An Interview with Gillian Devine
This month I am delighted to introduce Gillian Devine to the team of Ambassadors. Gillian is a Business and Mindset Mentor, who specialises in ‘Brand Photography’ I caught up with Gillian to ask her why she is so passionate about helping others.
RISE: You say you are just an ordinary girl from Liverpool, I think you are being rather modest here. Could you tell us how your Photography Journey began?
My journey began around 15 years ago when I used to accompany my then father in law Vincent to weddings and portraits to assist. I absolutely loved it, but was working as a Marketing and Sales manager at the time, and it never occurred to me that I could change my profession. It was only when Vincent came to retire and sat me down to talk to me about me taking over, that my photography journey began. I threw myself into it, attending private photography courses, photography and lighting training, seminars, etc and doing all I could to become the best photographer I could.
RISE: You are on a mission to help female photographers cultivate fearless and positive mindset, grow a successful, profitable and sustainable business, and achieve riches in life and happiness, why is this so important to you?
During the most challenging part of my life, after a nasty divorce left me £150k+ in debt, I remember feeling so lost, emotionally and physically drained, and so stressed about lack of money. I lost all my zest and motivation and I was in a dark hole for quite a while and considered giving it all up and getting a job. To be honest, in the beginning making money from my business had never been a big priority while I was married. I had had my husband to fall back on financially, so I just poured my heart and soul into my photography and looking after my clients, but more for the love of it, rather than with a business focus. So now, I was stressed about money, sleepless nights worrying about getting clients, making ends meet, paying bills, etc. But through sheer determination, a journey of self development and a new incentive to be more business focused and money savy, I managed to get my life and business back on track. I know that lots of photographers and business owners go through challenging times like this, and many are simply amazing at their craft but struggle to make the money they deserve and need. I know how that feels, I remember how that feels, and I want to help. I am lucky enough to have built up my own successful and profitable photography business and I want to show others that there is nothing special about me, if I can do it, then so can you.
RISE: In your mind, why do you think photographers, filmmakers and creatives in general, struggle to often find their feet in this industry?
I feel that as creatives we concentrate on our craft, sometimes to the detriment of the business side. We are also our biggest critics, aiming for perfection in every image, product and service, and beating ourselves up when we don’t achieve it. I also know that creatives aren’t necessarily natural business people so we have to work hard to develop business and marketing skills to enable us to earn what we are worth.
RISE: How do you keep yourself motivated and inspired?
I concentrate at all times on my goals and targets. The things I want to achieve in life motivate me, and the people I surround myself with inspire me. Goals such as helping as many photographers as possible know and earn their worth and feel confident and unstoppable in their business. But also personal goals such as meeting my targets to enable me to fulfil dreams such as taking my family on holidays, giving the children in my life fabulous experiences, treating the people I love. I am also a massive believer in surrounding yourself with like minded people, and enabling yourself to feel their energy and be inspired by them. Denise Duffield Thomas has been a major positive influence in my life, together with the different business mentors I have had, and my supportive family and friends. I do it for me, for the people I serve and the people I love.
RISE: How important is it that we have a great business as well as being a great photographer?
Well, we literally only have our cameras in our hands around 20% of the time we are running a photography business, if that! Some say its only 10%! So think of everything we have to do in the other 80-90%… that’s running a business! So you can be the most amazing photographer in the world, but if you don’t have business skills you will feel lost when it comes to pricing, marketing, selling, etc. Without business skills you may lack confidence and self worth and you may find you are working all the hours sent with no time left for friends and family and an empty bank account at the end of the month…I know I did! If you are running a business, no matter what business, and you want to make money from it, then business skills are a must.
RISE: You started the ‘Rich Tog Academy’ can you tell us more about this?
I founded The Rich Tog Academy to provide mentoring programmes and training courses for photographers, concentrating on business, marketing and mindset. I found that as I built my business to achieve the success that I wanted, which included meeting my financial targets, lots of my photography friends, colleagues and acquaintances were constantly seeking my opinion, support, help and advice…and I LOVED giving it. It felt natural to me to share my knowledge, share my experiences, and share what I knew worked for me. There are always lots of different ways of working, but I knew that if I could do what I had done, coming from £150K in debt and feeling completely lost, to achieving regular £6k months with super happy clients and feeling on top of the world with my business, then others could do it to, and I wanted to show them how. It hurts my heart so much when I see other photographers or creatives stressed and in pain because they simply lack business and marketing skills, and need some support with their mindset. So The Rich Tog Academy was born out of this.
I now have many photographers on my 3 month, 6 month and 1 year mentoring programmes, and nearly 1000 photographers have received my online Brand Photography training.
RISE: You have found your own personal ‘Niche’ in Brand Photography, why this area?
