Power Corner

Tim and Beverly Walden

I met Tim and Ber several years ago at a PPA convention and can remember how impressed I was with their attitude toward life: family first, then business. They have figured out over the years how to blend their individual talents and skills into one successful partnership, and their forward-thinking approach to business has carved out a niche that is an example to the entire industry. Their work is truly inspirational and, as you will be able to tell from this interview, they love living. For information on Tim and Bev, log onto www.waldensphotography.com.

Mitche: What is the biggest challenge facing the industry and your business in the coming years?

Tim: I think it is the same challenges that faced us for years, its separating yourself from the crowd, defining yourself—especially right now. We have all this diversity with technology, with equipment, and we've got people entering this profession in numbers unseen before. So I think the real challenge is defining yourself as unique, so that in the midst of all the voices, all the faces, all the photographs in the crowd, you can stand out. That's easy to say, but in the execution it is very challenging. And while defining yourself you are maintaining excellence amidst all the novelty. Technology has provided so many avenues that a range of people are getting into this. If we are not careful, we also forget to maintain the excellence. Bev: With so many young people jumping into the industry without a lot of background, I think excellence will be the key. Excellence and actually understanding lighting, and quality photography, and all the different things that we have studied for decades, is going to be the difference between making it or not.

In a nutshell, what is your marketing philosophy?

Tim: To sell the results of your art, not your art itself. I think that there is a lesson to be learned from that sentence. Too many photographers sell 8x10s, they sell texture sprays, they sell mounting. Really successful people, in my opinion, sell the way the art makes you feel. They sell the results of the art. They build the relationship. People want to buy the experience, they want to buy feeling, they want to buy a celebration. That, to me, in a nutshell, is what we are selling. Brand yourself tighter than you ever have before.

Bev: When you think of that brand or who you are, it isn't something to be taken lightly. You are going to be doing it for a long time. Most importantly for us, it is selling the relationship. When you are branding it isn't an overnight thing, it is something that takes time and years of your message going out.

What is the most important attribute for becoming a Power Marketer for photographers?

Tim: The first thing that comes to my mind is having a clearly defined vision. I think photographers are their own worst enemies. We are so taken by all the things that are around us—but there are some wonderful things that other people do that I don't do. When I look at it, I admire it, but I don't always go home and do it. That sounds like an odd statement, but you clearly need to define your own vision so that everything lines up with your own style of photography—your thoughts, your logo, your paper color—and then you have to stick with it. Unless you clearly define yourself you are going to find yourself with whatever the wind blows tomorrow, and people out there are going to say, "Cool paper, but I have never heard of this person before." The most powerful tools are not cool, clever little things. They are principles that we have known for years but rarely do. Not giving up and being patient are also important.

How does your marketing come into play with all the priorities that you have set for your life?

Deb: The most important thing to us is our family above everything. It is so easy to push that aside when you are building a business, but you have to make yourself realize that you have your children for only a certain amount of time. The importance of our family also ties into our love for photography—we are helping others to celebrate those relationships that we have enjoyed with our children. I don't really think we became great photographers until we had our children.

How many children do you have? Are they part of the business at all?

Bev: We have two daughters. They are pretty grown, but they still need Mommy and Daddy. We are training our oldest in the business right now. I have been teaching her Photoshop. She wants to work behind the scenes.

If you could recommend two things to someone who is just beginning, what would they be?

Tim: These are simple to say, but difficult to execute. First, define yourself in the marketplace. Find your niche. Brand yourself. And do one thing extremely well. While maintaining your excellence, that will define your marketing. If

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