What would you do if you had a coach to guide and mentor you? Think about it: Throughout history, lessons, wisdom, and skills have cascaded down generations, much like parents passing down stories and advice to their children. In the realm of creativity, having a coach is akin to receiving a cherished heirloom – a baton of knowledge, refined by experience and tempered with passion. Today, we’re incredibly fortunate to sit down with someone who embodies that very ethos. Andrew Scrivani, renowned food photographer, educator, and coach, joins us to share his journey and the wisdom he’s gathered along the way with his creative lens. If you’ve ever wondered about the intersection of artistry and mentorship, this episode is your backstage pass. So grab your favorite notebook or digital tool, because you’re going to want to take notes. Let’s dive in!
Andrew Scrivani is a multi-talented photographer, author, director, and producer known for his diverse editorial, advertising, and film portfolio through his unique creative lens. An esteemed educator in the intricacies of the creative lens, he runs the Andrew Scrivani Academy and has penned “That Photo Makes Me Hungry,” released in 2019. As an Executive Producer at Boro 5 Pictures, he’s celebrated for the feature film “Team Marco.” His impressive clientele list, viewed through a creative lens, features The New York Times, Apple, Adobe, and Disney. Notably, Andrew has directed campaigns for Oprah Winfrey’s food line and created a documentary for The New Yorker. His latest endeavor includes a cookbook collaboration with Disney on ABC TV’s “The Golden Girls.”
Mica: [00:00:00] Welcome. To the 33rd episode of The Savory Shot. Y'all know who I be. I'm your host with the most, Mica McCook.
Now, before we kick things off, I just want to give a special shout out and a heartfelt thank you to the returning listeners. That'd be you boo. Your dedication, your support, man, it fuels this podcast spirit. Now, if this is your first time on the hot mess express, first of all, I just want to say welcome.
Thanks for taking a chance on, on this little podcast here. Hope you're ready for a party, but more importantly, welcome to the family. We besties. We BFFs. You have stumbled upon a community of creators who thrive on passion and [00:01:00] purpose. So if this is your first time listening to this episode, to this show, I'm delighted to have you here.
To start things off, I have a question for y'all. Have you ever paused to wonder why you do what you do? Let me break it down for y'all. Let me give a little context. In this vast world of art expression where you could have chosen any medium, you could have been a painter, you could have been a sculptor, you could have been a poet, a writer, a dancer, a singer, I don't know what your talents are.
But in this vast world of art and expression, why did you choose the niche you're in? Why did you become a photographer? Why? Why do you pick up that camera? Why do you position that light just so? Why do you fuss over the perfect angle? Or search [00:02:00] endlessly for the right backdrop. What is your drive? What keeps you showing up when everything is going wrong?
If you don't know the answer to that question, you better spend the rest of the week reflecting and thinking about your why. Here's a little crazy tidbit of a fact. 1. 81 trillion photos are taken worldwide every year. That equals 57, 000 photos per second. Or 5 billion per day. That's a lot of motherfucking photos, y'all. And here's something even more crazy. By 2030, around 2. 3 trillion photos will be taken every year. In a world saturated with images. And with everybody and their [00:03:00] mama becoming a photographer, thanks to smartphones, thanks to iPhones, Androids, it's easy to lose sight of the depth and significance behind every shot. Food photography, at its core, isn't just about capturing a delectable dish in the best natural light.
It's about narrating a story. One plate at a time. One fork at a time. It's the memories of family gatherings. The warmth of festive feasts, the secret stories behind every recipe passed down through the ages. It's about connecting, not just with the viewer's eyes, but with their heart and soul.
Today's guest is a photographer that we all should know.
But if you're new to the food photography world, and you don't know who this next guest is, that's alright, boo. You do now, and that's what matters. [00:04:00] So, without further ado, I present, Andrew Scrivani! Y'all, this is a fangirl moment for me.
When I first got into food photography... I religiously followed Andrew Scrivani and I still do, because y'all, he is more than just a photographer. He is a storyteller, an artist, and a source of inspiration for many, including yours truly. Andrew's influence on the food photography world isn't just profound, it's transformative.
His masterful blending of storytelling with, with an unparalleled authenticity is, is truly a craft to behold, y'all. He makes you see food, not just as sustenance, something to keep you alive, but as an embodiment [00:05:00] of stories, emotions, and experiences.
Y'all, when I say this episode is heavy with the inspo, I mean it. With my heart, my soul. Andrew sheds light on the significance of remaining authentic in this art form, he reveals how personal stories, heartfelt emotions, and deep rooted passions can be transformed into photographic masterpieces.
Andrew shares his inspiring transition, his metamorphosis, if you will, from being behind the camera to standing as a beacon, guiding, mentoring, and illuminating the path for future food photographers. Like you. His insights are not just lessons in photography, but life itself.
[00:06:00] But, before we get into that, let's set the stage. Let's get inspired. Let's start the show.
Mica: I want to start off this episode by thanking you so, so much for being on the show. I might be grinning from ear to ear because I am a [00:07:00] huge fan. Thank you so much for being on the show.
Andrew: Well, thanks for having me and I appreciate that. I don't know if I've ever gotten used to that kind of an intro. Only because, I learned a long time ago when I started traveling and teaching workshops that people viewed me a certain way and I never really understood it, but then I got it and it was something that I took as a, um, as a honor and a responsibility and as somebody who has a teaching background.
When somebody feels that way because they've learned from me or they admired the work or the, I, I always viewed that as a responsibility that number one, be a nice guy because the old adage about you never want to meet your heroes, I never want to be the cliche. And number two, it sort of builds that the opportunity to teach further by opening a [00:08:00] relationship with people that they see you as a human being, and that you're accessible and somebody who is willing to engage.
And those two things, luckily come naturally to me, but also, in the back of my mind, I understand the responsibility of it.
Mica: It's a huge responsibility. I can't think of a single food photographer that I, you know, like my friends who are like, oh, Andrew Scrivani, Penny De Los Santos, like Joanie Simon, like those are my educators, those are the ones who got me into food photography. What has surprised you the most about people you've met along the way that have said, Hey, you changed my life?
Andrew: Just the idea of this message of reinvention that I latched onto in my own life, and using myself as the model, as somebody who didn't really enter into photography until I was in my early thirties. That meant something to people that there was a path that they saw as I'm finding myself as a person now I know what I really want to do [00:09:00] and having someone who's walked that walk and willing to share the experience was really valuable.
And I think that the concept of reinvention is something that I consistently work through because I'm always reinventing myself too. And I share that with people and I think that that's become a valuable tool in the teaching toolkit. Is making, making people who have followed my career understand that there's no beginning, middle or end to it.
It's just constant evolution and that if you embrace that and understand that there's no making it. It's just keep making stuff. And that's what I really want to do I just want to keep making stuff.
Mica: I love what you said about reinventing yourself because when I was in my early 20s, I was going to school for theater arts and I thought to myself, okay, I have to make it by the time I'm 30. [00:10:00] And if I don't, I don't know what I'm going to do with my life.
