120 – 3 Martial Arts Photo Mistakes That’s Hurting Your Brand And Reputation

If a picture says 1,000 words, what are yours saying about your martial arts school? Martial Arts photographer, Francine Schaepper, shares 3 pitfalls to avoid that could tarnish your brand and reputation.

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IN THIS EPISODE:

  • The costly mistake that school owners make with random photos
  • Why use a vision board to strategize your martial arts photos
  • How to create attention grabbing martial arts photos for Facebook ads
  • Forget ‘message to market match’ – think ‘photo to market match’
  • The Power of Pictures: How to use them to communicate your message
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

There's a lot of mistakes you can make, and we're not talking about technical mistakes here. You know, the how to, that's a whole different story. But the main mistake that I see is that a lot of martial arts schools who are owners don't have a plan when it comes to photography, they have no plan.

There's very little purpose behind when they take photos or how to take photos. And then also because of the first two, then there's no message, or there's a wrong message which can really greatly damage your school and your image really. 

GEORGE: Hey, it's George here from martialartsmedia.com and welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ business podcast. So, I got a repeat guest with me today. Good day Francine. 

FRANCINE: Hello. 

GEORGE: Hello Francine. Francine Schaepper from Martial Arts Photography International. We've got a great episode lined up for you today, and we're going to talk about the three martial arts photo mistakes that's hurting your brand. So photos that you might take in the school, training, photos that you're using for ads and promotions and three mistakes that you should avoid and how it could be tarnishing your reputation and your brand. 

We've also got a great download with this episode with a short little instructional video. So I'll give you all the details on how you can get that. But first up, if you haven't listened to podcast one or two, you can go listen to that and get the full story about Francine. I think we spoke a lot about that and a bunch of other things, but for now, Francine, if you could give us just a two minute background, who you are and we'll go from there. 

martial arts photography

FRANCINE: Okay. I'm Francine. I am a martial artist of 20 years myself. So I've been training in different styles, it's kind of my passion. Well, it's not kind of my passion, it is my passion and I am a professional photographer as well. So at some point it merged.

I created my niche and I've been taking photos for martial arts schools for, I don't know, maybe six, seven years. Yeah. I've got thousands and thousands of photos of martial arts and martial artists in my database. Yeah, I love doing it. So it's an awesome industry to be working in. 

GEORGE: Okay. So let's talk about photos. Now, depending on the state of the union, the state of your country within martial arts where you're at, what I'm referring to is whether you've got restrictions or lockdown or so forth, chances are you might not have a professional photographer on hand that could take photos and a lot of people are just doing it themselves. I mean, smartphones are so good.

Actually Francine and I created a course, the Smartphone Photography Masterclass, which is all about taking photos with a phone. 

So phones are really … it's kind of all you need, but it's not just about point and click, right? There's a lot of things that … it's the little things that can make the difference. And I think what we want to really talk about today is those things that you've got to look out for and avoid. So three mistakes, what are the three top mistakes that you see martial arts school owners make when taking photos that's tarnishing the brand and reputation? 

FRANCINE: There's a lot of mistakes you can make, and we're not talking about technical mistakes here. You know, the how to, that's a whole different story. But the main mistake that I see is that a lot of martial arts schools who are owners don't have a plan when it comes to photography, they have no plan.

There's very little purpose behind when they take photos or how to take photos. And then also because of the first two, then there's no message, or there's a wrong message, which can really greatly damage your school and your image really.

GEORGE: All right. Okay. So big picture overview. Now let's … if we can get a bit more into the details, like a plan, what type of plan are we talking about? A written plan or a big mind map, or what am I doing? What's wrong with me just looking at the class and getting happy snappy and just taking random photos?

FRANCINE: Well, you can always … It's better to get happy and snappy than not taking photos at all, which I see too. So that's probably the main mistake, don't take any photos. So that's the fourth one. Look, the plan is chances are when you started your school, and I'm going back a bit because that's really, that's the work I do with every single client I work with. 

