$20,000 in Debt to Making $2,400 a Photoshoot with Gerson Lopes
• Find the niche you want to focus on and train your eyes.
• Use social media to talk about your business. If you don’t, who else will?
• Keep learning and try new things. We are always evolving.
• There is more to a profitable business than posting pictures on social media and waiting for clients to come.
Get to Know Gerson Lopes
Q: What initially sparked your interest in photography?
A: I will give you three things that come to my mind. When I was a teenager I used to draw my friends’ and teachers’ faces during class (a few times I got in trouble for that) still, I loved just creating a photo with my hand and pencil. I grew up with my dad always doing family photos of us, almost every year, he would basically force my 2 sisters, my mom, and I to stay still in front of the camera, push the self-timer and run to pose with us. You can imagine some of the photos with our grumpy faces trying to smile, obviously not wanting to be in a photo. Another inspiration for me was at my grandmother’s house, both my grandmothers had portrait paintings of their family and ancestors. That was fascinating for me! I would just stare at those paintings and check the details, the resemblance, and try to figure out how they would look like in real life. Those paintings are still my inspiration for my portraits today.
Q: If there was only one genre of portraits you could photograph for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A: Mature ladies. They bring so much life experience in their faces, and the conversations are always a delight because they have so many stories to tell. Plus, they are not featured in the media as much as they should, so I want to help change that. I photograph all kinds of people, all genres, ages, races, colors…I love diversity! But mature ladies have a special part of my heart!
Q: For someone starting out on their photography journey what advice would you have for them?
A: Find the niche you like the most – portrait, fashion, landscape, weddings, babies, pregnancy…and train your eyes. Look for good photographers that photograph the genre you like, look for famous photographers in that area, and study their photos. Try to understand why they are good at what they do, why are they famous? Train your eyes every day, look at magazines, websites, Instagram…but not just looking without a purpose, study everything, the details, the shadows, the bright spots…train your eyes to see better, to see what they see. And when you photograph compare your photos to the good photographers, find the difference, look for your mistakes and fix them. Edit, edit, edit…that will help you next time you photograph someone. You will not want to repeat the same mistake, so you will get better. It is a journey, but it is an exciting journey!
“Whenever I’m in doubt, Sue Bryce always has a solution.”
Q: Explain how Sue Bryce Education helped you overcome obstacles in your business.
A: Because the content on Sue Bryce Education is so big, it covers all the portrait business corners, so whenever I’m in doubt of something, or whenever I feel stuck in a subject, I can always find a video about it that helps me get a solution somehow. I love the posing videos, that was my first obstacle. I would look at famous photographers’ photos and ask myself, how did they pose that person so beautifully? I’m still learning that and won’t stop.
Q: How much time do you spend on marketing, content planning on social media right now?
A: A lot of time! More than I wish, but I believe it is part of the deal. I use social media as my advertising office. It is available for everyone if you learn how to use it and not being used by it. But hey, it is free! Think of it like this, if you don’t talk about your business, who will?
Q: What has been your biggest accomplishment since starting Sue Bryce Education?
A: I think gaining self-confidence, both for my life and for my photography. Sue helped me a ton with this subject. I know that I need to develop more, both personally and professionally, and I do want to keep learning about it all. But, I also know that I am enough for me and for my business. Does that make sense? I hope so! We are always evolving!
Q: How did you push past fear when building your business?
A: The fear was to talk about it, either to say I was a photographer or to say my prices out loud (mind you, my prices at the time were not what they are now!). So I had to practice saying it out loud, “I am a portrait photographer, and theses are my prices.” I remember walking around repeating it non stop, at the gym, at my other jobs. Until I was so tired of saying it, my mouth would move without thinking, and it became natural. Today I have no problem saying what I do and how much I charge.
Q: Who in your life inspires your work the most?
A: Sue Bryce for sure. I am so lucky to know her personally. She has been a mentor, friend, and family. Every time we photograph together I learn something, and that keeps me wanting to be better and better.
Q: Where do you find inspiration for your portraits?
A: Classic old paintings. When I go to museums I can stand and stare at those old portraits for hours!
“I love knowing that my art is becoming my client’s legacy and will be cherished for generations.”
Q: Over the years you’ve met and photographed countless clients. What inspires you to keep going?
A: I love to know that my photos will be in someone’s house, hanging in the wall, framed in the table, or posted on their social media. It makes me so happy when people use my photos as their profile photo, I find it is a huge compliment, it shows how much they loved those photos too. But mostly, I love to think that my art is becoming my client’s legacy. For their loved ones, and the generations to come in their families, those photos will be cherished. It has a deep impact on me, I love it and it keeps me going.
Q: What has been your biggest breakthrough in photography?
A: Learning to use strobe lights. I came from a natural light background, and I actually avoided learning studio lights for a while. But when I did, I fell in love!
Q: What do you think is the biggest misconception when people are trying to start their photography business?
A: That all you need to do is take good photos and post beautiful people on your social media. Thinking that because your photos look good, the clients will come. Sorry, but there is a lot more than that behind a profitable business.
Q: What does the Sue Bryce Education community mean to you?
A: A family where I can go talk, ask questions, learn, hang out, and have fun. Online or during workshops and conferences. I love it!
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Gérson Lopes of Gérson Lopes Portraits
Born and raised in Brazil, Gérson grew up dedicating his life to the piano. In 2004, Gérson moved to the US to complete his music degree specializing in classical piano. After learning portrait photography with Sue Bryce, in 2016 Gérson joined the team at SBE as a full-time photographer and launched his own LA studio. In 2018, Gérson composed and released original music for photographers and videographers, and in 2019 he achieved the level of Master Photographer.
Gérson specializes in headshots, personal branding, and contemporary portrait. Based in Los Angeles, Gérson travels the world teaching SBE folio builds, workshops, and photographing his clients.