The Waldens

00:00:00 Bob: Hi everyone, Bob Poole here. I am here today with husband and wife. Beverley and Tim Walden from Lexington, Kentucky. Tim and Bev are both internationally recognized Portrait Photographers. They both hold Master of Photography Degrees, among other things. And, they have received the highest awards, given to their Profession.

00:00:21 They have also educated thousands of Photographers over the years, including me. I met them years ago, when I spent a week with them at their Walden University. I enjoyed it so much that I went back a couple of years later for another week.

00:00:33 Their Web Site says, “We hope to leave everyone we meet, better than we found them.” And, I can tell you that my experience, everyone they meet is better for having spent time in their Company.

00:00:42 So, welcome to the Water Cooler Hang Out, Tim and Bev.

Tim: Thanks so much.

Bev: Glad to be here.

Tim: We are glad to be here.

00:00:48 Bob: Yeah, well I am really excited to be able to talk to you, because, it has been a while.

Tim: Yeah, it has been too long actually and I am glad we are here to chat.

Bev: We miss you, come back again.

00:00:59 Bob: [Laughter] I would like to. So, tell me how did you get started in this … this … and, you know, when did you start.

Tim: Well, you know, I started at 12 years old. And, Beverley married into it. I, uh, my father who passed away a number of years ago. About six years ago, was a wonderful Photographer and mentor. And, he was paralyzed and in a wheel chair, most of my life. Ever since, I was about six years old. And, I remember being in his dark room, you know, with the smell of the chemicals. I am probably the only one that enjoyed that. I always say that if they made a candle that smelt like this chemical that would be all you have got to buy.

00:01:40 But, I remember being in that dark room, and, listening to his wisdom. And, watching his way of portraying people, his love for the industry and his passion. And, his tenacity – you know, I mean from a wheel chair, paralyzed from just under his arms down. Did a thousand weddings, traveled the world at the end. And, I though man, if you are going to love something this much, there must be something to it. And … and so, it was with that as a child – watching that, that drove me to find out about what made him so passionate. And … and I found out.

00:02:18 Bev: And then, I met Tim in High School.

Tim: Yeah.

Bev: We were in the same homeroom and … we, kind of clicked, I guess. And, I remember on one of our first dates he took me to a Photography Show.

Tim: Yeah.

00:02:32 Bev: And, I am like, “What is this all about?”

Tim: Yeah, and she is still with me, go figure that out.

Bev: So, we together, our passion grew with Photography …

Tim: Yeah.

Bev: And, made a lot of life decisions very early to, suffer a little for the cause, and bought Tim’s Dad out, when we really did not have the money to do it. And, we … pretty much, starved half the time. Thank goodness for your Grandma.

00:02:58 Tim: Yeah.

00:02:58 Bev: We would call and say, “Hey, we are coming over …”

Tim: “Yeah, and what is for dinner?”

Bev: “Do you have anything for dinner?” And, you know, and so our family supported us. And … it is like the Country Music Stars that, you know, that people say about them, “Oh, you are an overnight success.” And, they say, “Yeah, it took twenty years to be an overnight success.”

00:03:20 We have been at it a long time, and we have paid our dues …

Tim: Yeah.

Bev: And … have not regretted any decisions.

00:03:27 Bob: Well, that is fantastic. I have heard the story before about your Dad, Tim, and that is amazing that he spent his whole career in a wheel chair for the most part. And, not only was able to make a living, but thrived.

Tim: Yes, yes.

Bob: It is a beautiful story.

00:03:44 Tim: It drove him to do great things, you know, and overcome a lot of obstacles, his passion for his profession.

Bob: So, did you guys evolve. I know, you say you started up, I guess like most Photographers, doing everything right. You did Weddings and Portraits, and did you actually do commercial kind of things too?