I LOVE THIS GENRE! I cannot stress this enough, I simply love everything about it! I have just completed three shoots in the last three weeks, all 3 hour, mid week shoots, at £1295, all digital deliverables. Two of them have been in Spain, where all my expenses including flights where paid for, one was a local company to me. So what’s not to love!
Creatively its amazing as every client is different. Business wise it’s fabulous as I have designed my business how I want it to be, midweek shoots so I have my evenings and weekends for my family, digital deliverables for high levels of profit.
I have loved all the different genres I have worked in. I started in weddings, moved to families and children, I specialised in newborns for around 6 years, and now I specialise in brand. This genre is definitely lighting me up, and I love to share with other photographers what its all about, and how to get into it.
My famous Five Day Challenge and Workshop together with my online course The Business of Brand Photography were both born out of this passion, and I am proud to be helping other photographers move into this genre with ease and success.
RISE: Everyone thinks it’s a glamorous job being flown out on destination jobs, is this actually reality, if anyone else was thinking of going down this avenue?
It always looks and sounds glamorous going abroad on Brand Photography shoots but it can be hard work and stressful. Getting through security in airports with all your kit is a complete palarva! And no matter how much I train in the gym I still have not managed to develop the muscle power to get my own kit case into the over head compartment without assistance! But I just love the sunshine, and I love the light that you get in more sunny areas of Europe. I am lucky enough to have the flexibility in my life to be able to travel, so I market to European clients. I do have plenty of local UK clients too and lots of my students of The Business of Brand Photography course are attracting local UK clients with success.
RISE: Creatives often find themselves saying ‘YES” to every job and spreading themselves too thinly; the end result being a suffering business, home life and often burnout, do you have any tips to avoid this?
Yes, I have definitely been there and done that, especially when you need the money! I honestly believe that when I started specialising and niching down and using the correct marketing methods, that helped me attract the right clients. That in turn made me more confident at saying no to jobs that aren’t my zone of genius or that I know I just won’t enjoy. This confidence has come through self development, knowing my worth and having confidence in my business and marketing skills. When you market correctly and you are attracting your dream clients, that love you, love what you do and invest with ease, it brings you so much joy, but also feelings of empowerment. You are stepping into your own and you know your own worth, so saying no becomes easier.
RISE: What do you love most about this industry we are in?
I love the people! I am lucky enough to work with the most amazing photographers, from all over the world, passionate about their craft and imagery. I love helping these wonderful business owners make their dreams come true. I love to give them my support and direction in terms of business, marketing and mindset guidance, and celebrate with them when they create their own versions of success.
RISE: What’s been your biggest achievement in business to date?
Wow, there have been so many! I was over the moon when my book went to number 1 best seller in three different business categories last year…that was unreal! I co-authored the book, but it was such a wonderful feeling to be amongst so many other amazing entrepreneurial woman while writing the book together. Its called The Secret Diaries of a Female Entrepreneur and its packed full of stories and advice on growing a business.
In all honesty, getting the regular positive feedback and success stories from my mentoring clients and course students is my biggest achievement. When I help others move forward in their business and meet their goals and targets, it honestly makes my soul sing. I regularly sing in joy, and scream in excitement down the phone to my mentee’s when they message me to say they got a job, they had great client feedback, they made a great sale, they smashed their monthly target or they felt fabulous in their business.
RISE: What is next for Gillian Devine and “The Rich Tog”?
I have my base in the UK, so my next adventure is having a home and a business base in Spain. I love the idea of having a home in the sunshine, and I see lots of trips backwards and forwards, serving my UK clients and continuing to develop my presence in the UK, but also enjoying a more outdoor style of life in Spain with my husband and my dogs. For me it’s about perfect work life balance…spending time serving the clients I have, both photography clients and photographers I train and mentor, but also enjoying the outdoors in a sunnier climate. I hate being cold!
I’m also developing a Retreat Programme for photographers, focusing on business, marketing, self care, and mindset. I want photographers to come to a luxury villa environment, to reset themselves and their business, regain motivation and focus, get business and marketing direction, and indulge in a little self care too. Rich Tog Retreats….watch this space!
RISE: If you could give your younger self one piece of advice what would it be?
Don’t procrastinate, just do it. Imperfect action is better than no action, so just keep moving forward and get out of your own way. Even if you have fear, take action despite it. We can all achieve our own version of success, whatever that looks like. Believe it, because its true, I am proof of that.
As a RISE member you can now head over to your ‘Members Area’ for this months video and download with Gillian
For details of Gillian’s famous FREE Five Day Challenge and Workshop on Brand Photography, as well as her courses and mentoring programmes, check out her website
Gillian also invites you to join her join
for all photographers and creatives
Connect with Gillian on Instagram