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Interview with Julie Poole 02.17.11 #33689
01/31/11 08:12 PM
01/31/11 08:12 PM
Joined: Feb 2005
Manhattan, New York, New York
James Morrissey Offline OP
James Morrissey  Offline OP
Carpal Tunnel

Joined: Feb 2005
Manhattan, New York, New York
NWP Presents: An Interview with Julie Poole

Published 2/17/2011

Just Published - Part III of Julie's Interview! It is now complete!

Published 02.05.11
Just Published - Part II of Julie Poole's Interview! Part II examines Julie's business.

Part I of a III Part Interview with our own Julie Poole! For those of you who are not familiar with Julie, she has been a forum moderator and contributor here at NWP since the beginning. She has been a great resource for us, and I am proud to be sharing her three part interview here.

Last edited by James Morrissey; 02/18/11 12:27 AM.
Re: An Interview with Julie Poole January/Feb 2011 [Re: James Morrissey] #33690
01/31/11 08:13 PM
01/31/11 08:13 PM
Joined: Feb 2005
Manhattan, New York, New York
James Morrissey Offline OP
James Morrissey  Offline OP
Carpal Tunnel

Joined: Feb 2005
Manhattan, New York, New York

Part I: About Julie Poole:
JM: Hi Julie. For the people here who many not know you from the forum, would you please tell us a little bit about yourself?
JP: Sure. I grew up in Carmel, in a typical suburban household. We had one miniature Schnauzer and I was obsessed with horses. At age 16, I moved to Knoxville, and I got the opportunity to actually ride hunter jumpers. I was a member of the UT equestrian team and on the board of the UT equestrian club while in school. I ultimately went on to graduate with a degree in psychology. With the degree, I went back and forth being a mortgage broker and running a hunter/jumper barn/lesson business.

I have been married for 16 year and have twin 10 year olds. I also have 3 whippets who I show and lure course. To see the dogs, go to http://aperturewhippets.com The kids and husband area all over that site too! 

JM: Sounds like a full time job without the photography! Seriously, how do you balance your time working in your business with your family?
JP: Working with children is hard no matter what work you do. I do my best to balance out my time and being self employed mostly I can block off times that my kids are having games and practices where I just don't book sessions. I do miss some things when I have to travel for clients/shows out of town. Often I just take the kids with me. They are 10, they can behave and be of help. Tanis often assists me with both holding a reflector and both help me with getting dogs attention.

JM: How did photography come into your life?
JP: I did the whole 110 film thing as a kid and made lots of photo albums. I had no real aspirations of anything but taking photos to remember things by until about 8 years ago.

JM: What changed for you at this time?
JP: I am not really sure what changed. I was taking photos for fun of dressage clinics and hunter jumper shows with my Sony F707. I had twin babies, and was doing it really just because I enjoyed it and could speak with adults. People started asking me more and more to take photos of their horses. Finally, which I think was the tipping point, a long time friend who at the time was the president of ETHJA started really asking me to truly photograph the H/J horseshows. They had no photographer and needed one. At that point, I think I decided I was going to get a "real" camera and give it a try. I did, I bought a Olympus E-1, with 14-54 lens and found out how little I knew. I actually cried for an entire weekend because I couldn't get it to do what I wanted. I have an OCD tendency and it sorta got stuck on learning to truly become a photographer. I took courses at the University of TN. Enrolled in their certificate program and by God, I learned how to work the camera!

JM: Speaking of that camera, what formats do you use for your current work?
JP: I use all Olympus professional gear, currently the E-3 and the two lenses I use most in my work is the 35-100f2 and the 50-200 2.8-3.5. I have all their high end lenses, and a couple of the super high end ones.

The quality of the lenses is amazing. I am very particular on my lens choices! The color rendition of the sooc (Straight Out of Camera) jpgs is almost perfect. I am comfortable with the system and when I see my friends and their ginormous lenses, I am not envious! Not to mention in the last 8 years I have never had a camera that needed sensor cleaning, so, no dust spot cloning necessary. It works for me and as long as Olympus keeps supporting their professionals I won’t change.

JM: Since we are on Olympus, how do you feel that Olympus has succeeded in terms of support?
JP: Olympus has been incredibly supportive when I have contacted them. I am an OGPS member and if I need my camera serviced, I can have a loaner. They are wonderful to work with and I have never felt like one of a billion people. It is been one pleasant experience after another. The quintessential "ask and you shall receive". I do hope for a more advanced camera in the near future. The lenses are wonderful.

