Because you know what it’s all about. And you’re interested in it. So you like it? Yeah, you like being around the people that comes naturally. Exactly. And that’s one of the best things about photography is like as your interests change, or your lifestyle changes throughout your career, you can really pivot it to exactly what you’re interested in.

Dan Moyer
Yeah, now you’re saying that I’m thinking back to like, when I was first starting out, I had these like two local guys who sort of mentors of mine. And I remember the one guy like, his name’s Doug, over here in outside Philadelphia in Lehigh Valley, there’s this massive truck company called Mack Trucks, you know, Mack Trucks is Yeah, Mack Trucks freight freight liners, one Peterbilt, but Mack Trucks is like, the headquarters is like, right up the road. And he, I think he like, went to a dump truck facility and was like, Hey, man, can you just like, I’ll give you like, 100 bucks, if you can just like bring your dump truck, like some an owner operator of this dump truck. Bright Red, like really awesome. He’s just found this quarry and just like, had this guy meet him there, like, gave him a couple 100 bucks. And we just did this shoot where we were like, light painting this truck with the moon and all that stuff. And I thought it was for like a legit shoot. But now but you know, thinking about it. Now. It was like, it was just him saying, I’m in weddings, and I need to do some different stuff. And he did a bunch of shoots like that. Just just trying to network with people and make things work. Is that part of the secret is like going out and and networking with people and talking with you know? Yeah, absolutely. I

Rob Hall
mean, so in the world, it’s called spec work, right? There’s not actually a client paying for it. You’re either testing out a concept or trying to prove that you can do a concept. Right? And I mean, if you look up on YouTube, like Nike spec project, you’ll see so many indie filmmakers who have like, worked on and created their own Nike commercial, right? They went out running with a friend and got all this epic B roll, right? Yeah. And that’s their way of like creating something so that if anybody ever comes knocking on that door, or they can, you know, they can submit it to them, or they can actually actively push that in front of the right eyeballs, right. So it’s the being prepared and for when the opportunity comes or creating the opportunity, so to speak. So I you know, it’s funny, because I think of it, I kind of skip that. Because like my first my first big client just like I it came from, like such a good referral of somebody who’s already in that position that like it just transferred perfectly smooth. And then the auto stuff. I don’t even Oh, I actually did. The reason that I got in at the agencies because back in like, 2016, I actually did a commercial for them. I was a talent. Commercial. Yeah. And you were the actor. I was the actor. Yeah. Which was really, which was really odd. Because obviously, I never pursued anything like that, right. But my buddy was the cinematographer there at the time, and they had all the permits pulled to be in all these restaurants in Detroit. And then their talent backed out the day before when they realized that they had to drive the vehicle. And they were like scrambling because they had everything else set up. And they’re like, we just need somebody who’s like you’re a food writer, you got a beard, you could look like put a flannel on, you’ll look like a hipster and you’ll fit perfectly. So I did it. I’ve got this 2016 Malibu ad. And the funny thing is we did pickups for it in like 2019. And it I think it still runs to this day for the Malibu.

Dan Moyer
Are you like, can you see yourself like, are you Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah,

Rob Hall
absolutely. Oh, I mean, like, there’s somebody who’s voiceover and for me, the first thing is really funny. My first words in the commercial are, I love food. Like because I’m a food writer, going to a bunch of restaurants and Detroit but yeah, yeah, I mean, I am the center character, obviously the Malibu’s the subject but yeah, I’m the I’m the lead my wife’s in it. We got a few other friends in it.

Dan Moyer
Have you ever seen that? It’s really great photo, I think it’s like a watch ad or something as Matthew McConaughey. He’s got like his hand on the wheel, and he’s just smiling with his hand like over his face. That’s how I picture you like, I love food. Just Google it if you don’t know what that ad looks like, it’s so good. No, I

Rob Hall
think I know exactly what you’re talking about. He sure did get like commercially typecast once he did those Lincoln commercials. Oh, yeah, that’s what it was. It was a Lincoln commercial. Okay. That’s what it’s from Lincoln. Yeah. Okay. Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Dan Moyer
That’s amazing. So you’re getting out there, you’re talking to people? I could see like, I think there’s, there’s two things that keep coming to my mind. One is like, the element of like, having some kind of passion or interest. Like, I don’t think a lot of wedding photographers shoot outside the context of the wedding day. Well, I don’t think they’re carrying personal cameras. I don’t think that many of them are practicing in the same way that like, you know, they do. Maybe they’re photographing their kids, but like, they’re not setting up shoots. Maybe there’s maybe similar. We’re setting up like style wedding shoots, but I think we need to take that same energy and put it towards something else, whether that’s headshots, or, you know, environmental headshots or something.