I dropped out of college and I didn't know who I was outside of theater. Everything I did was about theater. When I hit my thirties, I was like, okay. When I was 20, I said to myself, I have to make it by the time I'm 30. And now I'm 30 and I'm, I don't have a career. I don't have nothing. I don't know what I'm doing with my life.
This is such a low moment for me. Now as a 37 year old, and I've been doing food photography for a few years. I just want to go to my 20 year old self and hug them and be like, life is really long and you can change any time that you, you want to. So I love that, that reinventing yourself, if that's something that you want to do, that it's never too late, unless you're like a thousand years old on your deathbed.
It might be a little late then, but even in the last five minutes, you can say, Hey, I'm this and... End your life, whatever you [00:11:00] choose to be.
Andrew: There was a moment, you know when I was younger prior to any of this, that there was that urge to do something creative and I wasn't sure what it was going to be. But I always remembered that one of the poets that I read a lot of when I was studying literature was Walt Whitman and Whitman didn't write Leaves of Grass until he was in his forties, I think. You find those stories along the way of people who did great things, but they didn't do them until they were fully formed adults. They had a life before that, you know, and I, I, I look at all the jobs I've had in my life from the time I was a kid delivering newspapers all the way up to what I do now.
And I feel like everything I've done has influenced who I am now. That to me looks more like an evolution than it does a sort of linear path. To be philosophical about your own life and be able to accept that every [00:12:00] step has purpose towards this evolving human, because look, you get older, your mindset changes, your body changes.
It's the chemistry in your whole system changes and everything looks a little different. I was thinking about being in a house with a teenage daughter and a middle aged wife at the same time, and all of the differences that that sort of had the impact it had on me and how to deal with people in different phases of their life.
But along a very similar trajectory. And how I had to adjust my own behavior, my own expectations, my own, you know, just simple thing like being in the house with two different people at two different ages.
As a parent of an adult at this point, there's a sense of pride of, of getting them to a point where they're self sufficient and happy and productive and then, but the instincts of a parent never go away. It's always tomorrow that you're worried about.[00:13:00]
So, you know.
Mica: My mom recently had surgery and I went over to her house to clean her house. And she was more worried about me. And she's like, you look hungry.
Make sure you get something to eat. And I'm like, well, I'm 37 years old. You need to sit down and relax.
No matter how much older I get, that instinct will never go away. That, that parental thing will never, ever go away.
Andrew: No, and it extends to the life of a teacher because as someone who has worked with younger people and now worked with adults my entire career, this network of people that I've taught, instructed, mentored, coached, whatever it might've been, they're all ever present, right?
They're like an extended family. Of people that I worry about their welfare. I want them to be happy. I want to stay in touch and be accessible to them and it keeps getting bigger and bigger.[00:14:00] It was interesting when I was just a teacher in a school and it was still a lot of people now as somebody who has a reach across a lot of boundaries. It's interesting. A day doesn't go by where I'm not in touch with somebody who I've mentored or taught at some point.
Mica: What's a common misconception that people have about what you teach and what you do for them?
Andrew: I think the misconception is that what they come to me for and what they end up leaving with are very different, right? A lot of people come thinking they're gonna learn shutter speed, aperture and f stop. Or f stop and aperture are the same things ISO. See, I don't even teach it to myself anymore. They quite often come and they think that the answer is in the math of the camera or there's some trick or there's some mechanical sort of solution to what I do. And then I start [00:15:00] talking to them about, why do you take the picture? Why do you want to take this picture? And then all of a sudden you get this blank stare.
That's like, what do you mean? Why? Why? Why is it important to you to take this picture? Why is it important to you to tell that story? What story are you trying to tell? And once I start to get people into that mode of thinking, whether or not you shoot it at a hundred ISO or 800 ISO, or at the shallow depth of field, or if everything's in focus, that totally becomes about what story you're trying to tell and mastering the camera does not ensure results. Mindset of a, of an artist is what gets you the result that you want.
And the other misconception is that, and maybe this isn't about my teaching, but about photography or art in general, is that you can chase the trend. And that's going to make your [00:16:00] photography more valuable, valid, whatever it might be, but it's not yours. And I think that's the other thing I try to encourage people to understand is that it has to be yours for it to mean something.
You can chase trends your whole career and just keep shooting. What's stylized or stylish or in, in the fashion. But it's never going to feel like yours. You have to tell your own story as an artist, whether it's a food as food artist. So it's making pictures of food, somebody who's cooking food, somebody's talking about food, whatever it might be, if we're all existing around this one sort of fulcrum of food, what story is going to make your story unique or personal or personal and universal?
Simultaneously. I try to coach photographers on how to think before worrying about how to shoot.
Mica: What you said earlier about making something authentically yours, that [00:17:00] reminds me so much of one of my photography teachers. He would drill into us about finding your style, finding what makes us tick.
It's like someone looks at that photo and they go, I know that so and so shot that. That's their style. That's their photo. I didn't get that for years. Why is that so hard for photographers to understand? The discovering themselves?
Andrew: That's a great question. And I think that's the natural extension of asking people to find their style. And then the next question they have is how do I do that? And the answer that I'm trying to provide is that very thing is if you understand why you do it. And what you want to say, your style will emerge from that, right?
Going out and saying, I, I'm going to be a combination of this photographer and that photographer, and that's my style. [00:18:00] Well, that's more technical based. It's still not creatively driven. When your style emerges from your story, personal story, the story you want to tell.
So I'll get, for an example, I am, I'm being very esoteric. But people ask me how did your style emerge? I said, well, first of all, I wanted the food to look like what my memories were of food. I didn't have food photography mentors because I'm old as dirt right now and food photography wasn't a thing in the early 2000s the way it is now, right?
People who identified as still life photographers were shooting food. So. I thought about the influences I had, right, and a lot of it had to do with museums. I was just recently in, in Florence and I was actually standing in front of a Caravaggio [00:19:00] and looking at the lighting and that kind of lighting was a huge influence for me because I spent a lot of time in museums as a kid. When I was translating how I felt about food, the sort of emotional impact and vivid memories of food growing up in my grandmother's house and those kinds of things. That shallow depth of field, the soft raking light, like what it looked like out in the garden, like how the light came through the window onto the kitchen counter standing at eye level with the food as a child.
I realized that that's why I like to shoot from that angle so often, right? It's that I got as low as I could and shoot the food on that plane. And I thought about it and I was like, Well, yeah, because this is how I saw food as a kid. I stood there at the counter looking over the counter at the food.
So if you start to unpack the things that influence why you want to be any given artist, in [00:20:00] our case, food photographers, what are those influences? What are the things that made you be drawn to the art form? In the last mentorship that I taught, I asked people, if you didn't have positive memories of food growing up, what were they?
Some people had some really impactful negatives that were attached. And I said, well, lean into that. Make some pictures that, that feel like the things that drove you to be a food photographer. And if you want to change the paradigm of your relationship with food, how do you represent that in pictures?
And I got some really interesting results out of those people, and it was powerful and it was moving, because some people struggled with eating disorders and some people didn't have a lot of food as children. That food wasn't abundant or the foods that they were given were what their family could afford and that's where their memories were. And I was like, well, just lean into that because [00:21:00] that's the genuine article, right?
