martial arts photography

102 – Francine Schaepper – Taking Epic Martial Arts Photos With Your Smartphone That Grab Attention

You only get one shot of making a great first impression. Francine shares how to do that with martial arts photos that demand attention.

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • 3 keys to taking epic martial arts photos
  • Why every martial arts school owner needs professional photos 
  • How simple smartphone photography can boost retention
  • And more

*Need help growing your martial arts school? Learn More Here.

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TRANSCRIPTION

It's quite difficult to take martial arts photos. Some of my clients that I go to regularly, they've mentioned that a lot of them have had someone take photos, but they just weren't good. Because even sports photographers struggle. Martial arts is so specific and so intricate that you really have to understand the arts, the movement. You got to be a mover yourself. You got to be a martial artist almost yourself.

GEORGE: Good day, everyone. George here from martialartsmedia.com and welcome to the Martial Arts Media business podcast. So, an awesome guest with me today, Francine Schaepper. How are you, Francine?

FRANCINE: How are you?

GEORGE: Very good. I'm going to give a brief about Francine, but she'll fill in all the gaps. So, Francine is from Switzerland and is a professional martial arts photographer. So, Francine's taken 15,000 plus martial arts photos. When you look at the photos that Francine takes, you can't help but do a little gut check and think, “Well my photos aren't that great.”

So, we're going to chat a bit about photos, why they're important and especially for you as a martial artist, why do you need professional photos? We'll get into that, but first welcome to the call, Francine.

FRANCINE: Oh, thank you. Sorry my kitten's distracting me. She's trying to climb up on me. Yeah, some of you know me. I'm Swiss, I've been here for awhile. In the first place, I'm a professional photographer and the martial arts snuck its way into it and we'll probably talk about that a little bit. So, that's what I do for work. That's a quick overview, really.

GEORGE: That's super quick. Well then, go into how did the martial arts part fall into place?

FRANCINE: Okay, well look, when I started photography, I think I started photography about 10 years ago. So I've got a corporate background, business marketing background. I've always loved cameras, I've always loved it, but then at some point decided, okay, I'll just make this my business. God knows why, but I've done it.

Well, it actually started at uni when I was studying photography and we had to put together our final folio. We had to find photos that we wanted to kind of copy to showcase that we could do it. Obviously as a martial artist, I thought I want my front page to be a really cool martial arts shot.

So, I started Googling and looking around and it was really hard finding any decent martial arts photo. I'm not talking about somebody standing there with a gi. I was looking for something more commercial looking, something if you think of like Nike, or Adidas campaign, something of that kind of matter. It's something really dynamic with a lot of elements that will make it look good.

I literally almost gave up. I just found this one guy in the States who does amazing commercial photography. He did a test with a very quick, a very fast camera and super fad, and they chose martial arts because it's very dynamic. They took a series of really cool shots, and that was literally the only four shots I could find, and I Googled for weeks.

I felt personally we're representing martial arts the way I thought it should be represented. That got me into this whole thinking of, well, why does nobody take photos of martial arts the way I think they should take them? So then I went down that avenue and started taking photos for the kung fu school that I was training and teaching at, and got into it that way. So that was why, so now that's a niche standing on its own because it's a very specific market.

GEORGE: Yeah, awesome. I think still to date, it's hard. I mean, I've been chatting to you a lot over the last few weeks, so I've seen the caliber of photos that you take. But every week I do presentations for our Partners group. Typically there's a few stock photo websites that I use. I mean, I've always got this thing about stock photos, but for presentations you can find super good photos.

That's good to paint a picture of concepts and metaphors, but the minute I try and search the martial arts space, the photos suck. They really do. It's very rare that you find a martial arts photo that looks naturally good. So, you either get, they look just bad or they look over plastic that you wouldn't actually want to use. What does that get? What is missing in taking a great photo of martial arts?

FRANCINE: Well, I'm not quite sure what's missing. As a photographer, because you've got to look at two things. You got to look at why are not more professional photographers taking photos of martial arts? But then, for a photographer, they're going to go and take photos for a client. The client needs, wants the photos taken. So, it's also a lack of want from that industry or from our industry. I think that people are just not giving it the weight they should.

