Deeply Inspired Art Photography with Forough Yavari

November 8, 2021 Artist Spotlight


Episode 101: Forough Yavari

In Episode 101 of the Portrait System Podcast, Nikki Closser chats with award-winning photographer Forough Yavari. Forough was born in Iran during a time of revolution and war. Her young parents encouraged Forough’s artistic education, and she went to the University of Tehran to study painting. While she was there, Forough discovered photography and studied it on the side as a passionate hobby. After university, Forough was working seriously as an artist and was beginning to command high prices for her paintings. When she moved to Brisbane, Australia, however, she was completely unknown as an artist and was unable to find support in galleries for her works. At her husband’s encouragement, she opened a photography studio, which really took off once she joined SBE and learned the answers to so many of her questions for how to find clients, how to price herself, and how to sell her work. She now has a fine art photography studio and says the financial freedom she has as a small business owner allows her to be an even better artist.

Be sure to listen to the whole podcast to hear how Forough’s experiences with war and living in an oppressive society have inspired her passion for storytelling in her art. Additionally, Forough tells how she has adapted what she learned on SBE to her fine art business. She shares wonderful detail about her process and her pricing of commissioned pieces. As well, you won’t want to miss hearing Forough’s valuable advice on what mindset can help you get higher scores and awards in photography competitions.

In this blog, you’ll find some of Forough’s moving portraits, links to both her websites and Instagram accounts, and wonderful advice in Forough’s answers to some bonus questions.

Get to Know Forough Yavari

Q: Most artists have a point in their life when they knew this was meant for them. Do you have that moment? 

A: I guess I’ve always known I was supposed to live and work as an artist. All through my childhood, art was comforting me in the many stages of my life. It’s been my language to explain the world to myself and communicate with others. It’s been my safe zone where I can hide and get lost in the world of creation and forget about the war we were experiencing in Iran.

I learned painting, drawing, and poetry from my parents. I still remember my dad playing guitar, and at the same time, my mum reading poems with her beautiful voice. I couldn’t read or write when I started to tell my very first poems. They used to write them down for me. There are so many moments like this I can remember from my childhood, like our monthly painting exhibitions, which my dad used to organize for all the family and friends’ children. So, I guess I grew up with art.

I chose painting as my major in university and had my best times in uni. After uni, when I stepped into the world of living and surviving as an artist, the struggle started. There were many moments that I wished I had studied something else for my career and only painted for hobby. Money was a problem, but the biggest one was that I had to stand out from the crowd. You must prove that you are a talent, so the galleries will invest in you. I had years of hard work with so many ups and downs. I had so many moments when I failed, cried, and was angry all the time. But I never gave up. I followed my heart. After my second solo exhibition, when I almost sold out all my works and received much positive feedback, all those things that I was waiting for started to happen. That was the moment I finally felt that my hard work was paying off, and I was on the right track.

After all these years working as an artist, I can simply say, I couldn’t be a better version of myself without art.

Q: Explain how Sue Bryce Education helped you overcome obstacles in your business.

A: I moved to Australia as an artist with the thought in mind that I could keep working and keep exhibiting my art works, and that I would rely on my income from selling my art. But after two years of exhibiting in different galleries and spending all my savings, I came to the conclusion that no one was going to invest in me because I was totally unrecognized as an artist in Australia. It meant I had to be patient and start building up my art resume again, this time in Australia.

At that time, I started my photography business in Brisbane. I had no idea how I could run a business in a new country with a new language without any experience in business. I was lucky to meet some great photographers, and they were generous with sharing their knowledge in photography with me, but business for me was just like a maze. I wasn’t sure that the path I was taking and the strategy I was choosing wouldn’t end up in a dead-end in that maze. It was really tough, and they were challenging times.

I joined Sue Bryce Education in 2016 after I heard about her on CreativeLive. It was an amazing course. Sue’s education was like signs and guidance in my business maze. It helped to find my own path, learn faster, and make less mistakes. It showed me how a business works, and it helped me find what strategy I should choose for mine. I think what made Sue Bryce Education successful for me was that it was not a business model to copy but a platform which guided me to find my own business models that work for me. It has become a platform where not only Sue but also so many great and successful photographers and artists share their experiences and knowledge.

Q: For someone starting out on their photography journey what advice would you have for them?

A: First, remember that this is a long journey, and you might not get the result you expect in the first years. You need to be patient and work hard. Spend time and money on your training. Take business, marketing, lighting, posing, retouching, and any classes you need in order to improve your skills and confidence. You are investing in building up a business, and becoming an artist who makes a difference.

Be inspired by the other artists and photographers, but add your heart, your creativity, and your style into your creation, something that takes your work to the next level, so others can be inspired by you.

And last and maybe the most important part, be proud of what you do and what you create. And never undervalue yourself.

Q: What fellow artists in the industry do you gain the most inspiration from?

A: To be honest, there are many artists who have inspired me during all the past years. I also have to say, maybe due to my background, I more get inspired by painting styles like romanticism and baroque. As for the photographers, I really get inspired by Annie Leibovitz, not only for her photography, but also her life and her passion for her art. The way that she looks at photography, and the way she captures her subjects and creates story in her images is so inspiring to me, and I really admire that.

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Forough Yavari





Click Here to Read the Podcast Transcript

FULL TRANSCRIPT: Please note this transcript was generated by AI and may contain errors.

