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Full Time Professional Photographer, Matt Gallegos

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Full Time Professional Photographer, Matt Gallegos #iCreateDaily #Interviews #Podcast

Matt Gallegos photographs everything! From Aerial photography to weddings, Matt does it all. In fact he thrives on the variety or else he’ll get bored.

Matt Gallego and his wife, Kourtney, are the Tandem team at Tandem Studios, living the life of their dreams doing work they love. So tune in and hear how Matt went from a career in IT to professional photographer and business owner!

Interview Links:


How Much Do Photographers Make?

FYI, the average photographer’s salary in 2016 was $34,070. We didn’t specifically discuss this in the interview but we thought you’d be interested in this extra bit of info.

Full Interview Transcription:

LeAura Alderson: Welcome to iCreateDaily, a movement for creators serious about their art. I’m LeAura-

Devani Alderson: And I’m Devani, and today we’re joined by Matt Gallegos, I said that right?

Matt Gallegos: Gallegos.

Devani Alderson: Gallegos. Matt is a photographer, cinematographer, and visual artist. He and his wife Kourtney are the tandem team working together making great art for their clients.

Devani Alderson: Welcome Matt, we’re so glad that you’re joining us.

LeAura Alderson: Welcome!

Matt Gallegos: Well I appreciate you having me.

LeAura Alderson: So tell us, how did you get started becoming a full-time creator, photographer, videographer, cinematographer?

Matt Gallegos: It’s a long process, honestly. Really it all stemmed from a lot of IT background. I graduated high school and got a job with a family friend who had a computer shop, that led to a job working for Apple then working for Geek Squad.

Matt Gallegos: And then basically what happened at that point is I was recognizing how much work I was doing and at that point in jobs, before a career happens, I’m thinking how much money I’m making those companies and how little of that I’m seeing.

Matt Gallegos: So I was like, you know, I could just do one of these jobs a day and probably support myself on that. The motivation behind that was there’s so many other things I would rather spend my time doing.

Matt Gallegos: At that time I was actually writing, I had… I have some novels partially written on my hard drive that have never seen the world. Really I was just trying to buy time. I was trying to buy more opportunity to make things.

Matt Gallegos: I went out on my own with an IT business, ended up partnering up with that guy who hired me earlier, we ended up being partners and worked in that for a couple of years. From then, just service industry led to parallels. First I would fix a computer, then little bit of technical things lead to graphic design and web design and then I’m all of the sudden in this creative world where I’m needing to add stock photography to stuff. Then I’m using my phone to take photos, then I buy an extra camera, and all of the sudden I’m shooting weddings. So. Stepping stones.

LeAura Alderson: Yeah, and that’s such an important story because in particular, young people like you said you were when you graduated high school, or if someone is graduating college, or before entering college. Before even deciding whether to go to college, there’s so much pressure to, ‘what are you going to do with your life?’ To ‘What are you going to do?’ ‘What’s your job gonna be?’ ‘What’s your career going to be?’

LeAura Alderson: Of course, we’re in the era of the millennial and then Gen-Zers, so it’s like, we don’t have to know ahead of time. Even for Baby Boomers it’s the same thing because so many Baby Boomers are retiring from their career and still young enough to look for the next thing.

LeAura Alderson: You don’t have to know it ahead of time, you just have to get going with where you are, with what seems to be the next most logical step, and walk through every open door of opportunity to see where it leads. That sounds like what you did.

Matt Gallegos: Well so much of that process is me combating this internal dialogue that I have, this entire time of, “what do I think is smart, what do I think makes sense, versus what feels right.”

Matt Gallegos: I followed so many things down the path of, “I think this makes sense, this is smart,” until the point where it didn’t stop being a good idea, but I just couldn’t continue doing it. It killed me to do things that were smart and wise, so. I went to college because that’s what responsible people do. I went for like, a semester until I couldn’t afford to continue going, both financially and soul-wise. It just wasn’t for me.

Matt Gallegos: I didn’t have a good plan as to how to figure out another option, I just knew that this isn’t right, this isn’t for me.

Matt Gallegos: That was a hard step to take because there wasn’t a lot of voices saying that.

Devani Alderson: Yeah, that’s interesting because a lot of people make a choice whether it’s college or a job or a career, they’ll make some decision that’s like this life changing decision and if you come to find out it’s wrong, there’s like those two voices in your head where you’re like, “well I have to justify doing this because I jumped in, and now I don’t want to seem like a flake or like I’m not committed or whatever.”

Devani Alderson: But then there’s this other part of you that’s like, “well, but I really don’t want to get stuck doing something that doesn’t really excite me.”