As I'm talking about martial arts school owners. I think the head space is not there to go, “Oh, we need to get a professional photographer in to get photos taken because we need to look good on the internet, on socials, on print for flyers.” I'm not quite sure why that is. I'm still trying to find that out.

I think it's gotten a little bit better. So you've got your occasional person who runs the school and goes, “Yeah, yeah, we see the value,” but it's very rare. It should be a lot more doing that.

There we go. She wants to be part of it. She's like a ninja. But in terms of professional photos, so that's one. If you don't have people asking for it, obviously nobody's going to deliver the service. But I also think that it's quite difficult to take martial arts photos. Because I've some of my clients that I go to regularly, they've mentioned a lot of them have had someone take photos, but they just weren't good. Because even sports photographers struggle. Martial arts is so specific and so intricate that you really have to understand the arts, the movement. You got to be a mover yourself. You got to be a martial artist almost by yourself.

But that's in terms of professional photography. It's hard to find people that can actually shoot it. I've done it for a long time now, I'm pretty good at it. Then you've got the other problem of, why don't martial arts academies do it themselves? You don't always have to hire a professional. You don't always have to get me in. I mean, there's only one of me.

If you look at industries like, I'm going to say it again, Pilates, yoga, CrossFit, all of these, they don't always get professionals in, but they take really great photos themselves. I mean, they've got that, and they know how to use it. They're just a lot more creative, they're thinking about it, and if you look at their Instagram profile, it just looks really, really great.

So, I think there's two things. It's one of there's not a lot of professional photos out there, or not a lot of people doing it, but also the actual industry itself, people are not making an effort to look better, I guess. I'm not quite sure why. Because I know everybody's super proud of the martial art. You know, everybody's walking like, “My martial art's the best,” or, “This is cool,” or, “I love my club.” They put so much time in and then I can't find any decent photos. So, for me there's a bit of a gap there, which I'm trying to …

GEORGE: Well, now that we've talked about this, I talk about this when running ads a lot. When you run ads, you've got a few photos of your favorite kids or something. So, you've got your favorites, so in your gut, you really want that photo to be the winning ad. But it's not, because the results say different. So there's an emotional attachment.

Now, do you feel that maybe the problem here is that as a martial artist, you're so emotionally attached to your art that when there's a photo of that taken, you might see a completely different perception of the photo then somebody else does as a first timer. Because you look at the photo and you know the effort and the technique that went behind that moment. But for somebody scrolling by, they just look at it and like, “Yeah, whatever.”

FRANCINE: Yeah, I think so. There's a little bit of arrogance, I think. Not wanting to sound, but I'm a martial-

GEORGE: Arrogance in martial arts? What do you mean?

FRANCINE: No. No, I mean, it's not in a bad way, and it's good. It's healthy to have a certain arrogance like, “Ah,.” Like you said, we all know how long … I've been doing martial arts for 20 years, by the way. So, I'm not bagging the industry. I know what I'm talking about. We know how long it takes to do a flying sidekick or anything. Yes, you catch it, you go like, “Oh, it's amazing.”

It's exactly what you were saying that I think the arrogance is, “I'm teaching this amazing martial art. People will come without me having to actually make an effort to put something out,” which is one problem. So, it is the emotional attachment. I think it's also a little bit of arrogance.

I wanted to say a little bit of laziness, but I think it's not just laziness. I think the whole visual representation of martial arts is just a blind spot. They don't think about it. You might've been able to get away with it. We've got Blitz Magazine, which I love. The content's great, but not wanting to bag them, but they've looked the same since I don't know when. I've got so many issues and they're all the same.

So, as a martial artist, it resonates with us because yeah, we can see the technique, it looks cool also, awesome. But like you say, if you're talking to a prospect or somebody who's never done martial arts, to them, they don't have, like you said, emotional attachment. They don't understand the technique. They don't know how long it takes to get into that.

So, they need to see something that's more enticing. Which, we have amazing weapons that look really cool. We've got really cool uniforms. You've got so many details that you could showcase in your academy where people will go, “Oh, this is awesome.”

I also think it's a bit of a fear factor because taking up martial arts is not like taking up yoga or Pilates. I mean, it's got this looming, “Oh my God, am I going to beat people up? I'm going to get punched? What's this?” It's this closed group of, it's like a bit of … I don't know how you call that. It's almost like that mystical type of all martial arts. “Oh, you're a martial artist? I need to be careful. You're going to beat me up.” We all get that a lot, right? So people don't really know about martial arts.

