Featuring John Lyons – Rockbox Photo
Our featured photographer this week is John Lyons, of Rockbox Photo. Hope you enjoy taking a peek into the inner workings of his business, as well as some of his gorgeous photos!
Where do you operate your business?
In Windsor and Chatham in Southwestern Ontario Canada. Detroit, Michigan is right across the river from us. Go Tigers!
Your website – http://rockboxphoto.com
Your facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/rockboxphoto
Your Pinterest account – http://pinterest.com/johnlyonsphoto
Your Instagram account – http://www.instagram.com/rockboxphoto
Your Twitter account – https://www.twitter.com/rockboxphoto
Photoshop and Lightroom )what else is there??)
Do you use any actions?
Portraiture and a customized PS action for toning
Do you retouch and if so can you give me a quick rundown on if you use any plugins, etc.?
I try not to do any major retouching other than blemish removal and skin smoothing with Portraiture if necessary. I don’t do any reshaping or liquifying unless absolutely necessary. I try to get it right during the session and not fix it in post.
What most people want to know is how you market to your clients. Have you qualified who your is your ideal client?
Social media is our #1 marketing source (Facebook and Instagram), followed by solid SEO. We have paid to boost or promote posts on Facebook with fairly decent success. I’m a big believer in social media – but building your social network is tedious and time consuming.
We have two client groups: 35 – 40 years old, generally her kids are teens and she’s been able to focus on herself for the last couple of years. She does the session more for herself but certainly for her partner as well. And brides who want to do a session for their husband to be. With the recent rebranding, we’ve also seen a few more models wanting to do portfolio sessions.
I’d love to add into the article any inspiring client stories you might have. Also have you had any issues with clients that you would like to share how you resolved them. That is always something that can hugely benefit the readers.
The most inspiring story happened during one of our first sessions about four years ago. We photographed Katie’s wedding about 4 years before. In between her wedding and her boudoir session, she had 2 children and had undergone cancer treatment. We did her hair and make-up and then took a few test shots, one of which we showed her on the back of the camera. She started crying immediately – and said she hadn’t felt beautiful since her wedding day.
We have never had any issues with clients. Though if we did, I wouldn’t hesitate to reshoot the session to make happy!
Do you have a “welcome” product you give the clients and can you share that if you do. Thanks.
We have a lookbook and prep guide that we send them before the session. It basically sets the tone for just how far they want to go and how revealing they want their images to be. I’ve found that most women won’t say how far they will go – but they will happily point to images and say they want this or that or won’t do that.
This is probably one of the most important things that the readers want to know. How do you sell to your clients? Can you provide info on your sales process and your pricing. I’d like to be able to provide numbers on what you charge for a session and what your range is for your products, like albums for instance, but if you don’t feel comfortable sharing to much, just give me what fits your comfort level.
If you have a PDF or a copy to your price list you don’t mind sharing, that would be great.
We’ve just revamped our pricing – which can be found here >> http://www.rockboxphoto.com/boudoir-photography-session/
What products perform best in your studio?
Since that pricing structure is brand new I can’t say for sure, but an equivalent to package #2 is where most people land.
Best describe your workspace. Do you have a studio or work from home? How large is your space? What are the challenges with it? What works really well for you? Can you please include a photo or two of it, if possible.
I have a studio that I share with another photographer, and hair stylist and make-up artist. because we have hair and make-up stations right in the studio, everything is right there. The studio is dedicated 100% to boudoir, so there is no hauling of gear, setting up or tearing down. It’s always ready.
Do you have any plans to change and/or grow from your space in the near future.
I want to shoot more, more, more…
Do you keep strict hours of operation with your clients?
No. We work around them as much as possible, though I prefer shooting during weekdays.
Natural Light, Studio Light, combination of styles? What’s your preference? What are your strengths and weaknesses with lighting, if any?
It’s a natural light studio, but I am trying to incorporate more studio lighting into the mix. But I find I can be far more creative with natural light. I’m just not 100% comfortable in my knowledge of studio lighting yet.
Do you have makeup artists you work with in your studio? If so, can you give me a run down of what the rate is you pay them and how you feel about the importance of that relationship. If you don’t use them, is there a reason?
