10: Nurturing Growth in Photography with Lisa Presnail

10: Nurturing Growth in Photography with Lisa Presnail

Posted by Nicholas Ribera on

Lisa Presnail and I enjoy a conversation about how one sustains a 15-year career in photography and the value of professional organizations.

You can listen to the episode here (or wherever you listen to podcasts) or read the transcript below:

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HT: Hi, I'm Ellie Vates for the Heart Temple. 

CA: And I'm Nick Ribera with Chain Assembly. 

HT: And together we've designed a project called Women's Wheel. 

CA: It's based on the philosophy of women evolving with the seasons. And new modern archetypes that exist within those seasons. 

HT: This new way of thinking is presented in a core set with many items and activities designed to further understanding between you and the women around you. 

CA: Much more than self-help, these tools are for one or more participants in a community growing setting.

HT: Learn more about the Women's Wheel Core Set and its development at www.womenswheel.co.

A Conversation with Lisa Presnail

Chain Assembly: Today I'm joined by an amazing photographer who I have the pleasure of knowing, Lisa Presnail. Lisa and I met because we are in the same neighborhood and members of the same artist group for our neighborhood, the Artists Enclave of Historic Kenwood here in St. Petersburg, Florida. And Lisa was generous enough to give me some of her time to talk to me about being a professional photographer. So Lisa, thank you for joining me. 

Lisa Presnail: Oh my gosh, thank you. I'm thrilled and also a little bit embarrassed because I don't really think that I have a whole lot to share, but I guess maybe 15 years in the business. But Nick, I do really admire you. You're always doing stuff, different stuff and pushing the envelope and sharing it too. 

CA: Thank you. 

LP: Like with people like here's how we do this and let me show you how to do like the Kickstarter and all that stuff. So I really appreciate that. 

LP: Thank you. Well I mean it was actually kind of the artist enclave group that helped me kind of have the idea for this podcast because I was just regularly meeting with people and chatting about how things are going and I just figured at some point I might as well record it. So yeah.

LP: And how you started getting paid to do it, I guess. Okay, well I spent the first part of my career in property management, which was really high stress, and I liked it initially, but then I hated it toward the end with the way everything was going public and the pressure to just make profits. And it became where it was just about profit, and it was no longer about the people, which drove me crazy because I really, that was always my focus, was the customer, the resident, and the bosses and everybody else came second, but they switched it up on me and then I found that I was really miserable. I'd come home crying all the time. And simultaneously, my late husband, he bought me one of the first digital cameras that was really good. When they first came out, they were terrible and not worth using, but then one of the first ones that was actually pretty decent, he got that for me and dark room, but I just didn't like the dark room thing. But the digital camera, that first one, I just loved it. It was like instantaneous, and I guess I just am very impatient. So that really resonated with me. And so I started just messing around, taking pictures, and then I would take it to work. I was still in the corporate world, and I would take it to the meetings, the big corporate, you know, hoedown things, and take pictures of the meetings just because I was fascinated by it. And then eventually some of my friends and coworkers started asking me to shoot stuff for them, like their weddings. So I would do that and get paid. And then finally, my second husband, I think he was just sick of hearing me complain at the end of the day about the corporate world. And he said, God, life is short, just quit, do photography. So that's kinda how I jumped in. Right off the bat I had a really big wedding waiting for me, my first big big gig. And it was pretty pretty fun and like Hulk Hogan was there and Howard Stern at the Gulfport Casino. I mean it was the most surreal thing to see at the Gulfport Casino. They had the wedding reception was all set up as a regular wedding but really nice. But they had buffet and then I turned and look and there's Howard and Beth standing in the buffet line. I just couldn't like compute like, why, why is he standing in line? Like people make room for him. But it was really fun. And I loved I love weddings are like a love hate thing. I think most photographers would say they hate them. But there's just they are so fascinating. Everyone is different and there's so much happening all at the same time. And, you know, as a woman, I love all the like the details and the dresses and the hair and all that stuff that goes with it. But it is extremely stressful. So that's the part that I hate about it. It's just, you know, you don't have, there's no opportunity to make a mistake. You don't, you can't do it over. So you just have this weight on your shoulder. Do you feel it? I do about a week before it's like this thing just settles down on you like, oh yeah, I cannot get sick. I can't mess this up. I, you know, I have to be on my game. Second shooter just in case but still it like a regular shoot corporate shoot or something if for some reason something didn't go right you know that would be horrible but you could go back and do it again. 