And you can do it for yourself, it is just stepping back and going, okay, when you started your school, when you were really excited about it all, at some point you decided about a brand. You decided, okay, my color is red or green or blue, or that's the name. And then that comes with all the emotional things, which is good. Like the passion, the emotion, you might be in a very traditional school, like a Shaolin school, where it's all about … You've got your little alter there and things like that. Or you might be super clean cut and modern. 

And I bet with all of you that at some point when you started, or I hope so at least, that you had that thought that you had this big vision of your school. And there might be chances that you have a business plan as well. The problem is when it comes to photography, often that gets forgotten because, “Oh yeah, I'll just take my phone and take some happy snaps.” Like you said. The problem is that often, and that's something I might talk about a bit later, that you forget what the original vision was.

So let's say that your vision was, you have this really traditional school and it's all about the details and you've got really cool uniforms and the weapons are carved. I mean it's a stereotype, right? But let's say this is your school. 

And then all your photos are really just quick snaps of, I don't know, just really wide shots. You're not really showing those details and you lose that passion and that love for details that is a part of your brand, if it is. On the other hand, if you have a very, very modern brand, you're nice and clean cut. Everything's really nice and neat.

I don't know, and then you take photos where there's a yellow bin in it in every shot, or you don't look at the details you have … I'm going into probably too much detail, but it's just that you lose … If you don't have a plan, then you don't have a direction and it's just very random. All your photos are random, and chances are that they just look like any other school, even though when you set out to create your brand, you had these points of difference that were very you. 

And it's almost like when you do your planning or your vision boarding, that's what I will get you to do, is like, okay, sit back, remove yourself from everything that you have now, even if you've had this school for 20 years, sit back. I use Pinterest, which is a free app with most of my clients. And it's not about finding martial arts shots. It's about finding shots that convey that feeling or the energy and everything that makes your school so unique because your school is unique.

Every school is different. And sit back and really have fun putting photos in that you'd find online. And that could be a photo of a dragon. It could be a photo of a cat. I don't care what it is. 

But once you've got that vision board and that collage, it will tell you all, this is what I should look like. And you might have a lot of detailed shots in there, or you might have a lot of very specific colors in there. And then if I came in, I would look at that and go like, “Okay, well, that's your visual … that's your vision for what you want your brand to look like.”

And then when you take photos, the best thing is you print it out, you put it on the wall, then it reminds you, “Oh yes, I do want to record all those really intricate details because that's part of my brand.” Or, “No, I want it clean cut. It's about lines and being very clean and that's how I'm going to shoot.” So it's just about having a plan in the background that you can get back to. 

GEORGE: So on that plan, right? And you were mentioning all these different elements, the cat and everything else, how do you get to the point where … I mean, because you've got this clear vision of what you want your school to look like. What are you trying to draw inspiration from so that you can make your vision the reality?

And I think a lot of us might have … We're not experienced photographers. Our vision gets blurred and we think that it's kind of looking like that, but it's not really. So how do we cross that bridge? And what are we looking for if we had a cat and we've got a boat? We've got things that look good, but what are the intricate little inspiration elements that we try to draw from that, that we could take on to taking photos of students on the mats?

Francine Schaepper

FRANCINE: Well, I guess it's more about … It's not, okay, if you've got a picture of a cat or a dragon or whatever it is, it's not about the cat or the dragon. It's more about the energy, right? So, okay, well that's going down the creative rabbit hole. But if you got a cat, like let's say cat style, old Kung fu or Karate, whatever, I don't know which style has cats or tigers.

Well if you think about it, it's a whole different energy of stalking and moving that if let's say you have a horse, which might be galloping. I mean, that's really weird, but I do go down these rabbit holes. And in the end, even if you're not creative, if you have that in the back of your mind that, okay, this is the spirit of the movement or whatever you're trying to show, then you'll start to take different photos. 

