Picture How This Photographer Shoots For Success – PART 2

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My interview with Corey Schatz of DigiShotz of Lakewood, Washington continues.

Jim: So, as a professional photographer, what problem would you say you are you solving for your clients? What obstacles do you help people overcome?

Corey: Everyone wants to be seen, literally, in the best light. That one day when your hair was just right, your clothes fit perfectly, and no blemishes. Reality dictates that the “just right” day never seems to happen on picture day. So we use our tools to make sure our client gets a product that shows them on their best day. A good photographic presentation, or representation, can really make a difference in terms of confidence.


Jim: You were a psychology major at the University of Washington. It sounds like that comes in handy. Is that an unexpected part of what you do?

Corey: Definitely. At first I thought I would do photography to pay the bills for a while because I enjoyed it and was good at it. Then I realized it is my passion. But, yes, this job is not about the high-end equipment or the technology. The camera is not the photography. The photographer is the key to good photography. The magic is in the talent of bringing out the personality, the true identity, of the subject. The role of the professional photographer is to try to bring that out, in photographic form. And so, yes, there’s a little psychology involved in that.


Good Photographers are Like Psychologists – Photo courtesy of DigiShotz of Lakewood, WA

Jim: Earlier you told me that we all have an idea of how the world sees us or perceives us. I tend to think that perception is usually very close to the way we see ourselves. Have you found that to be the case as you’ve seen your clients, over the years, react to pictures of themselves?

Corey: Yes. I think of that old Ray Stevens song that says, “Everybody’s beautiful in their own way.” Good photography really isn’t just about external beauty. With the right amount of encouragement, the subtleties and nuances of expression in the human face is amazing … it can be prompted into revealing something of the internal beauty that often lies just beneath the surface. When an image of you is stopped at a 125th of a second for everyone to stare at, that picture better be good.


Kat: I think I would have mentioned a better a song than “Everybody’s beautiful in their own way.” [they both laugh] We try to keep things fun. Being serious all the time is boring and a fun atmosphere gets the best results. That’s what Corey is trying to say.

Corey: Yes. With a song from the 70’s.

Kat: We’re usually going for something between that and “I’m sexy and I know it.” [smiling] Seriously, he does a good job of making everyone comfortable and being themselves.

Good Photographers are Like Psychologists

Jim: More psychology?

Corey: Exactly. As you can imagine, there is a certain amount of vulnerability necessary in order to achieve a great photograph. So, a photographer is also like a psychologist in that there is a confidentiality issue. The more trusting and “safe” the client feels during the shooting process, the more likely we will be to get the best shot.


Jim: Okay. You’re able to do digital makeovers to people’s faces and bodies. We’ve all seen plastic surgery disasters. So, how do you gently help people understand that they aren’t helping themselves by generating a picture that doesn’t really look like them?

Kat: “Everyone on the team here is a part of harnessing Corey’s passion. We share that passion to give our clients a great experience. If everyone on the team does not share in the passion, the brand can suffer and we don’t have as much fun. But that’s not a problem around here. We have lots of fun.”

Corey: People aren’t satisfied with the way they are. I try to encourage people to not be so critical of their own image. I don’t want to downplay the role of the professional photographer in being able to really capture something special and to make some subtle enhancements, but if it is hard to convince someone of their inner and outer beauty, only the best photographer can resolve that obstruction.


Jim: So, why are you so much more successful than others in your industry?

Corey: I never want a client’s photographic experience to feel “canned”. We try to be as relaxed and informal as possible and just “take it easy.” We refuse to be “cookie-cutter” in our approach. Everyone is unique. We capture that in our work partly, I think, because we treat everyone like they are special and unique. And our clients respond well to that. Our marketing costs can be reduced as we see more and more clients coming to us on the basis of word-of-mouth referrals. That increases my motivation to get it right with each client.


Jim: One final question. How have you been able to overcome various obstacles in your life, especially in your business, toward greater success?

Corey: That’s easy. Knowing my “big why” fuels a huge passion for what I do. When I realized that my talent is also my passion, creating the best experience for my clients became my total focus. That explains why I have invested so much in this facility and keeping pace with the state-of-the-art. Taking the best pictures and presenting my subjects in the best way possible is my “big why.” When you know why you are doing what you are doing, it gives you drive and passion and turns obstacles in your way into tiny distractions that are easier to overcome. I call it “mental momentum.” So, to my comrades in photography and small business I say this: find and keep your big why because it will fuel your focus. Hope that made sense.

[Kat adds…]

Kat: … and make it a team effort. Everyone on the team here is a part of harnessing Corey’s passion. We all have that passion in common and I think that helps give our clients the great experience they get when they come here. If everyone on the team does not share in the passion, the brand can suffer and we don’t have as much fun. But that’s not a problem around here. We have lots of fun. Anyway, it occurs to me that if Corey’s “why” wasn’t known to us, that would also be a problem. So the advice I would give is to make your “big why” known to everyone around you like Corey has done here. For everyone in the organization to “buy” into the program and share your passion, they obviously have to know what it is.



Jim Aitkins


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