00:00:00:02 – 00:00:02:07

You’re listening to the Portrait System Podcast,

00:00:02:22 – 00:00:23:26

And I find photograph is a platform to share. It’s a platform to talk about all the things happen around the world. It’s other stories, the messages. So it’s a platform, and it’s my responsibility to use that for the right things, not just for myself or just for you know, recognize as an award winning photographer.

00:00:26:29 – 00:00:59:22

This is the Portrait System Podcast, a show that helps portrait photographers and people hoping to become one. Navigate the world of photography, business, money and so much more. We totally keep it real. We share stories about the incredible ups and the very difficult downs when running a photography business. I’m your host, Nikki Closser, and the point of this podcast is for you to learn actionable steps that you can take to grow your own business and also to feel inspired and empowered by the stories you hear.

Today’s guest is Forough Yavari, and her story is one that I’m sure will leave you feeling inspired and empowered.

00:01:00:06 – 00:01:34:07

Forough lived through war in Iran and eventually moved to Australia, where she currently lives Forough creates the type of photographs that truly are works of art and she creates with such passion and storytelling. Not surprisingly, Forough has won so many awards with her portraits with the Portrait Masters, WPPI, AIPP and more. But even though she’s an absolute master at fine art, she still had to figure out how to value herself, her work, and how to run a business. Forough talks us through her personal story of growing as a photographer, and she does it with such grace.

00:01:34:23 – 00:01:44:09

It was truly an honor to be able to talk with her and to share all of this with you. OK, please enjoy this interview with Forough Yavari. Hi, Forough, how are you?

00:01:45:01 – 00:01:50:05

Hi, Nikki, I’m very well. Thank you so much for having me. It’s such a pleasure to be here.

00:01:50:24 – 00:02:02:03

Oh my goodness, just to have you on here is such an honor. I was looking at your website and your Instagram earlier, and I just I recognized so much of your work and it I have it just absolutely blows me away.

00:02:04:01 – 00:02:04:25

Thank you.

00:02:05:17 – 00:02:18:22

Yeah, you’re welcome. And I’m so excited just to hear all about, gosh, all these awards you’ve had and just about your career and how you, you know, charge for this amazing work. And so we have a lot to talk about.

00:02:20:08 – 00:03:01:05

I know my background. And it’s better to share a bit of my background and talk about where I came from and why I entered to photograph the competition. I moved to Australia and what’s the story behind my blog? So my name is Forough and you pronounce it very involved. Nikki, I’m so glad. Thank you. I try to say I’m a fine art portrait and person photographer based in Brisbane, Australia, and I was born in nineteen seventy eight in a beautiful city named Shiraz in Iran.

00:03:01:29 – 00:03:34:02

So I was born in the time of Iran’s revolution and both spent eight years of my childhood in war between Iran and Iraq. Both Revolution and War had such a huge impact in my life and in my art. What my passions both of our students in the university and most were very young when I was born, so they were pretty young then.

00:03:34:09 – 00:03:55:01

when they had me. So both of them, like my best friend, because we didn’t have that much gap like nineteen for my mom and twenty for my dad, like the gap between us. So they both were very, very supportive and encouraging to me to find the path I love — the career I wanted to have

00:03:57:23 – 00:04:00:03

the passion I had, which was art

00:04:01:25 – 00:04:44:26

so Iran, I should talk about Iran. Iran has religious rules and traditional patriarchal beliefs, so it was a very, very challenging to grow up as a woman. There they are. Like inequality between men and women is very, very obvious in the society, and you have to fight all the time for your rights, you know. So I grew up in that in such a society, and I learned a lot from it like to be independent as a woman and determined to follow my dreams, my heart, my passion.

00:04:45:24 – 00:05:25:00

I studied painting at Art University in Tehran, and Tehran is a capital city of Iran. And the first time I had the experience of professional photography was in the in my second semester. When I, I’ve been asked from one of our last photography students to do some modelling for her. I went to her studio and it changed my life. I was like witnessing her creating a series of creative portrait about women, and she was very creative in the studio lighting and I was.

00:05:25:21 – 00:05:56:25

Looking there were looking for in her darkroom and printing. And my heart was like racing. And I was like, Wow. At that time, I found photography. It’s such an interesting thing to follow and try to learn about it. I just say for like almost three years. I didn’t have camera or gear. Yeah, I used to plan for my shoot.

00:05:57:20 – 00:06:33:01

Me find my mother, who was mostly like family and friends and the student in the university, and I used to hire her studio and gear and do the shoot and develop this in universities darkroom. So it was like three years of experimenting photography, which I can say mostly by, like watching other photographers and trying to recreate the things I was experimenting I was seeing from other photographers and add my creativity to it.

00:06:33:20 – 00:07:11:28

And and because it was like something like something for myself, like my things, my personal project. So it wasn’t like paid job or university assignment, it was mine. So I was like walking very freely and I was like experimenting natural light studio light. I was learning about technique. I was doing like double exposure in camera and and everything. I was like so free to what I used to create, and I feel I’m in that time.

00:07:12:04 – 00:07:42:27

So I just knew then because I said I was studying painting in art university. For me, painting that time, I feel, is like it’s such an expensive job, paying all the time for canvas, for paying for the material you need, brushes.. So I was I couldn’t afford to buy a camera. The first time I had my own professional camera, I was like when my dad bought, my first camera was like Nikon F M10.

00:07:43:15 – 00:08:14:04

It was like a brand new. I’m still remember that moment. Then it was like around two or three a.m. in the morning. He came back from his business trip and he put the camera in my arms and I was like screaming and crying. I was so excited and my mom was like, What! What you got. And when that went on, he said she will pay him back in future, like 10 times or even more.