The only thing that I think showcases martial arts really well is film. I mean, if you look at, at Marvel, like Black Panther. I'm going to use that as an example because they're using Silat, which is a style that my partner teaches. That's a great vehicle because you can go, “Have you seen Black Panther?” Well, the movements, what he's doing, most of it is Silat. Not all of it, most of it is Silat or Silat-based. They'll go like, “Oh, it looks like a Balinese dance sometimes.”

Yeah it does. We do that too. Through visuals you can get people to understand what you're doing. Video is great, but it has to be really well done. But photography is great too, and it's a lot easier, and it's a lot quicker if you know what you're doing.

So, I really think the shooting in our industry, it's a blind spot. People don't take the time to actually think about it because maybe they think they never have to. But with everything that's happening around us, now we have to, because we're not looking that good. We actually really don't look good as an industry, visually I mean.

GEORGE: Yeah. So, what you're talking about there is having the level of awareness. But let's also face it. For the average martial arts school owner, it's not your fault either. I mean, you got a lot on your plate. You're so much focused on what's happening here, but now you've also got to pay attention about, “All right, well that's perfect what's happening on the mats, but then let's make sure that we can get that impression and capture it and display it online.”

Now, there's a few things here, like Francine's mentioning, the mystical thing of martial arts. A lot of people still feel that. So, you've also got the balance of who the media is going to. Because I mean, it's either going to look super intimidating. Or you're going to try and do something good and it's sort of not good.

Like Ken Okazaki always says, “If you're going to do video, you either have it done professionally or not at all, because trying to do it yourself in between just looks super bad.”

But back on the topic, you've got a lot going on, you've got to take professional photos, and maybe there's not so much weight focused on the importance of this. But a quick reminder of the world we live in. The number one question that I get asked from school owners is, how do we get more students? How do we attract more students?

Well, let's start with the media. Now, there's, there's an old saying of, it used to be, “You are what Google says you are …”

FRANCINE: Oh dear.

GEORGE: Which still is true. But where do people actually go to Google to search you up? Well, when they found you, what was that first impression? For most running ads and doing marketing on social, it's Facebook. So people get the first impression on Facebook, and maybe for the percentage that want to verify who you are, or find out more about you, they're going to go to Google, type your name in and then see what they could find. But not if you didn't make the first impression.

So the first impression is the media. An ad statistic is that an image or video has a 70% weighing factor whether a person will pay attention to your copy. Now, written sales copy is super important, but what stops people in their tracks is the visual media. I just wanted to highlight that because if you're not placing an importance on this, that's what's going on. That's why it's important to get this right.

FRANCINE: Correct. Yeah, I agree. Absolutely. I think people know that. The industry's trying, but the problem is that what you said is true. It's true because we wear all the hats. We do everything. We do sales, we teach, we train staff, we clean, you do everything. There's just a lot to do. But for some reason, photography always ends up at the back of the list. It's really at the bottom of the list.

The problem is you can do whatever you want. I mean, you can have the best looking school, I'm sure you've got students and everything, but if you want to grow … Yes, at some point you have a recommendation. If you're at a point where you know where you have a school that you've got great recommendation and that's how you get your people in, you probably don't have to make a big effort because you already get that. You get the students, you get to turnaround, you get people come in.

But the problem is that you're still going to be selling a lot of people who maybe would come in if they saw you online. Because really you're competing with industries that look really good. For me, martial arts is such a great thing. It would help so many people and I think a lot more people should take it up.

But like what you said, the photos that are out there, are just not doing the job. Not all of them, but the majority that I see, it wouldn't make me want to go there because like what you said, when you've got a gym, and for example, you do your boxing, or your Muay Thai class or something, let's say like a fitness boxing class, but with pads and stuff, and everybody's wearing helmet gear, whatever, and you've got photos of that.

A, the photos are probably too dark, they don't look good, they're not enticing. For a mom looking for a school for the kid and they might go, “No, I'm not going to look at this.” But then she's not even going to look at, do you have a program for kids? Or do you have a program for women?