And that's something that we spend a lot of time on, where I spend a lot of time talking about in our course is that's the how, but that comes later. First you just have to put that vision up and just go like, okay, well just leave it there and just kind of marinate with it a bit. And it will, if you work with it, it will start infiltrating how you take your photos later on. It's not clean cut. You probably need a little bit of direction, which someone like I can give. Or maybe you have a very creative person in your team. 

So I always tell school owners who feel like, “Oh my God, that's just doing my head in just thinking about that.” Well, I'm sure you've got one of your especially junior instructors, right? They're on their phones all the time. They're on Instagram. They look at photos all the time. So find your most creative person, show them that vision board and say, “Does that … Can you do something with this? Does that inspire you to take photos?” 

If you get a person that is visual and that has that naturally, they'll probably … Because it's something that you do intuitively, it's not a technical thing, not so much. It's more of an idea, which I know, if you're technical, I've lost you now, but that's why I say, just find someone in your family or in your team that can do that. And then they can do it for you as well. You can delegate these kinds of things. Does that make sense?

Because the first step is very much just about, don't think about how am I ever possibly going to translate that into a photograph? That happens later. First, you just need to have that vision and just put it somewhere, and then how comes later. 

GEORGE: Okay, cool. And I think what would add to that would be this creative talk or things that cause some tension in your gut and you're like, “Ah.” Then find what you don't like. Sometimes it's easier to eliminate stuff than to pick the thing that you want. But you know, if you know what you don't like, then have that on your un-vision board and eliminate doing those things that will pull you towards what you need. 

FRANCINE: An un-vision board. I like that. I'll use that. 

GEORGE: That's … I just, yeah. 

FRANCINE: Yeah, that works.

GEORGE: It's a number two, no purpose. So there's a bit of an overlap here. So tell us about that. 

FRANCINE: Yeah. I mean, it is totally an overlap and I see that throughout. It's not just a martial arts business. It's with any business I work with. It's this thing of, “Oh, I need photos.” And we all do, especially now, we're a lot more online. We have Zoom classes. We just need content. We need to stand out.

And as I often say, yoga, Pilates, and all of these industries are much better than mine. They look better than martial arts. Let's be honest. They just look better. They're on it. So that's why our industry needs to catch up a little bit. But the thing is not having a purpose is more, “Oh, I need photos, take the phone, take a snapshot, walk off the mats.” And then later you look at it, you're like, “Oh, I don't even know what that was supposed to be.” 

And we're all guilty of that because you do it under pressure. You don't think about why you're doing it. And it's like going into battle without a plan. I mean, you have some plan and your plan is that vision board or that un-vision board, I do not want … And that's a good point actually. If you go, “I don't want dark photos. I don't want blurry photos. I don't want people looking like they're in pain in my photos.” Which is probably three things you should avoid anyway, so there's some extra for you. 

Even if you set out with that in mind, “All my photos will have really nice, bright exposure because I like bright pictures because that's on my vision board.” If that's the only thing you take out, you take your camera and that's something I can teach you, but you can YouTube it. I mean, we've got a whole course and you go out and you learn how to make sure that your photos are well exposed. That's the one thing you do. 

You have a purpose because your purpose is, “I'm going to create photos that look nice because the lighting is great.” Take, done, that's the purpose. Or if you go out and you say, “Okay, today my intention is, because I like close-ups.” Right?

So on your vision board you might have lots of photos of close-ups and details. Now translating that will be like, “Okay, I want to focus on somebody doing a punch. I want to focus on the head or I want to focus on the face or an expression.” So what you're going to do, your intention is going to be, “I'm going to go close in. I'm not going to stand outside of the mats and just take photos of whatever.” Potentially little Johnny crying in the background and then you don't see it. You post it. There you go. 

You're going to go on the mats. You're going to go nice and close. You're going to interact with your students and go like, “Hey, give me a smile.” Click, and then that's tick, that's another purpose. So even if it feels like a lot in the beginning, if you have that plan, just take one thing at a time, especially if you're new or if like you say, you have an anxiety attack even thinking about it. 