Devani Alderson: And I think a lot of creatives sometimes do get stuck in that place of what’s practical, what do I want to do, what do I love to do and is what I love to do going to support me?

Matt Gallegos: I actually… I went to a liberal arts college near my hometown, I was dating a girl who I’m married to now and I didn’t want to go too far away, so I went to a liberal arts school around here. I went for elementary education because that’s a career that’s probably going to be sustainable, it’s modest but will not disappear any time soon. I really wanted to go for music, but I didn’t think that was wise, I thought that was too risky, so I made the safe, intelligent choice and later realized it’s not safe and intelligent if it’s unsustainable.

Matt Gallegos: For me as a human, that was unsustainable.

LeAura Alderson: What you’re speaking to though is… The Baby Boomer generation, probably your parents are Baby Boomers. I know that that’s what they knew, that was true for their time. And so they then taught and teach their children the best thing they know, which is what they were taught. So many of the Baby Boomers were the rebels, the hippie generation, the ones who riots and did it against the establishment. And then yet, they became that because those were the only choices then.

LeAura Alderson: They didn’t have the internet and the opportunity to take their art and their passion directly to their audience. That foundation is beginning to crumble.

LeAura Alderson: We’re all for education, very much so, like lifelong learners. It’s just that it doesn’t have to be the mainstream concept.

Matt Gallegos: It’s funny because as lame as it sounds, literally my favorite thing is to learn. The entirety of my career, if anything my advice is that instead of doing something that I know, I’m way more apt to just learn something that I have no idea about. Because that is what I like to do, more than anything else.

Matt Gallegos: For me, I had to be a college dropout in order to pursue learning.

Devani Alderson: Yeah and thing is we’re here to learn, ultimately we’re here to learn and then create things out of what we’ve learned. That takes so many different paths for so many different people. And if you’re somebody who, like your joy in the world is to create then it doesn’t always make sense to go to school to learn how to make something. It makes sense to make something.

Devani Alderson: Which leads to a good segue. What is it that you make? What photos, what videos, what is the bulk of your creative time spent doing?

Matt Gallegos: I’m a glutton for variety. So, I can’t do anything for too long before I want to do something else. I do a lot of photography and video. I work really closely with a creative agency that does all sorts of stuff. Primarily with them I do photography and video.

Matt Gallegos: For my video, I get the opportunity to do a lot of music production. I play a few instruments and love doing that. I get to do a little bit of graphic design with all that. I’m making different images and I get to do some animation within those videos.

Matt Gallegos: I do web development because I’m an entrepreneur, I’m a freelancer so I have to create my own marketing and all that stuff. With all the marketing comes all sorts of other things.

Matt Gallegos: With the business side I do a lot of content marketing, kind of organically. I know that when i just make something, whether it has any real purpose or not, it just puts you in the front of mind when someone’s looking for like, “oh I need someone to do this thing.” Oh yeah, that guy who just put out that thing.

Matt Gallegos: When you ask me what I do, it’ll probably be different in two months. I’m always excited about the next thing to do. I’m eying the 3D cameras and the 360 cameras and stuff, just kind of waiting for the price to drop for the quality of them and waiting for more people to jump on board.

Devani Alderson: That’s really interesting, we’ve had a couple creators talk about how that is their job role. Their description in life is “I create” and then everything else is just what I’m doing in the moment.

Devani Alderson: Right now it might be the 3D videos that I’m super obsessed with, or photos or whatever evolution that it takes, it’s just I am creating.

Matt Gallegos: My creating and my learning is the same thing for me, because it’s really exploring. That’s the way it feels most true to me. I like explore, whether it’s ideas or art forms, I like to just stumble around and figure out stuff.

LeAura Alderson: What you just described is essentially, from our observation and our own experience, is essentially the best path of learning. It is learning through discovery, through doing. And even better if you can earn while you’re learning.

LeAura Alderson: Devani, for instance, was homeschooled for most of her schooling and with a full stents elsewhere, doing other things. She started her own social media services business at age 15 as a part of her homeschooling, learning entrepreneurism.

LeAura Alderson: How awesome to be able to be learning while earning, rather than coming out with college debt, with student debt kind of thing.

Devani Alderson: And then, in today’s world, no guarantee of how to fix the debt situation. And that’s a whole other conversation, but it’s like, there’s this huge gap between going to school and trying to figure out your life at an age when it’s questionable if you even know or should be making such a critical decision about your life.

Matt Gallegos: Right, and some of the things that I spent time learning earlier in my adulthood, there obsolete skill sets. Had I went into a bunch of debt to acquire that skill set, I would regret that a lot.