Tim: Yeah. Are you kidding, I would do anything and everything for … and, it was not until later years, that we learned that, that, truly is a formula for disaster. I … my father, as wonderful as he was as a photographer. His marketing skills and so, were probably not his strength, because – he was paralyzed when he was with the Government, in a position, where he did not – he drew a disability. And, so his object with Photography was truly therapy and passion. But, he did not have to, and actually could not make a lot of money without losing his disability. So, I fell in love with the Photography, his passion. But, when we took over we had to change our Business Model drastically, because, it was not a Business Model, that would lend itself to true success. Not, in our scenario, and my Dad did that because he did not need the money. But, for us to succeed, we had to make major changes.

00:05:03 Bob: So, were you able to figure this out on your own. Or, did you get some advice from some other people?

Tim: Well, you know, I do not want to … I certainly would not want to take the credit … you know, on our own. But, I must say that, Bev and I, the majority of it was … was, yeah, the school of hard knocks. I mean I know that maybe sounds like what you are supposed to say, but it is the honest to goodness truth. We … it … it was, you know, out of absolute desperation that … we felt like our Business was not going to survive, decades ago. And, it was a room … sitting in a room, where I said, “You know what, if I am going to go down, I am going to go down doing what I love.” And, I began to do things, that I did not know I was doing.

00:05:47 Things like carving a niche. Defining myself. I went back to where my passion was. It was … you know everybody was using Color Film then. And, I am like, you know, I am going to go back to the dark room, I am going do clearer black and white, that was going to have strong emotional appeal. And, if I go down, I do not want to remember, Photography, the way I feel about it right now.

00:06:08 And, I set a course to change that Bob, and, you know, we held on. And, three years later my Accountant, said Tim, “I do not think we have ever used this word before, but, you are turning a Profit.” I had never heard that word; I had to look it up in the dictionary – what does that mean? But, but the reality was, we began to set a course to carve this niche out and to create gaps between us and other people. And, we did not honestly know we were doing it. But, in hindsight, at least if I had a really great skill, I can look back and evaluate what I did. And, Bev and I made the decisions that we made for different reasons. But, brought the right results and today we are living those decisions, celebrating them, and now trying to continue to build on them all the time. The things we were forced to make back then.

00:06:59 Bev: And, it really had been confirmed over and over, although at the time we did not really know, we were taking huge risks. But, it was that or … you know?

Tim: Yeah.

Bev: Or, go away. And, since then, you know, we have educated ourselves and every book that I have read, supports what we did. In Business Classes that we have since attended, confirm what we did. And, so we are thrilled, you know, that what we did was … was the right cord.

00:07:34 Tim: And, do you know what is funny Bob, is we are teaching so much … as you mentioned in the beginning. We are teaching a lot. And, in this … today’s environment, people are saying, “Teach us how to succeed.” And, we are standing up with some … some, really important and well educated people. But, they learned it in school, and we have learned it in practice, but the message is the same.

Bev: Yes.

00:07:54 Tim: And … and, we are out sharing it with people, who are facing today, what we faced back then. And, they are facing a soft economy, everybody is having challenges. So … you know, but some of these realities are hard-core foundational principles. That we live by and we are thankful that we went through that tough time. And, they do work, even for us today.

Bob: Well, you know, I was going to ask you to share some of those principles. Or, tell us what the greatest risk decision you took?

00:08:25 Tim: Well, I think one of the greatest challenges for us was to … to do less. I think wisdom today is in knowing what not to do. I mean, I think for the first time in our Industry, and this is the way we share at classes. Wisdom is in knowing what not to do. Because, there too many choices. You go to a Trade Show, you meet Photographers and everybody, “Oh, I do this, I do this, and I do that.” But, any great Artist, or any great successful person, is known for something. And, the way you have to succeed today, in our opinion. Is, you have to define yourself, so that people recognize you. Connect with the right people. Everybody thinks … you know there is an old saying, “The Customer is always right.” But, there is a new saying, “And, that is not everyone is your Customer.”