It's difficult because a lot of us, we've got the same. We've got a combative thing. Every martial art has that. We've got our combative side, we've got our technique side, we've got the forms. So there's something in there for everybody. With the photos you put out, especially the ones that are your banner on Facebook, which is obviously a lot of times the worst, the banner on Facebook, the first thing people see on your website.

You have to figure out something that is general enough, just a really great shot that then people go and look for more, and then they find out everything else you do. That's where we fall flat. Those of you who know me probably know my warrior series that I've done, these scenes of martial artists doing something in the forest, or at the beach, or in the snow. I've done a whole series.

These photos really catch people's attention. It's funny because … I think I'm going off track a bit. But the funny thing for me is that the feedback I get is mostly from friends and people that never showed interest in martial arts at all.

My friends, they're all doing their yoga, their whatever. They're just, “Yeah, she just goes and beats up people.” When they started seeing that series that I did, because I wanted to show a different side, suddenly they're like, “Oh, so what's this?” “Oh, that's karate.” “So, how is that different from that?” “Well, they're using weapons. They don't. They have this thing. That's what they do.”

Suddenly, there was a lot of interest about, “Also, why is this dude wearing that? What is he doing? What's this name again? Is that difficult? Could I do this?”

There was so much interest from my closer friends who never, ever showed any interest. Suddenly they want to know what's the difference between karate and kung fu? So you got to create imagery. I know those kinds of photos, you probably can't do them yourself, but you can do better than what I see. You can do a lot better than what I see.

GEORGE: So, that is why we have you on this call. Right. I know we've emphasized a lot on the problem and, but it's so important to really grasp the importance of this. Because right now, especially after the time of recording this podcast, there's been some crazy times with pandemic and all the rest.

Everybody's online, and with everybody online, competition goes up. So being mediocre is not okay anymore. You need to have good media to stand out from the crowd. So, the question is how do we do that? If we are to discuss the top three things, what do we need to know to take better photos at our martial art schools?

FRANCINE: Well, I think the first one is just understanding that you have to spend some time on this. I mean, some of us are still here. We can't go anywhere, you can't do anything. There's no excuse anymore to go, “I don't have a DSLR camera.” Everybody has got a camera. Those cameras are really bloody amazing.

Then also, there's a saying a photographer has said, “The single most important component of a camera is the 12 inches behind it.” So, that's you. So, you can have the crappiest phone camera, or the best DSLR. It is about the device, but it's about you and what you do with it. So, actually, nobody has an excuse to not take at least decent photos these days. No one. Especially if it's not your thing, a lot of the martial arts academy owners I know have kids, teenagers, they know how to use their phone. Just get them to take photos.

So, I think one thing is just to understand that photography should really be a lot higher on your list than it is at the moment. The next one is then to go on, explore it a little bit. Figure out, “Okay, well, I've got all these devices.” Maybe you've got three phones, you've got a camera, and just go on and start looking at things.

So the one, the biggest thing for me … I teach photography as well. When I tell people about photography, I teach photography, I tell them you've got to learn how to see. You got to completely relearn how you're looking at things. Look at your surroundings. What's the light like? What do you like about your academy, for example? Or what are things that capture you? Then try taking a photo of it.

But you've got to retrain yourself to look at the world like a child, like a curious child, and that's the second one that is really important just to get that headspace a little bit.

Then the third one is just take your camera and just start shooting. Try and fail and go to people that know what they're doing. Ask me, ask someone else, go online. There's so much online about how you can use your camera, what to do, what not to do. Just start the process. But yeah, put it higher on your list, then find a bit of curiosity about how you see the world. The third one is just getting to your camera and getting to know it better.

Because you have all the tools. There's no excuse to take shit shots, in my opinion. There really isn't. If you can't take them, give them to your daughter, your friend or whoever, or your student, or a team member. Get them to take the photos. But there really isn't any excuse. You can really close the gap. I mean, I'm probably up here obviously with what I'm doing, but you can get closer to that with not that much … A little bit of effort, but it's totally doable. There's no excuse, really.

GEORGE: Okay. So, let's make it more practical. You're at a school, and you're standing in the middle of your dojo, on the mats or whatever. What are the things I should be looking for to change the environment, to be able to take better photos? Lighting, environment, and so forth?