Rob Hall
Yeah. Yeah, no, I absolutely agree. I think environmental headshots are huge, because personally, I feel like the window on like a plain backdrop and background is like closing due to AI. So environmental portraits are huge. That’s one of the few reasons that I feel safe about my position with the university is because equally important as the face and there is the background being at the university or at their department, whatever they’re working on. And so that’s the only reason I’m like, Okay, I don’t think I’m gonna lose them tomorrow. Yeah, they’re scary. Yeah, it’s,

Dan Moyer
it’s definitely a little bit concerning I, part of me wonders about like, like, it’s, so I’m naturally a very gregarious person, I’m having an extreme empath. And I love whenever I do headshots at companies, because they expect, like me walking in, or like a, you know, the corporate headshot photographer walking in, and I walk in, and the vibe is so much different. That’s what I love about it, is the ability to like pull things out of people who are just not expecting an experienced part of it. They’re just expecting to sort of stand there and, you know, get their ID photo taken when it’s not an ID photo. It’s

Rob Hall
like, right, yeah, it’s lovely. Yeah, their thing is going to be like another passport. Yeah. Standard, right. It’s actually really funny because I do white background shots for the university. We’re doing like, every other month, we just do new hires and whatnot. And they do that just to keep it consistent across the web over like years of of people going there. And almost everybody comes in, and they go walk between the backlight and they put their back right against the background by default. And I’m a I’m like, stool in front of that light that stool. Yeah, they’re like hurt from from the passport photos or like, oh, gosh, or their license photo. And they’re like, this is where I go. It’s one of these.

Dan Moyer
Yeah, yeah, there’s, I’ve been, I have one international client that I do work for their local Philly office and like some of the other offices, and I only do headshots, sometimes they’ll do you know, shots of their office. And then within long enough that they initially found me through my cousin’s husband, who I did headshots for. He’s like, Hey, I’m this like 30, under 30 thing, they need headshots. So I did like a bunch of headshots he picked for and there were so amazed that like, I gave him four photos rather than just one. But I went to Harrisburg, and we do these ones. And then I did a small series of environmental headshots for that company. And then after that, they went to all gray because they wanted to try to make it look uniform. And for like three or four years, we did all gray. And they finally just came back to the environmental thing there. And they like sent me their new style guide and everything. And I was like, you know, one of your photos in the style guide is my phone. Like, yeah, like I made that for you. I’ve been telling you guys to do this for forever. They’re all about the environmental stuff now.

Rob Hall
Yeah, yeah, it kind of goes back and forth. It’s interesting to watch, you know, whatever is trendy, I kind of understand the whole, like web white kind of perspective, because websites for so long was like how do we get our page load time down? Right? Like, this is huge Google metric. Okay, shoot it on white, everything is white. You know, minimize data, whatever. Yeah.

Dan Moyer
So okay, so you’re leveraging some of these, this networking opportunities that you have, you’re talking to people on set I’m assuming you know, and that’s that’s a ball that you have started to like push down the path and that’s that’s starting to roll now. What are the other things that you’re doing to try to you know, bring fight you know, money into your household and shore up your finances and set up your the future for your children and all that kind of stuff.