Matt Gallegos: I got into the IT business, I was doing a lot of home computer repair. That looks so different now. I would be completely skill-less if that was the path that I pursued exclusively.

Matt Gallegos: One of the accidental and has become intentional thing that I do is diversification. That’s so important to me being to sustain any sort of living is diversification.

LeAura Alderson: Absolutely. Now do you enjoy teaching or consulting?

Matt Gallegos: Yeah. I love consulting. One of the things that I understand about myself and people tell me is I am very quick to help. Any opportunity to help and I’m eager to do that.

Matt Gallegos: I don’t know where that comes from. I went into elementary education because I like teaching, I like all that process. Any way I can do that is exciting for me.

LeAura Alderson: So from what you’ve described, that we’ve been talking about a lot lately is that you have a strong inclination to be a generalist. You like to learn and do a lot of different things, and the value in that. So you may not be the expert on this or the expert in that, you could still have a lot to learn on any one of those things. But by having enough knowledge, you have a big picture idea of things and the working of the world, and the social media and the visual art industry, as well as how it blends with the technical and the marketing.

LeAura Alderson: And that is what many small businesses need, and that they’re floundering. Not just small businesses, but large corporations as well.

Matt Gallegos: I always end up being kind of a Jack of all trade. I’m not the best at anything that I do. Like, not even close. But in most rooms, I probably am better at most people at this random skill.

Matt Gallegos: I tend to be… And that’s the way I learn things, I learn to a pragmatic point. Once it becomes… there’s like an exponential point where your income and what you can do with a skillset raises and raises and raises, and then at some point, you’re competing for the tippy top, and that has a lot of clout to it. If you can be the best at anything, it’s insane, but the amount of discipline and time that goes into the best of anything is just crazy.

Matt Gallegos: I don’t have that discipline. Even if I wanted to, I can’t do that.

Devani Alderson: It’s good to be aware about that, because it might frustrate a lot of creatives. Because we do have that… we want it to be perfect and part of that perfection is a little bit of fear of it’s not ready yet, it’s not ready yet I can’t show the world my baby and I can’t have them judge it and ruin it or whatever, or whatever your mental thoughts are. And also some of it is what I want to do is put out quality.

Devani Alderson: Sometimes being the best at something or striving towards that, we can feel conflicted because we also, we want to constantly put out content we don’t want to let the perfection stop us, but maybe we realize we want to do more different things. And we don’t want to just be known for being the best. I think having that awareness to know that, okay they can be the best at this skill, but I want to know these ten other things.

Matt Gallegos: Yeah. And I find that it’s also really useful for me and for my clients and my peers that I work with having that diverse skillset is… I guess that is what I’m best at really. I’m really good at having a variety of skills so when I go into a situation where we’re talking about web design and then all of a sudden we’re like, “oh we should put a video here. What kind of format should it be, what would that look like?” I can usually answer those questions too.

Matt Gallegos: It ends up being helpful for me. That’s one of the differences in creating for art’s sake and creating with a pragmatic goal, with like service industry in mind, is it matters if it’s useful still.

LeAura Alderson: So with your business, and we’re sort of taking this a little off script from the questions we sent to you, which we typically do because we love getting involved in the conversation as opposed to just sticking to a rigid script. It sounds like your business, Tandem Studios, is that right? Okay, Tandem Studios, which is a great name, I love the logo, I love the fact that you’re working together. It sounds though like it could be something that becomes where you are the owner of the agency that has those services and offers those services, rather than always being the implementer and doer yourself. But you’re the consultant and you’re advising clients what they need, which your agency can provide. Is that where you are hoping to go with that?

Matt Gallegos: In a sense. Realistically no. I want that to be an option. But I know myself and I know that I’m always going be in the trenches, and I’m always going to be like “oh, let me try it!”

Matt Gallegos: If there’s anything that’s true about me, it’s that I always have the mentality of, “oh, I want to try, I want a turn.”

Matt Gallegos: I want to create something where I don’t have to be involved, I don’t have to be there, but all the projects were I want to be there, then it’s conducive to that as well.

LeAura Alderson: That’s the best kind of business, one where you have the choice of what it is you do and how much of it you do.

Matt Gallegos: There’s a lot of people who end up developing a business and outsourcing skills that they don’t have. And that’s a great way to do it, it’s just not my way to do it.

LeAura Alderson: It’s far better when you also know that thing that you’re serving, that you’re consulting, you’re advising your clients. And then you also know whether that freelancer or employee is doing the best work based on what you know. That’s the ideal scenario.

LeAura Alderson: So how long have you been working in your own business?