That's the thing that's the burning driver behind why you want to do this kind of work and that unlocked something in some of them, right? It gave them a permission structure to feel what they feel and not feel like what I have to feel or what you have to feel or anybody in food media has to feel.
That is paramount in understanding how to develop style, is it has to be born of your emotional relationship with food, at least for food photographers, it does.
Mica: Where you're talking about attaching the memories to food, we were taught that in theater. The Meisner Technique, you draw on memories of your own, and you remember how you felt in that moment, how you reacted in that moment, and you use that to portray your character honestly. So if this, in this moment, the character is really happy, [00:22:00] think about a moment or a memory of yours where you're extremely happy.
How did you react? How did you talk? How was your body? Take all of that energy and put it into this character's happy moment.
That's that's brilliant.
Andrew: Yeah. Well, it's interesting is that I've carried that stuff into my other work right as a, as a producer and a director using emotional sort of cues to get people to get to where they need to be, but also as a coach. I went and got my certification in coaching because of so much teaching that I do.
A lot of times when I'm coaching somebody, the concept that you're talking about as far as method acting, right, is like latching onto an emotion and understanding what's happening in your body, what's happening in your mind. That is the same technique used to shift people's mindsets, where you move from a negative mindset to a positive mindset on the same particular topic.
So if you're trying to get somebody past a [00:23:00] hurdle in their life. And they really focused on the negative aspects of it. You put them in a different mindset ask them to then look at the same problem. Creative thinking is creative thinking, right? If you're a critical thinker and you're using your mind and your emotions and and and sort of using them as tools to tell stories or to explain phenomena or help someone understand their own emotions or act or, or write. All of these things are intertwined, right?
The creative act, right? Is somewhere between the mind and the soul, right? It's somewhere between those two things. So you have to find your way through it. I've been reading Rick Rubin's book, so I've, I'm all over the place with his philosophical.
Mica: He is the bees knees and I think he recently produced Kesha's newest album. And I'm like, yes, two power [00:24:00] forces have joined. I'm ready. I'm a huge Kesha fan.
Andrew: Oh, well, she played the stone pony. I have a home in Asbury park, New Jersey, and I can hear the summer stage from my balcony. Kesha played a couple of summers ago here. And she had this place like the up and down the boardwalk of people in the streets. I mean, it was rocking. Yeah, she was, she was rocking and she swears a lot.
Mica: So Apple, they have the walking workouts and they have like celebrities or people with influence, they record like an audio of them walking and talking and things like that. Kesha did one right before she, or right after she had performed for the Grammys and right after her.
It was like her big break out praying, that song, and she was just talking about it and her journey has just been so inspirational and talk about evolution, talk about reinventing yourself. I don't know how many times. How many hills [00:25:00] I died on defending Kesha.
I'm like, that girl can sing, like give her a chance. And, and then she came out with Praying and I was like there with my hands, like,
Andrew: Yep. See?
Mica: Told you, told you. So something you mentioned earlier about how you didn't get started in photography until your thirties, that reminds me of the interview that you did with the Photobloggrapher. Photobloggrapher. I think it was 2013 you did that interview and you talked about your first assignment and how it ended up being for the New York Times. So that was like a big, you're like, Oh, I had no idea. So I was curious to know what do you remember from that shoot from that day?
Andrew: A lot. Because it was in my hometown. One of the reasons I got the assignment was because I was from Staten Island. And this happened to be a place that I went to as a kid all the time. We used to ride our bikes there. It was a candy shop and an ice cream parlor.[00:26:00] So there was a level of comfort and familiarity that I had going into it.
And, uh, you know, I felt really empowered and emboldened by the fact that I was there to shoot it for the New York Times. So I didn't have a lot of experience, but something just came over me when I was there and I was making the girl pose with the cones and I was shooting from weird angles and I was getting up on ladders and I was just doing way more than I needed to do.
All I needed to do is go in there and take a picture of the interior or whatever. And I just worked it for like an hour. There was nobody in the shop that day. It wasn't really crowded. And I had this sort of freedom to, like, express myself in a way that I hadn't really ever had a chance to before, with permission, right?
By being there on an assignment, it was like, okay, now here's your shot. Get everything that you ever thought about what a photo shoot would look like, right now. Like, get in there and just do it.[00:27:00] And I, I was shooting a film camera, uh, still, and... I must've went through like four rolls of film, just because I, I just was enjoying it so much.
And, in retrospect, talking about this 10 years later than the interview you're referring to is just how much joy that brought me and why I continue to keep searching that, that drug out, right. Of exploring and, and, and finding new ways to be creative because I felt like that opened a door.
That I hadn't, hadn't been open to me before. And now that I know those doors exist, I just keep going out there trying to find them. That's how I ended up in film. That's how I ended up in coaching. I keep finding these new things that give me that feeling, right? That feeling that I'm expressing myself in a new way or addressing a new group of people or, finding a way to impact [00:28:00] or form some type of a impact on the world that I live in. That was the first moment, the first moment that that fire got lit. So I think maybe that's a little different than my answer was then, because I think I've had a lot of time to think about it now.
Mica: Oh man, you've done how, what genres of photography did you do before food photography became your main?
Andrew: Yeah, it was mostly editorial, like news style photography. I wasn't very experienced either. I was sort of just starting out and food photography sort of found me in that I ended up on a couple of assignments for the dining section doing sort of newsy stuff but in the process of doing that.
Like at the ice cream shop, I was making food pictures, and that was something that a lot of photographers weren't really exploring at that point, especially news photographers who had a knack for it and the fact that he knew how to cook. So like those two things combined [00:29:00] to form an opportunity, an opportunity that probably doesn't exist anymore because there's a lot of people doing what we do.
But I think at the time there wasn't, and I had an opportunity having a certain set of skills and a lot of ambition. And I didn't really have any, um, hangups either. There were other photographers who didn't want to shoot food. They thought it was beneath them to shoot food. And I became friendly with a lot of photographers back in, at that time who looked at it like, yeah, you shoot food. And in retrospect, now that they look at my career and where it's led me a lot of that sort of side eye treatment is met now with a lot of, uh, admiration for what I've done with food photography and then what I've done after food photography.
So, if it feels like your path, don't worry about what other people think about it because quite honestly, you just got to make it your own.
Mica: I want to take [00:30:00] it to an Instagram post from 2012 and I, I don't know why I like to go far back into people's Instagram accounts. I, I guess I like to see the evolution of where they started to where they are now. But one post, it was like, I don't know if it's your first, first post, but it was, uh, A post for 2012 and it's just a simple, it's a flat lay shot of pasta, like different textures of pasta.
I loved it. What I want to know is what do you wish you knew about photography then that you know now?
Andrew: I had to look back at the post when you mentioned it. It was an iPhone shot. So think about what iPhones were capable of that many years ago, 11 years ago. And I did end up shooting that with a real camera for a magazine. It was, for La Cucina Italiana. I had to kind of go back and figure out where that came from.