00:09:13 And, truly the great successful people, connect with the right people, that are passionate for what they do. And, can see the definition of what they do, as it contrasts to other people. And, we tell photographers, create and catch between you and others. Do less – less is more. Be okay with the fact that as you define who you are … And, this was a big step for us, you will drive people two places. You will drive them away, and you will drive them to you. But, the ones you drive to you will come, they will drive as far as they need to drive. And, they will pay what they need pay, because they recognize your Art.

00:09:51 It is defined enough that they want what you do. They buy that Artist. So, that was a really hard step, because, my Dad was all things to all people. And, when he did have op … peopled shopped on two things, price and location. And, we cannot survive in that, and so, in today’s market somebody gave us, that people that rise to the top, true to their passion and they define their Art. You are going to find some people who say, “I do not like that.” But, you are also going to find the ones that do say, “I love that.” Because, that they the (00:10:28 indiscernible) qualities and then they invest in it.

00:10:31 And, that is how we have succeeded in a nutshell, and that is a nutshell. In a nutshell that is how we have done it and we have been okay with being who we are. And, messaging that consistently in the Public. And, it … its working today in this mass Market, where everybody is doing everything, I guess.

Bev: And, also I would add that every time we have taken a step out and taken a risk there was nobody to ask.

Tim: Yeah.

Bev: We were like, “Who can we ask? Who has done this?” We would look through every name that we knew, “Let us get some advice.” And then we would look at each and go, “There is nobody to ask, because, we do not know anybody that has done this, in the world of color photography, who has taken the step and done portraiture in black and white?” And then when everything switched to digital like, “Who has printed black and white digitally? Who can we get some help from?” And, basically, we ended up being a Beta Testing Site, for you know, a lot of different Fine Art Papers and stuff. Because, we were the ones that were stepping out and, kind of, taking the lead on some of these things.

00:11:38 And, fortunately, Tim is a whole pillar of wisdom.

Tim: Oh, stop it … stop it. [Laughter]

Bev: And, you know, I think experience – our experience has given us wisdom that, you know, a lot of the Newcomers just have that depth, to plumb and find the answers. And, we just would look at each other and go, “This is what we feel is right. You know, let us just take this risk and from our experience, we feel like it will work.”

00:12:08 And, we did not have … you know, I cannot remember anybody that we had …

Tim: Yeah.

Bev: That we could turn to. Now … books, we read a lot of books, or I did, you know, on some of these issues. And, it just confirmed that we were going in the right direction. That was wonderful.

Tim: (00:12:23 indiscernible)

00:12:25 Bob: You know, what I really love about your message is that, and … and I knew today, having listened to you before, that I was hoping that this is exactly what you would say is, “That it applies to all Businesses, not just to Photography Businesses.” What you just talked about Tim and Bev just is exactly what is going on in so many Businesses today. Where people are trying to be everything to everyone, and failing miserably.

Tim: Absolutely, and it does … what the Product is, actually, is not always the … the prime point. But, the main issue is how you define a car but make it unique and rise it to the top. And, I think, you know, as human beings, Bob, we are people pleases. Some try to push that way, but in reality when you become that, and you do anything and everything. It really can come back to cause you to… to … and, especially in a soft economy – to not … not rise to the top, and not do the things, you know, you have been dreaming of as a Business Owner and Artist.

00:13:33 Bob: So … so, what are some of the crucial things you have done over the last few years with the economy as a of (00:13:38 indiscernible)

Tim: Well, you remember, my story about “Boldo” [PH]

Bob: Sure, Rock.

Tim: We lost him like a couple of years ago. But, I have got to tell you, one day I want to write a book and it is going to be everything you need to know about life, you can learn from Bulldog. Because, Bulldogs are tenacious, and they really are, you know, and Rock had this toy and boy, you could pull on that thing. He would rather die than let go. You put food in front of him … you know, put food in front of me, I would drop the pencil right. But, if you put it in front of him, he would want … forget it. And, I think if you ever got it away from him, do it over a cliff. He would jump and on his way down, and say, “Well, maybe I am going to die, but I have got the pen toy.”