JM: Looking back at your work, who have been your greatest photographic influences?
JP: There have been several. Susan Sexton was a huge influence on my equine work. I always loved Vavra also. If I were aspiring to be like any one person though, it would probably be Susan. My dog influences came from friends and clients. I listened closely to what THEY were looking for and developed my style that way.

JM: How would you describe your work? Is there a specific 'look' you are trying to achieve in your work?
JP: I prefer a timeless look that will be as beautiful to look at 20 years from now as it is today. I will do a little trendy stuff, but, I don’t want people looking back on their portraits and thinking “OMG, that is so 2010!” the way we look back as some of the stuff done in the 80’s(aka double exposures! Library backgrounds etc;) I usually say it is classic portraiture with a kick. I do not think my photography is as stuffy and boring as the connotation “classic portraiture” conjures up. I do follow the principles of it though. My goal in my work is to create art you want to display on the walls in your home.

Editor's Note: Here ends Part I of Julie's Interview. We will continue next week with Part II on business.

Re: An Interview with Julie Poole January/Feb 2011 [Re: James Morrissey] #33738
02/01/11 07:32 PM
02/01/11 07:32 PM
Joined: Feb 2005
Manhattan, New York, New York
James Morrissey Offline OP
James Morrissey  Offline OP
Carpal Tunnel

Joined: Feb 2005
Manhattan, New York, New York

Part II: The Business Aspect of Photography

JM: What is it that you feel draws you to pet photography versus other professional ventures?
JP: It just sorta evolved into this. I “speak dog” and have a real connection with both my human and canine clients. I truly enjoy working with them.

JM: Are you doing other paid portrait/professional work?
JP: Yes, I also do children, family photography and equine photography

JM: As you said earlier, your start in photography came from the equine world. Have you found it different working with the equine groups than you have with the dog groups?
JP: They are very similar. The show clients whether equine or canine are more similar than different. They have the same needs and really the same wants as one another. They have specific images in mind. Their animals have to look in a way that is flattering to their discipline. My pet clients are looking for memories and for art on their walls. Often my show clients do the same, but what brings them to me in the first place is different.

JM: Talk to me as if I were just starting today to start my own business - focusing on pet photography. What do you believe are common mistakes that beginners in the business make?
JP: The biggest mistake is starting too soon as a “professional." Calling yourself a professional and charging people before you can reliably produce *consistent* results is the fastest way to failure. People have long memories and if you give them a sub-par product early, well, that won’t be forgotten.

JM: You mention 'sub par' work as a primary way to fail in business. This implies that the hardest part is the photography. Do you think that there are common business foibles outside of that?
JP: There are many ways to fail business wise. I mentioned subpar work is the primary way to fail, because that will stop you from succeeding before you ever have to be business savvy! Of course running a business of any kind requires the boring stuff of doing taxes, cost of goods analysis, sales and all of the not so fun stuff. (I actually really enjoy sales though!)

JM: Let's talk about networking for a bit. What are the sorts of connections people should be making?
JP: Any and all to begin with

JM: Can you go into that a bit?
JP: Honestly, I don't know how to expound on that. Really, you make any and all connections. You never know where an unexpected one may lead you. If you are focusing on baby photography, you need displays at OB offices. Displays in vet offices are good for recognition, and really contacts come from all over.

JM: How did you go about making those initial contacts when you first started?
JP: My initial contacts came from people I knew in the equine community. I did horse shows which was almost like working for advertising. Nothing like being out there in front of a group of people to get people to know what you are doing. Those contacts just build on themselves.

JM: If you had to look at goals for future connections today, what are you looking for say 12 to 18 months down the road?
JP: I really don’t set networking goals. I just keep doing what I am doing. If it stops working, I’ll change.

JM: What types of advertising do you use to promote your business? Is it mostly Google (or equivalent) advertising? Or are you using direct mailing, commercials or other forms of media (such as bill boards, etc)?

JP: I am almost 100% word of mouth referral and social networking based. Years ago I put ads in upscale magazines, did a TV commercial, and other small print things and had ZERO return from it. I get a great response from Facebook as it is people who are already interested in me.