CA: Can you describe what like your workflow would be for a wedding for example like leading up to it what is the plan what do you communicate 

LP: Oh gosh you coordinate yeah thanks sometime it means many many many conversations and starting with, you know, we usually, if most of my clients are referred to me, or not, I've never really done any advertising, so they're pretty much referred to me, or they hear or see something. So there's a lot of like getting to know each other initially, conversations, we meet in person, then we talk about, I try to find out what their whole style is, their vibe, and guide them. So there are many meetings, like logistics that we figure out because if I get in early in the planning stage as the photographer I think I might be a little selfish but I kind of like try to guide the bride and groom to do things in a nice sequence so that it provides the best opportunity for the best photos because sometimes you know bride will you know want to have their wedding right at sunset that's a common and we need the natural light for the best picture. So we usually like talk to people about that and then leading up to it, there's some more meetings at the venue and you go through the run through and then the day of it's just, it's a full day, full blown, like I feel like a professional athlete really. It's extraordinarily taxing for me physically and mentally, but it is, it pays well. And I do, it's kind of like this stress. And then when you have all the pictures, all the pictures afterwards, like there's always thousands, probably 4,000 easy. 

CA: So like day of, do you go in there with like a physical checklist that you're marking off as you get those scenes or is it all mental? 

LP: Mental. Some photographers use a checklist. I don't because I like, I mean, there are, um, I always ask the client if they have a specific thing, like, is there a family member that's a hundred and they're not going to make it to next year? So they'll tell me if there's something like that. But in general, you just instinctually know what, what are the shots you have to get. And then I like to be free to capture the real moments as they're happening and not being looking at a piece of paper early on and it was devastating like because I didn't expect it and it was a big deal wedding at the um Don Cesar and it was real fancy and and right out of the blue the groom handed me this checklist and I I freaked out I was like oh my god now I gotta read this paper I can't I cannot read stuff on a paper and look around and like you know document so I made it a point after that to the culling and editing process afterwards is easily, I would say weeks, like a wedding is about a week's worth of work, really a solid 40 hours or more. 

CA: So like one hour of shooting would translate to what, like five hours of editing? At a wedding? 

LP: I never really did the math quite like that. It's a real, it's very lengthy process to go through and just get it all, once I get it all called down to a nice, manageable set, then I enjoy the next phase, which is the editing, not really retouching every picture, but an average wedding might have six hundred and five hundred pictures that I promised to them. So I would do a general edit, exposure and crop and color, and then a certain number that are retouched, like super fine-tuned. 

CA: Are you doing that editing in Lightroom or something else? 

LP: I use Photo Mechanic to do the soaring and culling, and then Lightroom for the general edits, and then Photoshop for the retouching. 

CA: Oh, OK. Interesting. So why is it you don't just use one program for all of those? I mean, I guess Photoshop makes sense. You wouldn't use that for culling, but why wouldn't you just do the culling through Lightroom?

LP: You know, that's a good question, but I think I'm very old school in habits. When I formed them, they're really hard to break, but early on my first teacher, she's a photojournalist and she showed me photo mechanic and that's the program that like journalists use, a documentarian photojournalist. So they have to keep everything highly organized and quick. So I got used to using that for that purpose. And then Lightroom came around and I liked it for it's different reasons. 

CA: So is there any type of organization of the photos that you do day of? Like renaming the file that it saves as on the camera or anything like that? 

LP: I don't, mm-mm. No, I didn't. 

CA: So all the organizing happens after the fact? 

LP: Yeah, when I download them, I name them, then put them one place, one drive, back them up. Okay. And it's the fun part. 

CA: So do you name them with any type of like... So, I mean, I'm not familiar with the software you're using, but I know with Lightroom, you can add keywords and tags as well as like longitude and latitude to all this stuff. Is that anything you really mess with or is it really just the file name itself? 

LP: I just do the file name. And honestly, I wish that I had learned earlier on to how to use all the tools within Lightroom because I understand I'm only using a little tiny portion of it and that organizational part could be really beneficial to me, like the library, the folders. 

CA: Yeah, I know with Lightroom, it can sort photos based on facial recognition, which I assume would be helpful in a situation like shooting a wedding, but I've never photographed an event like that. So I mostly just, you know, walk around with the camera and take pictures. So I don't have much use for any of that kind of deeper categorization of stuff. So what type of equipment would you say you go to a wedding with? 

LP: I always over pack and I hate myself for that, but I just do, I can't, I can't, I keep telling myself, okay, really, keep it simple. You're not gonna need all this stuff. But then I kind of panic at the end. Well, I just need I just have it in my car. I'll just pack it just in case so I bring my my two camera bodies and then I have my standard lenses would be my 70 to 200 and 24 to 70 that's the 24 to 70 is like I called the workhorse. 

CA: So they're both adjustable then? 

LP: Yeah, okay 2.8 and they're the L series so the professional level and to 40 which I love I love the big wide shots of like just all the different things going on especially you know when people start going crazy later on and sometimes I'll bring the 85 but those three for sure. And then we bring on-camera flashes, which I don't really, I don't love, but they're actually pretty necessary in many cases, but then also off-camera lighting. So we'll have a couple of strobes, two or three set up in various places early, not during the ceremony, generally that wouldn't be the case, but afterwards.

CA: Do you ever cloud back up while you're at the event? 

LP: No. 

CA: Okay. So you just have like, how many memory cards are you usually cycling through at a wedding, would you say? 

LP: Um, well, the line are like, they're pretty big, so uh, two or three. 