00:14:23 And, I have got to tell you, that tenacity is the number one thing. The number one thing is being tenacious, and not giving up. And, I think you hear people that are successful today, as I talk to them they will say, “You know, I am working harder, but … I am doing all right, but I am working harder than I used to. I am not getting that free ride anymore.” I think, you know, that is number one. Number two, is you have to relevant in today’s Market. And, we work very hard at messaging what we are, because the way you message – just … Social Media is now involved. And, you know people do not want to be, no matter what you age. I do not want to really share mine. But, no matter what your age is, you have to make sure that you remain relevant.

00:15:10 So, we use the Tools of today. We … we are strong in the Social Media, and … using Technology to help message. And, the final thing that we do, is that we sense that time to be pro-active. We set aside Staff Time, every Tuesday morning we all get together. And, I do not care what you do for the Walden’s – you are part of crowd. And, we sit down and we brainstorm and we dream big. And, then we do something my Dad used to say, and it is really simple, but it is true. He said, “Make the plan, work the plan.” And, after we talk about it, we do all of that, we make a plan and then we work that plan.

00:15:54 So, that is … that is very, very important. It sounds simple, but not many people do it in today’s Market, and so, you have got to … And, I think we are really doing that part anyway.

Bob: So, what … what … People do not know that you do a lot of really high-end photography, and Black and White Relationships and Portraits. You evented them, as far as I can tell.

Tim: You think so.

Bob: Yeah. They are … they are just absolutely gorgeous and people come to you for that. But, you have also evolved and … and, I know Beverley has a whole line of beautiful, painted portraits. And, why don’t you tell us a little bit about that Bev?

00:16:42 Bev: That is called, “Beau Visage” We named … Tim, always says we are brave to name it “Beau Visage” in Kentucky. Because, that really gets pretty mispronounced most of the time. I asked a friend of ours who is French, and I said, “How do you pronounce … how would you pronounce it?” And, she pronounced it in a way that I cannot even say. But, it sure sounded good.

Tim: Yeah.

00:17:07 Bev: And, what we were doing with Beau Visage …

Tim: Which means beautiful face, by the way?

Bev: It means beautiful face in French. Is to create gap, and we talked about … a little bit earlier, creating Gap, we feel like is a very important thing to do, to separate yourself from the masses. In addition, we wanted something that was little bit of a Trade Up, for Clients that we have had for a while. You know, we wanted them to have to stretch a little bit, to have to reach for a Product that was a little bit higher in price … and …

00:17:45 Tim: And, an heirloom.

Bev: And, an heirloom, and also we restricted how many we did, so there was a little bit of a scarcity principle working for us. And, I had to sit down and learn Painter of course. And, that is one reason too, that we restricted them, is my time is very restricted. And, I cannot take on a whole lot of extra work, and Painter is quite time consuming. It is a hard Program to learn, I will say. I taught myself and then I was smart enough to some Professional Lessons, and weeklong schools. And, it is still a vital part of what we do. It is the … it is funny that we started … we started it with one idea and then as all things go, we prototyped it for two years, talked it out. Put it into the Market Place as a fully matured Product with samples, that were matured and priceless – that were thought out. And, yet the Public has its own ideas sometimes. And, so we have morphed it a little bit.

00:18:49 And, it is in the, at this point a little more of a milestone portrait. When kids turn five or, something like that, we do some different things. But, that is how the public is seeing it as their piece to keep forever and ever – of their children who turn five, before they lose teeth and kind of get gangly and a little more off looking.

Tim: It is a great mix of photographic skill, technology, as she was mentioning and then painting on top of that. The actual, hand painting, and it creates a piece that we have, kind of, defined our style – or she has. And, it is a really beautiful thing. We are real proud of them, she is very good at what she does.