(6) If you are starting from scratch though, how have you been able to get that word of mouth? How many sessions are you booking in a week, and how long did it take you get to this level?
JP: I think I have built that word through fundraisers and just time. You don't start as an overnight sensation. As far as how many sessions a week, it really varies. The fall and spring are the busiest for me, and during summer I tend to be booked doing show dog advertising sessions. I think it took me ~5 years of being in business

JM: How have you worked to brand yourself? What makes what you do different from the scores of other pet photographers out there?
JP: I am heavily branded as an animal photographer. That branding just came from, well, photographing animals! I don’t know how I am different, I just do things my way. I am a fairly unique person to begin with. We always laugh I walk to the beat of my own little drummer

JM: How have you worked to develop your pricing structure? What do your photographic packages look like?
JP: I do not have packages. I found them to be a big pain and no one liked what I put together. All my products are a’ la carte and I do have bonuses when certain levels are reached. That has worked out much better for me. It seems people go through waves of favorite products I offer. Canvases are always a prime seller, along with coffee table books.

JM: Does that include the session sitting fee?

JP: Sitting fee is separate and is only for my time.

JM: You talk earlier about coffee table books. Are you using self publishing companies like blurb, or companies like Graphi Studio (popular with wedding photographers)?
JP: I have never used blurb or any of the companies like it. I use more of the Graphi Studio style for albums and for coffee table books I use other professional printers

JM: Would you share your experience with publishing?
JP: My dog show advertising comes from clients who are showing their dogs. That is a market brought to one by clients, not publishers. I have sold photos to advertisers like “Back in the Saddle” and “KV Vet supply” as cover images. My stock work is fairly limited though.

JM: You recently opened your studio. How has that been going?
JP The studio is wonderful. It is actually my third one. The first was above a car dealership we had and when that was sold, I moved into one with a friend, which worked out wonderful until I needed my own space. I have to give huge thanks to my husband for all the labor he did to get it up and running! He did a wonderful job! It has the most wonderful warm feel to the space. I just love being there.

JM: As you know, there has been lots of discussion about the overhead of a studio in the Shop Talk Forum. Do you feel that it brings foot traffic?
JP: I do not look for foot traffic. I am a "by appointment only" photographer and I am only at the studio when I have clients. I do all my processing and book work at home. It is part of how I balance the family thing. I am not really in a foot traffic type shopping center.

Here Ends Part II of Julie's Interview. Part III will be coming up next weekend!

Last edited by James Morrissey; 02/06/11 12:26 AM.
Re: Interview with Julie Poole 02.05.10 [Re: James Morrissey] #34095
02/18/11 12:03 AM
02/18/11 12:03 AM
Joined: Feb 2005
Manhattan, New York, New York
James Morrissey Offline OP
James Morrissey  Offline OP
Carpal Tunnel

Joined: Feb 2005
Manhattan, New York, New York

Part III: The Shoot
JM: Where does most of your work occur, in your studio or on location?
JP: It is about 50/50.

JM: Do you prefer studio lighting or outdoor lighting? Why?
JP: I like them both equally. Studio lighting is easier to control, time and weather have no impact on them. Outdoor sessions have more variables and usually more dynamic. It just depends on what the client is looking for at the time. When I work outdoors, it is natural light with reflectors and in the studio, it is strobes.

JM: Would you please talk about your photographic set-up?
JP: Honestly, it depends. I have a full studio with a backdrop system, a paper system I put together and a couple of other shooting areas in the space.

JM: I am floored by the post processing that you did in many of the photos. They almost look like drawings. Would you care to share how you post processed them?
JP: Thank you. They are simple texture overlays. Learning to post process is an important part of making an image come alive. It is the post processing that brings the images to what I see in my mind.

Having said that, I think a lot of people use textures at this point and its a bit technical and boring. I don't do it with all my photos, only some of them and really most of the things I do I do so because the picture calls for it. Its why I don't outsource my editing. I think there are plenty of people who can edit better than I, but, then half of the artistic vision would be lost, or be someone else's.

JM: Do you work with a handler?
JP My dog show clients usually have handlers and there are times I hire a dog wrangler for large promotions. As a rule, I just usually have the owner help me.

JM: A special thanks to Julie Poole for sharing her thoughts with us during this interview. To learn more about Julie and her work, go to:


Last edited by James Morrissey; 02/18/11 12:24 AM.

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