If I had known then what I know [00:31:00] now about mobile photography. And how mobile photography was going to make such an enormous impact on the industry. I think I might've taken it more seriously then, and I think we all might've, understanding that what the technology was going to become capable of.
And how it was going to impact our industry and how it's going to expand our ranks to include people who don't have professional training. I started to embrace it, I taught my first mobile photography class right before the pandemic. And I've done a lot of mobile photography classes since.
So like looking back at the fact that I was posting pictures from an iPhone 11 years ago without a whole lot of processing, just coming right out of camera. Knowing what that might become, I might've got on that bus a little earlier. People who really start to embrace technologies as they change and develop, make impacts in [00:32:00] that, in that way.
Like the way some of us embrace digital photography a lot earlier than others. And the people who got stuck in film were playing catch up after that. It took some courage at a certain point in a professional photographer's life to abandon film. And a lot of them weren't ready, in the early 2000s.
Because I didn't have a huge history with film, it was okay. I felt I had permission to move on to digital. And I think that's true now of people who are starting their photography journey with both an iPhone in one hand and a DSLR in the other. It's that they see those technologies as interchangeable. That's a really important thing to remember.
I just did this thing for a photography summit where I did a talk about old adage about the best camera you have is the one you have with you. To add to that, my own twist on that is the photograph [00:33:00] is made in your brain, it's not made with a camera. Right? So you can take the same picture I take of the same thing.
It's going to look different, right? Because you took the picture with your brain, not with the camera. The camera is just a tool. You don't build a house with a hammer, right? You have to know how to build the house before you start whacking on nails. It's the same thing with photography.
You have to know what you want to, what you want to say with the camera. And then the camera is the thing that allows you to say it. The more we understand that and that whatever tool you have to use, I could build a house with a hammer. I could build a house with a nail gun, right? They're different tools.
One's a much better technology than the other, but they're the same thing. At the end of the day, you need to have the idea to build the house. People feel liberated by that sometimes when I say that. Because we get bogged down in our gear, as we want to do as photographers.
Mica: What do, what do they call it? GAS. Gear, Acquisition, Syndrome?[00:34:00]
Andrew: Yeah, yeah, exactly. And that's what it is. It's a whole lot of hot air, right? The camera's not going to make you a better photographer. It's just not. There's people who do brilliant things with pinhole cameras and brilliant things with mobile cameras. My buddy was here this weekend testing this Fuji medium format camera and we were running around doing comparison shots with a Sony.
And a Fuji and just trying to get a sense of the differences. And it's just a tool. It's just, you know, it's just another, just another tool.
Mica: What would you say to photographer who is caught up in equipment right now?
Andrew: I taught an iPhone photography class in Sicily last year. I was on the road for three weeks and they were filming me as I was teaching all in about. One of the things I intentionally did on that trip was leave all the other cameras home. Because I knew I was there [00:35:00] to make the most of the tool that I had and it forced me to learn how to use it in a different way. So the idea of sometimes is we become enamored with our gadgets and the gear that we can acquire and before we master them, we move on to the next one. And I think that by taking the phone exclusively on this trip for three weeks where I knew I was going to be shooting in beautiful locations and having all these opportunities, but rather than lugging a Pelican case full of gear, bodies, lenses, stands, all these other things, I had this phone in my pocket and I'm building right now with my agent, we're building a promo piece of all of the stuff that I shot while I was in Sicily on an iPhone.
And I think that it's, it's a statement. I'm making a statement. It's a little bit of a flex. But I think that I feel like it's a flex because [00:36:00] I put them in the work and I used it as a professional photography tool. I tried really hard to utilize all of the functionality that it had, and how does that influence my creativity?
And I have to say, I'm a different photographer with an iPhone in my hand than I am with a DSLR in my hand. Because the tools are different. It interprets my vision differently. And I never really understood that before, until I forced myself to exclusively use this as my primary vehicle for expression.
And I now use it and I use it differently than I would, if I carry my small mirrorless Fuji or I'm running around with my big Canons. They're different tools for different forms of expression. Some of it's interchangeable but the idea is that if the phone is the only tool you have or can [00:37:00] afford or feel comfortable with. That there's no reason why that can't be your primary camera. That was a very interesting lesson for me.
Mica: So if you were starting out today, and let's say you had maybe less than a hundred dollars, what is one piece of gear that you would buy?
Andrew: So I have no gear and I have a hundred bucks?
Mica: You have no gear. You have a hundred bucks.
Andrew: I'd find the best used camera I can get for that money. I'm assuming that that doesn't include cell phones. So, I mean, I would go out and buy the best used piece of equipment, used camera that I could get for that money, because there's so much value in the resale market and finding great older cameras.
Think about it, I've been working professionally in this industry for over 20 years. The first, like, substantial digital [00:38:00] camera that I had, pales in comparison to my iPhone now. And I was making professional images with that camera 20 years ago. So, think about all the technology that's happened in the last 20 years.
Go out, go on eBay and drop a hundred bucks on a camera. That's 10 years old. I guarantee you still make great pictures with that camera.
Mica: Oh, for sure. The newest iPhones have RAW capabilities. My friend's husband just set my camera to that. And I took some shots of my mom's cat, and I went into Lightroom, on my phone, edited the picture on my phone, and then put it up on my Instagram stories, and I was thinking about that. About the first cell phone I ever had, which is the flip phone, and how it could take pictures, and I thought that was just the coolest thing ever. And there I am on my phone, shooting a raw photo, and editing it.
And posting it. And I'm just thinking, wow, this is [00:39:00] incredible how far we've come. Like I could definitely see a photographer starting out their professional journey with their iPhone. It's pretty interesting to see how the more wonderful and amazing things that people do with their phones.
And now you can shoot tethered to the newest iPad. Unbelievable.
Andrew: Yeah, it's all nuts. It's it's crazy. And, uh, and as the technology evolves, you have to just sort of fold it into your, your toolkit. That's what I've done. And. I've enjoyed it and it, it certainly makes getting around with your gear a lot easier. That's for sure.
Mica: You mentioned earlier that it was difficult and risky for some photographers to abandon film completely. Why was that such a struggle? And what do you think the next struggle will be for photographers to let go of?
Andrew: The reason it was a struggle was cultural as well as it was [00:40:00] technological. There was a hierarchy of the way photographers would come up. They would assist first, you become a third assistant, a second or first, then the natural evolution was going to be, I'm going to get my own studio and then I'm getting my own assistants and that whole thing got disrupted violently by digital photography. It upended that whole hierarchy and paradigm of what it meant to be a professional photographer at that time. And those photographers who are somewhere around. The first assistant to the beginning professional with their own studio. Those were guys who were my contemporaries at that point, right?
They were evolving into fully fledged members of that community. And then that whole thing got ripped out from underneath them. That transition was something they resented, especially when big companies like the New York Times was insisting that photographers shoot digital at a certain point. [00:41:00] They didn't want to take film anymore.