Pick one thing, bright photos, close-ups or colors. Can I capture colors? Belts or whatever it is. And you can make it a little challenge. I mean, we all like a little challenge. So just having a very simple purpose when you go out there to take a photo, that'll expedite, not expedite. That'll increase your … I just lost my word. That'll improve your photos a lot just by doing that. And I'm not even telling you how to do it, it's just the approach.

GEORGE: So we're getting a bit clearer on a plan. I guess what I'd like to know, where does emotion overlap in all this? Is there like a certain emotion that will be more leaning to the message in point three? But where does emotion fall in play? The emotion that we're trying to extract out of the photo or the emotion that we're trying to perceive from the person seeing the photo.

Francine Schaepper

FRANCINE: The message one, that's the next one. I think when you're just … you have your vision, you have your purpose. It's about your emotion, what you bring in. Because the photo is never … not never, but it's not about the tool. It's not about your camera. It's about how you … I always say it's about how you see the world, how you perceive the world or how you perceive what's happening. 

At some point, if you take enough photos, that's what is going to make your photos unique because nobody looks at things the way you do. I mean I'm someone, I like to be flat on my stomach on the floor taking shots. That's just where I like to be. I'm never just standing straight, but that adds that angle that people go, “Oh yeah, that's a Francine shot, obviously.”

And that's emotion in itself. And also because you're interacting with the students because they know you, the emotion comes through the shot and that's not something that you need to think about. 

I don't think about it when I take shots. It's just something that happens naturally because you are out there doing something with an intention. You're going to get some sort of emotion in there and probably take photos on a day that you feel happy and that you're good and not when you're grumpy. Because it always comes through, like it's with any creative process, it's a process that happens in the background. You often don't even know that it's happening. 

So you don't have to be artistic to do that. Everybody is creative in their own way. I mean, creativity is problem solving and your problem solving with martial arts. So you're stepping out there and you're just taking a shot, chances are that the emotion will come through and don't question it too much.

Just do it and just be yourself doing it. It sounds really simple, but it really is. It's not rocket science. It's just something that … And the more you enjoy it, the better it's going to get. And if you really hate it, then yeah, just delegate it to someone who loves doing it. And then you get that emotion through too. 

GEORGE: Yeah, totally. And so what I do want to do based on that is just take a bit of sidestep, right? Because like in our Partners group and Academy group, a lot of school owners want to run ads on Facebook. And so there's a message that they want to deliver.

And so, I mean, the first thing we always say is test, but then some photos are just not good and they should not even make it to any form of a test. Everyone's always asking for feedback on photos before they go live. And there's certain elements that we do obviously too, and a few rules that we always stick by just a couple of people and so forth. 

But the question I have for you is, let's say we are running an ad and there's a certain emotion or message. Maybe I'm leaning again to the message, right? But we're trying to communicate, like we want to display confidence for example.

It's a big one with kid’s karate or it's a self-defense situation. So maybe it's a lady's workshop, or it’s jiu jitsu and it's pretty brutal, but we're doing a display that someone's getting choked out and they've still got a smile on their face. It's a sort of fun environment.

So what are those elements? And I know I've given you probably too much to work with, but how do you go about that? Let's just take the first one and say, all right, well, I'm running an ad that promotes confidence with kids and so now I want to create a photo that's going to resemble confident kids. Where would I start with that? 

FRANCINE: Well, it has all three in it. So first of all, you would have to go … I would send you to go find photos of kids that you like that convey confidence and happiness. Just find random photos. They don't have to be martial arts because it's hard.

On Pinterest there's very, very little content for martial artists. I mean, one of my suggestions is I'm working on it, but go on my website, see how I do it and then try to copy that because yeah, there's not a lot out there.

But so the plan would be to find photos first that you like, that you go, yeah, that conveys confidence. Print them. Then you would go on the mats and go like, okay, well then your intention is, I need happy kids. Right? Happy, confident kids. You kind of want both. How do you do that? How do you see that?