00:08:14:21 – 00:08:23:25

I did, but my because I played, I should say, but it was like the first time I had a professional camera to play with that. Mm hmm.

00:08:23:29 – 00:09:07:18

Mm hmm. I just want to say real quick that I obviously I knew you had a passion and a reason behind some of your work. For example, there was a series you did on Afghan women and the oppression that occurs, you know, with the Taliban and just oppression that occurs with women in war in general. Yeah. And I was curious where that was coming from and to hear that you lived through a war for eight years is, I mean, wow, like, that’s powerful and intense. And I your kind of passion around everything and in even looking at your work now and knowing that you have so much experience within your family, within what you’re the story you’re telling makes it even even that more powerful

00:09:09:15 – 00:09:46:04

experience and you are. It’s it’s really hard thing. Even when you are like a child, it’s such a terrifying thing for children. It’s cause trauma. I had my own trauma as that. And you know, and as I said, experience of growing up as a woman in their patriarchal society, the society was there in the quiet is really obvious. So that’s the reason I. You know, my source of inspiration is love is in my life experience living in Iran.

00:09:46:18 – 00:10:16:27

I’m a Middle East woman and I’ve seen a lot. I’ve heard a lot. And Afghanistan is our neighbor and Iraq is our neighbor. And we have we have so much things like culture, like food like eggs as almost as like this same experience. So that’s the reason. Then I find myself a photographer, an artist. I wanted to create something.

00:10:17:08 – 00:10:51:24

I find myself. I have a responsibility to share these stories, women’s stories, war stories, children’s stories and send a message to the world. Because I have this platform, so I have a broad sweep and mop is really bad and is the world is a woman standing and it cannot be the black fabric which new name heads to door or hijab or any other name. And she’s she’s turning back to the camera and she has a bullet in her hand.

00:10:52:07 – 00:11:35:20

And I won’t agree on anyone WPI with that word and the walk is about me. Man is about it is about the knowledge they I and how they change their own path to the new path. So these are my nose on experience of living in such a society that, as I said, is like cultural and religious. Believe in certain, very special young women. There are many, many brave women, not only in the Middle East, I know, but also around the world, who try to break down their limitations and break down the world despite their limitations.

00:11:36:04 – 00:12:23:03

And other women learn from them and follow them up for that reason, that law. And you can see there is an older woman at the back side of the main stop taking the left side. It just like turned back towards the camera and is like a symbol. I’m showing you my dad. It’s like she’s she definitely learned the new part and she did join her. And by putting the book in her hands in the main subject, I’m talking about how education, whole knowledge can and market play as the main goal play as a light to the new path.

00:12:24:07 – 00:12:31:18

So that’s kind of always my image. That is like storytelling, and I’m trying to tell this story about them.

00:12:32:09 – 00:13:06:20

Yeah, and in the story definitely comes through. I mean, it’s and it’s so beautifully done and it’s art. I mean. It is definitely just everything you do is so artistic and so like it’s just everything is so moving. And to hear the stories behind it, it just, yeah, it’s just incredible. And I’m so glad that you’ve been recognized with all of these awards. And I just have to share with the audience that before before we were starting the recording, I had asked you how many are just speaking for the portrait masters.

00:13:06:22 – 00:13:39:09

You know, how many golds have you won and you were like, Oh, I don’t know. Let me see. And I just had to laugh because I think some people would be like, I have three golds. I have 15 silver. You know, you’re just like, Oh, let me let me check. So it’s in. That made me wonder, and please correct me if I’m wrong. But it sounds like it’s more important for you to really kind of get the message out and to communicate, you know, things that are happening in the world that are so important and, like you said, traumatic as opposed to just winning the awards.

00:13:39:22 – 00:13:40:13

Am I right on that?

00:13:40:17 – 00:14:12:11

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, totally. Yes, you’re right for me. I have. I have lots of a story about why I actually, in fact, I enter photo competition. And for me, it doesn’t mean it’s good, you know, winning a gold, it’s like it’s awesome, but is not my main goal. And and I find photography as a platform to share. Its platform to talk about. The other thing happen around the world is other stories, the messages.

00:14:12:13 – 00:14:46:09

So it’s a platform and it’s my responsibility to use it for the right things, not just for myself or just being, you know, recognized as award winning photographer. It’s wanting. It’s for me, it’s my portfolio and my business. But other hand, is just like, you have a platform and you have to use it right and put and in time photography. For me, it was it back at the time when I moved to Australia and I wasn’t recognised in Australia.

00:14:46:15 – 00:15:21:03

I was recognized in Iran. When I finished university, I started to, you know, having my exhibitions solo and group exhibition, and I started to sell my art books there and my prices just came up and I had like one board, not on my board when I went to Bonhams auction and my price at that time was like four or six hundred U.S. dollar and in in an auction in the auction, it bid up and the price went to twenty four hundred U.S.

00:15:21:05 – 00:15:54:14

dollar and it was like two thousand ten or eleven. And around that time I just moved to another country, move to Australia and I came to Australia, and no one knows me here. So that’s how I started. For the first two years, I was working so hard. I had like four or five group exhibition in Melbourne, Brisbane at the same time in Tehran to build up my resume in Australia, to find my gallery to work with me.