CA: Okay. And how many batteries do you end up swapping through? 

LP: My batteries? Um. They last quite, I would say, two would be if that, usually. I mean, I bring a bunch, but I seldom use them. It used to be the case with the on-camera flashes. Those took like the little four or double A's. That would drive me crazy because they would go, I'd go through tons of those. But now the flashes that I have, it has, um, I forget what you call it, but the battery lasts forever, like hundreds and hundreds of shots and super powerful.

CA: So over the years of doing wedding photography, I know it's just one part of all the photography you do, but just gives me something to latch onto for the conversation. Over the years of doing wedding photography, is there anything you stopped doing that you used to do early on, and you just over time learned it's not really worth the effort? 

LP: No, I really can't think of anything. In fact, If I stopped doing something, it's been just, I don't wanna say laziness, but like, I do have a tendency to, you know, initially right out of the corporate world, I was very like...Oh, I had to have contracts. I had to have them all organized and signed and dotted. And over the years, a lot of my clients are repeat clients. And I'm a little more lackadaisical when it comes to things like that. So if anything, I'm not doing the things like the normal business would do. I'm kind of a little more shooting from the hip. 

CA: Do you get paid up front or a portion up front?

LP: The standard is that you get a deposit early on. I used to get like 50% and then the other 50% you get like the day before or the day of. I always try to get it the day before. That way, you know, the bride doesn't have to worry about it. But then I realized, man, after, you know, because I've already spent the first half. So I've changed it up where now I just get like a $500 deposit. And then they pay me the big amount the day before. That way it just feels like I'm getting paid adequately. Or more fairly, it's just a mental thing. 

CA: Do you have a system to separate money that's being allocated towards new equipment or business expenses? Or is it just as things come up you buy them?

LP: As things come up, yeah. Okay. I'm the worst. 

CA: I just recently started, I read this book called Profit First, which is, are you familiar with it? I can't get hurt. It's an amazing book, but it really helped me kind of rethink how to organize my income for my business. So I have money now that I'm dedicating specifically for equipment. So that as something, as I have enough in that, I'm like, okay, let's see what I can buy now, rather than just kind of shopping because I have a lot in the bank. You know what I mean? So that really kind of, I feel like it forces me to advance my business even when I wasn't planning on it. But I don't know, it's just kind of, it's a fun, interesting place to be in. It's like a little fun shopping game I get to have every couple of months now. 

LP: Gosh, it's very smart and the way it should be done. And again, you know, back in the corporate days, that's exactly what we had a budget. We had to, and there were always like, Hey, we have this money. We have this money. Like we need to spend it. Oh, and you had to, but, um, it was always about that, you know, planning for those big expenditures. And. I have, um, I have some issues with my business end of my business where I wish I dream sometimes like God wish I had a partner or somebody that was really into like marketing or the business end of it and I could just shoot more because I do get a little overwhelmed with that end of it. But I am kind of we just formed a little pod of a couple of photographer friends. And that's what we're really talking about trying to encourage each other. 

CA: Well, that seems like it'd be a pretty good idea to if you all like, because maybe, you know, one person's business isn't enough to have a full partner that just does the business management side, but all of you together could maybe allocate towards like, if it's four of you, two hours per day, you're basically paying for someone's role as a business manager or office manager or something like that. So that'd be a pretty good way to split the cost amongst multiple people and then they can help coordinate all of the scheduling and payments and all that stuff for you. I don't know if that's a thing, but that seems like it could be a thing.

LP: It's one of these weird kind of, with photographers, I find that we, and myself included, we're all a little territorial. And in this group that I'm in, they're extraordinarily generous and forthcoming and gracious with everything. And I hope that I am as well. I don't feel like I have as much to offer, but it's really nice to be in this group, Kind of thing we do so it's kind of gets a little tricky when you mix up like hey No, you're doing that style and like yeah, but you know we we want the best for each other So and you know that old you know the we all gain together Yeah, and rise up that's kind of what we're striving for okay. I like that and raising prices. Yes. It's like way way overdue

CA: So what percentage of your gigs these days would you say are wedding based? 

LP: Um, probably 10%. 

CA: Okay. Not a lot. So you also mentioned you did a lot of corporate stuff. Is that like usually like walking into a business and taking portrait photos or? What does that look like? 

LP: Yeah, corporate stuff would be anywhere from headshots to events. They have a lot of different events and weddings, not weddings, but meetings or training sessions. Sometimes they want their office space shot, which I can do as well, architectural stuff, and just all kinds of different things. They're doing ribbon cuttings, anything business related. And I actually enjoy the corporate work probably the most because it feels very there's not any like emotionally draining thing and if you miss something you could probably go back yeah yeah but it's kind of like they're the people that hire you they're spending someone else's money it's all business we agree on what the job is and no one is taking it super personal where like with a portrait session personally you know unique person. So it's I enjoy the corporate and it does pay well and it's usually you know nice hours and great pay so I like that as the bread and butter but the weddings and things you know physically and artistically that's where I really was pushing to try to like make my garage studio into more artsy and I'm still working on that. 