So your intention is to show their face, right? So your purpose or the intention for you, the second one will be, okay, if I want to get that expression. I need to capture the face or most likely an interaction maybe in a self-defense kind of environment. Right? So there's two kids. They're doing their self-defense, they're looking or even with an adult, they're looking confident, but they look capable and happy doing it. 

So then that's your intention. Then the third one will be, okay, the message it's already in there. So you want them to be doing … You want them to look a certain way. And that's also when you start communicating, so you set the scene. So if it's kids, photos, you go like, okay, well, if you shoot that at night, when it's really dark, it's underexposed, you can't really see the face. That's already a no-no. So your message would be wrong.

Even if you have your plan, you've got your purpose, but you chose the wrong time to do it, let's say, right? So you got to go, “Okay, well, that's what I want because I want my viewer on the message to be, it's a bright, I don't know, it's a bright, sunny day that's happy.” Right? So it's bright and sunny.

It's a Saturday morning. That's happy, and the kid's having fun doing self-defense and then there's your message. I don't know if that makes sense because it's very complex. And for me it's easy because I do it automatically. But the more you do it, just think logically, like if you want a confident, happy kid, that's why you go back to the plan. You would never choose a dark alleyway self-defense layout or image. That would be maybe for women. Because you go like, “Okay, I need to walk …” A kid shouldn't be there.

So think logically, okay, well for a kid what's a happy environment? It's a sunny day playing with their mates, but they're still looking confident. And then from the plan, you've got your intention and then you translate it to your shot. Does that make sense? Because it's a lot of logic. Like if you want women, show photos of women.

Francine Schaepper

GEORGE: I'll make it easy. As we're talking, just thinking, we're including a download, which we'll talk about in a minute because when we talk about having no message and how to go about that. In the course that we created, the Smartphone Photography Masterclass. We had two sessions, Shooting With Purpose and People and Portraits. And I know people and portraits, we did a few comparisons with a few kids and photos and different styles, jiu jitsu and so forth and examples of great photos. I'm putting you on the spot, but would it be okay to include that as a download? So if people go to the episode and download the transcript that we can include those with the episode? 

FRANCINE: Yeah. I think it was a case study we did. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Because sometimes you just need to have sample photos that you go like, “Oh, okay. I know what she's talking about.” Yeah. 

GEORGE: So especially just being a podcast and it's auditory and you might be … maybe you're watching the video on martialartsmedia.com or you're watching it on social or you're listening on iTunes or Spotify or somewhere. It would be good to put the visual element in perspective. So if you go to martialartsmedia.com/120, one, two, zero, there will be a link where you can download the transcript. 

And in the transcript, we'll have the transcript of this episode. And we'll also include portions to the worksheet that come from the Smartphone Photography Masterclass with a few case studies and something that we're going to talk about next. So Francine, let's talk about the message and also the worksheet that's included. 

FRANCINE: Yeah. So the message, I mean, like it's apparent, those three things are intertwined a little bit. If you work backwards, if you say you want to have the message, you cannot have a message without having a plan and having a purpose. It's just not going to work because then it's random. It's like you're happy snaps, like you said. 

GEORGE: So before we get into the details, let's define the message. What are we actually trying to say when we want a message delivered through our photos? 

FRANCINE: We call it the photo to message match. I mean, there's this saying, I think in every language that a photo speaks a thousand words. No, a photo says more than a thousand words. And one of the things that I will ask is, well, if one word has so much … If one photo has so much power, then if you look at the photos on your page or your socials, does it actually tell the right story? 

And often I get this kind of like … And you know it doesn't because you know exactly like, “Yeah, no, that's not the story I wanted to tell.” Or it's just mismatched. So visual, and with visuals, it's even harder because there's a lot of space for interpretation, but that's at the pro level. But even when you do your day to day photos, just keep it super simple. Like what's the message? And then what is logically, how can you visually convey that message? 

Like I said before, if it's for kids, like confident, happy kids training, using a dark alleyway for self-defense in a self-defense like a hooded guy, you know? It's probably not the right message because that's not … Mothers would think, “Oh my god, what's my kid going to do?” Like, that's too scary.