They got rid of their lab. They were trying to make things more streamlined. And a lot of photographers are like, I'm not ready to shoot digital. I'm going to, so I'm not going to work for them, and that was in some ways a mistake for some photographers that they've made those decisions, but it also opened the door for people like me who was willing to not, I really wasn't part of that tradition.
I didn't come out of college as a photographer. And by the time I was 30, I was ready to take on the world. I just happened into a situation where the technology supported my skill set and I wasn't encumbered by the culture that told me this isn't the path. So, you know, I, I saw a lot of guys my age struggle with that.
And obviously eventually everybody just kind of found their way. But it was a struggle at first because it was about letting go of an expectation that this is how we were going to make a living and this was the culture I wanted [00:42:00] to be part of. And I think that they were set to inherit a culture that was dying.
And that was tough to, that was tough to, to swallow.
Mica: That's a hard one. You study, you go through, and, and then it's just kind of swooped up under you and you're like, wow, I, I have to start over?
Andrew: Yeah, and that's what it felt like for a lot of the, a lot of those guys and girls who were coming out of school and working out as assistants for some of these big brand name photographers in New York. Like all the guys I know now who are my contemporaries, they all worked for, you name the, the brand name photographer from the 80s and the 90s and they worked with them.
They were like factories, right? They, they, they churned out assistants who then went on to become photographers in their own right. Because the industry was much smaller at that point, everyone knew each other. So now, of course, with the way photography has [00:43:00] exploded through technology, that culture doesn't exist anymore. It's just. It's very. If it is there, it's very small. Very elite. You know, it's not a functional part of our industry. it's more of the outlier.
Mica: Oh, for Oh, for sure. My school, the semester before I started, they offered one film class and it was on the other side of Austin. They had one person teaching it and then the department just decided all together to nix the whole thing. Probably didn't make a lot of sense to teach it if nobody was going to because it's a workforce program So if no one's going to use it professionally doesn't make much sense to teach it. I want to take it to your book I'm gonna hold it up again because it's still like my favorite book in the world. I love it so much. What I [00:44:00] want to know about that is what was your primary goal when you set out to write your book and do you feel you accomplished that?
Andrew: My primary goal was to have a companion to my teaching. See, I, I, I struggled for a while with publishers who wanted to publish a book about food photography because everything was going to feel very textbooky. And I was like, that's not what I want to write number one, but it's also doesn't show people what I want to show them about what it means to take pictures of food, or at least for me. I wanted it to reflect the way I teach photography. So I finally ran into a publisher who's like, yeah, well just do that. And I was like, really? And they're like, yeah, just do that. So I went back and I looked at all the outlines of all the courses I had been teaching.
I made this sort of skeleton outline of what That Photo Makes Me Hungry was going to be.[00:45:00] It was so easy to write. Because it was really just me anecdotally teaching photography the way I've always taught it, but in a book form, telling stories, relating it to things that happened in my life.
And then it became this part textbook, part memoir, part inspirational sort of self help book. It felt like it took all the pieces of what I do as a teacher and put it into one place. So yeah, I mean, I feel like it did accomplish that. It's had a good life, that book and it's meant, meant something to people who've read it.
Is it a bestseller? No, because we, we work in a niche industry, and I understood and accepted that from the beginning that it wasn't going to be a book that I was going to make a lot of money with, but it was something that feels like encapsulates the busiest point in my career as a food photographer before I was focusing on anything else. Before I was working in film, before I was coaching, or teaching as much as I'm teaching now, where [00:46:00] six out of seven days a week I was doing food photography. I feel like that book encompasses that time in my life. So it absolutely served all of those purposes, right? It is a companion to my teaching. It is a sort of income encapsulation of my philosophical and motivational tone and then it also provides like a, a memoir of what it was like to do those things. And what's exciting about that is I had a meeting with my publisher the other day and she's like, how do you feel about doing an update, like add, add a chapter or bonus chapter or whatever, and then, and then reissuing it in paperback.
And I was like, that sounds like a great idea. I said, because there are things that are relevant now, that maybe weren't as relevant then, and there are things that I said then that may not be as relevant now. So like, for example, the ten questions, right? Everybody brings up the ten questions. The ten questions are [00:47:00] different now.
They're not the same as they were when I wrote the book. So, like an update on that, or even a whole section on mobile photography. Things like that. There's definitely a motivation to do it. And the fact that it's only come out in hardcover, gives us an opportunity to use a paperback re-release with an addendum.
So I think that we're going to work on that this year. I'm looking forward to it because I don't have another book in me about food photography, I don't think, but I would like to make that one more current.
Mica: It's a like the book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie. I told my friend Ana about it. This book has transcended time years, years and years, it still applies to today, like that everyone wants to have a book like that, where what you're learning what you're teaching, just change doesn't change with time, the foundation stays the same, no matter what, [00:48:00] everything else can change, but this at its core stays the same.
Andrew: That was my resistance to the textbook approach was that it would be outdated in a year. Or as technology's changed or whatever, it wouldn't be relevant anymore. But philosophically, the book will remain something that has relevance because that won't change. I would like to write another book, but it's not going to be about food photography.
Mica: Well, you put out that book I am buying whatever. Whatever you're putting down, I'm picking up, just put that, put that out there. I have like two more questions to ask you. I'm want to say first congratulations on your ICF Certification. I read your post about like everything that went into it, all of the hours. It was what, 200 and 250 hours of,
Andrew: I had to
Mica: Top of the test.
Andrew: Yeah. It was a lot.
Mica: Man, man, that, that [00:49:00] is, um, that's pretty intense. What did you learn about yourself at the end as both a photographer and as a coach?
Andrew: The coaching certification was something that I didn't think I needed to be someone who coached other people. Of course I was wrong. Really wrong because the coaching techniques that are looked at by the International Coaching Federation are very standardized.
It's a social science just like any other, and in order to understand fully, even if you have skills to be a good coach and mentor. Understanding the framework of the way they want you to do it and do it effectively in alignment with the social science was really important and I learned that first and foremost, that in order to be a good coach, you needed to understand how to coach, right?
Because a lot of what I was doing prior was not coaching. It was mentoring and the, and those are different things. [00:50:00] So that was the first thing. And then the things I think more, even more importantly was I had to be coached myself. In order to fully understand the coaching process, you do it in a 360 sort of environment where you're coaching people and they're also coaching you.
I hadn't done a lot of therapy and I've never had a coach. So I learned a lot of things about myself, about the way I process information, about the way I process stress, that I found inordinately helpful, almost life changing, and then be able to use those experiences as a coach, understanding what it's like for people to peel back the layers on themselves and understand what's underneath.
The struggles that they're having and give them techniques and methodology to help get past them. It's different than therapy. One of the first things you learn when you go to school to be a coach is you're not a therapist, but [00:51:00] you could look at it, and this is the metaphor I came up with, you look at it like a relay race.
So if you're running, and you're looking over your shoulder to take the baton from the runner behind you to go forward. The person that's handing you the baton is the therapist, and the coach is then running forward with it. Where therapy looks backwards to figure out why you're having the struggles, coaching is about understanding that you're having struggles and how to get past them.