CA: Well, actually, you have an amazing garage studio. Let's talk about your process in building that out. 

LP: Oh, well, that was a little bit of labor of love, but I I did used to have a really nice studio in Tampa. It was an old cigar factory and it was like almost a thousand square feet. It was beautiful, light, big, you know, cigar factory windows, gigantic. And I loved it. But when I moved to St. Pete, I noticed that I fell into the thing that I always heard people say was like when when I was in Tampa working, people in St. Pete would say, oh, I don't know, I don't want to cross the bridge. And I always thought, wow. That's lame. When I moved here, I started feeling that way. Like I didn't want to drive to my studio in Tampa. So I ended up giving it up. And then I was looking around here in St. Pete for a new studio. And then one day, one of my friends just said, why don't you just shoot in your garage? Like it's, it's there, it's free. And it seemed easy when she said it that way, but then, you know, it, it took a little bit. We, I mean, it's not anything fancy, but I don't have any storage. So that did create a little bit of a problem. Because I had to empty everything out of there. I mean, I don't... 

CA: Its level of fanciness is probably not as impressive as just the fact that you have a dedicated space to taking photos. 

LP: Yeah. 

CA: I would kill for that. 

LP: Oh, yeah. 

CA: So what kind of stuff do you have set up in there? 

LP: It changes all the time. And it's... As much as I have this vision in my head, like I want it to be really organized and sleek looking. But every time I have a shoot, I find that I am spending so much time moving things around, pulling things out, putting them away. And after the shoot, I'm exhausted. So right now, if we walked in there, you'll see I have like V flats, you know, the big tall ones, they're everywhere. Props are everywhere. And I'll put it back together, probably tomorrow. But it is fun. I do love like my office is out there where I do all my editing. So that's kind of nice. Like I can leave the house. I feel like I'm going to work. 

CA: That's cool. And um, Yeah, so if anyone's listening in, Lisa has a gorgeous dog who's going to town on himself right now. Nigel. It's okay. What's his name? 

LP: Nigel. Nigel Barton. 

CA: Nigel's having a good time. 

LP: Nigel, what do you think about photography?

CA: He's got his rope, he's good. So how would you say approach someone who reaches out to you that wants a portrait session? 

LP: I guess similarly, 

CA: You kind of see what they're into? 

LP: Yeah, the question is always, everyone does the same thing. Hey, I want this and I need to know how much it will be and what do I get? And over the years I have tried, it's painful for me to like come up with, oh I'll put all my prices on the website so they can see and they don't have to wonder and I don't have to make stuff up on the fly. So I've done it all different ways but I find that to be truest to myself, I literally can't just quote a price because I have to know what they really mean. What do they really want? Oh my gosh, I can make- 

CA: No, it's okay. I'm fine with Nigel. Nigel. Nigel's got an itch. 

LP: But trying to think of an example, it just It happens all the time where I think someone says, oh, I just want a headshot. And I'll feel brave, like, oh, okay, I'll just give them a price without really talking to them because people are always in a hurry and they don't wanna necessarily talk about stuff or make phone calls or answer the phone. So I do that and then I find out, oh, well, they actually really wanted something much more. And so then it's like this awkward, I have to regroup. So my ideals, is when I get an inquiry, I really want to talk to the person on the phone. The emails and the texting, it just doesn't get to the bottom of like what do they really want? What is that vision and what do they need the photos for is really important to to see where you know how they're gonna be used. So and then I can make recommendations and kind of come up with a vision and a plan for them. I like to do it that way. Kind of a custom session almost always. 

CA: Oh yeah, I imagine it would be pretty tough too to... I mean, seeing that it's so involved and has so many different steps, like, you know photos and then editing and then delivery. It's really hard to have a set price list. So I imagine it would make sense kind of based on what they're looking for. You're going to kind of estimate how much time that's going to be and then calculate that. So do you usually try and guess how many hours a project would be involved and make your price based on that? Or how do you kind of come up with a number? 

LP: It's I think it's more instinctual. I I'm not really in strong when it comes to like calculating math and stuff but I do if it's a bigger project and there are moving parts and I have to hire people then I do you know put pen to paper and try to figure out because I'll have that overhead of hiring and managing other people so but in general what I do know is I always spend more time than I think I'm going to and so I tend to not charge by the hour because I feel like it wouldn't be fair to the client like sure because I'm slow. I'm, you know, just I can't stop like it's every detail and I just, I wish I could. Yeah. Like I'm just like, oh no wait there's that, there's this. And so that it's just kind of a gauge of how long I think it'll take. 

CA: And so do you kind of go back at look at projects once they're finished and think I could have charged less or I could have charged more or I should have charged more and then like kind of come up with I guess written rules for yourself based on that. 

LP: Oh this is good. I need written rules. I need a manager. 

CA: I mean because you can never really tell if something you can never really tell if you price something accurately until you actually get paid for it. That's when you kind of have the moment to reflect situations? 