FRANCINE: The first thing is knowing what you're dealing with. So photography means painting with light, so you got to look at your lighting situation. First thing is natural light. What kind of light have you got? Do you have colored walls that might reflect and make my skin look green? I'm sitting here because I know that the light is good. I'm actually facing a window because of all the light. If I turn my camera this way, that's not good. So that's a crap shot. That's a more flattering shot.

So just things like that, where you walk around and figure out, what looks good? That's a big first step. Also looking at, does your dojo look as good as you think it does? Is it maybe a little bit messy? Could you put the bins out of the way so they're not in every photo? Which way does your class face? Are they actually facing the light when you're taking photos?

I keep telling martial arts academies, I think we've been talking about that a lot, don't just go off for five minutes. I'll take my phone, take a quick snapshot, walk off and then in the end you just got a very average “I don't know what I took a photo of” shot.

Do every Saturday morning, it's photography. Everybody knows Saturday morning, we're taking photos because there's natural light, everybody comes in, they're pumped. I get that feedback a lot, as soon as I turn up with my cameras, suddenly all the horse stances are as low as they've ever been.

So, make it an event. Involve your students. Turn the class around for once and make them face the light so you get better photos. Then turn it back around for the rest of the class. So there's a lot of really small things that you can do that will get you from here to here very, very quickly. It's not rocket science. Somebody has to tell you I guess, and then you have to think about it.

GEORGE: That's it, right? Learning from you the last couple of weeks, I've noticed that. It's not rocket science, it's just I don't know it. When I know it, the next time I take a photo, I'm just going to go in with that level of awareness because I just needed to know.

Good point you mentioned there. Is social media painful on a day to day basis? Well, scheduling your photo day, right? Because if you've got one photo day, I think everybody's going to maybe take the clean gi versus the old one, the dirty one.

FRANCINE: Right, yeah.

GEORGE: People will maybe be a bit more attentive to themselves for them. People want to be proud as well, obviously, of the photo, of being on good photos.

Then you were saying, make sure the light is behind you? Right?

FRANCINE: So, when you're taking the photos, you always fight with the sun in your back. So, when you are taking photos, obviously it's different for me now because it's the other way around. So, you want to have the biggest light source, which usually is your windows if you have them, if you have light that comes in from this level, yes, you want that to be behind you because then if people face you, which they probably should, you're going to have nice lit faces. If you turn it around, they're going to be dark. It can work, but that's once you know the rules, break the rules. First of all, just keep to that. So that's a big one already.

Then it's also, you're a martial artist. I hate it when I see people go, click. I'm on my tummy a lot. I'm literally laying on the floor taking photos facing up. I climb onto desks and chairs and things like that just to get another shot. You got to move. Stop taking photos from the sidelines. You don't stand on the side of the mat to take a photo of your class. I mean, you're part of the class.

For those of you who know me, I'm right in there. When I'm taking photos, I don't know anyone. I'm just, “Okay, I'm here,” and I'm literally next to people. They're doing whatever they're doing. I try not to get hit. At least I know what I'm doing so it's good. Then I'll just circulate and I just take photos within the action. So, don't be afraid to go in and just give it a go and try.

If people know you, it's easier because then you're going to get reactions. You're going to get a smile. You can call them by their names. They'll look at you, especially kids. You go like, “Ah, Johnny, do that again,” and they do it again, and they get all excited. You involve people. So, it's a really good retention tool as well if you are involved with your students and you say, “You're going to be the face of the academy. We have a photo day.” You just create a bit of a hype, which especially the parents love. They love it. There's a lot you can do. There's so much you can do.

GEORGE: Right. So, angles. Don't be boring. Don't just click it. Make sure your finger's actually not on the camera as well, in front of the lens. Get down, take it up. What would be the benefit of taking a photo up versus down, for example?

FRANCINE: The benefit is also if you've got a really messy area, so sometimes you might feel like, so kids for example. The kids are looking this way, I'm obviously taller than the kids, but now I've got the perfect light on their face, but now I've got the reception area with all the parents, and all the crap and everything in the background, which I don't really want.

So, if I'm taking a photo standing up, I'm going to have everything in there and the kids will be part of it. If I'm just laying down and I'm lower than the kids, A, I'm going to lose the whole background because the kids are then taller than me. Also with the kids, it gives them a little bit of that kind of ‘superhero look', that looking down type of thing. It looks really cute. Actually works really, really well.