Matt Gallegos: Tandem started a couple different ways. It’s actually an interesting thing. I’ve always been really interested in photography but I didn’t pursue it until 2015. Because even at that time, I looked at it and saw how many people were out there buying cameras, how many people were like, oh I’m a photographer, doing things. I was like, there’s just no room to compete, there’s no point. I’m just going to end up spinning my wheels and getting nowhere.

Devani Alderson: And there’s also so many… 2015 kind of started that curve of so many people getting into the mobile photography where anybody who had a smartphone could be a photographer.

Matt Gallegos: Yeah. And that’s actually what really pushed me to the point. I specifically remember walking around coincidentally North Carolina, I was visiting some friends there. I had just got a new phone, and I was taking photos with it, and I was just like, really impressed with the quality of it. And then I got really into it, and I went and picked up a $300 camera. Just to continue playing around with, just for my own purposes, so I could take photos for the things I’m working on or whatever.

Matt Gallegos: And then I couldn’t help myself. That’s really what happens. My drive is not out of discipline, it’s out of the lack of discipline. My lack of discipline is what ends up allowing me to create because I can’t not.

LeAura Alderson: Right. I can’t not create. That’s spoken like a true creator. So you said lack of discipline. One of our questions tends to be, because I create daily, it’s about the concept of the daily discipline of creating something. Do you have a daily structure that does work for you? Or does no structure work for you? Do you create sometime daily?

Matt Gallegos: Well for a little bit of a frame of reference, my day started… Today’s Thursday? My day started Wednesday morning. I was up all night working because when I say I am undisciplined, I’m that to a ridiculous degree.

Matt Gallegos: Tomorrow I’m going to be in a car accompanying a friend to Cincinnati just on a road trip, because she needs to drop someone off at an airport. I’m the least disciplined person that could possibly still make a freelance, entrepreneurial living.

Matt Gallegos: I have so little discipline at all, and I know all the things that the books tell you to do. I’ve read enough and I’ve seen enough good advice that I still don’t really abide by. My strategy is different. I guess that’s the thing. Instead of doing what I think is wise and what I think is smart, I try really hard to do what feels right. Which that’s gotta be such an individual thing from person to person.

Matt Gallegos: Because like I said, I can’t help but make something. Some days I wake up, and I can’t help but make something so I go and make something and I finish it. I will make until I’m done completing that project. And then some days I wake up and I’m like, “I don’t feel like doing a thing.”

Matt Gallegos: I don’t really push myself, I kind of embrace the waxing and waning. I just embrace the ever changing nature of it.

LeAura Alderson: That makes sense from the standpoint of… The difference I think for you is you’re an ongoing learner. So you’re an avid learner, and you’re an avid doer because you love the doing. And so really then, that works for like you said, working until middle of the night, or up all night. That’s somebody who thrives on working, thrives on learning.

LeAura Alderson: Therefore it doesn’t matter when that occurs or whether that occurs on a disciplined structure format. What you’re describing since I guess the beginning of our conversation also, you’re talking about listening to the wise voice versus what feels right. You’re battling the indoctrination of society and what you’ve been trained as the way, including from some of the best books.

LeAura Alderson: And this what we’ve had a lot of conversations along those lines, they’re all good and helpful, it’s just that you could pick up two different books from a highly successful person and they could be almost the opposite advice. One we talked about recently was Brian Tracy has a thing about eat the frog first thing in the morning. Whatever is the hardest thing in the morning, do that, and then the rest of your day is awesome.

LeAura Alderson: Conversely, there are those who advise start with the little things, and knock off a bunch of little wins and that will energize you. They’re completely opposite, and so it depends on the person.

Matt Gallegos: That’s one of the things that I think is most important. I think the reason I am able to use my method well is because it’s very truly good for me. I think the most important thing is understanding yourself and your habits and your nature well.

Matt Gallegos: If you’re someone who will become discouraged because you struggle with that thing first thing of the day, then you probably need to take that easy task, just accomplish a thing and kick its ass, and then you’re gonna be good.

Matt Gallegos: But if you’re someone who really needs a big win to have a good morning, then you should probably bite off that big thing where if you’re gonna like procrastinate it forever, and I’m not much of a procrastinator, so… My way is very me. I don’t necessarily like, advise it to people, it just depends on who you are.

LeAura Alderson: Yeah, absolutely. That’s perfect wisdom. So yeah I’m so glad you brought that up because it really depends on the person. If something is not working for you and you know that you’re making progress- that’s the other critical thing. You’re making progress in your business, you’re making progress in your learning and your education-

Devani Alderson: And your life goals around your business-

LeAura Alderson: And you’re feeling happier doing it.

