by Devon Higgins
At PhotoUp, we are continuously looking for ways to interact with our current clients and find new and helpful resources for our new members to the PhotoUp community. We recently had a chat with one of our amazing clients, Philip Slowiak of Philip Slowiak Photography in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Phillip’s journey into the PhotoUp community was one that was filled with doubt and hesitation and he even went as far as to completely cut ties with PhotoUp at one point. However, by using the system to his benefit and his ability to be flexible with his shooting style and editing team, he has now become one of our prime examples of a how to use PhotoUp to help you scale and grow your business.
Q: How did you first hear about PhotoUp?
A: I found you guys on Google. I knew I was in need of a real estate photo editing solution and once I started searching, it didn’t take me long to find PhotoUp. There’s really just not anything out there who offer the same things you guys offer. It was a pretty easy find to be honest.
Q: What were some of the initial struggles that you had when first using PhotoUp?
A: I’m not the type of person who typically likes to give up control of things. With regards to my work, the hardest part was the whole idea of assigning that responsibility [of editing] to someone other than myself. Even though I may not have found many other companies out there that do real estate photo editing, I did have other options available to me.
I saw a lot initially from your website that drew me in to give you guys a try. I really had a good sense of confidence that came about as a result of your practice period. I knew it was going to be a big task to go through training, but in doing so you guys made it really easy to get started. Right away, I knew that you guys were very dedicated to learning me and what goes in on my head when it comes to the final look of my work.
When I got my first practice images back from PhotoUp, I said ‘Wow! That’s awesome! It looks along the lines of what I want my work to look like.’ I was then to a point where I could really see PhotoUp being a solution that would work.
Q: How was the PhotoUp team able to work with you to learn and hone in on your particular style?
A: I have a unique lighting style. People really like it and they identify it as unique and different from what anybody else does. The truth is I have really built my whole real estate photography company off that style.
At first I had a difficult time learning how to use PhotoUp and to still continue to use my style of lighting. It was unique to me and very very difficult to replicate, if not impossible.
This was my second phase of “waking up” and having to “let go” in a way. I had to become comfortable with making adjustments to my style in order to be able to work with a team of people who have not been walking with me step by step for the past couple years. I also had to get a better understanding of what is realistic in terms of what style could be processed on a large volume basis.
Q: Can you walk us through your decision to almost stop your PhotoUp subscription in the first month of live editing?
A: I kind of had to step away just so I could regain my confidence in my decision to use PhotoUp. In doing so, I went back into that kind of cycle of having to do your own editing at night and being so exhausted that you can’t even hold your head up anymore, literally. It was kind of round two of regaining that assurance that I was moving in the direction I wanted to move with PhotoUp.
When I decided to give it another shot, I had to be willing to make some changes myself. I had to change how I shoot and when I shoot certain ways. And it’s still a work in process, but I’ve definitely come a long way with it and you guys have come a long way too. Now, I feel like we have established a good rhythm and that makes it pretty easy to come in at night and send PhotoUp images and move onto something else or go to bed, like I should.
Q: Since returning, how have you been able to work with your PhotoUp editing team to help them hone in on your style?
A: In a way it’s like a two-headed dragon. You’ve got two different individuals, me and my editing team, who have to operate as one unit. One of those heads of the dragon can’t be completely stuck on one thing and unwilling to improvise, while the other one tries to keep up. If you think that way, you never get any rhythm. For a photographer, you need to challenge yourself to adjust and to shoot in a way that you know your team will make look great.
I had to learn what you guys were good at too! I picked up on that as I went. I noticed things along the way where I thought, ‘Wow! They may not have done this specific thing the way I would have done it, but they sure did this a different way and that actually looks pretty good!’ That grew on me.
By being willing to allow that to happen, I was able to grow as a photographer as well. Personally, I like challenges because they keep me growing and getting better at what I do. I think a true professional photographer is flexible and good at adapting to circumstances in order to get good results for your clients.
It is very very hard at first. You may downright hate it at times. But, if you can get past that, then I think you will open the door to an opportunity that you will not find anywhere else. You’ll find a solution that you won’t find anywhere else. If you’re willing to do that, I think you stand to gain a whole lot more than if you fight against it, resist it and get bent out of shape about it.
Q: What piece of advice would you give new photographers who are just starting with PhotoUp?
A: I was challenged at first with PhotoUp, thinking that I couldn’t be myself anymore because I had to do something that you wanted me to do. I had to learn to break myself of that mentality because you can still be yourself and you can still express yourself in your work in a way that will work with a team of people.
My advice is to commit to figuring out how to do that. If you do that, you’ll figure out how to make the system work. If you figure out how to make the system work you will be able to achieve a scalable and sustainable business.
Q: Have you been able to grow your business since using PhotoUp?
A: I can honestly say that since using PhotoUp, we have grown a ton! We’ve grown to the point where I can’t handle the load that is coming in by myself. Now we have two associate shooters and somebody who is just doing scheduling. That’s all come about since I’ve started using you guys.
Before using PhotoUp, I was shooting 6-7 homes per day and turning all of those around by myself. With PhotoUp, you guys came along and I was able to alleviate a lot of the tension and stress that was coming from editing myself. That allowed me to free myself up to grow the business in different ways. For me, my volume of shoots increased a little bit, around 80 homes per month. But I’ve actually been able to grow the business in other ways where financially we are making a lot more. I was able to increase my prices, improve communications and bookings, and increase my turnaround times.
Q: Since using PhotoUp, what have you been able to spend time doing?
A: In real estate, I found I was very tied down. Once I started a project, I couldn’t get away from it. For me, I am the type of person that need to look ahead to the next big thing and then kick start that and develop it. PhotoUp was the first step in freeing me up to be able to innovate a little bit differently.
Ultimately, my goal is to be able to let my other photographers run their portion of the business. Now that PhotoUp supports teams, we have an easy way of sending people out to do the shooting and uploading themselves. It’s almost as if you can create a completely hands off business in a lot of ways. I love that because I can keep what I created functioning and growing and at the same time I’m able to look ahead at the next big thing.
Q: What do you love about PhotoUp?
A: This is what I tell my wife all the time… I love that my PhotoUp team is perched and ready to edit my photos. In this business, there can be no bottlenecks. Bottlenecks will sink your ship. You guys are there around the clock waiting and ready to go.
You guys are so fast at getting photos back to me that I hardly ever have any sort of delay in delivering to my clients. I have picked up a ton of business because of that speed and because of the responsiveness that I can offer my clients because you offer it to me.
If I were to hire one person to do my editing, they may get sick or they may go out of town or they may have a computer problem. When and if that were to happen, I would have a major setback. But with PhotoUp, all of that is gone.