It's a forward looking approach to self improvement. Therapy, like if somebody discloses to you, Hey, I had this breakthrough in therapy, and then you could use that sort of as a way to build a strategy to move forward, understanding your client's psychology is really important. But it's more important to accept where you are and then move forward. [00:52:00] We go through what's called co active coaching. That's what this is. And what they mean by co active is that both parties, the coach and the coachee, or the client, need to be equal participants in what's happening. You can't really coach somebody who doesn't want to be coached.
Right? It doesn't work. The whole process doesn't work. I mean, you can mess around and ask people powerful questions and see if they respond to it, but unless they're willing to really go into it, it's not going to be helpful. But for people who really want to understand the struggles that they have professionally, personally, whatever they're all those things are connected. Like we our professional lives like as a photographer or as a director the things that I struggle with on set are the same things I struggle with at home or with my friends, or in my own mind, right?
The struggles are the struggles. They're not [00:53:00] compartmentalized. We think we can compartmentalize them, but we don't. If I have a personality trait that exhibits itself in my private life, it's gonna come up in my professional life. Those two things can't be separated. The more we work on people... under the banner of, I'm going to help you be a better professional, ultimately what we're doing is helping you become a better person. One of the things we talk about in coaching is coaching a whole person. So quite often I'm coaching photographers about things that are struggles for them, that are not technical in nature.
But, why can't I get past this, or why do I feel this way, or why, why am I struggling with my confidence, or I, I feel like an imposter, or... And quite often by the time I'm done coaching those people, we don't talk about photography at all. We don't talk about photography anymore, because it's not [00:54:00] about the art form.
It's about the person. That's one of the really interesting things about being a coach, mentor, to people in the photography industry, is they come to me because they think they're gonna learn how to be a better photographer. Exclusively and what they walk away with are skills that they could use everywhere.
They walk away with skills they could use in their professional life, but also skills that they're going to translate to having better relationships or being less anxious or, more confident. And I think those things translate across the barriers. So that's been hugely rewarding for me.
Because I feel like our industry needs this. We need that kind of support and we do a lot of technical support, but we don't do a lot of social emotional support. I feel like I'm at this point, not just qualified, but certified to deal with these things. And [00:55:00] I'm now newly installed on the American Photographic Artists.
I'm part of their wellness committee. I'm on the board of their wellness committee. So we're developing strategy based outreach for photographers to, to, to learn about anxiety, depression, and how to work through them in our business. A lot of us have recognized that there's a need right now, especially post pandemic.
A lot of people feel isolated. A lot of people feel they're struggling with. That the industry is changing so quickly. There's a lot of emotions and things that go along with what's keeping people from reaching their potential? What the APA is trying to do through the wellness committee is provide an outlet and some education for people who are feeling that way so then number one, they don't feel like they're in it by themselves, but also number two to give them pragmatic evidence based help to do those things, [00:56:00] books to read, articles to read, coaches that you could work with things like that.
So this is where my journey has taken me through my own struggles with mental health, which I've documented before in my life on podcasts and in writing. And why it's important for me now to use what I have both in terms of a platform and a skill set to help the community in yet another way.
Mica: That's a great thing. That kind of care and development is just as important as the technical development. I've had photographer friends who are brilliant at what they do, but the stress that came with being a freelancer was just too much for them and they felt alone. It's one of the reasons why I started this podcast.[00:57:00]
Freelancing and entrepreneurship is a very lonely place to be, but that's because there's, no active community out there where we're all in this together. I love that that's where you're coming from and that's the path that you're putting forward for photographers. Taking care of what's inside mentally just as much as the, the career part.
Andrew: Absolutely. It's the new journey. It's something I'm really dedicated to. The people who have worked with me so far have seen an enormous difference in just the way they approach those particular problems. And conversely, I approach my own problems differently because of it. I'm forming community as well as facilitating community. I'm participating in it as well as facilitating.
Mica: How would a photographer know if they would benefit from coaching, from mentorship?
Andrew: Ultimately if you feel like you've tried everything you want to [00:58:00] try, like you meet up with a, with an obstacle that seems like it's preventing forward progress. And I think we've all experienced this in one way or another. You're not quite sure which way to go next. I've tried buying new gear, I tried taking courses, I tried reaching out to the kind of companies I want to work for, and I still feel stifled, or I'm having a hard time. I had one client who just couldn't do outreach.
He was just completely stifled by writing emails and trying to make phone calls and going out to me. He just had this huge block. He couldn't get past it. And he's a really good photographer and has great people skills, but for whatever reason he was blocked, he couldn't get past it.
He came to me and we worked through it and we realized what his obstacle was and I helped him get through that obstacle and then those things became much easier for him to do. Which then in turn [00:59:00] allowed him to get more clients and get more work and start to realize what he wanted to do versus what he didn't want to do and what he really wanted to say and why he wanted to say it that way.
Those are the kinds of things I think that have become the most common part of what I'm doing as a coach is helping people build their confidence. Understanding what imposter syndrome really is, and what barriers it creates for you. A general anxiety and people, what they're feeling about being working alone, understanding that we feel really siloed, the isolation we felt during the pandemic and how that impacted the way we work.
Coaching has helped with leadership. I help people with leadership, like people who are growing their businesses who don't know how to really be a leader. That's a big part of coaching right now, too, is understanding people intergenerationally. So you have older folks who are struggling to deal with younger folks because they don't understand the way they think, they don't understand the way they communicate, and they're very [01:00:00] resistant to change.
I think that people who are acknowledging that they're resistant to change, they can work through it in coaching and say, this is something that bothers me. I need to understand why it bothers me. Then a coach could help you craft a strategy to do certain things actively to change the way you behave.
Everything about coaching is action planning. You make and commit to actions. In order to make that kind of change, you have to commit yourself to wanting to change. And that means you gotta get uncomfortable.
Quite often a coach is really helpful in helping you process the things that are blocking you from being successful. Sometimes that's just your personality traits. Sometimes it's you're introverted or maybe you're having a hard time communicating to people of a particular group, younger people.
Or maybe even people who have [01:01:00] never really been around people of other races or they don't know how to behave and they're afraid, right? Just being able to verbalize that and say, I don't know if I'm going to say the right thing. I want to make sure I'm not doing this wrong. So people are very conscious of being cancelled.
Let's just put it right there on the table. People who have good meaning, who feel limited by their experiences, do not know how to relate to certain people. Whether it's being age, gender, race, sexual orientation, or preference, whatever it might be, they don't know how to communicate effectively with people who are different than they are.
And coaching absolutely helps that. I've seen it across corporate America, especially in the media business, which I'm intimate with. Older media executives getting coaches to learn how to [01:02:00] talk to their younger employees. And that's it.
Mica: It's, it's a different, different generation, different struggles. I'm very much into strong advocate for therapy. Shout out to my therapist, Sarah. Who literally, changed my life. the thing about therapy is that I really had to get vulnerable with myself.
Is that something that, that photographers struggle with? To openly admit, hey, I'm struggling with this, that's a really vulnerable place to be.
Is that something that your clients struggle with when they come to you?