00:15:55:01 – 00:16:30:13

And I wasn’t a photographer before I moved to Australia. I used to do photography for my exhibition. I used to like, take weddings of my family and my sister and my cousins, but I wasn’t look at this as a paid job. So the first two years I wanted because I came to Australia with the mindset I wanted to be an artist here. I want to just have my galleries selling my work and be like, you know, rely on it. But I had four or five submissions and I didn’t have any support.

00:16:30:28 – 00:17:18:13

No one knows me. None of the galleries wanted to invest on me because I wasn’t recognised here. So that was like a big disappointment for me. And I was like, I find myself in a situation like I stand in the hallway and all doors closed. So I remember one day I was so depressed and I didn’t know what should I do? I lost my art a life after I lost my life and my name, my husband said to me, Prove now you are a good photographer, let me have you to have a photography business and trust me, it would change the way you know it would change your way.

00:17:19:02 – 00:17:55:06

I trusted him and I said, Yeah, let’s do it. I like photography. I always love photography, and my passion is portrayed. So I said, Let’s do. So I started building my business as a photographer, but at the same time, I started building my art portrait. In Australia is done, so I was very lucky that I met one of the great men in photographs, so not even in Australia, but also in the world.

00:17:56:05 – 00:18:29:12

His name is Mark Wassel and he introduced me to other photographers and I introduce to AIPP, which is the Australian Institute of Professional Photography. And then at the same time, WPPI, which is being portrait photographers international, I think. And I started to enter in their are these little competitions and the first, yeah, I entered for awards.

00:18:29:23 – 00:18:33:16

I got first Second and

00:18:35:03 – 00:18:36:29

was probably first and second

00:18:38:21 – 00:19:09:16

place in that competition. So it’s how I found the photography competition, not it’s a platform so I can build my resumé in art and being recognised and seen. And I it’s hard for me to be a better photographer. You know, every time I enter a contest, I notice I have some weaknesses and I have some strong points in my photography.

00:19:09:18 – 00:19:44:24

I should focus on my business as in, for example, lighting or retouching. I work on it and I listen to the feedback, and that’s how I build up my resumé in Australia and out there. I think it’s because the first time I started in trying to work like 2014, early 2014 and I won many awards. But for me it was like, This is the way this is the day I can be a better photographer and I can be recognised.

00:19:45:21 – 00:20:24:09

Yeah, yeah. And I’m thinking like, Wow. First of all, it has to be incredibly trying on you to move to another country with another culture after everything you experienced and having to restart your business and everything you do and and I love. Of course, I could see there would be a point. I can imagine it would be depressing and lonely. And but but you, you didn’t quit. You pushed forward. And I’m kind of thinking to myself, people at WPPI and AIPP were probably like, Oh, wow, like, you come in and win first and second after no one knew who you were at first, they’re probably like, Oh my gosh, who’s this? Love it.

00:20:24:27 – 00:21:00:08

You know, it’s I’m sure everyone was just so blown away by you. And wow, OK, so you start winning all these awards and yes, you’re being recognised by other photographers and the industry in general. But did you find that that kind of translated into you getting clients? Because I’m trying to think like, OK, for people out there who are listening, who are really into more fine art. Photography and in just portraits in general, how do you kind of make a living and support yourself doing it, I guess?

00:21:00:26 – 00:21:41:22

Try, as I said, I said, my business has a photography, my photography business in two thousand fourteen thirteen. Like any new hobby, I tried everything like family, engagement, event photography, weddings and then maternity, and newborn, and I started with the voucher very, very quickly. I tended to like mini session and my price that time, but like five hundred fifty dollars includes the session fee and five the small print.

00:21:42:17 – 00:22:23:04

But it’s really, really hard. I should say the first four, five years, I had lots of challenging and struggling about my pricing because I wasn’t happy with my pricing administration or giving voucher, and I had no idea how business law here in Australia, what’s their role, how you find your clients, how you find your clients and what your pricing and what their your marketing, what you should do to, you know what you should do in social media, how you should advertise.

00:22:23:09 – 00:22:58:18

I had no idea of and I it thought that everything else that I took is like lots of learning and searching and asking questions on and biting was right around 2000 16. When I heard about Sue Bryce Education, I registered on our website and that for the first time, I find and and for many of my questions to the posing self value, how you can paint your backdrop.

00:22:59:00 – 00:23:34:06

But my attitude about social media pricing and all those valuable information that I was looking around for a long time and it how my business is just went to the next level. I really like that and we will launch that part. I find that it’s like very straight forward and a strong method to sell and my price, my says it just right very quickly.

00:23:35:01 – 00:24:18:23

I really, really consider it. I still have. And the reason I was comfortable because we had something similar in our university at the end of this semester. Every time every semester, we had to provide like between 15 to 20 of our works presented on the wall, and it was a very emotional, proud moment. When you stand in front of your work and see them hang on the wall and just all the students coming and leaving your feedback at the end, you get like average between three to five of your university teachers a score.

00:24:19:21 – 00:25:04:28

So I found exactly the same feeling in my real world when I presented for my client that proud moment. What I captured from them and I saw their emotion. Sometimes they cried and I saw they say like, Wow. And then they ask for digital package. After that, they rarely asked for more photos. And yes, that’s how I find so many of my answers and I find how I can actually talk to my client and what kind of service they should provide for them and how important the service be, how important they have.

00:25:05:19 – 00:25:43:26

You know, they have inspired moments in this video, how important you respect them. So it was like a different level in my business and I finding my clients with social media. They talk about me, they talk about the experience they have in their photo session and all day they take home prints. They are not digital, so they stay friends, they come to their places and they see those beautiful planes hung on their wall.