Rob Hall
Yeah, let’s see, that’s a lot. I would say in terms of like, bring money into the household, I feel pretty much set with the commercial emphasis, right? The The only thing that I think that could be better is if I found something slightly less time demanding, right? I’m kind of against a lot of the easy thing in photography, I would say, as an influencer would be to sell presets. Yeah, would be to self. So that would be the method. And I’m very much against presets. not inherently, that they’re bad for a workflow. But like, I don’t know, there’s, there’s no one size fits all approach. And if you’re moving sliders afterwards, anyways, then why are we doing this in the first place? Much more powerful is the knowledge to create your own presets, right. So yeah, I don’t have any intentions of doing anything, no knock to anybody who’s made great presets or anything like that. But to me, it’s just not something that I would ever invest time in producing. I actually took a stab at a couple different product ideas. Because I was kind of thinking like, Okay, I feel like I know this industry so well, that there’s a lot of things that could be better. I know they’d be better for me. So I know that other people would appreciate them, too. One of them just would not have worked. Like I look back at it. I’m like, Oh, I was an idiot. I was trying to get rid of the counterweight since then photographers hate counterweights so much, right. Like, nobody wants to sandbag and like, Okay, we don’t want to do that. So we don’t and then we drop lights, and then we’re mad that our lights break. Right, right. So I was actually trying to develop something. It was basically like, I’m trying to think of another product that is similar to I we have these pan holders, you put them under your pan on the kitchen table. Yeah, I’m talking about Yeah, like separate is for I wanted that goes on the top of the light stand, spider legs out. And it’s for fixed points that would hit before your light hits. Unfortunately, when that happens, all of the energy just goes right into the standard attachment. And then it breaks anyways. Oh, and then falls? Yeah, got it. So yeah, I should brush up on my physics before I just start trying to avoid counterweights. You know, but yeah, so there’s, there’s a few things that I’ve been like looking at in that regard. There’s another idea that I have a lot more confidence about. And I’ve actually already pushed it towards a partner cool in it. And I’m shocked that it’s not moving faster, because I think it would really change our change how we interact with flash photography. But yeah, so that’s kind of us. Nevermind, I was gonna say you asked if anything was off limits, and I will not go into more details about this idea.

Dan Moyer
That’s fine. I was waiting to see if you’re gonna, like, just released some details. But no,

Rob Hall
because if it doesn’t work, I’d really like to try with somebody else. Yeah, but that. So I think that’s kind of the other thing that’s kind of happening in the back of my head as another idea, because I think it’s a high value, when you’ve spent a lot of time in industry, you can use that experience to shape a product that affects a lot of people and financially benefit from it, as well as overall improving the industry. So I think, I think that’s actually huge.

Dan Moyer
Okay, can we talk about sort of like your approach to this, because you do have a lot going on, like, I’m thinking about that, you know, that flow that you have, but it all started with one thing, and then you add another and you add another, but are you like, you start with one and you get it like really going, and then you add another thing, and then you get it really going. So like you’re just adding all these things and doing all this stuff, like you are focused, yeah,

Rob Hall
you’re typically focused on one thing at a time, until it gets comfortable. And then you have the bandwidth to bring it on. And this happens with everything, like I have a rental property, right? I was not a landlord before that. So I had to learn a lot, and made a lot of early mistakes with that. And so you know, it’s it’s a grind at first. And it’s been this way with everything it’s been this way with, if you were to diversify into commercial photography, right, it’s going to be a grind, that grind is going to be making all those new connections, meeting those new people doing the spec work, right, there’s going to be that grand up front, and it’s the whole time it’s going to feel awful, and without any type of return on investment until it does. And then you’re like, Oh, I’m so glad I did that. So it’s an it’s always an uphill climb with something. And so, for me, it’s just kind of a process of like, okay, test the waters on it, see if you like it right. So deeply consider this. And this applies to both a photography job as well as something outside and finances like being a landlord. Like I really sat with the idea of whether or not I wanted to buy my first investment property right. From there. It’s okay. Look for the crash course from people who have succeeded in it. Right. And the cool thing about the internet right now because that information is commoditized. So everybody out there, like there is in depth information for sale everywhere. And you can try to find somebody who’s who’s done it well, you know, try to do some homework and find that out, learn as much as you can, and then you’re still gonna make some mistakes and still gonna have some problems. But you’ll tie up those loose ends, eventually, there’ll be a point where you’re like, Okay, I can actually stomach this again. And then it just kind of like fall, you continue to educate yourself, and okay, how can I optimize this? How can I make it better at that point is not really taking that upward, that that tough hill to climb up front, right? It’s kind of like you’re just coasting, you know, it’s a little rocky, these problems pop up and everything. And then eventually, like you hit, you hit smooth concrete, and it’s just, this is normal, I’ve optimized it, it’s in the background of my head, almost zero bandwidth, it just happens. Now, I’m not saying like, you know, get stagnant, obviously, new things are gonna pop up. And I think in a creative industry, you always have to be exposing yourself to new stuff. But it will be a lot easier. This is, if you imagine flash photography at all, that’s how it’s going to be, it’s going to be very rocky and bumpy at first. And then No, I can actually tolerate and stomach the visuals that I’m getting. And then eventually, it’s going to be automatic, right, you can throw the three lights set up, and you’re comfortable with it, and you can add something back onto your plate. So that’s kind of been it’s, if I looked at it, I could probably take that flowchart that I have a viewers and I could put a year on every one were like, that was the year I learned it, and implemented it. And then there’s cutting things out. Like right now I’m, I’m coming up to the third year, my last year on my studio. And I think that was one of my things on the flowchart. Right, it’s a rental operation, in addition to my own use. And that one, I think I’m just done with it. Because from a time perspective, every time I walk in there, there’s either a grip setup that could kill somebody, or like for busted backgrounds, like every one of my every one of my lights is broken in like some minor way that annoys me. You know, and so that’s just something that like, paired with my time and the earnings from it after I’ve experienced a little bit, I could just determine that I don’t need to do this anymore. And we can cut that out. Right? Yeah. So yeah, I would say it’s just constantly chasing a new idea, testing it, putting in that upfront effort, writing it out, even through the points of resistance until it gets a little bit more comfortable in everything. And then you’ll kind of find the freedom to elevate it more go in a different direction, whatever.