Devani Alderson: I think, too, sometimes before you figure out who are you and what are you doing and are you working your creative talent in the way that works for who you are as a person and who you want to become, I think a lot of times we both creators and entrepreneurs and the blend of the two, we want to… It’s so different and so unique that we try for a long time to find that one book, that one course, that one blueprint, that one strategy that’s like, please somebody tell me how to make this work. Because I don’t know and I feel like I’m doing something so opposite of what everyone else says and we interviewed a guy named Jared Cunzo who, his whole thing is like all that advice you hear that is “common wisdom” maybe they’re something to it that’s not necessarily true to become the successful person, to become the entrepreneur person, the creator person.

Devani Alderson: Sometimes you have to listen to that nudge even if it sounds so wrong. And so different to what everyone else is saying, because it’s like again, the extra mile is never crowded, and that sounds really corny but it’s really true. Because everybody is following the common advice.

Matt Gallegos: Yeah, absolutely. Literally, one of the reasons I find myself staying up all night working is because it’s unconventional to stay up all night working, so no one’s emailing me about projects in the middle of the night. No one’s distracting me. It’s the most distraction free time, is when everyone’s asleep.

Matt Gallegos: So that’s one of the reasons I work those crazy hours, is because I can just get in the zone, and have no reason to exit. I can just work.

LeAura Alderson: Yeah, that’s awesome. So one of the things along the lines of people who are lifelong learners, as well as creators, and also creating your own tribe as a brand and as a consultant, how do you balance consuming content to learn versus creating content and building your own tribe? Do you have a balance of that, or do you spend a certain percentage of time [crosstalk [00:26:05]

Matt Gallegos: No, I’m not very good at that. I realize that my not being dependable as a contributor, as a tribe leader, that’s a fault. That causes problems and I know that I would be able to sell more and I would be able to reach more people if I were more routine. But ultimately, the effort that it takes me to pursue that, to have that routine, ends up taking away so much from my own creative process.

Matt Gallegos: I think most people are different than me. Most people end up getting a lot of value from feedback that they get from people. They like to see it get into the world and inspire others. I crave that feeling, but I don’t ever really have that feeling. I’m a weird cookie where like, when I write a song, I’ll write a song. Once I like it, I’m like, “alright, it’s made. I’m done.”

Matt Gallegos: I don’t care about sharing it, I don’t care about doing anything with it. I literally create for the sake of creating, because like I said, I can’t not.

Matt Gallegos: That’s usually where the process stops for me. I have several, oh man, probably somewhere around a 130,000 words of novel written on my hard drive that probably won’t ever see the light of day because I’m happy with where it was, and moving on to the next thing.

Matt Gallegos: It’s really more like fuel for me to keep going. That’s my fuel, like, I’m happy with that, or happy enough with that to move on.

LeAura Alderson: I think that there are actually a lot of creatives who they at least, even if they might not have your sense of not caring if the world sees it, where their zone is and where they want to stay is in constantly creating something. And often creating something new, because what we know is creators in the process of creating so many more ideas come.

LeAura Alderson: You wanna get to them and to that and to the next thing. But as a marketer, and a business owner, you know that in order to put food on the table and pay the bills, you have to put your art into the world to be sold or purchased or invested in as a service. So that does have to happen. What do you advise in that regard, based on your own experience of that conflict?

Matt Gallegos: Understand where your weaknesses are and outsource. Find someone to help. That’s Courtney. That’s my wife, she keeps it so I can actually make any sort of connection with the world.

Matt Gallegos: If you see anything posted on our Instagram or whatever, the only thing I had to do with that was asking, “Hey Courtney!” Months ago, years ago at this point, “Hey can you help me be a somewhat routine human being?”

Matt Gallegos: And she ended up just taking that over entirely. Just telling me, “Hey I need you to give me some stuff sometimes.”

Matt Gallegos: I know that my own operations and management is poor, but she’s excellent at that so, she does that on my behalf. I’m fortunate that I have that, not everyone has someone they can just depend on to do that. If you are without that, you absolutely have to either learn how to do it better, which that is what I originally did. I was better at that when I had to. And then, once you don’t have to, it has to happen still.

LeAura Alderson: That makes perfect sense.

Devani Alderson: So if you are a creative, who right now you don’t have the person who’s like hey, let me take this over because you’re obviously not being a human about it. You can’t just post to Instagram once a month and think that you have a solid business right now.