We share the studio space with a hair stylist and make-up artist so they are there when we need them. The clients pay them directly – $125 for hair and make-up.
BUSINESS IN GENERAL:
How long have you been in business? What were you doing before you started your photo business?
My wife Larisa and I started the boudoir brand 4 years ago as an extension of our wedding photography brand: johnlyonsweddings.com (we still shoot 20 or so weddings per year.)
We recently rebranded johnlyonsboudoir.com to RockBox Photo to give a total separation between the brands.
Did you go to school for photographer or are you self taught?
I have to say that I a really can’t stand the term self-taught.
While I did not go to school for photography, I am not self taught. I did not teach myself. I learned my craft from many photographers over the years. While I certainly made my own choices and directed my own learning – I, like every other photographer I know, have invested heavily in my education though workshops, seminars, trial by fire and the school of hard knocks.
That being said: I have a degree in Communications: I really wanted to be an MTV VJ!
Did you always want to be a photographer or was it something that came later in life?
I have always been creative – either though music or design. I didn’t find photography until my late-thirties.
What is your biggest struggle in this business?
The actual business.
I love the marketing side, it’s the business of the business that I struggle with.
I just want to shoot, make tons of money and travel the world – is that too much to ask?? 😉
Is there a reason you shoot boudoir and do you shoot any other genre? If you’re exclusive, and/or recently went exclusive can you give the readers some insight into why you did. If you’ve only ever done boudoir, again we’d love to hear why.
We do weddings and boudoir (and the occasional Detroit Lions game). No flowers, families, babies or puppies. I love photographing people.
If you knew someone who wanted to be a photographer, and could give them one piece of important advice, what would that be?
Don’t ever stop hustling. Don’t ever quit. Put in the hours. Be Awesome.
Have you ever done a boudoir session yourself, if you are a female (sorry guys 🙂 ? Do you think it’s something that is important for female boudoir photographers to do?
How do you feel about the male / female debate regarding boudoir photographers?
I’m a male. There is no debate. 🙂
We shot 30+ boudoir sessions last year so I don’t think it’s a big deal as far as our business is concerned. I’m quite certain though that there are more than a few women who haven’t chosen me because they don’t feel comfortable half naked (or all naked) in front of another man; or they don’t want their partner to know that they were. And that’s totally fine with me. We definitely push our clients to the limits of their comfort zone, but they need do need a base comfort level just to walk in the door.
I think I have a very different approach than what a female photographer has. I shoot what I think is sexy and what the client’s partner likes (I always ask what are his favourite parts of her body).
What do you do to avoid burn-out?
I try to hit the gym 3-4 times per week.
Is there ever a time when you just want to throw your camera out the window?
Never my camera, but sometimes my computer. I never get sick of shooting, but I do get sick of the endless e-mailing, booking, invoicing, scheduling, etc.
What do you love about the business?
It’s that magical 60 or 90 minutes where the model/client/subject and I are working together to produce amazing images. When a person who I just met, quite literally bares all, and trusts me to put a smile on her boyrfriend/girlfriend/fiance/husband’s face. We are truly partners in crime in this regard!
What do you hate about the business?
The endless internal struggle of hating my own work.
Are you a member of any professional photo organizations like PPA, WPPI? What benefit do you feel you get by being a member?
MPOC – Master Photographer of Canada
Do you compete and do you have any opinions on it? AIBP runs contests regularly. Do you participate? If not, is there a reason you don’t?
I really need to work on this…
SOME FUN MORE PERSONAL STUFF:
Pizza, of course
One guilty pleasure in life?
I kinda like tequila…
What is your favourite piece of clothing?
What’s one song on your playlist?
Old Blue Chair, Kenny Chesney
What’s your favourite movie genre? Example?
I love Action/Adventure – I just want to be entertained
Favourite shoes to wear?
See above 🙂
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would that be?
The beach with my family…
What do you struggle with the most in life? (not photo related)
Spending enough time with my family
Are you married, single, have kids, husband? Is life a juggling act for you?
Married for 22 years to Larisa; three teenage daughters – Mackenna, Meaghan and Carson
If you could provide one single piece of advice to influence a young person’s direction in life, what would that be?
Don’t stop the hustle. It doesn’t matter what you do – just put in the work…