Andrew: Yes And I think it's the comparison trap that social media has provided us with in that everybody looks at this these visions of perfection, you know whether it's somebody's lifestyle or it's their work or whatever. We are all looking and comparing ourselves to one another in a way that's very unhealthy because [01:03:00] everybody's vision is different.
Everybody's story is different. Everybody's why is different. And the idea is that you need to be in touch with what you want to say and not worry about what everyone else is saying. Because I think it's really damaging to sit there and look at everyone else's work and say, why isn't my work like that? Because those people are doing the same exact thing. So for all the people who admire your work, you may be looking back at their work going, oh, how come my work isn't like that, right? And because we don't have like a communication structure that sort of works both ways. This constant need for validation on social media as recognition that we are good enough or professional enough or acceptable or whatever it might be.
That's not how the real world works. We live to live in the real world. It's about putting that perspective in your mind [01:04:00] and understanding that you need to be happy with the work and not worry about whether other people are happy with it first. First, you have to be happy and proud of it.
You have to know that it represents your skill, your vision, your ideas, your values, and if you understand that that's what you're putting out into the world. Then it's for everyone else to judge whether or not it speaks to them. But my work doesn't speak to everybody. Your work doesn't speak to everybody.
But the people who it does speak to, they get it because I mean it. They know I mean it. And what I'm trying to say to them, they get and they understand and appreciate. And that's the audience you're looking for. That's not a click or a like or a comment. That's a connection. The work that we connect to... the feelings that that elicits both in us creating it and those people receiving it. I don't know that you can justify that on a social media post.[01:05:00] It's a hard thing to elaborate on, but it's the thing that erodes at our confidence and when you start to go into the shell of feeling less confident, then you're not going to fully express what you feel because you're like, well, when I fully express myself, it doesn't look like that.
I don't know if that's good enough because it doesn't look like that. I just, try to go about my creative life, say, how does this make me feel? If it resonates with me, I know it'll resonate with somebody else. How does it make me feel? Do I feel proud of it? Do I feel like it makes me think or moves me in some way?
I took a picture while I was on vacation. We were in, uh, Assisi, the town of Assisi where St. Francis. And I was in front of the chapel, it was very gothic, and there was only one figure walking toward me. It was a monk in a robe, and I snapped the shot, and I cropped, re cropped it, and I put it in black and white, and it was literally [01:06:00] my favorite shot that I took on this trip, and I was like, I'm a food photographer, right?
People come to my site looking for food pictures, but they're getting this today. They're getting this today because this is the picture that made me feel like I captured the moment I was experiencing in that place. And showing it the way I wanted to show it. I could care less how many likes or whatever it got.
I was just happy and proud of the shot because it made me happy. I think we have to do more of that. We have to be more concerned about what makes us happy as artists and trust that when we put something out into the world, it will find the people it's meant to find.
Mica: You mentioned earlier that everybody's why is different. When they're creating work, the type of brands, clients that they want to work with. What if a photographer isn't clear about their why? How would they go about figuring that out [01:07:00] and discovering that about themselves? Is that something that coaching would help with?
Andrew: Yes, because basically what coaches do is through a series of asking what we call powerful questions, which are basically open ended questions designed to make you think about what it is that you're experiencing, right? It's not yes or no questions because what you wanna do is ask questions that get people to think about the motivations behind their behavior or their feelings or their actions.
When you pose people with powerful questions, at first they freeze 'cause they've never had that question asked before. Then you follow up with additional questions to clarify or to refine the idea of what it is that you're asking. What's important about that process is it is forcing people into introspection, and that does not come naturally to everyone.
Some [01:08:00] of us are naturally introspective. We spend a lot of time in our own heads. There are others who do not spend a lot of time in their own heads, right? They're feeding off external stimuli more than they are internal stimuli, and that's just a personality difference. So when you're asking somebody intentionally to go inside, and think about what it is that they feel, or for example, so someone says to me, I don't know what my why is, so I might give them a question like, okay, when you make a picture that you're really proud of, where do you feel it in your body? Now it gets people thinking, okay, how do I feel? Okay, I feel it in my chest. Or I feel it in my stomach 'cause I get nervous energy or I get butterflies or I feel it in my shoulders 'cause I feel strong. This gives me, as a coach, more ammunition to continue to probe and ask questions.
What you're doing is you're teaching your client how to be more introspective with [01:09:00] themselves and getting them to understand eventually why they do what they do. What is it about this that makes you happy? What is it about being a photographer that makes you happy? If I were to ask you that question right now, could you answer that question right off the top of your head?
Mica: Oh, absolutely.
Andrew: Because you've thought about it before, right? But if you hadn't thought about that before, you would freeze. You would stop and be like, Whoa, now I need to think hard. Now I need to put that into context. And there are exercises we do. We do an exercise called, um, your best day, right?
Describe to me your best day and it's that open ended or describe to me your perfect day. And when you tell me what your perfect day is, I now have a range of ammunition of things to shoot right back at you. And give you opportunities to refine that [01:10:00] experience that you just had in answering that question, because now you've told me all these different things that are really important to you.
And it's going to give me opportunities to pick out individual little pieces or even one word and ask you to continue to refine and refine and refine. The more refinement you do. On that process of introspection, the more in touch you are with the core of what it makes you do what you do. And if that's photography, what's going to make you a better photographer?
Mica: What's something that a photographer can do or start doing right now? To discover their why if they're unsure of, of what that why might be?
Andrew: I would go back into your archive and find the pictures that you're most proud of. And really start to dig into what it is, what is it about that picture that makes you really proud? What is it about what you did or accomplished or you're saying in those pictures? To really refine [01:11:00] and edit differently in your mind. Right, I know what technical beauty looks like, but maybe your most technically beautiful photograph or your best executed photograph isn't the one that resonates with you. And maybe that's a struggle because you're like, why do I love this photo so much? I know it's not technically sound or frame the way I want it or whatever it is.
What is it about? And I think that it's really important to go back and look at imagery. Especially older stuff, right? And watch your evolution as a photographer as well. That's another really great confidence builder. To discover your why. Is, look at your old stuff, and then see how far you've come in a year, two years, five years, a decade.
And understand the journey through that. Rather than just being judged by what you did yesterday. Right? Which may not be that different from what you could do today. Go back and look at what you did five years ago, and see how far you came. That's really important to do, because I think quite often we get so stuck in the [01:12:00] moment that we don't remember where we came from.
You're pulling up that photo from 2012, that I shot with an iPhone. I looked at it and I cringed. And I was like,
Mica: You cringed?
Andrew: Well, because I didn't color it. It's, it, I, it was, I was like, I like the composition, it's nice. It was well styled food, but I was looking at the light and I was like, oh, that light is so bad. But that's the thing, right? Is that... I'm, I'm, I'm better with an iPhone than I was 12 years ago. And iPhones are better too. So we all, we
Mica: Definitely, we all have those photos.
Andrew: All have room to grow, right? We always have room to grow.
Mica: When I got started in food photography, I actually started with my friend. And I restarted a food blog.