Devani Alderson: So if you are that person who doesn’t have that then it’s like you need to schedule in time once a day, once every couple days at the very least, whatever platform you’re on and spend that five minutes just posting a thing. Post a picture of something. It’s not too hard to snap a photo of what you’re doing, the process of what you’re doing, put a quick little caption. It does not have to be this long convoluted, deep thought thing.

Devani Alderson: You can just be like, “hashtag working today guys,” and just a photo of your process.

Devani Alderson: You just have to work that into your schedule.

LeAura Alderson: Yeah, since you’re running this business with assistance, with a good compatible relationship. Now back to the have somebody do it, hopefully it’s your partner, like John [inaudible [00:31:02] and Kate Ericson. We interviewed Kate Ericson recently, and she does the systems and John [inaudible [00:31:09] does most of the EO fire, basically does the pod cast, the course creation, that sort of thing. Most of the courses. Kate has her own courses too, so it’s very compatible and symbiotic.

LeAura Alderson: But if you don’t have that person in your life yet, then one of the ways to do that is though outsourcing so that certainly… That’s Devani’s business, she’s serves clients in social media, social marketing, and then she also has her own outsourcers who replace her on doing some of the things, so she can move up to the next level consulting.

Devani Alderson: And then with our team, LeAura’s more like the better editor and content editor, and creator on the public content side, or especially with our Hundred Day Challenge and doing the emails and the content for that. I’m a little better at the technical systems back end stuff, or at least, I have the help where I can be like, “hey I need help putting together this funnel or this email system.” And so just having that… I didn’t have a whole lot of outsourcers and you didn’t have a whole lot of outsourcers until this year.

Devani Alderson: There are times where you have to be the person who wears all the hats. You just gotta figure some of that out.

LeAura Alderson: Like Matt was saying earlier, relative to just figuring it out and doing it. And then, you can always decide how much you want to work in that thing.

LeAura Alderson: But relative to the people who haven’t yet… A lot of our audience, they’re either still working a job-job, trying to consider leaving or making a living with their art, or they’re struggling to make a living with their art. So what can you advise them, the one or two best things that you do to move your business forward. What helps you to grow your business most? Make it more prosperous?

Matt Gallegos: Weirdly, one of the… I mean, it’s a cliché thing, you can’t be afraid to fail. You have to try new things, you have to experiment. If you’re not trying new things, then you’re probably not putting in the right amount of effort.

Matt Gallegos: I have had a lot of success in meeting my goals and doing the things I want to do, but I have failed at way more. Probably like 70% of the things that I’ve tried was a failure.

Matt Gallegos: That’s just part of it. You have to be able to be comfortable with that.

Matt Gallegos: Another thing that keeps me going is doing things in a- being authentic. Another cliché thing, but super important is the things I try and do are authentic to what the goals are. When I do wedding photography, I’m not trying to create this package system that is just a reproducible model. What I try and do is actually understand what the bride wants and authentically care about each situation.

Matt Gallegos: Because that’s… You can smell that. You can just tell when someone is just putting you into a machine or whether they’re actually paying attention to you.

LeAura Alderson: Studio photography versus really artistic, the artisan kind of photography.

LeAura Alderson: Okay, that makes a lot of sense, but what about in terms of referrals and clients. Because you can do that once you have the client, but what helps you get the client the most. How do you get most of your photography clients and cinematography clients?

Matt Gallegos: I pretty much do it exclusively through content marketing. Not because that’s wise, but because that’s my nature. Because I’m going to to make stuff, not that content marketing is unwise, exclusively content marketing is unwise.

LeAura Alderson: So what kind of content? Articles, videos that you publish, and then where do you put them? Elaborate on that please.

Matt Gallegos: A lot of different strings. Facebook is a big tool for me, I haven’t used it a lot lately, because I’ve been creating things- well I haven’t used mine personally. I’ve been working a lot with creative agencies, so I’ve been posting on their page and whatnot, getting them business that comes through to me.

Matt Gallegos: Before that, it wouldn’t even matter what I did. When I would randomly play some cover of a song on acoustic guitar, then I’m booking photography gigs. Because it brings people to the front of my- it brings people’s attentions.

Matt Gallegos: “Oh, that’s a creative guy, he does stuff. I remember he does things and I’m looking for the thing.”

Matt Gallegos: So that’s what worked for me. Like I’ve said before, I don’t necessarily think that I have any sort of wisdom that is applicable to everyone, by any means. I know what works for me.

LeAura Alderson: What works for you could definitely help other people with ideas. Especially if they’re just getting started.

Devani Alderson: And especially those who maybe feel uncomfortable with their technical knowhow on the marketing or business side, where it’s just like, “Okay, well I can wrap my head around posting a video about something creative I do, or I can wrap my head around publishing a piece of content around who I am and what I do.”