00:25:44:11 – 00:26:00:20

And it’s it’s how they does part and about me and I get my news. Through the word of mouth, if I said correctly, yes. That’s how I built my business in Australia.

00:26:02:04 – 00:26:34:03

Wow, wow, wow, OK. So much to talk about here. So from what I look, when I see your work, it doesn’t seem like you’re creating a high volume of portraits for your clients to me, and I’m just really interested in how your business works in general. Like, are people commissioning you for one portrait or are you showing them? I know you said you do the reveal wall and just real quickly for those listening. If you don’t know necessarily what a reveal wall is, it’s something that Sue presented to her education group years ago.

00:26:34:05 – 00:27:03:12

Like what? Twenty twelve or something like that? 2013. Maybe, maybe even before then. But it’s really just putting prints up on a wall. It doesn’t even have to be on a wall, but to print your work and to show your clients their photos that you’re presenting for them to purchase in a tangible way. And so it sounds like you really kind of took that and ran with it. And I’m just so curious and how how you do this, because if I can’t imagine you do high volume, yeah.

00:27:03:24 – 00:27:35:15

And you get I have like two types of clients one they get this book and they commission me to create a fine art portrait for them. And I have the clients is just like they are looking for having like family or corporate or just in the job portrait of them. And I have a website for it. It’s my business name actually is forever, your photography and in my website, I have a home page.

00:27:35:17 – 00:28:24:05

I have three columns that provide the information. So they have like contemporary portrait, a fine art, which is my more personal project and the fashion part, which is just just recently added to my business. So when the client is going to my red side, they have like a bit of information, but they should expect so if they want me to have like a contemporary portrait and they have like hair and makeup in their packages in their session fee and and we have like a consultation session before we’re going before, before the photo shoot.

00:28:24:17 – 00:28:54:28

So in the consultation session, we are talking about like the hair and makeup. They’re looking for their wardrobe, they need to bring and they can use my small wardrobe in the studio. I had a home studio, so we are talking about their own chairs they need for a portrait session and after that they’re coming here and the hair and makeup done by one of my hair and makeup artists in the studio.

00:28:55:08 – 00:29:26:18

We’ve been doing this shoot. And after that, we have no communications, which I provide between 20 to 30 images, fully records and printed content. And mounted, I print my stuff. I have a printer, so I love printing and I prepare the print by myself. So that’s the time they’re coming back to a studio, and I prepare a slide show, which I learned from.

00:29:26:20 – 00:29:48:13

So it’s like behind the scenes I can make kab and defined more my day having this deal and the courtesy images with the music in a large screen I have in the room, they sit and they enjoy this little. And after that they call me to this studio with very good bodies.

00:29:48:24 – 00:30:23:27

OK, so this makes sense because when I looked on the website that is your name, I didn’t see anything and I thought, OK, maybe she only does fine art, but now I just I pulled up your If you’re out there looking for it, and now I see, OK, so you do do just contemporary portraits, fashion, headshots, maternity, that sort of thing. Yes. OK, so this makes sense. Got it. OK, so with the two different parts of your business, there’s a contemporary portraits and I want to hear about your commission work as well. But do you mind sharing just kind of how your pricing structure for your contemporary portraits and how that works?

00:30:24:14 – 00:31:00:29

Yes, of course. For my contemporary portraits, I have like a session fee to my session fee was recently. Very recently I rise up to 220. It’s include hair and makeup for two people and the time and my expertise. I’m taking photos of them. So and the reveal wall, when they get back for the viewing session, which I provide this slideshow and the prints for them. My understanding is twenty four hundred and I have packages like between six 10.

00:31:01:07 – 00:31:41:15

Twenty in a portfolio box I provide for them is very straightforward, simple, and they are not confusing with different products you provide, I don’t have much all warm or light Wood Creek or anything. It just prints towards my 18 frames and I have a large wall print as well. But if they if I find my client has potential potential of purchasing bigger size, I’ll always provide a sample like one of their prints in a A3 or A2 sized frame or print

00:31:41:27 – 00:32:07:13

So when they’re coming back, they see large size beside of their A4 size as well. So these large size always direct my style to selling more. Wall print beside of my portfolio box as well and its rise my price tool like the five to six grand wow.

00:32:07:15 – 00:32:22:21

I mean, that’s a really, really incredible sales average. And like you said, I love that you just keep it simple. You don’t offer a million products. You don’t confuse clients with what you have. This is what it is and you get the prints. And that’s awesome. How often are you doing doing this type of shoot?

00:32:23:27 – 00:32:59:26

I have clients not normally one or two per week, but then I’m just moving to my fine art when it’s so close to competitions. I just like, try to not get myself busy, but normally I have like one client per week. I don’t want to be there like that, I don’t want to keep myself busy because I’m doing fashion. But if I don’t have, you know, then I have like one client for the contemporary, a different and have like one or two client for fashion.

00:32:59:28 – 00:33:03:10

And I’m working at the same time for commission one as well.

00:33:03:12 – 00:33:05:11

So that’s all working.

00:33:05:21 – 00:33:08:01

Yeah, very busy, everybody.

00:33:08:28 – 00:33:16:16

Wow. And it’s kind of cool. There’s a variety there. That’s awesome. So then, OK, tell us about commission then about how does that work?