Another example of going up with an angle, I took a photo of my sensei in Zurich and I think he just turned 65. He just wanted to get some good photos. I happened to be there. So we did a shoot with his students. He's like, “But I want a shot of myself.” He had a hip replacement, so, “Oh, my kicks are not that good anymore.” Not a problem.

So I just went down, I did the angle shooting up. He did a pretty decent kickoff to, say, roundhouse kick, but it just looked higher because of the angle because it enhances and it makes it look a little bit more dynamic.

Shooting down, especially women, we don't want to have a double chin, so never do. So you want to be aware of that because you want them to look flat and you want them to look good. It also looks cool if you're shooting down, if people look up if you have down lights. Because a lot of academies that have those down lights that cast a lot of shadow. So, if you're higher and you call them, they look up, at least their faces are nicely lit and you can actually see people.

Because a big problem I see when I look at martial arts Facebook pages is that the photos are often quite dark and you can't really see people's faces. If I'm looking to train somewhere, I want to get a feel of who's training there, who could be my training buddy. So it's important to show people and show friendly faces, focused faces, things like that. But you need them to be lit.

GEORGE: Perfect. Then one last question, I think just for this as it's a good tip. What about mirrors? How do you work with mirrors in your school?

FRANCINE: Well, mirrors are usually good because they reflect light. You always want to think the brighter the colors, the more reflection you get, which is good because you want as much light as you can possibly get. It's better too bright than too dark.

So mirrors are very good. They can be tricky in terms of taking photos because you're photographing what's mirrored. So, we have the problem in our academy that the mirrors reflect the entrance, which is great for us when we're teaching because we can see who's coming in while looking in the mirror. But in photos, it looks super messy. So, you just have to use a bit of an angle.

What I often do is I go into an angle and have the mirror on a diagonal going in. So you've got the class here, and then you can see the reflection of the class in the mirrors. You can catch really cool expressions like that too, just shooting through the mirror. You get repetition of movement and it makes the class look bigger too.

So with mirrors it's just about being aware that you've got the mirror there and using it to your advantage rather than having it ignore you because you also want to make sure you're not in the shot. You don't want to be standing there with your camera. So once again, if you go really low, usually you can see people's feet and you can shoot up. It gives you really cool angles, just more creative angles, really. That's what we're after. We want to show the whole 360 degrees of what we're doing and not just class shot, class shot, class shot, class shot, which is pretty much most of what I see.

GEORGE: Super. That's gold. So, to add a few resources to this podcast, first up, I'm going to include some of Francine's photos on this page, so within the transcript, which you'll be able to download.

Also, what we were talking about, I've been co-hosting with Francine, The Martial Arts Smartphone Photography Masterclass. So, all the stuff that'd be talking about, we're doing a 6-week program where we're breaking down how to get your artistic eye even if you don't have a creative bone in your body. But how to really pay attention to this awareness, the things that you've got to look at, the tech, which is pretty minimal what you got to do because you don't need to have a super smart camera. We're really teaching you how to take epic photos without having to call Francine up once a week to fly over or whatever to visit your school.

If you'd like to know more, there'll be a link below that you can access. But the first thing that I want to actually include is a part of week one. This is for you to really take a look at your page.

So, the easiest thing to do. Click on your Facebook page, click on photos. I'm going to include a PDF. It's called The Existing Photo Assessment. So, it's one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10. Ten things that you can assess to look and pinpoint what it is that you need to improve. That's 10 simple questions, just a little checklist, yes, no, maybe. It will give you a good idea of what it is that you need to do to lift your game. That's that. Anything to add on that, Francine?

FRANCINE: Well, yes. I think the assessment is really good that you're including that because it always starts with looking at what you have then your awareness is already going to go up. Because essentially the course that we've been putting together, those six weeks essentially, I'm actually going through everything that we learn in photography at uni. I'm literally, really actually teaching you to be a professional photographer, but I'm taking snippets out that make it very relevant to your school and also that you can do with your phone.