LP: I know for certain that I need to be earning more money for what I do. To give you just a little snapshot, they're one of the Facebook groups that I sort of follow and I know some of the people that are actually in the program that have actually done it and the photographer that is the coach she's in Naples or Fort Myers so she's kind of local and I know people that know her And I just know by following the Facebook group, she's really legit. But to get to the point. There are people in this group and it's called Level Up and there's another name for it, Rise to the Top. But this photographer, and this was just yesterday, she sent the invoice for people to see, but it was $17,000 for one shoot. 

CA: Wow. 

LP: And they have a club, they call it the $10,000 for one shoot. Now that does cover product too, so it's not all profit. Prints and wall art, which you know that might be like 40% cost of goods and service so the rest would be profit. But you know, it's so much more than what I'm charging. And that is the goal of this little pod that we're in, to try to motivate each other to like, come on. I mean, we're starving. I'm a starving artist, really. At this point. 

CA: You described her as legit. In your mind, not thinking about yourself, what would you consider legit in the world of photography? 

LP: Oh, legit in the sense of, you know, how many different coaching groups there are online and you know they can't all be really perfect and and genuine this one though is that that's what I meant by legit she's not only really accomplished photographer but her business model that her business model is based on Give, give, receive. So at the core, she's very much about like, you've gotta develop relationships, throw away your business cards, just go out and meet people, make connections, and that really is what I need to be doing. 

CA: So that kind of brings me to a question that I think I'm gonna start asking more often on this podcast, and that is, who is your hero business-wise? Like, who are you trying to model your, whose business are you trying to model business after. So do you think that might be her? 

LP: Oh gosh, in a sense, no she is, they do, here's the little, what I find, I always find a wrinkle because that's just what I do but like they do more maternity and family stuff which, so a lot of the, like you know, parents they want all kinds of wall art of their children where I really really love and generally speaking, people don't want to put big wall art up of themselves naked. Not always the case, but so I'm trying to figure out my little where I fit in there, but I would absolutely say she is like right up there at the top because of, it's not just we need to make money. It's not that at all. It's like the customer is going to be served and get the best quality, the best experience A to Z, even going to their house and hanging the work for them. And I like that about her. Her name is Megan DiPiro. And um the little pod that we're talking together here is Urban Dog Studio, my friends. Do you know them? 

CA: Yes, I do. 

LP: Okay. So that I love their like Lori is, oh man, she's like sharp as they come. And you know, Nikki, they're both very talented. Lori's the business mind in that set. And I really admire her. She's a go getter. Very cool. 

CA: When I put this on online, I'll make sure to tag her. 

LP: Yeah. Yeah, and Dylan Todd, he's in the artwork or... The artisan's club? No, no, no. Just the Grand, not Grand Central Arts

CA: Warehouse? 

LP: Warehouse. Yes, yes. He's there and he's really awesome too. 

CA: I recognize the name. I don't know if I've met him or seen his stuff. 

LP: Super nice. Really nice and talented. 

CA: So you did also mention you like doing more of the nudes and the boudoir stuff. How how lucrative would you say that has been for you versus how intellectually rewarding would you say it's been for you? 

LP: Early in my career, that was my very first genre that I loved and was really busy for quite a while. There weren't nearly as many boudoir photographers back then and it was pretty profitable because there were less of us and I was in a networking group and I stayed pretty busy making okay money and I love it. I just love it. I love the feeling of comradery with women and having them feel good about themselves. Where I've changed a little bit over the years is I don't necessarily love, I don't wanna dress women up as like the Playboy model or the toy for the man. I want the woman to have her own, you know, her own distinct like sensuality, sexuality, whatever, separate from any man. And that there are a lot of women do feel that way, but still the boudoir is an easier sell. Sure. I'm not sure how to get over this little hump. And then the other dilemma, and see, I told you, I come up with all the wrinkles. But the older and more mature women that have substantial income and disposable income don't necessarily want to be naked. And the younger women are great with it, but they don't have the budget. So there's, but it's, it's, I think a lot of my mindset I need to work around. 

CA: I wonder if it's really just a matter of finding the right place to reach those people, because I feel like St. Pete's specifically, I feel like this is not based on any actual numbers, but the majority of people moving in are wealthier people in their twenties buying up those condos downtown. So there seems to be, and also generally, people in their 20s now are way more open sexually. So I feel like there's probably an audience there, it's just a matter of finding a way to attract them, get them to know. 

LP: Yeah. 

CA: So are you a member of any, like, local organizations, such as, like, Keep St. Pete Local or, The Arts Alliance?

LP: St. Pete Girl Bosses. That's a really hot one. Have you heard of that one? 

CA: No. 