00:33:17:13 – 00:33:51:00

The commission part is when the client is out because they have like when they’re going to my website, they can see my artwork. So that’s the end of commission when the client really impressive to have like after launch and in their role. Sometimes they’re asking to buy one of my art work, sometimes to ask it to you. Can you like create something for me? And for me and my kids, they like something different, something unique, unique because it’s specifically for me and my family.

00:33:51:06 – 00:34:25:18

That part is Comission part for me. I really love it because I can be more, even more creative. And I started with lots of consultations. They send me talk on the phone. I ask them to come to the studio. We talk about what kind of creative hair and makeup we can have and do we need to create make a dress, a specific dress for the shoot, or just like working with the designer because I know I’m working with like three or four designers in Brisbane.

00:34:25:29 – 00:34:58:09

And sometimes I can loan Their dress for a shoot. They never, ever charge me. They always ask me to just promote them. Sometimes they actually make a dress for me, and it’s really interesting because they know I’m creating something different. They know I this kind of collaboration always being clients for them as well. So it’s it’s a time we have, like even I sometimes ask my clients to talk about in their stories.

00:34:58:11 – 00:35:34:14

Not sometimes all the time you talk to buy these stories, some memories. I try to know them. I try to involve with their life to find out how it can create a story based on the life experience. And then I’m asking about elements that could be important for them to add to their story, like like old photos in their album piece of jewelry. And they just have it like grand grand grandparents, like they give it them as a gift or piece of fabric.

00:35:34:20 – 00:36:07:15

You know, Middle East culture. They always have a very unique fabric. It’s like they’re very important and they like frame it on the wall or they have it on a card. It does a very expensive or very just totally, you know, very old piece of handmade fabric. You have to Google it. You find a very beautiful pattern. Sometimes they have. I can use that kind of thing as a background or as an element to add it to their image.

00:36:08:12 – 00:36:39:09

And so sometimes I ask them to come to studio to just practice these before the actual shoot because, you know, they’re all my piece. I don’t know how to pause and they know how to give me the right expression I’m looking for. Sometimes they are little kids that don’t know me. They could be shy. So for that reason, I have like practice this session before the show as they practice to all those poses and expression.

00:36:39:24 – 00:37:25:17

And then we have the actual shoot. And after that, I for the actual shoot before going for that, for the rest, I should mention in actual shoot, I started with a simple background simple lighting and just simple individual portrait again. I practiced with them. I’m trying to get them to the photographing mode to get the right expression and pose from them. And after that, I guide them to this said, I create for them and start taking photos of them and then the shooting part finish and start editing and I always tell them so it’s not a very quick editing.

00:37:25:19 – 00:38:06:13

It takes a long time to give me like two months. So you will get back to this video. I printed your individual portrait and needs to go through all your photos, and you can just you can purchase those photos as they’re fine art as well. As the so they get back to this look with me, look through the old photos and it was like three to five pages, so they gave me the time to play and create between one two three fine art photos for them, and it back again trusted you to practice them.

00:38:06:19 – 00:38:14:06

There’s like lots of time and conversation to create between one to three pieces for them.

00:38:14:26 – 00:38:27:20

OK, gotcha. Now that takes a lot of time. It’s, you know, a lot of time, a lot of energy. Is this something where you’re talking about price ahead of time with them? Or is it something that later on, once they see the work, your pricing is?

00:38:28:13 – 00:39:01:10

I guess there’s like priced like a deposit for it. So to say simply is a separate and it depends on how I can be creative, depends on should I create a dress for them because on this story, I’m going to do all the prop I should prepare. I’m aware of the average they have to pay, like between 3000 to 6000 for creating between one two three pieces for them. So always think I’m getting like three thousand ahead as a deposit.

00:39:01:12 – 00:39:39:28

So I have this time and this money to just keep everything for them and their progress after coming back to the studio. And this is not digital Typekit. I provide this print for them and the size of print is between a three to four p to a six inch size frame could be printed in a paper, which I printed, or I just if they want my hand lost, I send it to the lab and it has like I always tell them, it’s like specific things for you.

00:39:40:16 – 00:40:11:01

It has just one edition and is for you. I can print it myself. I said, I can’t. If I wanted to log into your work to put your competition, I definitely get your permmission because many times I don’t want to share it in social media, they want to have them. So I gave them this privacy for them and always ask for permission if I want to share. So that print is just for them.

00:40:11:03 – 00:40:15:01

It’s not for me, my exhibition or my photo competition, right?

00:40:15:03 – 00:40:23:08

That makes sense. That makes sense. Do you do you have clients who are who are normally like, No, no, go ahead and use it? Or do you find that often they want to keep it for themselves?

00:40:23:17 – 00:40:56:23

I enter like two or four of them in the competition and I get a very good score and a vote for them. One of them is like I created for mother and daughter. Both were like a ballerina and a dancer, and it goes like a tap dancer and she’s a painter as well. So she wanted an art work is just shows the dance and the painting part. So I created a painting print for them.

00:40:57:06 – 00:41:04:16

It’s like sixty by six inch canvas print on day. And I entered to put the competition as well.

00:41:05:08 – 00:41:20:03

Yeah, that’s really cool. Wow. It just seems like you really cover the the whole spectrum of things that you do. It’s really, really cool. Do you have is there something that you prefer to do like? Is there something that’s your favorite that you would rather do all the time?