Devani Alderson: And that’s one simple step.

Matt Gallegos: I think it comes from that knowing yourself thing, because a lot of people have a lot of success with networking events and stuff like that. I’m terrible at that, I’m going to be the weird guy in the corner of the room, on my phone or thinking of some other thing.

Matt Gallegos: I know that it’s useful and it should be something that I do, but I know myself and I know that’s not my path.

LeAura Alderson: And it’s back to the should. We shouldn’t get should upon because you should do you. That’s the best way altogether. But if I could come back to understanding your content creation. You create a video of your music, maybe with some of your photos and you put it on YouTube or are you Facebook Live? What is your primary thing lately?

Matt Gallegos: Primary is not a thing that exists in my life. I had the opportunity to go to Bogota, Columbia recently and I took a bunch of photos and some video there, and I just randomly shared some of those photos throughout the following weeks because I had them and I was editing them and I was working on them. So I was just sharing some of the things I was doing.

Matt Gallegos: I was just posting it, most of the time was posting it to my personal Facebook page because it was a fit with the branding at some points of the video stuff, but at some points I’ve been trying to position it more towards weddings. It’s not necessarily a similar… A bride isn’t going to look at a impoverished Columbian child and necessarily see, “Aw, that’s what I want to look like.”

Matt Gallegos: So I try and use a little bit of discernment there, maybe that’s not the avenue to share this, but at the same time, this cool landscape-y one might be a little bit more appropriate so, use a little bit of discernment as far as what messaging you’re sending out.

Matt Gallegos: For the most part, I’ve always really had the most success with people knowing me as an individual, moreso than my businesses but that’s mostly because of inconsistency of posting and sharing and all that. As an individual I’m pretty prolific and I’m constantly putting stuff out. That tends to be my best avenue.

LeAura Alderson: That makes sense.

Devani Alderson: And it’s really about showing up, right? Once you’ve created the thing, whether you’re… A lot of people in today’s world, people wanna know the story behind the creator. Because we live in a very unique time where you can be alive while you’re becoming your own legend, kind of? These people like, da Vinci and Michelangelo, they didn’t become super, super, super, super famous until after their time, where as we’re living in a unique time where you can create your own quote fame around who you are.

Devani Alderson: And people want to know, like well, who is that?

Matt Gallegos: You can go viral and connect with the world in like an instant. da Vinci didn’t have that opportunity.

Devani Alderson: But you can’t do that if you don’t show up. And put the thing out there.

LeAura Alderson: And create it. And there is a lot of value in consistency. We enjoy following Gary Vanderchuck and he speaks a lot to the consistency of constantly producing content and putting it out there. And also something you’ve mentioned a couple times, and that is the incredible power of self awareness.

LeAura Alderson: Knowing oneself, being very self aware, which as you’ve described, you are, then that’s when we can become successful anyway, without having to follow the herd in the traditional way of doing things. We do us, we do what works for us.

Devani Alderson: And partnering with people, eventually as you can, partnering with people who can fill in your gaps. A lot of us creatives, we shy away from the nitty gritty business stuff that we have to do.

LeAura Alderson: So then we can outsource that. So since you have all this self awareness and you kind of wrestled your way into listening more and more to your voice and not the mainstream what you should do kind of thing, are there any areas that you struggle with that you’d like to change or improve?

Matt Gallegos: Oh yeah, well. One, it’s a double edge sword because being aware of my nature also makes you complacent with your nature, makes you tempted to not stretch yourself in ways. Not tempted, like I just don’t in a lot of ways. I just decide, get a little stubborn, dig my heels in, “this is how I do it though.”

Matt Gallegos: That’s naïve, especially for someone who likes to develop and grow as much as I do. So I’m always combating that, fighting that balance between doing what is me but also growing me.

Matt Gallegos: Probably the biggest thing that I struggle with and why I don’t share anywhere near as much as I should, is I get real uninspired creating things that I feel like I’ve already seen before. I get real, I don’t know, bored with mundane.

Matt Gallegos: If it’s been out once, if I saw it somewhere once then I’m like, “eh, I don’t want to do that, it’s already been done.”

Matt Gallegos: I’m kind of like an annoying hipster that way I guess.

LeAura Alderson: Along those lines, something that can help, it amazes me in particular with photographers, one of the gifts I think that photographers and videographers have is an ability to see what other people may not see. And an ability to have the lens capture the view that most people would never know and miss. And so even if it’s a mundane thing, that might be a way to show what’s behind the scenes of that image.