So, what we know, it's not the camera. It's just about you thinking differently. I love teaching this because I can see with the people that I do one on one, I can see light bulbs go off. Like, “Oh my God, I didn't even know my phone does that.” Or, “Oh my God. Even if I shift from here to there, gee, that makes a huge difference.”

So those little, “Oh my God” moments, they should have plenty of those. Even just doing that assessment sheet that should already make you feel like, “Oh yeah, okay. My academy's a bit dark. Maybe that's why my photos are dark.” Realizing the problem is one thing, and then you can start slowly building towards fixing it. It's really not that hard at all. There's no excuse not to get better photos. There really isn't.

GEORGE: Totally. I mean, what I'm getting from it is, the goal is, not for me and probably not for most people listening, is to become a professional photographer. But hey, maybe you do have a student or an instructor that really wants to uplift their game that you can train. We do that within the program as well. But it's getting the practical knowledge that's going to uplift your game.

Remember the end goal here is, hey, you're in the business. If you want to grow the school, which I know most people that are listening to this podcast do, then this is a big part of doing that. There's two ways to do that, is to hire a professional photographer on a week to week basis, or once a month, or something like that. Francine says that's money. I'll share your contact details in a minute. If that's something that you want by all means, that's the path you should go.

But if it's something, one of those skill sets that you just want to master, and have it in-house, and know that when you've got classes running and your instructor grabs a camera, that you're getting the best visuals taken at the moment. There's nothing more than instant, now, good photos, taken in the moment, shared today. Your students see it. They're actually proud when you tag them. They're not embarrassed because their faces were all skewed or they look weird. They actually feel good about you tagging them and they share it. There's half your marketing done for the day.

Just wanted to add to that. So if you do want to, instead, say, “Hey, Francine, come and visit our school.” How should people do that?

FRANCINE: Well, it's easiest to contact me either on Facebook. I've got the Martial Arts Photography International Facebook page, or you can just Google Martial Arts Photography Australia. I'm the first one up. I'm the pink logo, the Chinese stamp. You really can't miss me. Just send an email, call me. My phone number is out there.

Where I'm at with this is, I'm happy to go everywhere every week. But the problem is, there's one of me and I can't be everywhere. It's going to start costing you a lot, what George is saying. It's a tool. We're giving a tool to really be able to jump in when the actions are there, when I can't be there and actually really take photos that much better.

So I think it's exciting. I want to help the industry look better. That's what I'm doing. If you just want to contact me to ask questions, just contact me and we'll have a chat. Always happy to talk and help.

GEORGE: Awesome. I'll put the link out. Just go to martialartsmedia.com/photography-masterclass. So, martialartsmedia.com/photography-masterclass. There'll be details there.

If you go to martialartsmedia.com/blog, look for this podcast episode and you'll be able to download The Existing Photo Assessment right there.

Francine, thanks so much for hanging out today. It's been awesome.

FRANCINE: No problem.

GEORGE: Good day, kitty cat. Francine, thanks so much. I'll speak to you soon.

FRANCINE: Talk to you soon.

GEORGE: Awesome. Thanks for listening. If you want to connect with other top and smart martial arts school owners, and have a chat about marketing, lead generation, what's working now, or just have a gentle rant about things that are happening in the industry, then I want to invite you to join our Facebook group.

It's a private Facebook group and in there, I share a lot of extra videos and downloads and worksheets – the things that are working for us when we help school owners grow and share a couple of video interviews and a bunch of cool extra resources.

So it's called the Martial Arts Media Business Community and an easy way to access it is, if you just go to the domain named martialartsmedia.group, so martialaartsmedia.group, g-r-o-u-p, there's no .com or anything, martialartsmedia.group. That will take you straight there. Request to join and I will accept your invitation.

Thanks – I'll speak to you on the next episode – cheers!

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I'm working closely with a group of martial arts school owners this month. If you'd like to work with me to help you grow your martial arts school, message me with the word ‘Case Study'.

3. Work with me and my team privately.

If you would like to work with me and my team to scale your school to the next level, then message me with the word ‘private'… tell me a little about your business and what you would like to work on together and I'll get you all the details.

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George Fourie

Hi I'm George Fourie, the founder of MartialArtsMedia.com. When I'm not doing dad duties or training on the mats (which I manage to combine when my son is willing! :), I'm helping Martial Arts Gym owners grow their business through the power of online media.

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