00:19:32 Bob: I agree and having been there seen them earlier on, I found them to be among the most beautiful portraits I have ever seen in my life. So … anyone, is ever even thinking about getting a … an heirloom portrait and can get to Lexington, I would say, “Do it.” So …

Tim: Thank you.

Bev: Thanks Bob.
00:19:53 Bob: Absolutely. So … I know that the two of you believe in giving back to the Community too. So, tell me a little bit, about what you do in that area?

Tim: Well, I think, you know, life is about serving it is all about service. And, great people should have a service Art. I mean we … we are so blessed to live the life we live and, uh, come across the people we come across and do the things we do. When you are successful, it is an added blessing. So, one of the things that we do, is we connected with, uh, with Hospice here in Lexington. And, they have a pediatric arm, called “Daniel’s Care”. And, our heart is for children. I mean, we have raised two, we have photographed many and we are just passionate about children. And, um, so … we realized a lot of these families that have children with life threatening illnesses, and life limiting illnesses. They just … photography they could not invest their money and their time in. And, they just seemed to be missing some joys that so many other families did. So, about 10 years ago, close to 10 years ago, we … we went to Hospice and we started donating one Wall Portrait a month to a family of their choice, with a child that is in the Daniel’s Care. Daniels Care is the local name for it. Most Hospices would just say the pediatric arm.

00:21:16 But, Daniel’s Care, and we have done this now for over 10 years. And, we frame it, we put it on the wall, we do not sell anything. And, I have got to tell you it is one of the greatest rewards that we have experienced, is being able to serve families that are loving their children, but battling some really tough times. And, I believe that it’s … it’s one of the things when … when we do retire many years from now and down the road. It will be the thing that finds space with us the strongest. Is these wonderful families.

00:21:50 Bob: That is a great story, and … and it is a great cause and I … I salute you for that. So, let me ask you one last question – what … what does the future hold? What kind of plans do you have? Because, I know you are always planning.

Tim: Yeah, thank you. We … we are certainly going to stay the course with our Business here. But, we travel and teach, so we want to add … we are building a Web Site. But … it will become and we want to take starting our Art to other cities and places across the country, or across the World. Doing Location, Lifestyle Portraits, or Relationship Portraits in the home and different places. And, offer some of … we have been able to travel all of Europe and Asia and so forth. So, we are going to also offer some of our personal Art, at You know somewhere in the near future. So, that will allow us to go places, continue to stay on the road. While we manage our Studio here, and the thing we want to always do is, as I said earlier, we want to stay relevant. So, that keeps us young and seeing what technology has, and, uh, you know, different, you know, how we can fit into it. How we can this, um, um, Society in a relevant way.

00:23:10 And then we love teaching photography. We have a coaching community online., that is for photographers. So, we want to grow that, and maintain ourselves as educators. Because, we learn a lot and we connect with wonderful people. So, that is us.

Bob: Fantastic, fantastic, and I want to thank you for being with us today. I know, Beverley, you are a little under the weather, so thank you for being able to show up.

Bev: Thank you so much. I am … yeah, I was worried I would be coughing my way through this but it is good so far.

00:23:46 Bob: Well, I tell you what we are going to do too … we are going to put this on my Blog, of course. And, we will put it on iTunes and we will also give everyone your URLs and put those, so that they can click on them, and come and take a look at some of your gorgeous photography online. So, we will do all that, and because I know right now, people listening are say, “Okay, where do I go to see these photos?” So …

Bob: Thank you very much.

Tim: Well I know this has been about us, but I have got to say that we appreciate what you are doing for so many people as well. We love our friendship with you, so we appreciate the opportunity.

00:24:26 Bob: Well, thank you very much guys, I do too. Have a wonderful day.

00:24:31 Tim: All right, you too.

Bev: Thank you.