00:41:20:23 – 00:41:55:26

Yes. Yes, I would prefer to be more creative in my work, even for my clients. And just doing that, I can’t. I’m very I’m like getting bored very quick. Even I have like just doing my contemporary portrait on these. Always add the creative things on it. I try to be creative in lighting. I try to be creative in just like making this for them. Or does it start playing with a piece of fabric or on them? Always want to create something to that part.

00:41:56:05 – 00:42:04:23

The commission part or working my fine art project is my I should say my passion. My love.

00:42:05:23 – 00:42:28:14

Yeah, yeah. That’s what I had a feeling. You were going to say that, you know, Forough, if you could give someone advice about creating a gold portrait. And I know that’s a loaded question where oh gosh, how do you really tell someone how to do that? But what would you say to someone if they were like, I want to create a gold portrait? What do I do?

00:42:29:17 – 00:42:30:04


00:42:32:18 – 00:42:33:03


00:42:33:28 – 00:42:42:27

it’s going to be a really hard question because I mean, your art is your art. I just I’m just curious if there’s anything that you would tell people.

00:42:43:27 – 00:43:17:08

Oh, okay. I have like my thinking face at the moment because I I have a lot. Okay, my advice for people wants to entering photo competitions and getting higher score like gold or silver with this thing sign or something like that is. Think of think of photo competition as a place to learn and grow. First thing I find is what you are as strong as their lives.

00:43:17:13 – 00:44:06:11

There you need to improve if you need to improve in lighting. Take me there. Spend time and money. Invest on it. Just find a photograph as you are inspired and spend invest on them. If they have like work shop one on one workshop, just take that and improve yourself yourself. In that part, if you’ll find your weakness is retouching, touching and everything is spent time there are heats up to provide even free in youtube and you can learn spend time of that, you know, improve your technique in every aspect to create a board.

00:44:14:06 – 00:44:59:07

not in the story as well. So my second advice is like just it’s like leaving yourself time to think about the portrait or that image you are going to create. Think about this story, how you can improve it, how you can visualize it. You know think about the old steps. Give yourself time. And if you didn’t get this score or the results you are looking for, repeat the shoot, ask other photographers how you can improve, but listen to their feedback.

00:44:59:17 – 00:45:30:05

Learn from feedback so that I think my vote improved by just going to the live competition live judging that in WPPI. Also, I read everything feedback I received from the judges. It’s really important and just work so hard and have fun, you know, in school it doesn’t. It doesn’t important much. Have fun and be better photography is more important.

00:45:30:07 – 00:45:33:16

When you reach that, you will get that to score you want.

00:45:34:16 – 00:45:58:25

Yeah, I love that advice. I love it. It’s solid advice and I love that you said you’re always learning and you’re always growing and you’re accepting of the feedback. And I’m sure sometimes if you get feedback that you’re just not super happy with it, it’s not always easy. But I mean, once you really just sit with it, I feel like that’s just the best way to learn is to get feedback from other peers. It’s, yeah, awesome.

00:45:58:29 – 00:46:35:14

Yeah, I are always happy to get harsh feedback. I’m doing judging now myself, and in the judging process, we learn to be, you know, not giving harsh feedback to the entrance. But I prefer I personally I love to receive harsh feedback because it makes me think. About my weaknesses, my maybe might. Sometimes my work is not really signed in in terms of a story, sometimes is not readable.

00:46:35:16 – 00:47:11:19

It’s confusing. It’s complicated. And I received this feedback and I’m not getting angry. Oh, why? They didn’t understand my story as story’s obvious. That’s when I knew there was something not to read about for the job is not readable for audience. If the judges can’t read this story, it means that other people can’t read this story as well. And I have something to add on it. It’s about being inspired of the order of things, but it doesn’t need a copy of what it means to be inspired by other artists, either.

00:47:11:21 – 00:47:37:10

Photocopied try to recreate, try to understand what kind of lighting setting they have, what kind of retouching method they did, and how they, you know, prepare everything but add your creativity add your heart in that world and take it to the next level. So the other piece of photography can be inspired by your work as well.

00:47:38:08 – 00:48:14:11

Mm hmm. Oh, I love that. I love that. Well, I just I really appreciate you just sharing everything, just how you run your business and you know, the message and power and trauma behind your, your work. And and it’s just it’s really amazing. And you know, you’re just you’re an incredible artist. So I really, really thank you for sharing, you know, being vulnerable with the audience. And, you know, and it just goes to show you that even some of the most talented photographers like you still have to run a business and you still have to deal with the other part of the business, the marketing and the pricing, finding clients and all of that.

00:48:14:13 – 00:48:18:00

So yeah, so I appreciate you sharing all of that with us.

00:48:18:23 – 00:48:53:09

Thank you so much. You know, Nikki, business has need to be a better artist as that because when you just work as an artist, you have no idea about the business part. You are not good at marketing. You don’t know how you find you should find your audience, you’re buying your product or business has been to improve this improve this part as well that and it’s really, really important as an artist, you know, you know, your market, you know your how you should find those by act.

00:48:53:27 – 00:49:24:21

And now working with my gallery, my age and very frank, always very same to say. I’m working as a full time photographer. I have my own business. I thought, they think, Oh, she’s not very focused on her fine part. You know, she does this track day by business. She’s just like a commercial artist. She’s not going to ideas, but it was drawing. It proved me wrong. They appreciate.