LP: Oh my gosh, these girls, these ladies are like on fire. They're just meeting and talking and like exchanging stuff all the time. And I think that's it for right now. But you know, that is definitely an area that I have recognized and I've admitted that that's my downfall is that I'm very much comfortable at home and I don't get out enough. You know, I'm not really afraid of people, but I just find it more comfortable to not be out there. But when I go out and talk to people, I always feel better. And it's the easiest way to get business. I sat in my studio back there from January to April or March, just grueling, working on redoing both websites and spending all my time doing that. Knowing like I have this little thing in the back of my head going. Okay, you're just sitting here Nobody even knows you exist like you have to get out there, you know If I get out more shooting more people see you doing that and you get more connections. That really is what I Have to do. 

CA: Well, one of my earlier interviews or conversations publisher John Baltisberger, he mentioned that, we didn't really get into art because we like talking to people. So I thought that was a pretty nice, succinct way to put it. So no, I understand. There's so many organizations that I feel like I need to be a part of, I need to attend their events, I need to network, but it's exhausting just when you think about it. 

LP: Yeah. And yeah, and when it comes to the networking too, I think very often everybody's kind of there for their own networking. So what I kind of like better is charitable things, things that are not necessarily, I'm not networking but just I just go down the street and start taking photos and I'll have a client. I mean, I'm that might sound a little bold, but I'm going to challenge myself I'm gonna do that. Because it's true. It's like people, they, you know, they gotta see you. They have to interact with you. It's a very personal thing that we do. And I never, I don't think ads work for that reason. I have to know you. 

CA: I saw a photographer once at Dog Bar, and they had their Instagram scanning key, whatever you call that, the IG tag, whatever it is, on the sleeve of their shirt. So they're at Dog Bar taking photos of dogs, and then people can just put their phone up to them to see their previous photos. I think that's a great way to get people to. Maybe a little tacky, but I'm sure it works. 

LP: Oh no, no, I think it's brilliant. In fact, that's on my list to do. I did put my QR code on a little luggage tag thing that I have on my camera strap. Because people very often when I'm shooting, hey, do you have a card? So I can do that. But I think bigger and bolder, like on the back even. Because people do, they get curious. 

CA: So I know you have done a couple traditional fine art shows. Can you tell me how that has worked for you? Maybe not doing stuff for a client, but just showing things in gallery or gallery type settings?

LP: Um, it's been really very interesting and also very, um, traumatizing, I guess, to me because I, I don't know, I, I really had this dream that I would be this artist and I could participate in these shows and things. And I can't say that I've given up on that dream, but I can say what I don't enjoy is I don't want to stand around and talk to people about my work. I find it really uncomfortable and awkward. Although, you know, like it's it's also can be really super exciting, like especially if you're with friends like the artist Enclave. And when you're when you're doing it with people, there's a big sense of camaraderie. And it's exciting to be invited to a show. It's also very exhausting. And I spend a lot of money framing things. And then if somebody doesn't buy it, that's kind of like. 

CA: Well, I can say you're not feeling that way because I am constantly feeling need the fine art world. But then I'm still going to submit a piece to this. And so I always feel this kind of pull and push about whether or not I even need that as part of my business model. So I know what you're saying. Like it's, I wouldn't even call any of it rewarding, but a small part of me feels like I need to be represented at traditional art shows in order to feel some type of legitimacy. And that's just pressure I'm putting on myself. So I don't know if that's how I internalize the whole struggle about being a quote unquote artist. 

LP: Yeah. 

CA: I don't know if you feel any similarly with that. 

LP: Yeah, it's really very, very taxing. And yet I have learned, in fact, this last the last studio tour, I learned a really big lesson in that I tend to often, you know, I don't plan well, so then I'm scrambling at the last minute trying to get the right frames and prints. And in this particular case, I had something framed, but it wasn't professionally framed. It looked good. And you know, that's part of the thing. You wanna show your work so people can see it. And to have every piece professionally framed, I would go broke. So there were a few things up that weren't, and then my sister actually bought it. And then while I was like taking it down to like present it to her, I realized, oh no, I can never do that again. Like to put something up that isn't completely, like I wanna be proud of it every which way, front, back. And so I reordered it for her the right way, like the nice finished professional way. And so that was a big lesson. And I have learned a lot of stuff because a lot of my work is just digital and I do the, you know, here's your images. I'm trying to change to just print some products, but that's a whole hurdle. But printing stuff is a whole different. And it does it makes you kind of pay a little attention 

CA: Do you print things yourself or send them off send them off? 

LP: Okay

CA: I recently purchased a $1,200 Canon Pro Infograph Pro 1000, I think it's called. It's nice. It does up to 17 by 22. 

LP: Nice. 

CA: I've been having a lot of fun with it. 

LP: Oh yeah. 

LP: Yeah, so that's really cool that now like, because I've done plenty of digital photography and I'm proud of photos. I look at them on a TV. I'll share them at like the photography meetings on a projector, but I've never really had them as physical objects. But now I can feel comfortable enough like, you know, let's throw that on the printer, see how it looks. But I still have no idea how I should be presenting it as a physical object. It's weird, because like, because you and I both do digital photography, I mean, it's probably more, you're more used to this than me, but I only kind of see my digital photographs as ethereal objects to look at, not objects to hold. So I'm still kind of learning how to do that. So like, for example, with my digital illustration, I almost always give them a black matte, a black frame, because I do really bright colors and that helps it pop. With a photo that I might have more subtle colors, I don't know, like, am I going to do a white matte? Should I do a different color? I want to get a matting machine to start, I mean a mat cutter to start matting my own stuff. 