Dan Moyer
Yeah, I love two things about what you’re saying. One is that you prune things you’re like, alright, this isn’t this is just not working, like you’re self aware enough to say, This is too much. It’s a you could be making good money out. But you’re like, I’m assuming your YouTube was, was probably a good moneymaker for you for a while. But you’re also and you probably still make money from it from, you know, people going back through whatever looks like, you know that that’s not serving my family life has taken up too much time. So let me just like pause on that. But what I what really struck me is like this element of play, that you have, in being able to diversify, it’s like, oh, like, you know, I like shooting the cars. I like, you know, you were doing weddings, and you just like doing these other things. So it’s like, there’s, you’re just curious and interested in these different things. And I keep wondering, like, you know, is that a question that we can just ask ourselves is like, I’m interested in camping, like, how can that be a revenue stream? That’s just seems like a question right

Rob Hall
now how camping could be. Yeah, yeah. I mean, and from there, like, I can answer that really quickly. Like, okay, if you are in our sphere, and you’re doing the photography, like, Well, would you like to be in Yosemite, like photographing talent for a Patagonia ad? Probably. So yeah. So like, they make that happen, right? And, alternatively, like, Would you like to be on that trip, documenting the experience and sharing your input on all of the gear that you know, you brought out for that? Yeah, there’s a viable path for that too. And so you can test those waters and try it out. One of the things I think a lot of people are probably feel like the ship has sailed on a majority of social media platforms, right? You to Instagram, maybe not tick tock so much. Like that’s still hot, but like, the wood big wave, a lot of people are like, okay, it’s gone. And if you’re not already in the club, you’re not going to go anywhere in it. If you have that type of perspective, one thing I would encourage you to check out if you want to get into the social media marketing or digital influencing is actually Amazon. Amazon has a not only do they have like the affiliate marketing program, but they also have a content side of that in that if you produce videos for a specific product, they those videos can show up on the product page, and then you will get a commission. If people watch your video and then purchase the product. Wow. So you don’t have to be big on any social media network that is the social media network. somebody’s searching for that. And it’s very underutilized. Like not many people are doing that in that space. And yeah, it works. I crossed uploaded, like 20 relevant videos, right? It’s a little bit of a pain, if you’ve made videos on other platforms, because there’s a lot of things you can’t do, like mentioned, other retailers talk about pricing, you can’t talk about pricing at all, because it’s a moving object, right? So I had to like go through a video and like, cut out all the points where I broke those rules before I could upload it. But yeah, it were, I mean, it’s something it’s another revenue stream, I ultimately I decided like, okay, it’s not as big of a jump as I would have wanted to, like, invest any new energy in it, but it was like worth exploring. And I think in other niches that are more popular on Amazon, I think that you would have a lot more success.

Dan Moyer
Wow, that’s interesting. No thinking about it. Like, I was just looking for a rucksack the other day, like for walking with the weight on your back is called rucking. And I watched like, several of those videos, and there’s only like two or three on like, the like the bag, like the one that everybody gets, there’s like two or three videos. And like, you know, it says like, 100,000 Plus, you know, 4.5 star reviews. Man, imagine how many people are buying that bag and looking at that video. And there’s only like, two or three videos that are on there about that back.