Even though your idea might be right. It's not. Just think like your prospect would think and with kids it's the mums usually, right?

So if you put anything out for kid’s classes, you got to think … And I'm not telling you anything new. I mean, I hope that all of you have done a business plan. You've got your guide, you've got stuff in there. You've got your demographics, you've defined your demographics. What do they think, where do they go? Where do they get their coffee? All of that.

Now just use that. You already have it. So go back to basics, find your demographics, and look at this. You should have it. If you don't, it's the time to do it. And then just try to think in their terms. So don't think like a martial artist, don't think like a fighter, think like someone who has no idea. And think what would they … It's very elaborate. I mean you can keep it quite simple. If you have a boxing class and you've got that, I don't know what the title is on the sheet that we're giving you, which we had. I think I broke it down into four very… 

GEORGE: The Photo to Message Matchmaker. 

FRANCINE: Yeah, duh, I'm talking about that. And we've got four very … I think I came up with four total stereotypes. Right? So I'm going to take a step back. Usually you have your macro brand, which is your school, and then you might have a fitness class, a kid’s class, self-defense class and a traditional class.

Now, if you download that and it's not, you just read it because it's going to click, you're going to go like, “Oh, okay.” And you just change it with whatever you were doing. If it's for example, BJJ, you would go competitive sports BJJ, more self-defense class, maybe for women, then you've got kids and you might have something else. 

So just translate it to your own. And I've got a lot in there. And then just go back to your plan. Literally, you go to Pinterest and go, women's fitness classes, and then you see photos coming up and you go like, “Okay, well how can I use that?” But instead of a woman doing yoga, it's a woman doing a kick, smiling. If that makes sense?

So that's where the plan comes back into play with your message, if you're not sure what it is that you were trying to do visually. 

GEORGE: Actually Francine, I've got it open here on the screen. So just to add to that, four broad categories of different styles. If your style doesn't fit there you can pick one that's closest to it. But we talk about a breakdown of the audience, the motivated desired result, role models, aspirations, existing issues, environmental, fear barrier, internal, and then photo suggestions of how you can actually go about the photos.

So there's page two, there's three suggestions on each for photos. Then there's lighting tips, movement, tips, composition tips, and a few bonuses as well. 

FRANCINE: There you go, if you print that out and put it up in your academy, that'll solve a lot of question marks already. Because it is quite a … I mean, I could talk about this all day, but in the end, it's a very logical process. You think about who you are trying to sell it to? What do they like? And you have to work with stereotypes. I mean, you do. Women probably prefer bright, colorful kinds of photos. 

If it's for a fight club or for a sparring class for guys. Well then obviously you're not going to use pink tops. You've got to obviously make it a little bit more masculine. You can turn it black and white. There's a lot of tricks. I mean, there's so much that we have in the course, which yeah, I could talk all day, but it's just trying to think logically. 

And if you don't have that logic, I mean, it's a bit of a creative mutual logic. If you don't have that, ask your target audience, ask your mums at the school. Like, oh look … Even maybe print a few photos, like find a few photos online of kids' classes, no matter what sport, print them out. And then you can show it to the mums while they're waiting and go like, “Oh, okay, can you please cross which three do you prefer?” 

And you go cross, cross, cross and then the one that has the most likes if you want, or you could even do it on Facebook, because there's not a lot of material out there for martial arts. It is sometimes difficult. But if you think in movement it's really doable. And ask for feedback, ask for feedback from people that you want to sell it to. Ask them, what do you want? What would you respond to? A, B or a C? 

And they will tell you, and you will see that there's usually … because psychology works kind of very similarly. I mean, you've got to ask, don't just ask three people, and maybe ask 30 or 40. Ask your friends, ask your family, put it on your private Facebook and then see what … And don't talk to other business owners or other martial arts school owners because often you'll have the wrong mindset.

You'll think as the instructor, but you want to have the feedback from those who you want to yeah … You want them to come to you. If that makes sense?

