This month We are reviving our Member Spotlight series. Our first candidate for 2016 is Ron Stochl. Ron owns and operates Stochl Imaging and has been a GRPP member for several years. You can visit his website at http://www.stochlimaging.com/ Get to know a little more about him below!
How did you get into photography? I started working with photography back when I was a teenager. After leaving it for a while I got back into it when, as a teacher, I ran a school yearbook at Rush Henrietta. I did most of the schools’ photo capturing, developing, printing and placement of prints on to yearbook story boards. I was eventually asked to run a “gifted” program for students interested in darkroom work. The school had converted a science store room into a darkroom for this purpose. I continued this for a number of years to follow.
Do you have any formal education? I did not receive any formal training in photography other than a few area workshops. I did most of my research and studying via photography books and internet photography instructional sites. I spent several years doing this before truly getting into the business. I still follow this same “recipe” today. Photography is one of those fields where the learning process never ends.
What has been your greatest achievement? With regards to photography, I am not really sure that I can pin it down to a single achievement. What makes me feel very satisfied is that I have been able to bring myself to the point where I feel confident in photographing weddings, high school seniors, events, etc. We have also developed quite a following selling scenic photos via area craft shows, including Lilac Festival, Corn Hill, Park Ave & new to us this year, Clothesline.
How do you stay fresh and creative? I am frequently engaging in online photography workshops such as those sponsored by the Creative Live people. I also follow a lot of seminars run by widely acclaimed professional photographers such as Mark Wallace and Joe Brady to name a few. Of course attending as many GRRP seminars as I can has definitely helped me in honing or adding to my skill set.
What is the best piece of gear in your camera bag? I have several pieces of equipment that are very important to me. I am an avid user of full frame cameras, in this case from Canon, along with a wide array of lenses, studio strobes, speedlites, etc. There is one piece however, for my studio – the Canon 6d, which is great as I can “wifi” the captured photos immediately to a tablet so that the client can see the results as we progress.
What do you wish you knew when you began? How to successfully operate a business. I had absolutely no idea what area to best concentrate on with regards to marketing. I was also clueless as to how to price my work. Another area of weakness for me was regarding photography contracts. My wife has a business background which did help. Also it was in talking to other professional photographers, researching online and attending a few business oriented workshops that it finally began to make sense for me.
Worst day on the job and what you learned? Early on in my business, I had the parent of a high school senior “claim” that she believed I was to include high resolution photos into the package when I did not state that. I thought I had made myself clear while talking to her on the phone. I did not use written contracts back then. I DO NOW !
Best day on the job and what you learned? I cannot narrow it down to just one day. I can say that my present “days on the job” are so much more rewarding now that I have learned a lot more about operating a business. I have gained much more of an understanding of photography concepts and its related equipment. I feel now that I can relax a bit more and really enjoy the projects that I am working on.
3 favorite non-photography hobbies? I was an avid golfer and skier until about 10 years ago but no longer indulge in those activities. Perhaps my favorite one is music. I was a lead guitarist in several area old rock bands (many years ago – I had hair then) although I no longer do that. I still enjoy however, picking up the guitar and, in private, playing “guitar licks” with a song from the internet. On a final note, with regards to this topic, my wife and I (now retired from our former careers) love to travel the USA. There are some folks that talk to us about Europe, Mexico and such, but there is so much beauty in this country that we have not been able to see yet. That is a goal we are actively pursuing.
Best piece of software? For me, it is a tie between Lightroom and Photoshop. I use both of these. I start my work in Lightroom and then bring it over into Photoshop for final tweaking and printing.
What’s the best business tip you’ve been given? In all seriousness, I can honestly say it was joining GRRP. It was 4 or 5 years ago, while working my photography tent at a craft show, that someone recommended I consider joining GRRP. I didn’t even know what GRRP was at the time. Later on, I met Bob Steere and he filled me in on some of the great things GRRP was doing. Since joining GRRP (January of 2013 I believe) I have learned so much regarding both photography and conducting it as a business, that my business has progressed to a point where I feel quite satisfied and very comfortable at what I do. Lord knows I have much more to learn, but that is the fun and rewarding part.