We had the good fortune of connecting with Neal Bailey and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Neal, what do you attribute your success to?

For me one of the most important factors of success is communication and the willingness to adapt. Communication is probably the most important factor in any business, as it’s the core of how you deliver your message to your audience, customers, or fan base. All of those are important as an audience converts to fans, and fans convert to potential customers, so it’s important to communicate to them with the right brand message.  

For me since I am a Photographer, I like to create unique and interesting photos that I post on social media like Instagram to attract an audience and then developing that audience into a fan base where I continue deliver photos that show off my talents and photography style.  This leads to people contacting me for a specific photoshoot. So that’s a simple flow that I follow on social media to attract new clients.  

It’s also important to get out there in the real world and meet people. Meeting people is the most powerful and seemingly difficult way to communicate with someone. These days I find that photographers are very quiet and borderline shy, so they struggle in finding clients as they want to use social media as their only way of communication. It’s best to get out there and meet people whenever you can, whether it’s hosting your own meetup group, going to other meetups, looking on Facebook for groups where people get together for photo walks, or just going around to business asking if they need lifestyle photos, product photos or anything that would serve their needs. 

It is the hardest part as it takes you out of your comfort zone, and you need to learn to communicate with all types of people but is the most powerful for sure. Lastly, you must have a willingness to adapt, and that’s because in today’s world, things are moving so fast in digital media. Photography is getting even more challenging with all the great phones people have in their hands, and the ever-growing technology especial in AI editing software. Everyone thinks they can take great photos, but I usually find that when they need to compose or zoom in on the shot it’s not quite what they expected so that’s usually when they look to a professional. But we photographers need to adapt to the current space and environment and think outside the box a bit to attract new clients and use all the new technologies to our favor.  If you look hard, you will see more opportunities than not.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?

I am a professional Photographer with about 25 years of experience, however most of that time Photography was only a hobby where I did macro photography and sometimes product photography as a secondary part of my marketing business. I was primarily a marketing expert for small to large business for most of my career and I only did product photography as a small part of that business. But after the massive COVID Pandemic hit, like so many others, I was laid off from a relatively new position with a company that had been a previous client of mine.  They had made me an offer I could not refuse, but unfortunately it didn’t last long.  After the layoff they went back to being a client and I went back to rebuilding my business again. It was a very up and down time in my life that led me down a new path.

While the Pandemic had overwhelmed the world, and I was stuck indoors like everyone else, trying to rebuild my previous business connections and get back up and running again. I spent a several months struggling and became frustrated, burnt out and stressed at how hard things were going with business during a time that you could not meet with people because of COVID. Businesses were closing, and the need for marketing was becoming difficult especially for businesses who could not afford it anymore.

Something needed to change, and I was really missing that creative outlet and artistic side of myself and so I started thinking of my previous passions, just so I could break up the anxiety I was facing in my business. So, I picked up my old Panasonic Lumex G85 and looked up photography groups. I found one on Meetup and decided to go on a photo walk to get out of the house for a bit. 

A photo walk is where a group a people walk around, for example downtown with a model, and take creative photos. It was my first time to do this as I had only photographed products, family, and small macro (bugs and small things) photos in the past. But after my first photo walk, I was hooked.  Apparently, I had a good eye and a good understanding of how cameras and lighting worked, and that impressed the people around me. So I kept doing these meetups, and many other photo group meetups, until I felt like I needed more, and so I started hosting my own meetups, just for fun, and to learn and meet new people. Even during COVID it was difficult to do this as people would keep their distance as we wore masks, and this made it hard to make new connections.

Over a few meetups and studio shoots, I started doing bigger meetup groups and really got to know the community, where I would source the location, find a model, come up with the theme and promote it on social media. We all wore masks, so it was still hard to connect with people, but through all, I started building more relationships with the photography and model community. This led to bigger shoots with magazines, traveling out to the desert to do high fashion photography with many professional models etc. 

This all happened within a year, and this is where things started shifting as professionals and brands were reaching out to me for high end photography. This is where my business took a hard left turn from Marketing to Photography. Now I was seeing new opportunities with brands and their products. I was now responsible for creating unique photographs for their products and coordinating brand photography with products and models. And since I had a long-time marketing background, I knew just how to deliver the perfect shot that would work best for their brand. This was the change I needed. It’s still hard and I still need to hustle a lot.  The competition is different, but with my combined skills I am really starting to develop a strong relationship with a wide variety of clients, and the opportunity for creativity is endless, and challenging, which keeps me excited and energized for the next one.

So now a long-time hobby has transformed into a full business where my creative juices can flow, and it is super exciting for me. Once I knew this was my new path, I expanded to do more.  Now I teach private lessons in photography and editing in my studio and I photography everything from Portfolio building for professional models, actors and athletes, Real Estate and Architectural photography, High Fashion Photoshoots, Fine Art, Portraits, Food, Dogs and even cars.

If there is a message here it is to stay true to your passions and never let them go. One day that a passion of yours may become your lifelong career where work is fun, challenging and doesn’t really seem like work.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.

I spend a lot of time in the Fort Worth area and some in Dallas area. For me, walking around downtown Fort Worth around the Sundance square is always great, and stopping off in a nice restaurant for dinner. Then hitting up the Art District and checking out at what the art museums have going is a must. Depending on the time of year there is always something going on in the stockyards that would be fun. In Dallas, I like all the art districts like Bishop Arts District, visiting the shops and checkout out some music. Then visiting the Dallas Art and Perot Museum is a must. Again, depending on the time of year there is always something going on at one of the convention centers in Dallas.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Thanks to my Family, especially wife and kids, as they are my primary support system in my life. Without them I would not be the person I am today. When I have a crazy idea, they are usually all in and if not, they are a welcome voice of reason. Sometimes as a creative person I tend to have an idea and run with it without putting in too much thought because the excitement drives me. But a supportive family definitely provides a grounded environment that helps me not rush, and rather focus and think through the excitement, which usually translates into higher success. My friends are also very important to me, I chose my close friends very carefully and they are always encouraging me and helping me as we tend to work together to overcome difficult problems. As for books or other mentors I like to learn from everything and everyone, I think it’s important to look through the lens of other people’s perspectives and learn from it as well as read everything, especially if it’s not in my wheelhouse of talents, as there is usually a bit of inspiring gold nuggets that translates to what I do.

Website: https://nealbaileystudios.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nealbaileystudios/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/NealBaileyStudios/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NBaileyStudios

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NealBaileyStudios/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/nealbaileystudios

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