GEORGE: Yeah. So a couple of things that I got from that, I think most martial arts school owners need to tone it down rather than to ramp it up. You know, the angry, focused, violent type look, it's probably more toned down for your target audience. 

One that really hit home and I think it really stings if you are really objective about it, is if a picture tells a thousand words, then what is mine doing? And just having an honest look and removing your emotion out of it I think is also key, because it might have been the best technique that you ever pulled off, but if you removed your emotional attachment away from it, how is this perceived for someone that just wants to give a class a try, type of thing? 

martial arts photography

FRANCINE: Exactly. Yeah, and I see that a lot. Like when I go and take photos, it's often … And I get it as a martial artist. I get it. It's always like, “Oh, what do you want the class to do? Let's spin whatever sidekicks.” And I'm, “Na, na, na, just keep it simple.” Because first of all, the more complex the technique, the more you can screw it up, and not everybody's very good at spinning sidekicks or whatever it is. 

And it's a very nicely executed, straight punch with a smiling kid will beat a kid looking … I mean, it depends what it is. If it's a competition, then yes. Get a kid that does a perfect sidekick looking really stern. Just know what story you're trying to tell. Like it's really about what's … and show people, take a shot and put it somewhere and ask people, maybe don't put it on your socials, but ask people. “So what do you think when you look at this?” 

Ask different people, ask some kids, ask some moms, ask some teenagers and they will all give you a different reply because I've got amazing shots. You know, my warrior shots that I think are amazing, but for somebody who starts martial arts, they're not the right shots because they're going to say, “I can't do that.” 

And everybody's always comparing themselves, so it's also important to really know your target audience and present. And if it's middle-aged women or mums classes after drop-off, don't … And I see that all the time, you've got these 20 year old, super skinny girls that obviously don't know what they're doing because it's stock photography. Don't do it. Get those, get someone in, ask a mum. “Oh, do you mind? Look, you can do a free boxing class. I just want to take a few photos of you punching the bag.” 

And then use that because it's authentic and it speaks to that audience. They go like, “Oh, if she can do it I can do it.” And that's how you need to think. Like you say, you've got to step back and not be the instructor or the martial artist in that you need to really try to understand what they would want to see and what motivates them. And it's nothing easier than involving your students, your parents and family, they all like to help. 

GEORGE: Okay. Thanks so much. So for all our listeners to get a head start, go to martialartsmedia.com/120, that's the numbers one, two, zero and download the transcript with it. We've included the photo to message matchmaker, which would be a great guideline for you to work with on how to approach different situations, different styles, et cetera. And we'll also include a couple of case studies to give you a good visual representation of good photos, how to take good photos. 

If you need to take better photos and you realize how important this is and it's something that you do yourself. And you're doing it or your students are doing it. And I get it, obviously you're busy with classes and so you just kind of make do with what you get in the moment and you post it up. Francine put together a great course, Martial Arts Photography Smartphone Masterclass. I've mixed it up. Ah, that's the worst promo ever. 

FRANCINE: The Smartphone Photography … No, I don't know now. 

GEORGE: Smartphone Photography Masterclass. So yeah, if you go to martialartsmedia.com/courses, just look for any combination of those words, the Smartphone Photography Masterclass. 

FRANCINE: And me. 

GEORGE: With Francine, there's probably a picture of her in pink. 

FRANCINE: Great.

GEORGE: Good little brand education on that. Check out the course, it will be super helpful. Will save you a lot of time, a lot of money. What I got from the course, and you know I was just a facilitator, all Francine's knowledge. And I was fortunate enough to learn side by side. The good thing that I got from it is it's all the little things, that it's not rocket science. 

It's just things I didn't know. And now I know it and every time I'm taking photos, I have these new trigger points in my mind for things that I have to look out for. And that's what makes a big difference and adds to your value. So Francine, thank you so much. And we'll probably get together soon for round three, who knows? 

FRANCINE: Yes. 

GEORGE: All right, awesome. Thanks so much. Speak to you soon. 

FRANCINE: Bye.

 

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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.

 

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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