We created meals based on book characters that we loved. One of the books that we featured was, It was Charlotte's favorite book, The Galaxy's [01:13:00] Guide to the
Andrew: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
Mica: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and we had this really cool menu. This futuristic, lots of silver.
It was really cool. But, the photos look like shit and they, but they've never seen the light, like Charlotte and I during the shoot, she is frustrated because styling wise, she couldn't figure out what the hell we were doing. I was struggling because photography wise, I didn't know what the hell I was doing.
And so we have these two, I don't know what the hell I'm doing moments happening and we have these terrible photos to look at. They were just so horrible that all we could do was laugh.
So every time I go back and I look at those photos. And I see how shitty they are, I cringe, but I laugh as well because I know now what I should have done and could have done, and they would probably look [01:14:00] a lot different. Sometimes I want to go back and redo those shoots. But then I'm like, no, that was traumatic in itself. I'll leave that in the past to where it lies.
Andrew: Totally get it. I totally get it.
Mica: The last question I want to finish off with, and I kind of already asked this, but what advice do you have for creatives who are seeking guidance and support in their careers?
Andrew: First of all, don't be afraid to ask. Sometimes, at least in my experience, I've had people come to me not expecting that I would respond to them.
Mica: That's me.
Andrew: Ha! And, and the lesson learned there for a lot of people is... you miss a hundred percent of the shots you don't take. That's a Wayne Gretzky quote for all you hockey fans out there. But it applies to everything, right? You have to keep taking the shot [01:15:00] and you don't have to feel ready. You don't have to be perfect. You don't have to be an expert. You don't have to have the best gear. You just gotta be confident that what you bring to the table, whether it's an incomplete picture or not. You believe it and you mean it and you're trying really hard. The industry will tell you whether it's you're ready. You shouldn't be the one to determine that the industry will tell you if you're ready by the work you're getting this the level of work you're getting, the amount of money you're getting paid, but you can't prejudge that and limit yourself. So, one piece of advice somebody gave me a long time ago about shooting and shooting advertising and I'm talking 15, 18 years ago, she said to me, price yourself at the top of the market because if you price yourself at the bottom of it, you'll never get to the top. And it [01:16:00] was so valuable because the first five advertising pitches I ever did, I didn't get. Maybe because my price was too high. Maybe not. I don't know but by the time I got my first job, that rate stayed the same. And then I lived at that rate for a decade. Right? Because I established it. But it took some time to get there.
I had to hear no quite a few times before I heard yes. But the idea is I stuck to my guns. If I had gone in at the bottom, then you are slotted in at the bottom. Especially with that client, you'll never get past the number that you came in at. I know a lot of people believe this myth that they're going to give the client that the first job discount and that they're going to get more money later on.
Yeah, it never happens that way. That's not how businesses work. That is not how businesses work. So if you want to work with this client and they're willing to pay you X, be [01:17:00] sure that you're comfortable with X. For the remainder of the time you work with them because it's never going above that. And if you don't believe me, I don't know what to tell you.
I got 20 years, 20 years of experiencing that very same thing. Once you establish a rate with a client, it's not changing. And if you've had an experience where you have, where you've had the opportunity to change the rate. I'm happy for you because it's not the norm. The norm is that if you establish a rate, that's the rate you're going to live with.
Quite often, a lot of people want the work so bad, they go in at a low rate and then they can't get out from under it. And you can't make a living as a photographer doing it that way. So that's really hard. The other piece of advice, that comes from my life as a baseball coach years and years ago, and a baseball player. Is the best player on any given baseball team fails 70 percent of the time they step up to the plate. I'll say that again. The [01:18:00] best player on any given baseball team fails 7 out of 10 times. So if you can't embrace failure, you have to do something else for a living. This is a hard business and there's much more rejection than there is acceptance.
We have to develop a thick skin in order to move forward because it's a failure based business where you're doing outreach, you're sending out promos, you're doing social media posts, you're doing everything you can. You're throwing spaghetti at the wall all day long and not a lot of it sticks and you have to be okay with that.
It's not a personal reflection of your work. It's not a personal reflection of you as a human being, but it's important to understand and embrace the idea that in order to be successful, you're going to get told no a lot more than you're going to get told. Yes. And once we've accepted that, it's much easier when the no's keep coming [01:19:00] and coming and coming.
Mica: I love that. One of my teachers told us to think of the word no, as a not right now. There's no finality in the word no. And if they say no, it means not right now. That's been the, the most challenging thing for me to accept is hearing no, but not taking it as a, as a final thing.
The rejection thing. That's, oof, that's, that's challenging. That's challenging.
Andrew: But it's challenging for you as a human being. It's not necessarily challenging for you as a photographer. That's the thing that we have to learn and accept that everybody goes through the same emotions. We just translate them through a different sort of paradigm.
Mica: What do you hope the listeners learn from today's episode?
Andrew: We didn't really talk a whole lot about photography. I think that, I think that is always... It's very refreshing that [01:20:00] you, you're listening to a couple of photographers and we are talking about the things that make us tick versus the things that we click on as photographers. So the idea of, of understanding any creative person is understanding what makes them go, what's the engine driving them.
Hopefully people come away with learning a little bit more about what, at least what makes me go. And I think conversely also what makes you go a little bit. And understanding that, it's important to know who you want to be as you're deciding what to share with everyone else.
Mica: Love that. Love that. Where can the listeners, follow you?
Where can they find you?
Andrew: Most accessible on Instagram at andrewscravani, one word, but I also started a second Instagram page that I am starting to migrate some of the coaching stuff to called at Scravani Coaching. Scravani underscore Coaching. And then [01:21:00] of course, Andrew Scravani Academy is the home of both my learning community that I have for photographers and where my classes will be happening and classes from other photographers. We have a beverage course coming up by Freddie Clark. That's going to be coming up this summer.
Plus I'm going to be teaching a course about confidence also on my academy. That's on Mighty Networks. So if you're following anyone else on Mighty Networks, you can find me there for Andrew Scrivani Academy. And then, of course, my website, andrewscrivani. com. So basically, if you could spell my name, you'll find me.
I'm pretty easy to find. Just make sure you could spell it, that's all.
What I would like for people to know is that I now have a newsletter. That is geared towards, the coaching and motivational aspects of what I'm doing. The stuff I'm doing with the APA, I'm recommending books, some recommending articles.
I write an article myself each time. So if you're interested in that, then. If [01:22:00] you're already following me on social media, just, just DM me and say, Hey, I want to be on the mailing list and I'm going to be sending those out. I do it like once or twice a month. Try not to spam people's inboxes, but it's got links to my coaching schedule, links to courses that are being taught.
There's a lot of that happening. It's all developing right now. But if you are interested in the mailing list, you can reach out to me on social and I'll put you on the mailing list.
Mica: Well, I, for one, I think I already am on the mailing list, but if I'm not, please, please add me. Well, thank you so, so, so much. For being on the show. This was such a great conversation. And I can't thank you enough for for responding to me.
Andrew: Well, thanks for having me. And it was lovely to talk to you. I really appreciate the opportunity to talk about these new things that are important to me. So thanks so much.