WPPI // SPEAKING PROPOSAL

Hi! Thanks for taking the time to consider us for WPPI 2014.

We understand that in the grand scheme of things we are very small fish in the very big pond that is the photography industry. But we believe our story is a compelling one and that our experiences, knowledge and practical advice can help other photographers.

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Here’s a short version of our story (so far).

We met, dated and got married all within 3 months. Yep, from meeting to married in less than 3 months.

Matt quit his job 3 days before our wedding to go full-time with his video production business. In hindsight … not the smartest move but we made it through. That was over 7 years ago and we’ve been working together ever since.

In the first few years of our marriage Katie ran a successful portrait photography business. In the final year of that business Katie did $260,000 in family portraits by herself without a single loss-leader promotion or free-shoot-voucher giveaway. All in a small town with over 100 photographers.

The downside of that year was Katie collapsing at the end of it from burnout and exhaustion. She was bed-ridden and not able to work for 4 months afterwards. Quite a shock to both of us, especially as Katie was 24 at the time and in good shape.

For those 4 months, Katie was mostly bed-ridden per doctor’s orders and Matt needed to run both businesses. This was the beginning of Matt’s photography journey as he had to start shooting family portraits and running Katie’s business while she recovered.

During those months Matt fell out of love with video and in love with photography. Against doctor’s orders Katie did a little bit of work designing a new website and brand for our wedding photography. That’s how Matt and Katie Photographers began.

At the same time, Katie fell completely out of love with photography. Even to the point of wishing she’d never picked up a camera. This began a 3 year journey of Katie trying to re-ignite her passion for photography. Despite the success of our business, nothing worked until her trip to Nepal at the end of last year (2012) to document the work of an unknown organisation that has spent the last 4 years rescuing girls as young as 5 from sex-trafficking. More on that later.

We’ve run successful photography businesses for the last 7 years. Katie’s portrait business was founded on doing awesome sales without having to be a sleazy sales-person.

Our market in Toowoomba and Brisbane is crazy competitive and really saturated.

In 2011 we shot 40 weddings. 2012 was the same! Out of those 80 weddings, 75 of them were booked over Skype. For the last year we’ve averaged around 50 wedding enquiries per month. Yep … 50 per month!

In the last 2 years we’ve spent nearly 4 months overseas each year. Our photography has taken us to many amazing places such as Thailand, England, Wales, France, Greece, Italy, Turkey, America, Canada and New Zealand. Most recently more countries were added to our ever growing list of destinations, including Nepal, Cambodia and Fiji.

Matt is a teacher at heart as well as a problem-solving analytical thinker.

Katie is the most genuine, non-business-y, non-sales-y person you’ll ever meet.

Everything we’ve developed together has been to give Katie all the tools she needs to achieve her goals and dreams as a photographer in spite of her suffering from anxiety, depression and the fact that she doesn’t have a single business bone in her body 🙂

It’s this mash-up of life experience, creativity, business knowledge, problem-solving and analytical thinking, plus our passion and skill for teaching that makes what we have to offer so unique.

The combination of Photography + Business has helped us to live a pretty amazing life so far and we love helping and encouraging other photographers to give them the chance to do the same.

This short 5 minute video from our Photographers Ignite talk at WPPI 2013 gives a good summary of our journey and who we are:

This travel diary video is a 3-minute highlights of the fun life we’ve lived over the last 7 years … all because of photography!

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A quick little brag about some of our achievements:

2009
Matt was voted one of EventDV Magazine’s Top 25 Hottest and Influential Wedding Videographers in the World, the first Aussie to make the list.

2010
Katie collapsed at the end of 2009 so things went quiet. Matt and Katie Photographers was born in January of 2010. Almost exactly 3 years ago, yay! 🙂

2011
We gave the closing keynote at the AIPP Hair of the Dog 3-day photography conference in Queensland, speaking the day after Sue Bryce and immediately after Jasmine Star on the final day. No pressure right?! 🙂

2012
Matt was named the 2012 AIPP Queensland Travel Photographer of the Year and the 2012 AIPP Australian Fusion Photographer of the Year.

2013
Katie was named the 2013 AIPP Queensland Travel Photographer of the Year, narrowly beating Matt for the 2013 title. Katie is quick to mention that she didn’t enter the competition in 2012 😉

We also did a 6 stop workshop tour of the US and Canada in July and August of 2012. Upon returning to Australia we spoke at The Nikon AIPP Event in August as well.

2013 continued … (so far)
Earlier this year we completed an almost sold-out 7 stop workshop tour of Australia. We did one 2-day workshop each week for 7 weeks in each capital city.

After the tour finished at the end of February, we flew to speak at WPPI for the first time! Yay again! 🙂

We had a blast speaking at our Platform Class and also Photographers Ignite at WPPI.

In July we kick off another workshop tour around Australia and New Zealand.