Rob Hall
Yeah, it’s huge. So that’s something to explore. If you want to, you know, try the social media marketing stuff, the videos, and the videos don’t have to be long. I think you they I think it’s a minimum of 30 seconds. And it’s a minimum of 30 seconds that they have to watch for you to get the Commission, which isn’t very difficult to keep people for 30 seconds, at least not on Amazon, like tick tock. Yeah, that’s hard. But not not on Amazon. Because like, they’re already invested in that product. And they obviously want to know more. Yeah,

Dan Moyer
I mean, the amount of time I spent looking at rucksack bags, like I think things probably like 40 minutes, like Googling and all that stuff, huh? All right. So we’re where do you go next? Like what’s, what’s your next step? You know, you’ve done a bunch of different things. You’re talking about doing products, wherever do you do chill out? And like, notice the ones that are doing the best for you and continue to focus on those are? Yeah,

Rob Hall
I mean, I think I think I’m in a filtering stage right now. Like, that’s what I think I’m going through in that my clientele aspect, photo side of things, I’m happy, it’s all well oiled. I know what all of my clients expect of me. None of those have workflow issues. So there’s no resistance there. And then the product stuff like, okay, that I’m kind of knocking on the door of right, I’m kicking the tires on that one, right. So I’m at that stage with product development. I’m at the smooth sailing stage, I’m at the trimming stage with the studio, pruning that social media, I’m at a like analysis stage, like, I want to continue there. I want to work on it. But I think it’s going to take a completely fresh approach. So I’m, I don’t want to prune it, I want to burn it down and start over. I just Yeah, I need new growth on that one. And part of that is just so this is what I was talking about earlier. And getting back to it. I wrote this really awesome wave of Botox becoming popular, yep. Now, I would say it’s the most popular flash product in the world. Tons of people talk about it. So now there’s competition on against my videos, right? Way more there than there was when I first got into it. And additionally, there’s platform changes that I think impact it as well. Macro economically, we are now in a recession, people are spending money less every factor of me uploading a video has like been reduced in terms of it’s returned to me. So that’s not to say like, I only do the videos, like it’s always information first, right? That’s why I want to do them. But, you know, when you start making when you make X dollars on a video on average, and then it goes to like x divided by four. It’s hard to get excited about making them right. So yeah, for me, like, I want to change what I do on those platforms. I want it to be I want to pull back the curtain a little bit more on this on commercial photography, especially because I think it’s in such a weird time where it exists it so many different levels. There’s no like set of standards or blueprint for commercial photography. And I’m actually working with clients who operate at different levels. Right? Yeah, we have one who’s like storyboarding and one who isn’t, you know, one who it’s pretty running gun, right? So being able to adapt to those and just kind of show people that the thing that I’m just kind of stuck on is like most of the people don’t may not want to be on camera, you know, or there’s not enough time I’m to kind of work in any type of like, detailed thing. So I think it’s just got to be like a capture at all, almost like a Taylor Jackson with weddings, like, captures it all, and then just talks about it later. I think that almost needs to be like the approach to, to like the commercial photography, stuff on YouTube and social media.

Dan Moyer
Yeah, let’s, let’s stay there just for a little bit. And we’ll maybe we’ll round out the conversation talking a little bit more about commercial photography, because I feel like, we’ve got a couple more questions there that I feel like listeners were probably really want to hear. Because we’ve talked a little bit about you know, that that seems to be the natural progression. People say like, you know, if they stay in photography, they get out of wedding and portrait, and maybe they try something else, like headshots, or branding, photography, or whatever. But then once you get into working with businesses and stuff, it’s not like, I can’t imagine and tell me if I’m wrong, that art directors are like scrolling through Instagram to look for their next thing. Are they looking for talent? And photographers on LinkedIn? Like? Is that how they’re finding it? Or is it in their networks of other art directors and other people that they’ve worked with?