00:49:24:23 – 00:49:57:22

He appreciate. I have my own business. I have my own income. I’m not worry about not selling every month, My art works. So I’m not a hungry artist. I’m not. I have the freedom to just have a big budget. When I’m inside the project, I have the freedom to be free to work whatever I want to create whatever I want. I’m not worried about the market. I’m not worried about, Oh, I should create something, you know, so I can sell it easily.

00:49:57:24 – 00:50:05:14

No, I’m just create something that I love. The business makes me a better artist as well. I don’t really appreciate that.

00:50:06:07 – 00:50:24:27

Yeah, yeah. It’s amazing. It really is. I almost forgot I for other questions that I have to ask you. I always ask at the end of each episode, and I’m wondering if you will answer those for us. And the first one is what is something you cannot live without when you’re doing a photo shoot

00:50:26:25 – 00:50:29:02

like obvious answers on camera

00:50:30:22 – 00:51:06:18

so that, um, before average, should I always give myself some space to check my plan. Think about what I’m going to take, how I’m going to connect with my clients, my models, I should say, like, I’m going to my creation mode even for my life, not daily job daily, but like my contemporary portrait. I need my creation mode. I play music even before my clients call and I turn on my coffee machine.

00:51:07:00 – 00:51:27:27

I focus on the shoot. I also plan my lighting, especially if my client has a very pale or very dark skin tone. So let’s try to experiment new. Me for it should go, I should say my creation mode. Yeah, that’s why I can go.

00:51:29:07 – 00:51:34:09

Yeah, that makes sense for sure. OK. Number two, how do you spend your time when you’re not working?

00:51:35:12 – 00:51:56:09

That’s a good question, because rarely I have a spare time, but I love just writing on the page and clear my mind. Just like looking through the oceans or hiking and writing on the beach, I’m doing my yoga. That’s that’s what I’m doing. But I don’t have any time. To spend time with friends.

00:51:57:06 – 00:52:02:18

Yeah, yeah, that’s great. OK, number three, what’s your favorite inspirational quote?

00:52:04:15 – 00:52:12:07

I brought it somewhere because I’m not really good at a memorize thing, so

00:52:12:16 – 00:52:16:17

I’m not either. I always I had to Google when I when I was interviewed.

00:52:19:01 – 00:52:50:00

He is a really bad at it, too. So I have two quotes from Annie Liebowitz if I pronounce his last name perfectly. It’s a hard first one. Is this when I say I want to photograph someone? What it really means is that I like to know them. Anyone I know I photograph, I really resonate to this quote. And the second line is I’m more interested in being good than being famous.

00:52:50:09 – 00:52:54:21

That’s actually my goal to be in future. If I get famous,

00:52:55:15 – 00:53:08:17

I totally believe that about you too. I really do. It’s amazing. Yeah, that’s funny that you chose that one. At the beginning, I was like, I feel like you’re you don’t care so much about the awards more than, you know, getting your message out there through your art

00:53:09:25 – 00:53:11:08

Thank you so much.

00:53:12:10 – 00:53:19:27

Yeah. OK, last question, and I know you kind of already covered this already, but is there anything else you would add for? What would you tell people who are just getting started?

00:53:21:06 – 00:53:24:01

First, remember that this is a long journey.

00:53:25:21 – 00:54:00:09

You might think you should get the result in first year, but it’s not going to happen. It might not get the result you want in the first year, second year or even fifth year. It’s a long journey and you need to be patient and work so hard that microsatellite and spend time and money. As I said on your training page, business marketing, life, closing, whatever classes you need to improve your skills and your confidence is really, really important.

00:54:00:11 – 00:54:39:10

We didn’t talk about confidence because about my block for a long time, for a long time in my twenties and thirties. You are investing in building up a business or you are investing to became an artist. So confidence is really important in those who be inspired by the other art and photographer. But add your heart add your creativity on it to not copy, create something the other photograph as an artist, be inspired by them.

00:54:39:23 – 00:54:52:23

And the last one is which is really important. Is be proud of what you do and what you create? And never undervalue yourself that’s my advice.

00:54:54:18 – 00:54:59:20

it’s so great. The undervaluing part is so crucial. So I’m glad you threw that in there.

00:55:02:18 – 00:55:10:00

Well, thank you so much again Forough. We really, really, really appreciate having you on. And where can people find you if they’re looking for you online

00:55:11:27 – 00:55:13:20

and your Instagram to make sure you share that?

00:55:13:22 – 00:55:35:12

My Instagram? Yes, I have. I have Instagram and the name of forever your photography and my name Forough Yavari the job I feel I have. I’m more active on Instagram and Facebook, so and my webiste forever yours photography includes all my point of website as well. And my question?

00:55:36:00 – 00:55:51:12

Wonderful. Wonderful. Awesome. Well, thank you again, and I can’t wait to see what you’ll be entering for the next awards. Are you going to do the next in into the wild category? That we’re about to close is October 15th, so by the time this is out, it might already be closed. But are you going to enter that?

00:55:52:06 – 00:56:06:19

I know I really wanted to enter this one, but I’m working on my exhibition at the moment. Not this one, but definitely next one and not more. I don’t know that I create something very honestly.

00:56:07:11 – 00:56:10:03

Well, I cannot wait to see what’s next from you.

00:56:10:05 – 00:56:22:28

You so thank you so much. And thank you so much for having me, Nikki.. It’s such an honor, I’ve talked to you all. I’m a big fan of your blog and I always wanted to hear your voice. Thank you so much.

00:56:23:03 – 00:56:28:17

Thank you. Thank you. That’s quite an honor to hear that. Hear you say that. So thank you very much.

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