Ok … enough with the bragging and onto the more important stuff, can we actually teach? 🙂

Here’s a testimonial video from our past workshop attendees.

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Our teaching philosophy:

We’re all about teaching photographers to run the most successful business that they can, so that they free up their time and money to make a difference in the world with their cameras – and so they can live the life they were meant to live.

To achieve this we break photography businesses down into bite-size, easy to manage chunks using our “Links in a Chain” approach to business.

A chain is made up of many links. If there are weak or broken links, then the chain breaks. Every photography business is just like this, a chain with many links. All of the links need to be as strong as possible for the business to achieve its potential, and for the photographer to live the life that they were meant to live.

The challenge for photographers is that its so overwhelming to know where to start when it comes to fixing the weak and broken links in their business.

On top of that, the pervasive myth is that every photography business is different and we just have to “find our own path.” So many teachers and conference speakers say “This is what has worked for me, but it probably won’t work for you. You have to find your own way.”

Our teaching philosophy has been developed to help EVERY photographer with practical step-by-step, achievable and repeatable advice.

Yes, every photographer does have to find their own path and voice and style etc … but the foundational principles of running a successful photography business aren’t unique. And they certainly don’t have to be a mystery.

These principles have been around for years, and they will be around for years and years to come. Trends will come and go and constantly change, as will tools like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, but the principles of running a successful photography business will stay the same for a very long time.

Every photographer in every genre – whether a veteran or a newbie – has almost all of the exact same links in common.

That’s what we teach 🙂

We identify all of the links. And then we teach photographers WHAT TO DO, WHY TO DO IT and then most importantly … HOW TO strengthen each and every link in their business.

Photographers leave our workshops and classes with a massive to-do list full of practical steps they can put into practice immediately to strengthen their business.

Talks and Topics We Can Cover

Business: How to Earn – at least – $2K per Portrait Session
Motivation: My Journey from Burned Out and Bed Ridden to Falling in Love With Photography Again
Wild Card – Interactive Master Class or Plus Class: “What challenges are you facing in your business?”
Wild Card – 30 minute coaching/mentoring slots

Extra Talks

Business/Motivation: Overcome Your Anxiety and Increase Your Confidence – through systems, structure, and predictability.
Business: Problem solve your way to success.
Business/Marketing: How To Get Noticed, Stand Out and Be Memorable in a Saturated Market
Video: Using Video to Stand Out in a Saturated Market

Once we’ve covered our “Links in a Chain” approach to business we then show photographers how they can use their time, talent and the gift of photography to make a difference with their cameras – for whatever cause they are most passionate about.

Lack of time, and lack of money are the two major reasons that photographers aren’t able to make more of a difference in the world, and also why they don’t reach their potential and live the life they were meant to live.

That’s why the business side of our teaching philosophy is so important.

We believe that every photographer was put on this planet and a camera placed in their hand for a reason.

Running a successful business is awesome but the next level is using the success of our business to free up time and money to make a real difference in the world with our cameras.

Through our work in Nepal and Cambodia we know the difference that our cameras are making in the lives of thousands of people.

You can watch Katie’s full-length Nepal video here. It’s password protected for now as we’ve only been sharing it in small groups.

The password is: mknepal

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In conclusion …

Whenever we teach we clearly cover: WHAT we do, WHY we do it, and then … HOW to do it yourself. HOW to implement what we teach in a specific, practical and step-by-step way.

As we’ve mentioned, Katie was one of the least confident people you’d ever meet and on top of that she has an anxiety disorder. Phone calls triggered panic attacks, let alone the thought of shooting weddings and being a “salesperson”. Katie readily admits that she doesn’t have a single business bone in her body.

Everything in our business and our teaching philosophy has been developed to help Katie succeed as a photographer.

To see Katie’s journey from being incapacitated by anxiety in the early days of our relationship, then collapsing from burnout/exhaustion, being bed-ridden for 4 months, hating photography … and to now see the charity work she’s doing in Nepal and Cambodia, and the photographers that she is inspiring through her story … that is nothing short of amazing.

Katie has a huge passion for encouraging other photographers that they too can be successful despite the issues and challenges that they face.

We’re not rockstars. We are Matt and Katie from Toowoomba, Queensland. The photography industry doesn’t need more rockstars. What it needs is teachers. If Matt hadn’t started his video business 8 years ago he would have completed his teaching degree. Funny how life turns out and brings us full circle.

We would be totally honoured to be a part of WPPI 2014. We’re huge fans and it really is amazing! This would be our 5th year coming over for it.

Much love!

~Matt and Katie~

p.s. scroll down to see our wedding photography spoof video, Katie seeing snow for the first time, some of our photos and testimonials.

Our Wedding Photography Spoof Video

Katie Sees Snow Falling From the Sky for the First Time – Telluride, Colorado