Rob Hall
So in my experience, I think what a lot of creative directors are directors, account managers, I think a lot of what they are looking for, is like meeting expectations. I know, that sounds very, very broad. But like, what I mean by that is, they are looking for somebody who can who can do that job without much resistance or pushback, right. So a lot of people, if they have a consistent type of workflow, where they have a brand standard visual image that they want to convey consistently, they’re going to want to work with the same person, that person is probably not going through Instagram. But I just got back from the Sony condo trip. And there’s a few major major art directors, they’re like the LA world, right? And LA and New York. And they were talking about how they are constantly looking on Instagram and social media and looking at their emails for like all the random people who just like, throw them their name in the hat. And they’re kind of going through that. And they even mentioned having like a database where they’re taking notes about like, this could work well with this client if we go this direction. Right. Wow, that does happen. Yeah. So I was, I was shocked to hear that I was like, there’s no way they’re within their network, and only going off of referrals and everything. But know that that still happens. And like I said, creative departments, there’s just a lot of turnover. There’s a lot of shakeups and people moving and scaling and all of that and just going to a different company and trying to find like the best fit, because marketing is constantly changing. So like teams are constantly changing to support brands adapting to those changes. And so what you’ll find is like, it’s just not a fixed thing whatsoever. So I don’t think that there’s any negative and, and reaching out directly to directors, I didn’t ever hear the word LinkedIn in the discussion for like anyone, I think the creative community is kind of like, you know, now we have all these other platforms where we operate more freely, it’s just not, it’s not the platform for like a visual person, I think, yeah, you know, anyone is a visual professional. But yeah, they certainly are responding to people reaching out and kind of keeping a base, if it aligns well with what they’re looking for, which is just people to do the job, you know, and meet those standards. Right. And that can that can be completely different. And these, these art directors were specifically talking about how they’re working with different artists, right, they work with five different artists, and they’re not going to do the same person for, you know, a rap music video and you know, any other country or any other genre. Yeah, country.

Dan Moyer
Yeah. One thing you said, and they’re really surprised me. But also, it reminded me of a friend of mine who’s working on the same thing now, you said just emails from people who shoot in their shot, right? Like they get the contact for the creative director and, or they know that they’re just a creative director, and they’re just, they just send their information to them and that they’re keeping that information for potential future use.

Rob Hall
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And that, in fact, I think, one of my buddies who was at condo with me, literally shot who shot with one of the art directors who said that the next day about what he thought he would be a good fit for, and like, they’re in communication now. Like, it works, it works. You know, if you, and this goes back to the, like, if you play on your interest, where you intimately understand a topic, right? Like that gives you an edge, right to actually apply to these like, Hey, I haven’t I have a history, building guitars. And you know, you can even give commentary on where you think previous projects, like could have been better. Right. And this looks great. But you know, these guitars like the lacquer finish isn’t really represented well, like it doesn’t really have this trying that everyone looks for when they pick it up. And that could be the noticing that detail could be the difference maker and like, oh, this person gets it, right. So leveraging your other interests and knowledge is huge. And that should just be automatically in line with what you want to shoot and be around anyways, and then applying that to, you know, connecting the right people. And it could be a situation where one of those directors is like, hey, sorry, like, we’ve got this project fulfilled, although I think your work is great, although I do know this person at this brand, or we should stay in touch. Right? So constantly working on those connections is huge. I’m doing a bit of that there’s some stuff that I think would be a little bit more exciting to shoot here. And that works locally, like I really want to stay local. To my area, I don’t want to be flying for work or anything like that just because of family. And so there’s some things that like I’m pursuing and shooting my shot in terms of other types of clients that I want to capture. Yeah,

Dan Moyer
so say like, you’re really let me use the state with the camping example. It’s like are I really love camping, I’m just gonna do some, I’m gonna go out into the woods, I’m gonna set up some tents, I’m gonna do some lifestyle camping photos, or maybe it’s like a single person in a small tent, it’s dark, you know, they got their single lamp and like you’re shooting those things for your spec? And then is it a matter of just, you know, going on to Google and like, looking at other campaigns that, you know, Patagonia or Kelty? Or, you know, Rei put out and then finding who the creative directors were, who is the agency behind it, and you just start sort of laying the groundwork that way? Is it just a matter of Googling, these different things that are coming out? I

Rob Hall
think targeted destination first would ease the whole process, right? So if you find out like, Hey, okay, my primary goal is I want to do photography for Lexus, I want to do a national Lexus brand. Shoot, okay. Like, obviously, you’re now that’s Toyota, right? Find out if it’s, is there already agency represented? Who did the previous work, right? Fill in as many blanks as you can with that? Because sometimes you’re going to hit a wall. Yeah. And you’re gonna realize like, oh, okay, like this is all handled through this agency, who it looks like they always work with them, and they’ve done it for the last 15 years. Maybe not worth investing a ton of energy, right, which is why I think it’s important to look at that destination first. Because if you play the other way, like you may, you’re going to hit the wall later after you’ve invested a bunch of energy. Right? So that’s like the first thing that I would suggest. But if you really enjoy the camping niche, and you’re just like, No, okay, that’s what I want to do. I really don’t care if it’s for Coleman, Patagonia, Rei, whatever. Moose Jaw, actually muestras. Local, I think for us. Yeah, you’re just I just said that word. And I’m like, I wonder what they’re up to? Maybe I should call. But yeah. So you know, you could kind of shoot it and just try to capture the essence of it. Just I would be more prepared to kind of hit a wall later than in that, if that was your trajectory.