LP: Oh, yes. You know what? I wonder if the artist's enclave, if we cut, I don't know, are those expensive?

CA: I have no idea. I think the biggest issue isn't so much the price, but probably the space. 

LP: Yeah. 

CA: Because they're going to be big. 

LP: And learning how to use it and like do it right. 

CA: Yeah. God, I would love to have one because that is for me the hardest part is the very image that I fall in love with, it's perfect in every way. I don't have a mat because it's not, you know, a traditional size. And then I'm scrambling to find the right mat. And so one thing I've learned from selling at a bunch of markets, my digital illustrations, if I put a print in a matte, it's going to be way more likely to sell than if it's just on the backing board and in a sleeve. 

LP: Yeah. 

CA: So it seems like it seems a waste of time to try and have a sleeved and boarded photo that's not matted. 

LP: Yeah. So that just makes and make it ready to go. 

CA: And so frame-wise, I always just get things in bulk from Michael's that, some frames look like trash, some look good. I've got the ones that look good. I mean, I figured out which ones look good with my stuff. So I always try to stick to the exact same sizes so I can always get the exact same frames. But with photography, and now I have more freedom of size with my printer, I really kinda need to figure out what's working for me and what's not. 

LP: And do you find that photography, sell as well as I have it well 

CA: So I've only got like three straight photos that I haven't like illustrated creatures into or whatever that I've actually printed and brought to markets and those have definitely not sold. But I think it's mostly because the context. I have them surrounded by illustrations I've done. So they seem very out of place. I think if I put that same photo in an art show or did an event where I was only selling photographs, they would be way more likely to sell because I've learned that when someone walks into your booth, they wanna be able to, in one statement, know exactly what you do. And so someone walks into my booth and say, okay, he's a digital illustrator who makes tarot decks or whatever. There's a photo there, they're gonna ignore it of my brand. So I feel like I'm doing myself a disservice by having those photos, so I stop bringing them to events, but I still am proud of the photos and I just need to figure out a better place to show them off.  Love to see them. Also a lot of times if I'm like passing by a Goodwill or a Salvation Army and I have time I'll just walk in there see if there's any cheap frames I can buy and usually I just spray paint them matte black and use them. 

LP: Yeah that's smart. 

CA: Yeah. But like see I mean it's just 

LP: Oh and there's something about your stuff hanging around for me. The stuff that didn't sell. Like, I like it. Well, I mean, I wouldn't have printed it or put it up if I didn't like it. Then there's this like, Ooh, but nobody else liked it. And now I got to look at it. Like, it's just a constant reminder. And in a little space like this, I haven't really found how to get it out of my site or just let it go, like give it away. Oh, that reminds me, we're having a garage sale next Friday, the 18th. And we're, it's myself, Beth Reynolds and my friend Marion, and we're doing, we're calling it Arts and Craps. Friday night is like the arts. We all have art we wanna get rid of and other nice stuff. And then the leftover stuff Saturday. 

CA: Okay, that sounds fun. I'll make sure to go there. So talking about fine art settings, how do you decide, I guess? How am I gonna put this? Say there is a photography show coming up and they're looking for submissions. Are you able to submit anything you took as part of like a client's project or do you have like your own personal things that you're going and pulling from? 

LP: Yeah, I would In most of those cases, it would be something that I'm a project I'm working on personally. If it were a client, like I would never share a client's image without their written consent. And sometimes, you know, that has happened where it's like, oh my gosh, this would be perfect. You okay with it? Yes. So that has happened, but generally it's something that I'm purposely going out and designing and shooting and like coming up with. 

CA: Can you talk a bit about some of these personal projects that you've done in the past? 

LP: Sure, the one kind of ongoing thing that I love to do, but I wouldn't call it fine art though, it's more portraiture, although I find it just incredibly rewarding, but it's, you know, homeless dogs and shooting dogs and people and really promoting that love between animals and people. And so the project that I'm working on, the air quotes mean not really hard, are not very smart, but date with my doggie. So it's like showing people out having fun with their animal, but not just portrait. I wanted to, it's more voyeuristic in nature. So not like a, here's me and my dog, just to, my thought was to really incorporate and highlight different businesses here locally and just the vibe on Central Avenue and also get the dog home. So that's one and I really want to see if I can break into the nude male, male nude world. It's a little frightening for me because early in my career again, like I would have, it was just kind of on a regular basis, a guy would call up like, hey, you know, they want their nude picture taken. But really they were just perverts. It's really what it was. They want to talk about it. And so I always shied away, like I just can't do it, don't wanna do it, but now I see that, okay, I'm not threatened like I used to be. Sure. And I think it would be really interesting. 