LeAura Alderson: What’s deeper? Okay, there’s the tree but what does the bark look like close up? And what is it if you zoom in on it further? What does it look like with a different colored thing, or what does it look like in the interim? There’s a lot of different ways to take that, that learner mindset into the mundane and make it not mundane anymore.

Matt Gallegos: I go to the other extreme too, where I end up trying to hard to make something unique that I just don’t ever make the thing. Because I’m trying to make it like this groundbreaking thing that’s never been made. And that’s just unrealistic to do that with any sort of frequency. That’s the thing that someone will- that’ll change their life. If you can actually do that, that’ll change your life.

Matt Gallegos: To expect to do that every day of the week is completely unrealistic, sometimes you gotta understand the song has already been sung and you’re just doing it through your perspective, which is in and of itself unique.

Matt Gallegos: It will always be, because no one has ever been you before. [crosstalk [00:43:12] It’s still real.

LeAura Alderson: And the song has been song, but not by you until you do it.

Devani Alderson: I always thought it’s like there’s taking the photo, and there’s capturing the story. You’re always going to waffle between the two, because you’ll look through your photos and you’re like, that’s just a photo, that’s just a photo and then you’ll look at that one photo out of the hundreds you take and you’re like, “there’s the story!”

Devani Alderson: That one shot that happened, but you don’t get there necessarily by always obsessing over, “do I click the button now?”

Devani Alderson: Sometimes you just have to take the picture and constantly take that picture and then eventually, you’re like, “Wow, I have a story here that people will be interested in.”

Matt Gallegos: Well, especially when it’s people. When it’s people, I’m taking a photo that I’ve seen a hundred times, but they’ve never been in that photo before. They’ve never seen themselves that way before. They love it. And especially when you’re serving a client, you gotta really suspend your own stinginess and understand that they want something cool too.

LeAura Alderson: Exactly, that’s perfect. So do you like to read, and are there any books that you’re reading now or that have you moved you as a creator that you’d like to share?

Matt Gallegos: I don’t read a ton. I don’t consume much honestly. That’s another one of those things that I combat. Like the common wisdom is that you should consume. A great writer is always well read. I don’t listen to the radio much, I don’t really watch TV much. I don’t listen to music in general much. It’s bizarre.

Matt Gallegos: I’m excitable, and I get inspired really quickly. I will literally open up a- the last several times I’ve reading a novel just for leisure just to relax, I get get a chapter in and I’m like, “Oh man, I want to tell my story now!”

Matt Gallegos: I’m that perpetual, “Oh let me try.”

Matt Gallegos: Same thing with music. I start listening to an album, I get halfway through before I pick up my guitar and start playing something.

Matt Gallegos: It’s a bizarre thing where I’m almost incapable of consuming.

LeAura Alderson: That’s a creator mindset, so it makes perfect sense.

Devani Alderson: So you like tidbits of inspiration, and then it’s like, “My turn!”

Matt Gallegos: That said, one of the books that I couldn’t put down is The War of Art. I think we’ve talked about that before, Steven Pressfield. That’s one of those, so many of those things that are really true for me now and keep me going. Because one of the most important lessons that I’ve learned from that book is that you’re doing a disservice if you feel like you should create something and you’re not.

Matt Gallegos: You’re doing a disservice to humanity. You really should do it because that means so much to so many people. And most importantly, it means a lot to yourself, to function as a human if you have that strong desire to create, and you just feel like there isn’t necessarily anyone out there who wants to consume it. It’s important for you to make it. It’s more than just someone receiving it.

LeAura Alderson: Definitely and to push against that resistance that you spoke about earlier, which Steven Pressfield speaks about so well and reminds us of so well.

LeAura Alderson: So do you have any, before we go, do you have any parting pieces of advice for creatives who are just getting started or who are working hard in the trenches right now?

Matt Gallegos: For me, the big resounding thing is understanding yourself, that’s what we’ve gone back to quite a few times. Just doing your own version of creating, just being unique until it’s excellent.

LeAura Alderson: Yeah, do you. That’s awesome. So people can see your website at Is there any other links that you want to share with people or ways to connect with you?

Matt Gallegos: I do a lot of work through Anderson Creative, is a creative agency that I work with a lot, and pretty much if you see photos and videos on there, I did it.

Matt Gallegos: That’s a great place you can keep up with me a lot

LeAura Alderson: or .works?

Matt Gallegos: .works

LeAura Alderson: .works, okay. We will include that.

LeAura Alderson: Thank you so much, it was great spending a little bit of time with you today.

Matt Gallegos: Yeah, I appreciate you having me.

LeAura Alderson: Talk to you soon.

Devani Alderson: Bye.

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