Dan Moyer
Gotcha. Yeah, buddy. Mine is really into weddings. And he’s in the same place where he’s like, I’m just ready to sort of make my move out of it. Like, I want to be home on weekends, I want to do some things that I love. And he huge Sixers fan, Philadelphia 76 was big time. And he’s just been like hitting the ground running, emailing, like every person who possibly can, you’re trying to talk with podcast hosts, to be able to get a credential from them immediate credential to be able to go to a game and shoot it. And he’s just like looking at it from all these different angles. And I don’t know how he’s getting like he ended up getting a contact for somebody the Sixers and they actually got back to him and said, yeah, we’ll put you on our our list send me a portfolio, but he didn’t have any portfolio of basketball stuff. So he ended up like going out and shooting a bunch of like Villanova games and in these, you know, college games, so he just had something and yeah, the thread that I hear this whole thing is just like being curious and being hungry. Hmm, like to just just just go after it. Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Rob Hall
I mean, like the worst thing that’s gonna happen to say no, nobody is going to be upset or appalled by you like knocking on the door, right? Like Well, maybe if you actually showed up and knocked on the door, right digitally knocking on the door, right? Yeah, no one’s gonna be upset by that the worst thing that’s gonna happen is they’re gonna say no, the honestly the most likely scenario if they’re not interested is just to not get a response at all and like, and that’s okay, like, you know, keep on knocking move elsewhere. Sometimes people saw it and then they come back to it later like it’s crazy what happens but you know, if you don’t put those feelers out there, it’s certainly not going to definitely not gonna, right, yeah, yeah. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take Oh, that’s,

Dan Moyer
that’s a good Michael Scott. It’s a good warm feeling. I’m feeling quote final final questions, thoughts that you are still like, you know, if there’s like loose ends of the conversation that you want to share in. In the final bits,

Rob Hall
I would say like the big thing, I think, whether it’s whether it’s photo, whether it’s your financials overall, like, really need to be diversifying to prevent an emergency, right, or prevent just not being able to tolerate circumstances not being in your favor, you know, any type of switch that happens, whether it’s from Ai, or the next worldwide global health issue, right, or whatever it could be, you know, being diversified, you at least want to have multiple facets that you can drink from. So that’s like the biggest takeaway from this, I think that should be applied to a business and applied to your personal finances, and then just not having the fear not having any fear when it comes to starting out. Understanding. It’s going to be difficult, whatever it is that you’re trying new, it’s going to feel really weird at first, but not only is it you know, really fruitful and at least answers questions for you to explore different avenues, but it’s a great way to get out of a creative rut.

Dan Moyer
Yeah, man who this episode flew. Yeah, yeah, that’s crazy. I love there’s so many like good little nuggets in that. And as always, I’m really thankful that you came on you share some knowledge. I don’t know if this is stuff that you’ve talked about elsewhere on other podcasts or on your channel, but you’re always a good guest to have and you have so many good thoughts. So thankful you’re here and took time out of your busy schedule to get here. today.

Rob Hall
Happy to do it. You perfectly timed with the baby’s nap. She’s still not even up. Yeah,

Dan Moyer
my kiddos are gonna be up any minute now. So this is yeah, perfectly timed.

Rob Hall
Yeah, we should just leave it rolling. So you just hear screams on both ends of the microphone. Yeah, my

Dan Moyer
mind will will both come into this room and and run amok. It’ll be great.

Rob Hall
I had to I had to put a filter away. i The other day, I was cleaning off my desk. And I like this filter. And I picked it up and there’s just a handprint on photo filter, like a glass filter. Yeah. And just a handprint across the entire thing and I’m like can’t leave these out in my own office anymore.

Dan Moyer
Like jelly or something like yeah, cheese. Who knows? Where can people find out more about you and look at your stuff and watch you if I

Rob Hall
started posting again, you can find me at Rob Hall photo on Instagram and the channel sharpen on YouTube. But you can also find it just by searching Robert Hall photography on YouTube as well. And that’s what I’m on Tik Tok to. So everywhere, Rob Paul photo. Awesome. Hey, thanks for having me again. Thank you.

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