CA: Well, I'm sure Cocktail would be pretty fine with you just going there taking some photos. That'd be a wonderful place to make contacts Yeah for the listener, St. Petersburg has a thriving gay nightlife scene cocktail is a new bar and the owners also own The Wet Spot. That would be a great place to get some fantastic photos, I'm sure. 

LP: Yeah. 

CA: Which is a poolside bar or bar side pool. It's a pool with a bar or a bar with a pool. Right next to cocktail. 

LP: Yeah, I mean, that would be fun. I'd love to go there and just do some photos. 

CA: I wonder how keen they'd be with people just taking pictures. 

LP: Probably not real keen. 

CA: They'd be more keen with the lady doing it than probably me. 

LP: Yeah.

CA: I'm sure it would be something like that. But no one wears sign that says you're not moms for liberty. 

LP: Yeah, but you know the male physique, especially when they're in shape and I love that, you know, very dramatic split lighting back lighting to show off the physique. So when I say nude, I'm not really talking about parts per se, but maybe it's more of like the landscape of the anatomy. 

CA: Yeah. I mean, if they had a day that was like photographer's welcome day, that would be a fun event so that everybody just knows that on this day there will be photographers. 

LP: Oh, that's an interesting thought. Yeah. 

CA: I don't know who runs that place, but I mean that in general sounds like a fun idea. 


CA: Just a place that has a lot of people visiting I think would be a cool event to host that. All right, so aside from your arts and craps, what other events do you have coming up? 

LP: I... let's see...I don't, I don't. I'm sorry about the big long pause. I'm doing some re-fenagling in my own personal life, which will keep me pretty busy between now and springtime on my just personal family stuff. So that's really been my focus, getting that sort of organized. But yeah, I don't really have any events that I'm signed up for or involved in. 

CA: So what were those um websites they said you spent a few months Reorganizing over those. 

LP: Oh Well my my corporate one which is Presnail.com and then the glamourage.Which is the one with the boudoir and the nudes. Okay, and you know, I I don't build websites So I I spent a lot of time like looking at all the different platforms And I'd fall in love with one and like oh this is it and then run into a snag So I'd have to start all over with something else when you know, a smarter person would have just hired somebody. But I knew also that I wanted to know how it works so that I can keep it updated. That's really important to me. Not have to like call somebody to work on it. 

CA: One of my first, I guess, websites for chain assembly related stuff was, if you have the Adobe Creative Cloud package, they give you up to five free websites. So and then I saw that Lightroom, not Lightroom Classic, but Lightroom, you can export a batch photos directly to a website and links with that. So that's at nickribera.com, I got my photos in there. And that just seemed like a really simple way to share stuff, so. What are your sites built on?

LP: GoDaddy. 

CA: Okay. 

LP: I got a lot of like, oh no, don't do that. But I was already into it. 

CA: I used GoDaddy. 

LP: Yeah. It seemed to do, it was, I mean, I'm not kidding. I tried them all like Wix. I can't even name all the different ones that I fell in love with and thought this is it and then nope, start over. So it was pretty taxing but I'm pretty happy with them and I realized too that are just my age or a little younger, mostly younger, everyone says, what? You don't even need a website, just be on Instagram. Instagram, and I find it really difficult to, like, you know, besides doing the websites, I did try to like get my Facebook page, you know, business pages and Instagram and WhatsApp and the, I'm not doing Twitter, but like all of those things together, spending all the time in that cave out there doing that. Um, I'm not sure that I got any further ahead.

CA: I find that personally I use Instagram less and less, just as someone browsing stuff. It's been a long time since I opened up Instagram just to see what people are up to, because when I do, it's not anyone that I'm following, it's always just ads and hashtags and stuff that I follow. So I feel like the audience is kind of falling away from Instagram. Just because I always assume my audience is exactly like I am. So if I'm doing something less, then they're doing something less. So I think TikTok is probably where it's at for me. 

LP: Oh my god. So yeah, why let me? I just can't do it. Can't. 

CA: Awesome. All right, well, aside from those two websites, is there anything else you want to leave us with? 

LP: Gosh, I didn't. I can't. I don't know. No, just, well, no, one thing we are working on, and it has to do with like some um, ordinances for spay and neuter, just always about the dogs. Like, so I'll be in touch with you and other people about this, but like, it's just, uh, like a personal quest to help that. All right. 

CA: So for the listeners, please spay and neuter your dog. And, um, you, you can find Lisa's amazing photographs at glamorage.com. G L A M A R A G E.com and press nail.com. P R E S N A I L. Thank you. 

LP: Thank you so much. 

CA: Lisa was wonderful chatting with you. 

LP: Oh, it was my pleasure. Thanks, Nick. 

CA: Thank you. 


Chain Assembly: Art for profit sake is recorded through Riverside FM, distributed through Spotify for podcasters, and edited on Adobe Audition. The music is provided by Old Romans. If you learned anything useful or found this podcast helpful, please rate and review us five stars. If you want to learn more about me or my art, head over to ChainAssembly.com.

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